Thursday, March 19, 2020

Where to turn in a world of worry?

The world is full of a virus at the moment, it has affected everybody to some degree. It is contagious and can spread from person to person, its name is fear. 

Fear of the Corona virus or Covid-19.

Perhaps you haven’t panic-bought toilet paper yet, but if you're honest this is an incredibly anxious time to be alive.

Although you may be happy that your school or work has sent you home, the worries of not completing exams, falling behind with work and not getting paid are very real.

You may take comfort from the fact that if you catch Corona virus as a young fit person the worst you will get is a bad cold for a couple of days, but this doesn’t stop you worrying for the health of the elderly and vulnerable in your family and the wider community.

You might be enjoying time at home playing computer games and reading and yet it is hard not to feel the world is changing around us and may never be the same again.

Well, where do we turn when we feel anxious and worried? What can we rely on?

God’s word, the Bible is an incredible source of comfort.

In Philipians Ch 4v8 the apostle Paul tells fellow Christians to think on things which…are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

With that in mind I want to share a few verses that give me immense comfort at this time:

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

You are important to God. Your heavenly Father takes account of the sparrows,
how much more is He concerned with you?

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go
Joshua 1:9

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
Hebrews 13:5-6

Although we may feel like God has abandoned us at times, He promises to be with His people no matter the circumstances. What better time than now, to draw closer to Him?

 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:4

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

God is near to us and has given us the great resource of prayer.
Use it, talk to Him and receive the peace and calm that only God can give.

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Remember above all God loves you. As great as your anxieties and worries are at this time, His care is far greater, His love is far stronger.

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

And nothing can separate us from His love.

 “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” 
Revelation 21:3-5

Ultimately this Corona crisis underlines that we live in a broken world, one that is groaning and needs to be fixed. Well, God is not finished with this world and one day He will make all things new.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:25-34

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 

Practically we have to just take one day at a time. We have to consciously choose to trust in God’s promises and plans and to believe He is working all things for our good. There has never been a better opportunity to commit all your plans and desires to God. To leave them in His hands. To trust Him for all that is to come.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The BEST morning routine...

What is your morning routine like?
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Maybe even the word routine is a bit strong for what happens in your house in the morning! But I’m sure there are a few things you do every morning.Whether it is cleaning your teeth,getting some breakfast, or like many of us lifting our phones as soon as we wake to check social media. 

Interestingly, Youtube is full of vloggers and celebrities discussing their morning rituals. You can find thousands of people willing to share their life hacks on how to be more productive. Showing you how to get that morning work out in and the importance of setting your clothes out the night before!
All good advice, but sadly most of us watch these videos late at night and then wake up in a rush after hitting the snooze button 5 times!

The question we should be asking is what would Jesus’ morning routine look like. 
Although every morning of the Lord Jesus’ life is not recorded in the Bible, we do have an account of what seems to have been typical morning for the Him here on earth, in Mark 1: 34-39.

34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons

What did Jesus’ morning routine look like? 

The verses begin with an account of very busy day in the life of the Lord Jesus, one filled with service; healing and casting out devils. We read in v 38-39 that the next day for Jesus was also going to be marked by busy service. So having just completed a busy day and with a full schedule for tomorrow we might expect that the Lord Jesus would choose to take it easy in the morning. However we see even when Jesus was at His most busy, He still prioritised prayer! 
We read in V35 of the Lord Jesus’ morning routine. He began each day free from distractions in talking to his Father.

We can learn number things from our Lord’s morning routine:

He got up early…

Now this is not easy, especially for teenagers (its medically proven), but it is really important to start good habits young (Proverbs 22:6). No one expects you to get up at 4.30am every morning to pray, but what about setting your alarm just 10 minutes earlier? Waking up and committing your day to God, will mean you will have begun the day being proactive rather than reactive. Instead of hurling yourself into the days stresses and strains, how much better to begin by talking to the one who holds this world in His hands. Nothing worth doing comes easy, in fact it always involves some form of sacrifice. The Lord Jesus’ morning routine involved sacrifice and so should yours. 

He looked for a place free from distraction… 

The Lord went out form His house and away form the people he was staying with so he could have some uninterrupted time with God. 
This world is not set up to help us find silence and solitude. Distractions are all around us.
When was the last time you went for a walk without headphones?Or left your phone at home when you went shopping!? 
We are the generation who struggle to watch a film without checking our phone every 5 minutes. 
This all makes finding a time and place in your day for silent, solitary reflection in prayer is even more important. You don't have to climb the nearest mountain to do this. The Lord Jesus himself advised us to find a room, close the door and pray to God (Matthew 6:6) 

Jesus valued prayer above all else. 

Lastly we learn from the Lord Jesus’ morning routine was that He valued prayer above all else. Despite the business of His life and the many demands people put on Him, He did not use these as an excuse. Instead, He got up early and found a place without distraction so he could talk with God.

So how’s your morning going? 

Have taken sometime to talk to God?

No time in prayer is wasted.  

As we begin a new month why not commit to beginning each day in prayer and see what happens! 


Monday, November 4, 2019

Assurance of salvation

The question that we need to ask ourselves is what does it means to be saved?

According to the dictionary there are 4 definitions of this word:
1. To keep safe from harm or danger
2. To keep and store up
3. Keep by moving a copy to a storage location
4. Avoid the need to use up or spend
Well, the first definition is the one we have to focus on. 
God wants to keep us safe from harm and danger.

In the Garden of Eden God planted trees that were good for food; but there was one tree that God
commanded Adam not to eat of. He warned Adam that if he was to eat of the fruit of that tree he
would certainly die (Gen 2:16-17). This was a sure thing! Adam disobeyed God and as a
consequence sin and death entered the world.

We can see throughout the ages the results of one man’s sin. Adam and Eve sinned against God,
resulting in all mankind inheriting that sinful nature. The Bible tells us that we are born in sin and
shaped in iniquity (Psalms 51:5). 

So because of one man sin entered the world and because of sin death came to all (Romans 5:12). We all will die, that is if the Lord does not come before to take those that have put their trust in Him. 

God also tells us that if we die in our sin - having not trusted in the Lord Jesus, we will face the judgement that is to come. We will face the wrath of God and be eternally separated from Him. What a terrible thing this will be! The place that will be for those who haven’t excepted Christ as their Saviour is the lake of fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels.

God however offers a way out through His son the Lord Jesus. In John 3:16-17 we read:
‘For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes on him
should not perish but have everlasting life. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the
world but that the world through him might be saved.’

Salvation, is the gift of God to all those that believe. If you believe in His Son you shall not perish
but have everlasting life (John 3:36). The word of God says this so we can be certain that this is

So you have accepted Christ Jesus as your Saviour, but how many of us doubt our salvation? If we
understand our salvation based on our feelings we would definitely doubt it. Our feelings change all
the time. Somedays we feel good about ourselves and feel secure in our salvation, whereas other
days we feel down and rubbish, focusing on all the negative things, thinking how could God even
love me let alone die on the cross for me? 

Instead of focusing on our feelings we must look to the only sure and firm foundation. We have to hold fast to the word of God, which never changes. His word is true and eternal (Matthew 24:25 & 1 Peter 1:25). 
Lets now look in the Bible at some verses that will help us to feel assured of our salvation.

Firstly it is God’s work not ours! 
If it was down to us and our good works it would fail. 
Nothing we do in our strength is good enough to reach God as we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). In Ephesians 2: 8 & 9 we read 
‘For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works...’. 

Therefore in doubting our salvation we are doubting God’s work and refusing to enjoy His gift to us. Our salvation is secure because it is God’s doing not our own.

In Hebrews 10:11-12 we read : 
‘And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the
same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single
sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God’, and in v 18 we read: ‘where there is
forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.’

Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary was sufficient to take away all our sins. Whereas in the old
testament we read about animals having to be sacrificed regularly. These animals that were
sacrificed could not take away sins but were used by the Jews year by year as a covering of their
sins. Christ made one sacrifice for all sin, compared to many sacrifices needed for each sin. 

We also see that only the priest was allowed to enter the temple, but that he could not sit down,
showing that the work was not complete. Only Jesus could say, I have completed the work the
Father has left me to do, allowing Him to sit down at the right hand of God. Our salvation is secure
on the bases of a completed work!

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We can gain more reassurance from 1 John 1:9: 
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness'. 

Do you notice what is said here?
He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That means our past, present and future sins will be
washed away if we confess our sins and believe on the work of the cross. 

Furthermore, He says in Psalms 103:12 
‘as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us’. 
Have you ever wondered why it doesn't say as far as the north is from the south? There is a
north and south pole so when you begin at one point you will end at the other whereas there is no
beginning or end when going from east to west. There’s no end to God’s grace and mercy towards

Then in Romans 8:35 we read: 
‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulations, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?’ 

Also in v 38 & 39 we read:

‘For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to
come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate
us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’. 

How amazing!! God’s love is so great for us that nothing can separate us from it. Nothing we do or say, and nothing anyone or thing can do, can cause us to lose our salvation. Once we are saved, we are saved forever!

Lets look at the Prodigal son. The youngest son asked his Father if he can receive the portion of
his inheritance now. The Father kindly gave him his portion and then the son left to live in a far
country away from his family. He spent his inheritance on riotous living, leaving him with nothing
left. After exhausting all of his options he decided to go back to his Father and apologise for the
wrong that he had done. He decided that he would tell his Father to make him one of his hired
servants instead. However when he came home, and was still a way off, his Father saw him and
ran to meet him giving him a great big hug and kiss. The son began to apologise but the Father did
not allow him to say make me as one your hired servants. The Father welcomed him home as his

The son had left the Father’s home and had sinned but he never stopped being his son. 

This is the same for us, God loves us and if you are a child of God that will never change. However living a sinful life will affect the enjoyment of that relationship with God our Father.

Lastly lets look at one more verse, Philippians 1:6: 
"that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ’. 

This shows us that when a person becomes a believer they are saved forever. The Holy Spirit indwells the person, and they become a new creation, becoming God’s child. Jesus will one day soon come back to claim those that have put their trust in Him and then will we reap the full benefit of our salvation.

If you find yourself doubting your salvation turn quickly to the word of God. As we have seen from
the above verses, which are only a few of the many, you will find comfort and reassurance that
your salvation is secure! This will give you great joy and peace.

Love, Josh. 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Follow Me! The Lord's call. Part 2

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Follow Me!
Ten times we hear this call of the Lord in the four gospels. Ten times a call to follow Him! This is the second article in a series on this call.
Last time we saw how the Lord called Matthew from behind the tax gatherer’s table. In this we saw a picture of the conversion of an unbeliever. Matthew had set the wrong priorities in his life, but with this encounter with the Lord Jesus everything changed! He left everything behind and followed Him. He also was one of those who later testified of the Lord’s life by writing one of the gospels.
This time I’d like to draw our attention to Philip. In the first three gospels (the synoptic gospels, remember?) we ‘only’ find him in the lists of the twelve apostles (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14), but in the gospel of John he is mentioned twelve times! You can look up these verses yourself with your Bible app (or do it the old-fashioned way with a concordance).
By the way, it is always right and good to check what you hear and read about the Bible. That is what the Bereans did (see Acts 17:11). Everything they heard from Paul, they checked with the Scriptures. They did this on a daily basis! We can learn at least two things about them (and that just from one verse):
  1. They received the Word with all readiness. This means they weren’t critical listeners trying to catch the speaker (or author) in a fault. 
  2. They read and searched the scriptures daily (in their case this was the Old Testament as the New had not yet been written and completed), in order to check whether what they had heard was really true indeed.
Because of what they did they were called “more fair-minded”. The Lord praised their attitude by putting this statement in Scripture!
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Back to Philip.
The first time we read about him is in John 1:43: “The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow Me’”. Just as with Matthew in Luke 5:27 we only read that He said: “Follow Me”.
Maybe Philip had heard about the Lord already, as he was from the same city as Andrew and Peter (John 1:44) and the day before they had had an encounter with the Lord Jesus and (at least) Andrew had been with the Lord all day (John 1:39). That must have been a very special day for the two brothers, about which they – no doubt – spoke with others.
We don’t read what Philip was doing when the Lord found him. But from what we read next we can conclude that he answered the Lord’s call. And he immediately followed the Lord’s example! The Lord found Philip (verse 43) and Philip found Nathanael (verse 45) and told him about his encounter with the Lord. Nathanael had great difficulty in believing that the Messiah would come from the despised town of Nazareth, but Philip simply says: “Come and see”. Perhaps this is also an indication there had been contact between Andrew (and Peter) and Philip (see verse 39).

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In John 12:20-22 we read about some Greeks who wanted to see the Lord and approached Philip with their desire. Philip, together with Andrew, passed on this request to the Lord.
So we can say that the consequence of Philip’s encounter with the Lord in John 1 was that he pointed others to the Lord Jesus and brought them into contact with Him. From the context we can conclude that both Nathanael and the Greeks were believers. The Lord testified of Nathanael: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (John 1:47). He would not have said that about an unbeliever. Moreover, from Nathanael’s response we can see that he expected the Messiah, the King of Israel. The Greeks had come to worship at the feast (John 12:20). Only believers can truly worship. 
So Philip brought believers to Christ.
Nathanael could hardly believe Messiah had come. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Maybe he was sad about the general condition of the people of Israel, the Roman rule and the miserable spiritual state of the nation (see also footnote). The Greeks had no direct access to the Lord, as He had come – in the first place – for His own people (see John 1:11). We see this clearly when the Lord meets this Greek woman in Mark 7:24–30. The Lord refers to the Jews as “children” and to the Greeks as “little dogs”. Dogs were unclean animals for the Jews.

So we can say that Philip brought believers to the Lord who had been discouraged or needed help in some way or another. Full of conviction he could testify of the Lord (John 1:45).
We too, you and I, can tell our fellow believers about the Lord Jesus, about who He is and what He has done for us. If we have had this encounter with the Lord, if He really is great to us, if we love Him, should we not tell others about Him?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Questions from Camp: The Devil

Is he real? 
There is a memorable line from the 1995 movie “The Usual Suspects” where one of the characters says "The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled Was Convincing the World He Didn’t Exist". For many of us it can be hard to believe that the Devil  is real. Especially when our only reference point is the red-horned, trident-raising cartoon villain we see in films.
 Cartoon devil image

However, the Bible is very clear that he is real and whether we call him the Devil, Satan or Lucifer, he is not just a cartoon character! The Devil appears throughout the Bible from the garden of Eden (Genesis 3) to trying to tempt the Lord Jesus is the wilderness (Matthew 4). 

So the next question might be...

Where did he come from?

The history of Satan is described in the Bible in Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19. These two biblical passages show that it was Satan's pride and desire to be higher than God that resulted in him being thrown out of heaven. He fell because of his desire to be God instead of a servant of God.

Satan was the highest of all the angels, but he wasn’t happy. He desired to be God and rule the universe. God cast Satan out of heaven as a fallen angel.

What powers do Satan and his demons have? 
Demons possess the great power of angels (Rom. 8:38), greater than us humans but far less than our Creator; God.
The Bible records they have the power to carry out the following actions:
  1. Indwell humans and animals (Mark 5:1–16)
  2. Physically afflict people (Mark 9:17, 22)
  3. Terrorise humans (1 Sam. 16:14–15 Acts 19:13–16;)
  4. Begin false worship (1 Cor. 10:20–21)
  5. Promote false doctrines (1 Tim. 4:1)
  6. Perform false signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9Rev. 16:13–14)
  7. Deceive prophets (1 Kings 22:19–23)
  8. Encourage idolatry (Deut. 32:17; Ps. 106:37)

So, should we worry about the Devil?

Ultimately no, because the Lord Jesus is far more powerful and has been victorious over all evil. However strong demons might be, they also have serious weaknesses and vulnerabilities:

  1. Even demons unwittingly serve God’s purposes (Judg. 9:23).
  2. They were terrified of the Lord Jesus and the gospel (Matt. 8:29Mark 1:24James 2:19).
  3. They obeyed the Lord Jesus (Matt. 8:32).
  4. They obeyed the Twelve disciples (Matt. 10:1–8) and the Seventy-Two disciples (Luke 10:17–20).
  5. They cannot separate believers in Christ from the love of God (Rom. 8:38).
  6. They can be restrained by the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:61 John 4:4).
  7. They have been judged already by God (2 Pet. 2:4Jude 6) and will be again in the future (Rev. 20:10).
As strong and powerful as Satan and his demons are, they have been defeated. 
The apostle John tells christians that we are God's children and that "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) The He in that verse is the Holy Spirit. As Christians we have God living inside us and where God is, Satan can not be!

As long as we realise the truth of Romans 8:38 "If God is for us, who can be against us?" We have no need to fear the Devil.