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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Here is our church newsletter for December 2017. It contains an article on conviction of sin.
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!
I was responsible for a minor catastrophe this morning; I burnt the porridge. It was like this. I had a few moments before going out for some exercise, so I thought I would be clever and start cooking some porridge so that it would be well on its way to being ready to eat for when we returned.
After being out for awhile it came to my mind that I could not be sure whether I had turned off the gas on the hob or not. I came back post-haste to find a gurgling morass on the stove and a smoke filled kitchen and living room. Forthwith I sought to deal with the damage.
And then I had to face the family and in particular my wife, May Lin.
What shocks me in retrospect is the ease with which self-justification reared its head in my heart. I started to look for other circumstances or people to blame. Shocking really given that I was completely culpable. But was I? Yes of course I was. I had failed to turn the hob off. I had forgotten. I had caused the whole mess.
So I did apologise to one and all and confess that I was wrong.
But what had gone on in my heart still sobers me somewhat. So the truth of Jeremiah 17:9 remains.
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
Oh Lord deliver me from myself and my waywardness. i need you.
We breathe in the air of secular humanism constantly in the West. It is the dominating philosophy and we as Christians are relentlessly exposed to its insidious teachings. Continually, we are told that God either does not exist or if He does He is not relevant. The message is that it is material goods and possessions which are vital in determining our welfare.
In such an atmosphere, all issues are viewed from a resource perspective. So governments are continually responding to matters by ‘throwing money’ at them. Politicians prove their success in dealing with a situation by how much resource has been put into a situation.
Having imbibed this culture we so easily follow suit in how we deal with matters in church. Accordingly, we look to bring blessing through bringing resources. Now, this of course has its place. Taking food resources to an impoverished family is going to bring blessing.
However, the reality is that the core problems of humanity are not to do with resources but to do with relationship. We were created to live in relationship with God and with other human beings. So much of the collapse of our society is to do with relationship breakdown. This may be on a macro scale when many people believe themselves disenfranchised from achieving in society. Or at a micro level with marriage and families in breakdown.
Resources do not rectify these breakdowns. There needs to be something deeper. It is only the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ that can ultimately touch these issues and bring healing. When people are returning to a relationship with God then relationships with others start to heal.