Thought for the Week - 9th June

Pastor Gareth Watkins

Genesis 6:3

3 And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”


Psalm 95: 7-11

Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work. 10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation, And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”


Lamentations 1: 1-2

1 How lonely sits the city That was full of people! How like a widow is she, Who was great among the nations! The princess among the provinces Has become a slave! 2 She weeps bitterly in the night, Her tears are on her cheeks; Among all her lovers She has none to comfort her. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; They have become her enemies.


These are verses that I felt were for a volume of churches. The churches around our area were once full of people. If you drive around the main roads and side streets, you see big churches everywhere. These are incredible and beautiful churches, ornate with moulded ceilings. They used to be full.

This, for me, is the lonely city spoken of in Lamentations:

How lonely sits the city That was full of people!
How like a widow is she, Who was great among the nations!

The place spoken of is empty when it was previously alive. It was once great among the nations. If we think of the Welsh Revival, these churches were once great among the nations. The Welsh Revival sent people around the world. When people come to places like the Welsh Bible College, they remember the Evan Roberts’ and the preachers that set the spiritual life. Not just in Wales, they set the world alight. They sent their people all over the world.

Now those churches that sent those people who were full of the life of God, have become silent and empty. How lonely sits the church that was once full of people. How like a widow she is, who was once great among the nations. She is not great among the nations anymore.

In a sense, the church at large is lost. It’s a slave. How can a church become a slave? It’s very simple. I remember one church signing up for all kinds of grants. In order to get the grant they had to agree with the terms and conditions of the body giving them the grant. They may have nice new equipment, but some of those terms and conditions were contrary to what God would have us do. Dome churches have gone into these things and wonder why, down the road, they’re in trouble. They’re in trouble because they’re slaves to that generation and not unto God anymore.

They moan and they squeal and their lost. They have other lovers, which are not God. If we go into those churches, there’s a lot of treachery that goes on between groups and within circles. It comes down to this, she’s like a grieving widow that was once part of a great marriage.

Has God changed? Is He different in 2019 to all those centuries ago when people were sinning in the days of Noah? The answer is no.

In Genesis above we read that His spirit will not always strive with man forever. For those churches that were once alive – when they started to sell their birth right, started going down the wrong road, and started made alliances with the wrong things – then God ultimately will not strive with that church or individual forever.

In the days of the Old Testament, it talks about the children of Israel testing God and not being obedient to God. They come to a place where they grieved God. This is similar to some churches today. They grieved God. We read in Psalms above that God says “they will not enter my rest”. In other words, the spirit of God has gone out of them and they’re not in a peaceful position anymore because God isn’t blessing them. They don’t enter the rest. There’s troubles and wars and obstacles. All sorts of things because they’re not part of the things of God in the way they should be.

God hasn’t changed. God’s standards haven’t changed. God hasn’t abandoned the church. But He can’t dwell in this place that doesn’t want this right relationship with Him. The result is this lonely city that was once full of people, but is now like a slave.

If God hasn’t changed and He doesn’t strive with the church forever, and the church doesn’t enter His rest, where do you go then? It starts off with a reality check in Lamentations 1: 8:

Jerusalem has sinned gravely,
Therefore she has become vile.
All who honored her despise her
Because they have seen her nakedness;
Yes, she sighs and turns away.

This talks about the effects on sin on Jerusalem. Jerusalem being God’s city, God’s people and the place that God has set apart for Himself – that’s the church today. If God hasn’t changed, and God isn’t going to strive with the church, what do we conclude? We conclude that the church – and those within the church that make up the church – need to have a reality check and see what sin is really all about. If the church doesn’t have its sense of what is right and wrong before God, and if that relationship with God has been broken, then the destiny of the church will collapse.

This is what we see in our area. This is why people from Singapore have to come over to this country to do things in the Bible College that we ourselves should be doing in our churches. Why do they have to come? Because we can’t do it. We’re weak, we’re hopeless. But they can do it. We’re lost. Partly because of the ministers, who have given in and no longer preach or enforce God’s standards. The minister in a sense has to make sure that the church is walking right before God. They will bend the knee before a powerful person within the church. That brings a stream into the church that will be a sinful stream and a wrong stream, and won’t bear good fruit. The reality check has to come in the church – what the individuals are doing, what the church is doing, what the church stands for, and how it goes forward.

Jeremiah is writing in Lamentations that Jerusalem – the church of God and the people of God – have sinned gravely. And God says that she’s become vile. What a statement! I’m not saying the churches have become vile, but there is sin that needs to be worked out within the church. Because the consequences are that the churches that were once full of people, position and strived for the things of God have gone. The ministers have to take responsibility for that position. The priest in those days had to take responsibilities for what happened in Jerusalem, because they led the people. And if they didn’t lead the people rightly, then it was down to them and God. The consequences and the gravity of the condition has to be seen for what it is.

It’s a graphic image:

Therefore she has become vile.
All who honored her despise her
Because they have seen her nakedness;

And it goes on. The conditions of the church have gone to a place where they’re lost. Until the time where the people start to cry out to God for change. The people themselves – within the church, within the body – start to cry out to God for a change. It’s God that brings this change about. The people start to cry out: save me from our sin, save the church from its sin, deliver me from my circumstance, deliver my church from its circumstance. That starts to have an effect within the church that spins out of the church into the community. Ordinary people can be brought together by God and it can spill out into the community.

In Lamentations 5:1 we read:

1 Remember, O Lord, what has come upon us; Look, and behold our reproach!
2 Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, And our houses to foreigners.
3 We have become orphans and waifs, Our mothers are like widows.

The people start to cry out to God. There should have been an inheritance due to us as Godly people that was based of years from the Revival and periods before that. It should have been ours, but it wasn’t because it was lost. Where is the anointing that people like Evan Roberts and the Joshua Brothers, the anointing that filled places like the Albert Hall, that brought miracles so many that they couldn’t write enough books on them? Where’s those anointing in our churches today? We see a seed of it – a little of it – in places like Bless Wales.

Years ago, ordinary people from places like Maesteg, were sent to the Albert Hall. It would be filled with people and testimonies would abound about great healings and miraculous signs and wonders. We don’t see it anymore. Those churches that sent those people are now shut. Maesteg has beautiful churches, but it’s practically closed in terms of churches. They’re empty, they’re like tombs. It’s almost like God has gone away. Until the day we hear the ordinary people cry out once again: Lord remember us, look at our inheritance.

I’m fed up of seeing lovely churches being turned into something else, like a block of flats. God didn’t make these places to be ruined, destroyed. They were supposed to be beautiful pristine places meant to glorify God.

Our inheritance, has been diminished greatly by the ministers, the denomination, and the church itself. Here we are. Starting to turn the corner:

1 Remember, O Lord, what has come upon us; Look, and behold our reproach!

Do you feel that for your church? For your community? Many people don’t care anymore. It’s all about the job, the money, the image. Anything but God. The benefits are being felt in the families, the children, the schools.

3 We have become orphans and waifs, Our mothers are like widows.

Remember us o Lord, where we’ve come from. Look at our circumstance. Look at our inheritance. That’s where we find John the Baptist. That is where we find Jesus. Their ministry starts with them saying that we need to repent. Peter goes one step further – he starts with the need to repent, but goes onto say to be baptised in the name of Jesus. He goes further again saying that we need to receive the Holy Spirit. Peter recognises what is needed in terms of repentance. He also takes it one steps further. These guys were in a place where the church is starting. Peter is giving them the tools of the job – how do you go forward in this circumstance under God, how do you repair and retain the inheritance that needs to be passed onto your children? Peter says to repent. To be baptised. And to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Many churches don’t even teach that anymore. What authority, power and position you’ll have and the church will have – when the gift of the Holy Spirit is brought into being in the individual’s life, is brought into the middle of the church, and is brought into the homes and into the children. That is the power that brings about the change and stops this decline happening. These people start to cry out:

1 Remember, O Lord, what has come upon us; Look, and behold our reproach!

They know they’re lost. They know that the whitewashed walls and buildings are in decay, and there’s nothing there. This gift of the Holy Spirit is an encounter with God Himself. The person of the Holy Spirit will make the difference.

True repentance takes us into a whole new world. What is your sin life like that needs to be repented of? What’s your sin life like that’s affected people in the church. Above is what it gets like if we don’t deal with it. The building becomes empty, lost, and Jerusalem has nothing left to give.

Do you agree?

Man’s condition and the church’s position can only be helped by true repentance. Without it, it’s helpless. In Lamentations 5: 21 we read:

Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored;
Renew our days as of old,

To find people en masse to fill these places up must have been an incredible thing! Somehow, God must have brought them one by one. They must have come to fill up that place. The days of old we can’t reflect on – we’ve lost our inheritance. We can’t reflect on the power, the authority and the wonderful things that must have been going on in those meetings. We can’t reflect on Evan Roberts crying “bend me oh Lord” and the entire church singing the same song thirteen or fourteen times! The anointing that must have been in those meetings must have been so rich that it was directed by God Himself.

Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored;
Renew our days as of old,

They know they can’t turn without God. Truly repenting unto Christ takes us unto a true walk with God, into a true revelation, and a true experience of the Holy Spirit Himself. Why is that important? Why is the Holy Spirit important? Do we want streams of living water flowing in our lives, or do we want to be breathing dry dust? Do we want a stream of life coming out of us?

We want to be alive to the power of God, we want to feel the power of the Holy Spirit! Spiritual life! Full of life! We want the blessing of God. We want colour in our church. We need beauty and colour. All of these things by the encounter with the Holy Spirit Himself.

Can the church have favour with God again? I think that unless they change, they won’t. Unless they repent, they won’t. Unfortunately the ministers of those churches don’t see this. Unless they repent, they will be apart from God. Set apart from God in an ungodly way. Not feeding on that stream of life. Not being filled with the Holy Spirit. Not repenting. The Holy Spirit should be in the midst.

Are we in a place where we’re repenting and keeping a short account? Are we asking God to fill us with Himself? We have to do the same. It’s about us before God. Are we right before God today? Are we dealing with our sins?

Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored;
Renew our days as of old,

If you’re not on fire as you were, if you’re not as far on as you previously were… It comes through repentance, being baptised into your own death in Christ, being resurrected into a new life, and accepting that gift of the Holy Spirit to take you on.


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