Thought for the Week - 29th October

Pastor Gareth Watkins

John 12: 24-26

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies,
it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
He who loves his life will lose it,
and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me;
and where I am, there My servant will be also.
If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

Earlier in the week, at a church meeting we watched a powerful video about Richard Wurmbrand. Jailed by the communists for being a Christian, he spent fourteen years in solitary confinement, beaten and tortured because of his love of God. His was not a wasted life. He prayed and preached while in captivity, and God sent angels to take those sermons all over the world. Since his release, his books and sermons have touched many millions across the world. Because of his faithfulness in his suffering, he will see his blessings unto eternity.

Life today can suck everything out of us. In some respects, the more we have the more we want… and the less we want of God! We get comfortable and complacent. How many Christians today would have denied their faith quickly when faced with the sufferings wrought upon Richard Wurmbrand?

The world is in disarray. Every day we see more and more Christian martyrs across the world. Indeed, that life appears to lay ahead for us all. Yet, so many Christians focus on the here and now, ignoring the eternity that lays ahead of us. Our families, our lives, our jobs etc. are important; but God needs to be our focus.

We read in the verses above that we are to be like grains of wheat. We are to die to self so that God can work in us. We are to give our lives over to Him, so He can use us for the plans and purposes He has had for us since before we were even born. We need to die to the things of this life. Yet, as Christians, we can often seek to take back control of our life. We can see life coming back into areas of our life that should be dead. Our spiritual life needs to be our focus, and those things that are dead should not be turned back to.

In Acts 12: 1-19 we read:

Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”

So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”

Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place.

Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.

In this passage, we read about how King Herod killed James. He then imprisoned Peter. After constant praying by the Church, God brought a miracle – He created circumstances that would otherwise have been impossible, allowing Peter to escape!

We need to bring all things to Christ in prayer. Prayer is so very important! Yet often we don’t have enough hunger to pray. If you read the experiences of Brother Yun, you’ll see even more examples about how God answers prayer. Prison doors were opened for him too! We need to look to God to bring about the miracles, rather than being wrapped up in our small worlds. We can be bound in a prison, such as circumstances we can’t break through or get free from. As we die to self, something of God can break into the situation. Only God can break the prison and change those circumstances! Bring all things to Him in prayer.

Are you allowing God to move in your life, or are you grabbing things back?

God wants to bring us into a place where we are prepared to die; where we have died to our own passion and desires. He wants all the impurity out of our lives. For when the impurities are taken out of our lives, people can see the reflection of Christ Himself!

We must allow God to have more of our lives. We must put back those things that we have taken back… and put them under God. We must bring it all to Him in prayer.



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