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Archive for the ‘Sin’ Category

Church Newsletter

Here is our church newsletter for December 2018. It has an article on “The Christian and Sin” which may be of interest.

It Cannot Be Done.

When confronted by the Reubenites and Gadites saying that they wanted to stay east of the Jordan, Moses told them of the discouragement that could come to the people of God through their action. To reinforce his point he reminded them of the discouragement which came to the nation of Israel through the report of the ten spies (see Num 32:6-15). As we look at this example of discouragement caused by the ten spies, we can learn how much damage can be done as a result of us taking an “it cannot be done” attitude.

We will start with the passage in Numbers 32:6-15 which gives a revealing review of what is recorded in Numbers 13-14. The details are this:-

  • God has promised to give the nation of Israel the land of Canaan.
  • Twelve spies went in to spy out the land. Ten came back and said the land was good, but it was impossible for the Israelites to go in and posses it.
  • They thereby discouraged the people who did not go in and possess the land.
  • God was displeased with the faithlessness of the people.
  • God’s judgement fell so that they wandered aimlessly in the wilderness until all of the faithless who would not go in had died.

So what was it that hindered the Israelites from moving forward to take the land? It was the ten faithless spies and their discouragement of the rest of the people. They said “it cannot be done”, even though God had said it should be done because He had given them the land.

So are you an “it cannot be done” kind of person? In answering that question it has to initially be made clear that there always needs to be a proper assessment any situation when considering moving forward with a project. A proper full assessment has to be made of the pros-and-cons of moving ahead with a venture for God. We are not to be reckless and rash in our approach to the ways of the Lord. There should be a sense of sitting down first and considering a situation. The Lord commends this approach in the context of the demands of discipleship (see Luke 14:25-33).

What is at issue here though is the inclination that many have to always be opposing initiatives which advance the cause of Christ. There is a difference between realism and faithlessness. To oppose a movement of God is very serious. You may have lots of justifiable reasons for saying “it cannot be done”. The ten spies, for example, saw that there were giants in the land (see Num. 13:33) but remember it is God’s call to take on a certain initiative then to oppose it is to be with the ten spies. And when the people went with the ten spies they fell under the judgement of God.

You may think you are being clever to see deficiencies in a plan, but be very careful before opposing something which is clearly of the Lord. Perhaps we can think here of initiatives in evangelism. You discern an issue which will be a difficulty and you think you are clever in opposing the proposal. If this is the case, don’t forget to be aware of the impact that you can have upon others. Your negativity and discouraging spirit can prompt a malaise which spreads to others. Everyone is soon feeling that it cannot be done. “No point evangelising today nobody listens” becomes the general view, “no point going into that area; no one has ever been saved there.” With all the talk of “it cannot be done” around, evangelism and a desire for church planting is squashed and the church loses all energy. Everyone is discouraged, and progress for God is thwarted.

Rather, what we need is people like Caleb, who after proper assessment and most importantly with their eye on the Lord, says “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numb. 13:30b). Let us be careful to encourage any development which is of the Lord and for the Lord.

This principle of encouragement also applies generally in the life of the church. It is interesting to observe what Paul did after the tumultuous events in Ephesus recorded in Acts 19. When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months (Acts 20:1-3a). Paul always wanted to encourage believers in the ways of the LORD.

Let us be careful to think about our own behaviour and influence. As church members we all have influence on one another. Are you a discourager? Through your behaviour are you discouraging others in the pursuit of the Lord and fulfilment of His purposes in their lives? Perhaps you think what you say and do is irrelevant to the cause of Christ in Feltham. It most certainly is not! You can be a force for good or ill. Remember even the great apostle Peter was once discerned by the Lord to be an instrument of the devil. The Lord said to him “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matt 16:23).

Let us then be an encourager. Always let us be on the look out as to how we can encourage forward the cause of Christ. And finally, let us heed the exhortation to the Hebrew Christians let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24)

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of July 2015)

Forgiveness And Joy.

I was in a bad mood and a bit stressed the other morning. I had asked Charlotte, who works as the Church Administrator, to do something. And she had been a long time coming back to me. I was expecting the response by phone. So I phoned and was angry with her although she had already replied by email. I was wrong and had to apologise and seek forgiveness. Charlotte vice versa apologised and all was resolved.

This all left me a bit chastened because of my sinful weakness. Oh Lord how I need you. It was good to know the relationship between us was restored. But above all there was the confession I had to make to the Lord. And then to know that taste of joy that He does receive sinners. Here was living proof, to my shame, that I was a sinner. But he receives sinners and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. So we must confess.

Thank you Lord for bringing me through that with some humbling, but some joy as well.

Sad Sad World

It’s a sad, sad world and it does not seem to be getting any better! I was struck recently when Paul Fountain reported to us, at Feltham Evangelical Church, about Sri Lanka of the sinful pursuits of many connected with the Sri Lankan situation. Here are some of the things he referred to

  • Workers left impoverished by plantation owners. When the harvest was poor; the workers were left to struggle.
  • Lady workers offered “a better life” and much money to be maids and home helps in the Middle East, but in the end they are simply exploited.
  • Men expecting those ladies employed in their household to supply sexual favors.
  • Blatant lies from a man to facilitate vengeful activity against those who had previously helped him.
  • Children in a Hindu care home left to fend for themselves at a young age.

Truly this is a world in sin and a world full of sinners. And it does not get better. Oh Lord you alone are our hope.

Moreover, we thank the Lord that the Lanka Fellowship of Evangelical Churches and Care Sri Lanka are doing so much to alleviate suffering and bring spiritual and eternal blessing.

Singleness.

All of us either are or have been single. Although, God calls many to be married; He also calls many to be single. To be single is not a second class state. Churches therefore should value everyone in their particular calling. Never, should we pityingly give the impression to single people that one day they will find Mr Right or Miss Right and then everything will be fine. Let us look then at this calling to singleness.

The LORD Jesus

Let us remind ourselves that the only perfect life lived on earth was by a single man. Our Saviour was sinless in all His ways and lived as such without ever being married. Immediately then we realise that singleness is not a second class state to be in.

Also the LORD had close relationships with both men and women. We remember the family in Bethany who welcomed Him to their home; Martha, Mary and Lazarus. His twelve disciples shared in His ministry and developed a closeness to Him. The world around us leads us to think that any close relationship must have a sexual element to it. This thinking is wrong and single people should be encouraged to cultivate close and wholesome relationships. The relationship of David to Jonathan is an example of this.

Purity

The life of our LORD Jesus reminds us that it is most wonderfully possible to live a life of purity in the sight of our God. The calling to singleness is also a calling to sexual purity. Paul could say that to Timothy keep yourself pure (1 Tim. 5:22b) and that should be the desire of all that all single. The Lord in His Word prohibits sex outside of marriage and we fall into sin if we fail in this area. Single people who are “courting” before marriage should be particularly be aware of this. Sex is for marriage and nowhere else.

Freedom

Many think that if only they were within the security of a marriage relationship then they would be really free. However, Paul says effectively that the reverse is true in 1 Cor. 7:32b-34 An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband.  Here Paul is showing that the unmarried person is advantaged over a married person in that they are free to devote themselves to their LORD. A married person has legitimate obligations to fulfil which mean that their freedom in rendering service to their God is to a degree hindered.

Of course herein there is a challenge to the unmarried to make sure that they use their extra freedom profitably. So easily we fritter away the time we have available to serve our LORD.

Relationship

One of the great things that an unmarried person can miss is that of having a close relationships to another individual. However, one of the great things about being a Christian is that we have a relationship with our Eternal Father God in heaven. Satan would want to persuade the single person that they are lonely and missing out in living a fulfilled life. We should fight against these lies. The Lord is our faithful companion who has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Paul knew something of this wonderful enduring relationship and could say towards the end of his life when facing trial that At my first defence, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength (2 Tim. 4:16-17a). People will let us down; even the very best of them. However, the LORD will never let us down. How amazing it is that we have such a great God.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of December 2004).

Church Newsletter

Here is our church newsletter for December 2017. It contains an article on conviction of sin.

Paddington 2.

I went to see Paddington 2 with my son, Daniel, on Monday.

One observation I had subsequent to going was the film’s desire to prove the point that there is something good in everyone. Obviously to be a proper film it had to have some baddies and goodies. But there seems a desire to make sure we knew that all have redeeming features.

This was particularly brought out when we saw the baddy, who had been put in prison suddenly emerge out of the end-of film credits, leading a song-and-dance routine in the prison and altogether making it a better place for everyone. We had to be informed that he was not so bad after all.

This all reminds me of the words from Paul McCartney in the song “Ebony and Ivory” which he performed with Stevie Wonder:

We all know that people are the same wherever you go.
There is good and bad in ev’ryone.
We learn to live, when we learn to give.
Each other what we need to survive, together alive.

I am particularly thinking of the line” there is good and bad in ev’ryone”.  And I do not want to downplay the kindness and self-sacrifice that can even appear in the life of the most unruly.

However, the biblical picture is somewhat different. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away (Is. 64:6). This is the view of Scripture. Even our best stuff is contaminated by our uncleanness.

So we do not need to be patted on the back about our goodness. Rather we need to know our goodness it not as good as it seems. We need a Saviour.

By the way the film was OK. Solid family entertainment. A little predictable perhaps though!

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