To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Speak To Be Heard.

If you open your mouth to speak then as much as is within you, seek to make sure that your words are spoken with sufficient clarity and audibility. This applies to whether you are speaking publicly or privately, whether you are speaking to one person or to many.

In 1 Corinthians 14:7-11 Paul is addressing the issue speaking in tongues, but his words have equivalent pertinence when looking at the issue of communication generally. He writes:

Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me.

If words that are spoken are not clearly understood by the audience then “I am a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker is a foreigner to me.” Communication binds people together through understanding and understanding comes through being able to hear the words. Here are some thoughts:

  • Consider your audience. Are you speaking to a vast crowd or just to one person? Speak clearly and moderate your volume so that all can hear.
  • If you have a microphone, but aware of that and respond appropriately so as not too be too loud or too quiet. Perhaps do a sound check before you speak.
  • Avoid mumbling.
  • Use your mouth well so that word come out distinctly.
  • Pace your speaking. Too fast and people will not be able to grasp; too slow and people can get frustrated. But better too slow than too fast would be my dictum; at least then they will understand even if they get frustrated.
  • Consider the grasp of your language by the other person. If your language is not their first language then speak appropriately.
  • Communicate to be understood. Big words can be useful in certain situations. But communication is meant to convey a message not to boost your ego.
  • If you are arranging a social event do not have so much background music so that no-one can speak to each other.
  • If you are in a situation where you cant get your audience to hear whether that be through excessive background noise or whatever, then best be quiet (or go somewhere where it is quieter).
  • Ken Morey who was pastor at Feltham Evangelical Church from 1997 to 2002 provides a model for a preacher speaking clearly and audibly. You can listen to his messages here and consider his vocal presentation.

Our Praying.

Last night we at Feltham Evangelical church, had Paul Fountain from Amyand Park Chapel sharing with us something of the work of the Lord’s grace in Sri Lanka. Further as part of the visit he shared about the word from Colossians 1:9-11:

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 

Here was a message to re-shape our prayer-life and thereby re-shape our lives and our churches. How we need to hear the call to have our priorities in prayer focused on the spiritual welfare of ourselves and others. So often we degenerate away from this priority to all other kinds of often legitimate, but lesser matters and we lose so much as a result. If Feltham Evangelical Church started praying these three verses fervently then surely we will be in a good place (and so would your church).

Here are some thoughts from what Paul preached last night:

  • Paul, in Colossians was praying for those he had never met. Do we have a similar inclination to pray widely and beyond our parish.
  • His prayers were for what he felt was important; the knowledge of God, spiritual growth and effectiveness.
  • Wisdom is “the appropriate implementation of knowledge” (Amy added this). Knowledge is good, but must be worked through wisdom.
  • Proverbs 2:1-16 was drawn to our attention. Here we find how wisdom does not just happen, we need to dig and work so that it appears.
  • We should be moving into the good works that God has prepared for us.
  • Ask each day: “What must I do today?”
  • We need to aim high in knowing God.
  • There are trials in life, but we need to remember that God is working in them for our good.
  • We need to be meditating on Christ. Thereby will see our lives being transformed. He mentioned the profundity of 2 Corinthians 3:18 in this context: And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
  • He recommended: The Glory Of Christ by John Owen (abridged version); see here
  • He mentioned the experience of knowing that others are praying for us.
  • He mentioned how as we pray we can know joy emerging in our hearts. 
  • We need to be “praying out” people and issues. Try focusing and praying everything about an issue or person rather than skating over many people and issues briefly

It was a big evening. Oh to live in the good of the message.

 

The Simeon Life.

The Simeon life is life indeed!
A man set on God
A life lived to the full.
He comes and then goes
On Scriptures page.
Only one incident in his life portrayed.
But his life was so big.
A Holy Spirit life it was;
Moving for God all his days.

Righteous indeed through his faith in God,
Devout as he lived: careful of God.
And such a life is always the best.
Such a life is truly blessed.

Moreover, he waited in hope
for Israels Comforter who Isaiah promised.
Further, a promise had come to his heart,
that he would see the Christ before he depart.

And so we find him
In the Right place: the temple,
to meet the right person: Jesus,
At just the right time:
His parents brought Him there,
To do just the right thing:
Receive Him into his arms.

Oh this is a man of the Spirit.
Oh may that be me;
May I have a Simeon life
A life that would be
Counting for God.

But that is not all,
there came the right words too.
Words of Contentment;
He had seen Messiah, you see.
And that meant everything to him.
And now he could go
Safe in the knowledge
that salvation had come.

A salvation for all whether Jew or Gentile.
But such must be received with humility of heart
Or we will fall
But the believers will rise because He suffered our pain.
And Mary will feel it as she sees His pain.

So here is a man, a Saviour He loves.
Here is a man so devoted to God.
So as we celebrate Christ’s Coming
Let us think on this man
Who received the Christ
And brought blessing to others

And if we can live like Simeon
then our life will count.
For Jesus was all he wanted to see.
The Comforter had come for his people, you see.
Simeon knew that
And it made him content
And he looked forward to heaven
Knowing all was now well.

So the Simeon life
Outshines all the rest
Think of your life
And remember,
The Simeon life is the best.

 

Here is a sermon preached on The Simeon Life on December 25th 2017.

Pride.

Whoever is proud is on a “collision course” with God. Both James and Peter quote from Proverbs 3:34 and record that ‘God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble’ (James 4:6b and 1 Pet. 5:5b). God is not just indifferent to the proud, He actually actively opposes them. This should cause us to have some sober reflection as regards to how heinous pride is. Having grasped this essential concern about pride, we then need to establish what exactly pride is.

Pride is considering ourselves to be better than others. This attitude is seen in its most grotesque form when we consider ourselves to be better than God. The way pride shows itself can be varied, but at its heart is an inflated estimation of one’s self. Generally, pride is displayed when we have a wrong attitude as regards our knowledge or abilities. So someone can have ability in cookery and thereby produce beautiful meals. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, things do go wrong when that person considers themselves to be of a higher order to all others because of their abilities and as a result scoffs at the limited culinary abilities of others.

When the matter of pride is raised, Christians very often fool themselves into believing that pride is only displayed by non-Christians. Alas, this is not so. Christians can so very easily be guilty of pride. Let us look at three areas where pride so easily emerges in a church.

Gifting: When we are able to do something our default position is to think: ‘I must be so clever to be able to do this’. This can be in the realm of both the practical and the spiritual. So whether it be erecting shelves, preaching in church or seeing someone come to Christ through our witness, we can start to think that ‘I must be ever so smart to be able to do these things’. Of course, we would not blurt it out like that, but in secret, that is what we think. This is pride and God hates it. In this context, we need to heed Paul’s observation to the Corinthians: For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Cor. 4:7). Anything we are able to do is only through God giving us the ability to do it.

Knowledge: To study scripture is absolutely vital for Christians. And every Christian should be studying so as to be growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, as we grow in knowledge (and every Christian should be growing in knowledge) there is the danger that we can become proud. One way that this develops is when we believe the right doctrine, but have the wrong attitude in holding that doctrine. In 1 Corinthians 8, we see something of this. Some had the right understanding of the issue of eating food offered to idols. There was nothing wrong with this. In fact this was the “strong” position to take. However, they did not treat those who saw the matter differently with due respect. Paul goes so far as to say that such weaker brothers could be destroyed by the way the stronger brothers operated (see 1 Cor. 8:11) and that was totally wrong.

We must take a view on many matters as we study scripture and properly establish our convictions. However, we should never hold our views in an arrogant manner. We need to remember that if we have come to understand anything of God and His Word; it is only because God has revealed such. Paul says to Timothy: Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this (2 Tim. 2:7) If we understand anything let us thank God and not be arrogant in our own knowledge.

Authority: The proud man generally loves to be in authority, but hates being under authority. They want to do their own thing and not be subject to others. One implication of this is that such people are not teachable. They have the attitude that they know what they are doing and no-one else can assist them in knowing what is right and proper. Any thought of submitting to one another is very much off their agenda (see Eph 5:21). And the thought that they should have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account (Heb. 13:17a) is not something they consider to be for them. After all they will do their own things and do not want to submit to anyone.

As Christians then, we should consider pride to be a monster that we hate and resist. We should instead be cultivating a spirit of humility. In Isaiah 66:2b we read These are the ones I look on with favour: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. This is what the LORD is looking for. He is looking for humility.

Finally, we soberingly conclude that pride always leads to disaster. The first disaster in the universe came through pride. This was when Satan decided that he knew better than God and led an angelic rebellion against the eternal LORD God. (see Is. 14:12-15). Moreover, Proverbs 16:18 tells us that pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Let us be hard on pride then. Let us engage in mortal combat with it. If we fail to beat pride our lives will be ruined.

And in waging this war, remember that we are those who belong to a Saviour who was gentle and humble in heart (Matt. 11:29b). At the heart of his mission a humbling of Himself (see Phil. 2:8b). Oh LORD give us the grace of humility like yours and that will all be to your glory.

 

Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of March 2015

True Kindness And Love.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:3-5). These are Paul’s words to Titus about the salvation we have been given. They are profound words which go to the heart of God’s motivation in saving us. Through these words, we are shown the true nature of kindness and love.

Our situation before we come to Christ was absolutely catastrophic. Our understanding of the position of the unbeliever should reflect that they are living foolish lives and are trapped in a life of deception through all kinds of passions surging in their beings and through engaging in all kinds of pleasures. It is selfishness which drives such a worldly lifestyle. For us Christians we need to be reminded that we were in such a disastrous situation before we were saved. All who are unconverted to Christ are like those who have been cast overboard out at sea and are sinking in the turbulent waters. Spiritually the non-Christian is sinking into an eternal hell and they need to be saved.

The most poignant and profound need we have is to be saved. We need to be saved from our present empty, self-defeating lives which are leading us to eternal destruction. Into such a situation came the intervention of our great Saviour God. God came into this situation with all His kindness and love. He came to rescue us.

We need to remind ourselves here that we could not rescue ourselves. We read in Titus 3:5b that the Lord’s salvation came to us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. As regards to the possibility of achieving salvation ourselves, we are all hopeless cases. We cannot save ourselves. It was into such hopeless situations that our loving God came with His mercy. He came, not undertaking the punishment that we deserve, but rather bringing the great hope and joy of salvation.

The motivation for this intervention is the fact that there is kindness and love in the Lord’s heart. He is full of kindness and love. However, those tender dispositions did not just remain inside Him. Rather, they have flowed out of His heart. They have appeared. And how have they appeared? They have appeared in and through Jesus Christ. When we see our Saviour we see the kindness and love of God displayed towards us.

Throughout the Old Testament God had relentlessly prophesied about His plan to intervene in the situation of mankind, in kindness and love through His Saving Messiah. The coming of Jesus Christ into the world saw the fulfilment of everything anticipated in the Old Testament. How we should be praising God that He is not an absent detached deity. Rather, He is our everlastingly kind and loving God who in Emmanual. In Jesus Christ, God has come close to us; He has come into human flesh in order to save us.

Here is true kindness and true love. Here is God working to act in such a way so that the action meets the need of the recipient. God in sending His Son sent One to provide salvation and in doing this He met our deepest need. If we want to know how kind and loving our Saviour is we look at Jesus and we look at His finished saving work on the cross, and as we do so we fall down with worship and thanksgiving to see how kind and how loving our God is.

The word kindness speaks of a tender attitude that brings blessings and benefits to others. “Love” tells us of his love for men in all their sin and hopelessness. God through Jesus came with such kindness and love and He acted at our most real and deepest point of need. He saved us from ourselves, our sin and eternal destruction. Praise Him!

Sadly our kindness and love so often is not like God’s. We are well intentioned, but ineffective because we do not focus upon bringing benefit to the intended recipient. We go wrong because, unlike our God, we focus on what we want to do and what we think will benefit the one we want to help. Rather, what we need to do is focus on the need of the other person and then bring our kindness and love tangibly and helpfully to them. This is the way our God works and so should we. Our salvation is the most profound and beautiful display of this.

Accordingly, let us be people who think about our ways, as we seek to distribute kindness and love to one another. As an example, to buy someone who has no interest in cookery, all kinds of cookery books and utensils as presents is totally inappropriate. You may think in your head that these are such great presents and you are showing such kindness and love. However, you have completely failed because you have not considered the recipient.

Oh,how marvellous is the love and kindness of our God which has determined that we should be saved. Let us be thoughtful about imitating our God in our love and kindness.

Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of February 2015

In Philippians 3:3 Paul tells the Philippians (and us) what characterises the true people of God. These people are said to be the circumcision (Phil. 3:3a). This is pictorial language which describes us as those who have given up living for the flesh. Three different facets which define the people of God are then presented. We who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. (Phil. 3:3b). Our purpose in this study is to concentrate on what it is to serve God by the Spirit?

The word “serve” in this verse refers to service which is directed towards God. Hence, in many versions of the scripture the word is rendered as “worship”. This service/worship can be viewed in a general way and also in a specific way. Generally it refers to our whole lives being full of worship. So in our day-to-day lives we are seen as living lives which please God. When thought of specifically it refers to those times when the church comes together to worship. It is this latter aspect I want to concentrate upon, but there are significant cross-overs to the issue of “whole-life worship”.

So what is it, that we will find in a church worshipping God by the Spirit? How will we know, when a church is gathered together, whether or not they are worshipping by the Spirit of God? For that matter how will we know if we, at Feltham Evangelical Church, are worshipping God in an acceptable way? Let us go to scripture and see what we discover:-

Not physical. This issue is specifically derived from the context in which our statement is found. At the beginning of Philippians 3 we find the true Christian lifestyle contrasted to that of those who concentrated on outward forms. When we find a concentration on the things of the senses then we should conclude that this is not of the Holy Spirit. When seeing, touching and smelling are emphasised then the emphasis is not spiritual, but physical.

The Word. When the Holy Spirit is leading the worship then there is an emphasis on the Word of God. Everything, whether done or spoken, will harmonise with the requirements of the Word. Moreover, there will be the reading and proclaiming of the Word of God, with the Word element having prominence in the service. It is inappropriate to prescribe exactly how this takes place, but it will surely be there if the Spirit of God is there. In asserting the prominence of the Word in the ways of God we remember that faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ (Rom. 10:17).

The Christ. When the Spirit comes there is the glorifying of Jesus Christ. This is the Holy Spirit’s most delightful work; the Spirit loves to magnify Christ. As the Saviour has gone to heaven so the Spirit has come into this world; being sent by the risen Lord. Accordingly, we read the words of the Saviour ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me (John 15:26). When there is much speaking about the glory of Jesus in a service we can inclined to conclude that the Spirit of the Lord is there.

Sin. The Spirit convicts of sin. So we read in John 16:7b-8 the Lord Jesus saying Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement. When the Spirit is working there is an awareness of our wrongness before God.

Praise. We read in Hebrews 13:15 about the fruit of the lips being a sacrifice of praise. This thankfulness is connected lives which confess His name and is through Jesus. It reflects a positive attitude towards God in all His goodness towards us. When the Spirit is present in the service there is a much thankfulness to and appreciation of God.

Understanding. On the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit came to manifestly demonstrate God’s new regime amongst mankind there was the special gifting of the disciples speaking in different languages so that all could understand (see Acts 2:1-12). When the people come together to worship God by the Spirit then there will be that awareness that everything is being done in an understandable way.

Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of January of 2015

 

Grace And Truth.

One of the statements made to describe our Saviour is that He was full of grace and truth (John 1:14b). In all His ways never did he sacrifice truth for love nor love for truth. This reminds us that for ourselves, we should always be seeking to follow His example and uphold these two principles of truth and love at the same time. Paul, in Romans 1-8, gives us something of the pattern for how love and truth should interact in order to produce a God glorifying outcome.

Romans 1:1-3:20; righteousness

In this passage Paul never once refers to the love of God. He is rather setting forth how the truth of God convicts all so that the whole world held accountable to God (3:19). He marshals his material so that all, whether Jew or Gentile, religious or non-religious, would know that they are bankrupt before God with nothing to pay to make themselves right before God. Sin is exposed and all are shown to have fallen short of the glory of God.

We should not be ashamed to call sin for what it is; an abomination before God. We do not do this according to our own likes and dislikes, but rather according to the standards of God’s Word. If God’s Word says that something, whether it be an action or an attitude, is wrong then we are responsible to name it as such ourselves.

In this respect it is so helpful to know the ten commandments as the great summary of God’s Holy requirements. We should all seek to learn them and be regularly checking our lives against them.

Of course, at a time like ours we are increasingly setting ourselves against the standards of society around by standing by the statutes of the word of God. But we are duty bound to do so.

Let us look at one critical area; that of sexual matters. Around us we have liberal anti-God do-as-you-please attitudes to sexual matters. Sex outside of marriage and homosexual activity are seen as modern, normal and acceptable. But God says differently. Adultery/fornication is wrong according to God. Homosexual acts are condemned in the scriptures. In standing on these principles we will very likely make ourselves unpopular, but we must take a stand if we are to please God.

Romans 3:21-5:21; forgiveness

However, we must also remember that after showing people their sin God goes on most wonderfully to show people that there is forgiveness; there is salvation with the LORD. God shows people their sin in order to show them how His Son paid the price for sin so that men might be brought back to Himself. In doing all this He never sacrificed His justice (see 3:21-26). This is God’s wonderful plan.

Part of the problem with the scribes and Pharisees in bringing the woman caught in adultery to the LORD (see John 8:1-12) was that they just wanted her to be condemned. Their theology did not include grace. Whereas for ourselves we should be different. We rightly see men and women standing condemned for their sinful behaviour. However, our desire should always be that they are driven to the salvation in Christ Jesus. Our desire should always be that forgiveness would be known, by all, in Jesus Christ our LORD

As people come among us they should know that our God has laws which is an offence to break. But they should also be aware that there is forgiveness for repentant law breakers. On the contrary, we must also guard against the danger of too lightly dealing with the issues of sin. Jeremiah speaks about healing sin too easily and saying “peace peace” they say when there is no peace (8:11).

Romans 6:1-8:34; sanctification

The woman caught in adultery in John 8 was sent away by our LORD with the command to go and sin no more (v12b). Paul picks up this theme when he answers the question about the possibility of continuing in sin that grace would abound with a resounding ‘by no means’ (6:2).  

It is so important for us to know that God calls those who have been forgiven, to a life of righteousness. Those that have come to know the Righteous One should love righteousness. As those who have been born again into the family of God we should love to please our Father. Common courtesy demands that if someone has done good to us we should seek to please them. How much more should this apply with regard to our heavenly Father.

However, Romans 7 reminds us that we cannot live this life of righteousness in our own strength. Rather we need for the Holy Spirit to have freedom in our lives. It is only when the Spirit is having freedom in our lives that there can be a pleasing character to our lives.

Notwithstanding this, we should remember that many Christians still continue to battle against strong inclinations to sin. In such cases we should be swift to show much care and gentleness. To return to our earlier theme many Christians struggle to live up to the LORD’S standards in regard to sexual behaviour. In such cases we should be careful to be gentle in our handling of each other so that all can be helped to live a righteous life thorough the workings of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Let us then seek to hold the love and righteousness of God in proper balance. Remembering that His way is always the best.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of August 2004)

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