Thought for the Week - 26th JanuaryPastor Gareth Watkins
Last night’s supper evening was a good night and a wonderful blessing, it was lovely to see all the different people and visitors. I asked people what good things God had done in their lives in 2019, and it was lovely to hear people say the many good things God has done.
The scripture from last night was about the calling of Christ and His purpose on this earth to bring the good news. There was a lot of good news in the room, and the atmosphere was extremely rich. Praise God for the good news.
One challenge came for me with all the nice food shared last night, I’d gained a pound on the scales this morning. I knew I’d not followed my diet, and there on the scale was the consequence for my action. I was gutted.
I thought of the spiritual lesson that could be taken from that also. Am I allowed to do what I like in the Christian world? Can I come to Christ, find God as my Saviour, then do as I like? The answer is no I can’t.
In my spiritual life I could do as I like, but it wouldn’t be without consequence. Some people come to church, have a blessing and do what they like, but they won’t get the good news of God in their life. They won’t get the good news of the blessing of Christ, they won’t get the good news that their chains are still broken, nor that they are free from oppression.
Last night’s good news was that Christ came to set the captives free, to free those who have been oppressed, and restore sight to the blind. We all know scripture like that, but then the next bit comes of what do I have to do in response to that scripture? The answer is that I then must be obedient to Christ. That obedience is something we’ve got to consider all our days.
In our sinful life against God, this is a serious matter. We take steps forward and we don’t want to take steps backwards. There are those that say, come to God and get a blessing, find the grace of God and everything will be alright, but I don’t see it like that. I don’t see the bible teaching that and I don’t see that in the examples of lives I know.
I see that we must go forward, and we have to keep on going forward, taking no steps backwards. We might fall, get it wrong sometimes and have lessons to learn, and it might cost us, but that’s alright as we all get those times. Still our eyes have to be fixed firmly forward to the One that we are going towards.
This is a much more serious thing, where there are serious consequences. Consequences for allowing yourself to be rebellious in your own will against God, doing whatever you like.
This is what God said in Revelation:
“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.’’
We can’t be fast and loose with the things of God; our actions are evident and the commission for Jesus Christ is declared.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
The poor- that’s us, spiritually poor.
So, what’s next when you’ve accepted Christ as your Saviour? When you know you’ve been freed from your sin, and you’ve been set free from oppression? When you are freed from your chains? What’s next? Do you get a problem free life? Is life perfectly straight? Without a spot, problem or issue after that moment when you found Christ as your Saviour?
The answer for me is no, we have never been promised a problem free life. Problems come with the world we are in. We are in a sinful world and we have never been promised a life free from problems, and Christ knew that when He came. He knew that we would have to face troubles. We are not promised a world where the is no trouble, but we are promised that Christ is with us.
‘’ These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Christ has overcome all the troubles of this world. The problems are not going to be taken from us, but He will be with us through them, and bring us out the other side. There are many trials and difficulties that can come, but praise God for He has promised to be with us. He has overcome the world, and as we are in Him, we can overcome the world. We are now to find a new life that is held within the structure and the protection and the provision of Christ.
‘’In Me you may have peace’’…not the peace of the world, a peace that Christ gives to those who believe. We are not promised a problem free life, we’ve been promised to have our sins forgiven.
We have to journey through this life, and as we go through troubles and tribulations, ‘’be of good cheer.’’ It is hard to smile when it feels as though all is going wrong, when life is tough, and life can be very tough for some. Turn to God for peace and be of good cheer, what else have you got to turn to?
When it comes down to it there is not much else left. The world can’t give you peace, but Christ promises us in this world we live in, whilst we are in it, that He will give us His peace and that we will overcome the world.
Do we believe that we can overcome the world? We have come so far on this Christian journey, but can we overcome the next step and or the next trouble, until we come to that date where we stand to pass over into eternity? At that point will you know where you stand? Will you be holding on to Christ without difficulty between you and your Saviour, or will you be in a place of neither hot nor cold?
Troubles will come but you’ve got someone to take you through, someone there in the morning, through your every difficulty, and as you lay your head to rest and sleep at night. He will give you His peace. He will give you His peace because that is His commitment to you. ‘‘My peace I give to you.’’
He has overcome the world, and these troubles will only last a season of time, then we will be in eternity. Eternity is forever and we have to pick our eyes up and look, remember what we are doing, we are not here for long. Life and eternity with Christ is forever and He looks after us until that day.
‘’4 Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous…
7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.’’
‘’Unto the upright there arises a light in the darkness’’… When you’re going through your dark times, if you are righteous in God, if you are going along the path God has got for you, then it says for you that in the darkness a light will arise. Difficulty may come, battles may come, but in that day if you walk upright before God, and keep your spiritual life as right as it can possibly be, then in that day when darkness comes, His light will come.
We can think, how can that light come for me? For them? For a person from a terrible background? For a person who has acted and spoken this way or in that way? That’s where God comes. He has to come into that mess and sort all those things that we can’t, bringing His light into that person, making them upright before Him. He will do that. He will speak to them, encourage them, lift them up and bring them His peace.
‘’The upright’’… that’s where the blessing is, but it is His strength that holds us up. In the difficulty we can be regarded as the upright, as long as we keep our eyes fixed. He will bring the light in, He will make the darkness flee, He will look at us in a way that we perhaps don’t deserve.
God is gracious and is full of compassion, does that mean He loves you in your adversity? Yes, it does. Does it mean that He loves you in your difficulties, when you’re weighed down in problems? Yes, it does.
He has compassion, love and a kingdom for us, because we are His righteous people, made righteous because of Christ. If we do not bend unto the standards of this world, if we do not bend unto the selfish desire that comes out of our own heart, and if we do not turn to the left or the right, then we will be called His righteous people.
Can we not say in this that God is good? Can we not say in this that Jesus is our wonderful Saviour? He came to bring us good news, to the poor and afflicted, for chains to be broken off. His light given in our darkness so that we may endure. Would you stand fervent? Stand as a child of God who knows their Saviour and will not yield? Would you let Christ come to you? To heal your hurts and be set free from captivity? Would you let his light come into your darkness?
‘’He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD’’ (Psalm 112:7)