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

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Worship Priority

King Hezekiah was a good man; who lived well for the glory of his God. If we are sensible, that is exactly what we should desire for ourselves. So we read these words concerning Hezekiah He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them.  (2 Chron. 29:2-3)

This establishes a significant principle for us. It is that worship must not just be “a” priority in our lives, but be ‘the’ priority in our lives. When we lose this focus then our lives are always impoverished as a result. Worship should be at the centre of our lives. Hezekiah teaches us well here. He could have done a multitude of things as he set to move the ways of God forward after the vacillating leadership of his father, Ahaz. But he was wise and put worship at the centre. He realised the temple must be operating appropriately if ever the people of God are to be operating properly.

What lesson is this? It must apply:-

  • Personally.  So I must get worship flourishing in my life. I should be going to the Word to find material to bring praise to my great God and his Son.
  • Collectively. When we prioritise anything over worship in our churches then we are always likely to go adrift.

 

Gay Pride

I happened to be in close proximity to the Gay Pride march in Oxford earlier in the month. Some things struck me.

How acceptable this all is.

I noticed a bank and business society displaying the rainbow insignia in their windows. To not be an adherent to the LGBT+ agenda is now seen as being out of touch. And if your business is not with the LGBT+ agenda then you are considered discriminatory and bigoted.

How normal this all is.

Looking at the people taking part it seemed that so many were just your average families with parents and kids. Yes there were those who were more “odd”, but the normality of the participants I saw struck me. It was as if you are not part of the in-crowd if you are not participating. How much has changed in twenty-five years; in fact probably ten years.

On 18th September 2003 s28 of the Local Government act 1988 which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools was repealed. This seems like another age completely from where we are today. But that is only fifteen years ago.

How dangerous this all is.

The whole agenda of LGBT+ is a rejection of two fundamental creatorial principles as established in God’s Word. These are:

  • We are made male and female.
  • Sexual relationships are to be between one man and one woman in marriage.

Such principles are the bedrock of a society to function healthy. Moreover, the throwing aside of these standard leads me to ask what other standards will go next. I suggest the driving force in it all is that of establishing a consensus rather than maintaining established principles.

When  consensus drives the agenda we can end anywhere, You might be interested to hear what happened in Rwanda when consensus led to the slaughter of thousands. Listen about that here. In this programme Alan Little uses the eerie phrase “democratisation of evil”. Mmmmmmh makes me wonder about what is going on in our own society.

Love Island

So as I sit down to my breakfast I am greeted by some advert on the Kelloggs cornflakes packet about winning tickets to the Love Island finale.

Now I have never watched Love Island, and so some would say, I am in no position to say anything. However, I am aware enough, to know that it is about watching beautiful people interacting and manoeuvring around and with each other to see who ends up having sex with who. Please correct me if I am wrong in that understanding. This is now prime entertainment in our culture and the advert on the Kelloggs packet tells me how mainstream it has become.

Apparently only the football beat Love Island into second place for popular TV watching in 2018 for 18 to 34 year-olds. And all the while reports come out that we are having less sex than ever.

Oh what a mess this all is. That which is a precious gift from God to be enjoyed within the bonds of marriage, by a man and a woman (husband and wife), has become cheap entertainment. Now you can argue about it being a study in how people interact in certain circumstances, but surely that is a smokescreen for the fact that people watch it for who is going to go with who and how far.

And while we titillate ourselves in our voyeuristic engagement with Love Island we have lost the real joy of sex. Marriages that can be sweetened by this beautiful gift are losing out.

We are a society saturated by sex and increasingly we have not got a clue what it’s for and how it should fit in with our lives. All the while the pornography industry prospers, nicely nudged along by Love Island of course and lives are ruined.

If only we would stick with God’s plan we would be saved from all this mess of course. Strange that isn’t it? No, not strange at all because God’s way is always the best way.

And Lord please have mercy on our nation. In losing you we are losing everything.

Lloyd-Jones and Prayer

Here is a quote from Dr Lloyd Jones on prayer from Preachers and Preaching pp. 170-171:

Above all – and this I regard as most important of all – always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this—always obey such an impulse. Where does it come from? It is the work of the Holy Spirit; it is a part of the meaning of, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13)

This often leads to some of the most remarkable experiences of the minister. So never resist, never postpone it, never push it aside because you are busy. Give yourself to it, yield to it; and you will find not only that you have not been wasting time with respect to the matter with which you are dealing, but that actually it has helped you greatly in that respect. You will experience an ease and a facility in understanding what you are reading, in thinking, in ordering matter for a sermon, in writing, in everything, which is quite astonishing. Such a call to prayer must never be regarded as a distraction; always respond to it immediately and thank God if it happens to you frequently.

It specifically related to those in a preaching ministry, However, I believe it is applicable to all of us. Since reading this statement many years ago it is something I have pondered upon from time-to-time. If I could extend his thoughts further, I would say that we should be asking for these times of impulse that we might have a real unction in prayer and real fellowship with our God. And also a reminder here that if we are too busy to pray then we are too busy and need to sort our lives out.

And finally if you are a preacher you must read Preachers and Preaching.

I Must Enquire of the Lord

We read from Joshua 9 on Sunday. The passage is about how the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites in order to preserve themselves. They accomplished this through an elaborate scam to convince the Israelites that they came from a far distance. Regrettably the Israelites fell for this and made a covenant with the Gibeonites to the guarantee their preservation.

There is a key statement reflecting upon the Israelites decision. It reads: The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not enquire of the LordThen Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath (Josh 9:14-15). Their telling non-action, was to not enquire of the Lord. Thereby, they set themselves up for ending up in a mess.

How we need to learn this. How I need to learn this! In all my decisions I need to enquire of the Lord. Prayer must be involved. Due consideration of the Lord’s mind revealed in Scripture must be involved.

Remember the principle if we do not enquire of the Lord we will end in a mess.

(Originally posted at venabling on 31/07/2014)

Underneath Are The Everlasting Arms.

Do you ever feel that your life is falling apart? Are you ever in a situation of wondering how you are ever going to get through some event you are anticipating? In the difficulties of life the non-Christian is cast upon the vagaries of what life throws at them. However, the Christian’s lot is so much more blessed. The Christian has a God whom they can rely on to protect them through all the rigours of life.

The Word of God says The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deut 33:27a). When all around us there is turbulence and uncertainty, we can find a place of safety in our God. Our God is our dwelling place where we know warmth and protection. Notice the word does not say “was” or “shall be”; it says “is”. He always is our refuge. We do not have to wonder whether he will be there for us. Here is a promise of permanent security in our God in the midst of life’s troubles. Furthermore, He is our eternal God. There will never be a time when He will not be our God. Thereby there will never be a time when He will not be our refuge.

Jesus, my heart’s dear Refuge
has died for me;
Firm on the Rock of Ages
Ever my trust shall be.

But this God is also the One who has everlasting arms. It is not surprising that His arms are everlasting because He is eternal. So these arms are always there. Moreover, because He is the Eternal God, He is also always strong enough to bear all of our weight. Like a baby in the arms of his/her mother, there is never any doubt that these arms are strong enough to hold us.

Accordingly, we can think of ourselves with every potential problem and issue in life. We can think of the burdens that bear upon us and sometimes we feel are crushing us. Then we realise that underneath are the everlasting arms. When we fall under the strains and stresses of life, His arms are strong enough to bear us up. We can never fall into an abyss where everything falls and fails forever. We have everlasting arms that always will hold; they always will catch us. Never will our burdens prove to heavy for His arms.

To which you say “I do not always feel these things”. But the Lord’s promise here is unconditional; it is a statement of fact. Whether we feel it or not he is always our refuge and His arms are always there.

We raise then the question: will there ever be an end to these things? No, never! We are His; we belong to Jesus. And He, to whom we belong, says: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand (John 10:28). These arms will never be removed and never will their strength diminish. Moreover He has promised to be with us always:

God has said,Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Heb. 13:5b-6)

How can we be assured that all this is true? We go to Calvary. We see our Saviour God, Jesus, there dying upon the cross. Here is love vast as the oceans. Here is the Son of God loving me and giving Himself for Me. Everlastingly we are safe in His refuge and held in His arms. The cross of Christ tells us that God is committed to us with such a passion that He gave of His best. He gave of his Son. And we are eternally blessed in Him.

So whatever, mental, emotional, physical or spiritual affliction shall come upon me I shall not fear. Let us go on knowing that His refuge is secure enough and His arms are strong enough for all our needs. And let us thankfully sing:

Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world’s temptations;
Sin cannot harm me there.

Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of July 2012

We are closed on December 29th

I came across a leaflet from a local church recently which gave their itinerary over the Christmas period. One interesting observation was that there were no services on December 29th. A quick check of your calendar will reveal that this is a Sunday. What are we to make of that? I must say it perplexes me.

Here are some thoughts.

  • The special day on which Christians are to gather together is a Sunday; the first day of the week. Our special day is the day of the Lord’s resurrection. We are a resurrection people.  We read, for example, of the Corinthians how Paul says to them  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made (1 Cor. 16:2). The implication is that they were coming together on the first day of the week. There seems something wrong when we specifically say we are not going to meet on this day.
  • The celebration of Christmas Day has no biblical mandate. Accordingly as a day of celebration, Sunday is more important than Christmas Day because there is Biblical precedent for it.
  • We should, of course, be delighting in the wonder of the incarnation all the time. In fact every Sunday we should celebrate the coming of Jesus into this world
  • Sunday is our “Refreshment” Day. It is the day we come together to re-align our lives with the Lord’s purposes for our lives. He has given us this day for our renewal. One of the ways God’s people are renewed is by being together in church.
  • God works according to a weekly pattern; He established this in creation. God orders things in His own special way. He is a God, in that sense of routine. And we, who are created in His image, operate sensibly when we  follow good routine; that is his routine. It is good, if we can, to stick with our special day on a Sunday.
  • Moreover, the pattern set at creation is one day of rest in seven. The Lord’s pattern is established of six days work and one days rest (see Ex. 20:11). It is always wholesome to seek to follow God’s pattern. Sunday is our “rest” day from the normal activities of life.

And if you are at a loose end, we are due to be open at Feltham Evangelical Church at 9:30 am and 11:00 am on December 29th.

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