During August Roy and the team are taking a break. We wish you a happy summer and will be back in September.
Have you ever been in that place where everything in life seems to go wrong? When things pile up, one on top of another, and you feel as though you were drowning in a storm of disaster? Maybe you have looked at other people who are in a place of distress and wondered how on earth they have coped, without a living faith in Jesus Christ. You, though, do have a faith and a testimony, but now when everything is going wrong you don’t know how to cope either. You find yourself engulfed by the outer storm of circumstances and an inner storm of worry, shame and fear.
What I have just described is true to life – we have all been there. So, how can we survive?
Fear of being overcome and desperation for life filled the minds of the disciples when they found themselves in a similar place. A windstorm had come upon them, stirring the sea, and the boat was taking in water. As experienced fishermen who were used to the sea, they knew an impending disaster when they saw one. Although Jesus was actually with them in the stern of the boat, just when they most needed him – he slept!
Have you ever wondered where Jesus is just when you need him most? It can feel as though he’s gone to sleep at our most desperate, critical, life-or-death moment.
I wonder how the disciples awakened him. Did they quietly touch his toes? Gently shake his shoulder? Whisper in his ear? Death by drowning was only moments away. No, I bet they seized hold of him while they yelled at the top of their voices: “Help! Help”! And I imagine Jesus looked at them, felt their fear, saw the waves breaking into the boat, heard the roaring of the wind, and asked them what on earth was disturbing them! You see, the disciples were looking at the storm, while Jesus was looking at his Father’s purpose, secure in his Father’s love. He firmly rebuked the wind and the waves, and they instantly obeyed him. (Significant Note: in Greek he rebuked the storm in the same way he rebuked demonic spirits.)
Who was in charge of their journey? The raging elements? Or was it Jesus, even though he seemed to be asleep, and ignorant of their circumstances?
You see, Jesus had given the word; “we are going to the other side’”. That was business settled. There was nothing a massive, perhaps demonically inspired, physical, noisy, threatening storm could do about it. That is why he was saddened by the disciple’s lack of faith. That was why they could have overcome the storm themselves. When Jesus had said it, that had settled it. They were going to the other side.
What help do we have today in our own crisis, then? Here are a few tablets to take as a prescription to encourage you.
Firstly, whatever your storm looks like, however threatening and overwhelming, he will be in the boat with us.
“He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”Deuteronomy 31:8
“God is for you, so who can be against you?”Romans 8:35
“The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”Deuteronomy 33:27
“The LORD will fulfil his purpose for you; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.”Psalm 138:8
Our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.”Daniel 3:17
Jesus said that:
“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”Romans 8: 35-37
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28
It doesn’t mean that God caused your crisis, your storm. Rather, he is able to take those circumstances and use them to deliver you into a new and appointed place, just as he did with the disciples in their storm. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Heb 13:8
We have a future destination to hold onto. However fierce the storm, we have a secure promise: “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.” Rev 21:4
Heavenly Father, help me to take my eyes off the storm so that I can fix my eyes on you instead. Please strengthen me and fill me with faith to trust your Presence and your Promises. I rebuke the raging circumstances in Jesus’ name. Lord, you alone are my strength and my shield, my defender, my hiding place until the storm is passed. Amen
Hi, welcome to this virtual meeting place.
There is a statement found in Genesis which goes like this:
We have just lost three of those Giants
Ravi Zacharias was an amazing Christian apologist. Born in India, Ravi immigrated to Canada, in his own words, having been a dunce, he suddenly developed into being exceptionally intellectually bright. Doctor Ravi Zacharias became a famous Christian apologist who crisscrossed the world for around 50 years, speaking in particular to University students and defending and explaining with intellectual rigor the basics of the Christian faith. He will be sorely missed. His clarity of expression, logical explanations and sheer Christlikeness shone like a light in the darkness. He was Ravi, a Giant, and we mourn his passing.
David Pawson was a man who came from famous early Methodist stock. While training for the Methodist ministry he roomed with Donald English, who went on to become the Methodist President on several occasions, and John Bedford, who became a Baptist Minister and won many to the Lord and who delivered the address at our wedding! All Giants. David Pawson also switched to the Baptist denomination, becoming very well known as the pioneering pastor of the Millmead Centre in Guildford, and then as a significant International Bible Teacher and author. I first met him 50 years ago when a young student, and he also came to visit me perhaps three or four years ago. I count it a privilege to have known him; he was David, a Giant whose passing we mourn.
Roger Every also passed on to his reward. You may not have heard of him, but he was a Giant. Married to Tisha, together they were our friends, serving on our team for some years and blessing countless numbers of people. Roger was an engineer at heart, skillful at repairs and replacements of all manner of things. He was wonderful with people, a joy to have around, interested in classic cars (hurray!) and everyone loved him. Although we cried out to God for his healing, he has gone to his reward, where he is absolutely and totally made whole forever. He might not have won the international recognition that Ravi or David had, but in God’s eyes – and ours – he was Roger, a Giant, whose passing we mourn.
These three Giants who have recently gone home to their reward, and there is joy in heaven. You might have some names you would like to add.
But where are the Giants of tomorrow? Where will we find them?
We are invited, called, chosen, loved, children of God himself, co-heirs with Christ of all things and blessed in him with every spiritual blessing. You and I are invited to walk as Giants in our own way, carrying the presence of Jesus wherever we go, stretching out hands of mercy and grace, helping, listening, lifting up the poor and needy by practical means, speaking the Name, demonstrating that in God’s kingdom authority is exercised with humility.
And don’t say that you are not clever enough, skillful enough, to be a Ravi Zacharias Apologist, David Pawson Bible teacher, or Roger Every, a quiet gentle man. You are not supposed to be a copy of anyone else; it’s the real ‘you’ that the world is waiting for. You can learn to be a uniquely ‘you-shaped’ Giant in a way that no-one else will ever be able to copy in all eternity. So why settle for anything less?
Then, one unexpected day, you too will leave this earth to go to your reward: that glorious day when you will see Jesus face to face, finding rest in that place he has gone ahead to prepare for you. That is the reality of the believer’s life. And will he complain about your small spiritual stature compared to the Ravis, Davids, and Rogers we hear of? No, hear His voice: “well done, you good and faithful servant; enter into your master’s joy”. And then, like the prodigal, we will try to explain how unworthy we are, how we have sinned and failed in so many ways, what a mess we have made of so much of our lives, the people we have hurt on the way, our own disappointment in ourselves, while he sweeps it all away in the Father-embrace we have longed for since birth; welcoming us home, clothing us with the robe of a new body, filling us with the joy of salvation complete. The Giant a son in the Kingdom of God, to shine forever.
As we say goodbye to the Giants who have gone before us, let us recommit ourselves to becoming the Giants we were created to be in our own way, in our worship, our personal life and world.
Father, so teach me to number my days that I may get a heart of wisdom.
Lord, I often feel so small, insignificant, lonely and unworthy. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit, replacing my fear with power, and give me a mind that aligns itself with your Word. Amen.
I bless you in the name of Jesus Christ, that the blessings of God Almighty might come as a summer shower to soak you, warming you, healing you, forgiving you and restoring you.
I bless you in Jesus name that the failures of the past and the power of words, curses and Satan may be broken over your life, setting you free right now, this moment. I rebuke shame in Jesus’ name. I bless you in his name that you may arise once more into the fullness of who you are, comfortable in your own skin and taking your rightful place in the purposes of God. Be loosened in Jesus name. Restored by his grace. AmenRoy Godwin
Certainty and hope in an uncertain and fearful world
On Friday 8th May we will celebrate 75 years since the ending of World War 2 in Europe. The horrors had ended, and peace had returned to our shores, and life would never be the same after such death and destruction had ravaged families, towns and cities. It would be a long climb upwards from there into a new and nationally prosperous future. The ration books would remain for quite a few years.
Today there is a new war. The enemy? Covid 19. It’s a killer, and every human being in the world is at risk, especially the poor, as 3.5 million are infected and 250,000 die. A new global challenge has been issued: let’s work together towards the destruction of this threat.
Meanwhile, in the waiting world of lockdown, everyone is straining forward to reach for the future. Will the world quickly return to how it was? Not for the bereaved. A phrase increasingly used is “the new normal’. What will that look like? At this stage nobody knows, so any confident statements about what that will mean are at best conjecture, and at worst, fantasy. One thing we do know is that so many old certainties we took for granted were pretenders all along; they were never certain at all.
A Christian holds certainty about the future while living in the reality of the uncertain world we live in. We experience the stress and pain, the same as everyone else. Yet, in the midst of today’s uncertainty, we are the ones who carry extraordinary hope and eternal certainties. And this hope has stood firm for 2,000 years. OK, it requires revelation, faith and trust, but it has nothing to do with pipe dreams or fantasies. It is guaranteed. How? By the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the fulfilment of the promise at Pentecost.
We celebrated Easter in April. Here in May we remember the ascension (21st) and the day of Pentecost (31st). Here’s the narrative.
In Jerusalem. The disciples met with Jesus on what became the day of Ascension and asked whether this was the time that the kingdom would be restored to Israel. He answered that it was not for them to know the times and seasons that the Father had fixed. What they actually needed was to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit had come upon them. Once that happened, they would be his witnesses to the whole world.
Suddenly, as they were looking at him, the most amazing thing happened. He was lifted up, and then a cloud took him out of their sight!
In Heaven. Suddenly one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven and they brought him to the Ancient of Days. And dominion and glory were given Him, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages, should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.)
Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, two shining angels spoke to the disciples, saying ‘don’t stand looking into the heavens. Jesus will return in the same way that you have seen him leave’.
The disciples, around 120 of them, remained in Jerusalem, prayed and waited. Suddenly a sound was heard as if a mighty wind was there and- wow! Heaven broke out upon them and within them. Fire came! The Holy Spirit had come, just as Jesus promised, and these very normal people became normal but supernatural, filled with gifts and boldness. Peter announced ‘God raised Jesus up, and there are 120 witnesses right here. Being exalted to the highest place and having received the promise (of the Holy Spirit) from the Father, it is the risen Jesus who has poured all this out upon us. 3,000 men committed their lives to Jesus there and then. The promise of the Holy Spirit, heaven invading earth, Peter reminded them, was for them, their children, their grandchildren and to all future generations. That includes you and me. A new way of living broke out, with Jesus at the centre. And so it continues…Acts 1:6-11. Dan 7:13-14. Acts 2: 1- 47 (My narrative and translation)
Jesus is indeed the light of the world who has rescued us out of darkness. Death has been killed. The fear of death is no longer a terror for us. We have certainty because Jesus is alive. He is risen! He has gone to prepare a place for us where we shall be welcomed and see him face to face. Let’s lift up our heads and hold fast to our confession; speak it into our own hearts and minds; welcome joy again; be bold yet wise in sharing the good news: Jesus is alive! Because he rose, we too will rise and be with him forever.
May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.Num 6:24-26
For a wonderful national blessing
Joel News at joelnews.org Follow their link for a free download of the e-book ‘How The Early Church Handled Two Devastating Epidemics’.
© Roy Godwin 2020
After the blackness of the night, morning dawned on Easter Sunday. The new day still looked black to the disciples, but this very day, in the middle of such untold despair, is the day of joy. The impossible has happened: Jesus is alive! Gloriously alive! It is in the darkness that the light shines brightest, and even when our senses seem to say the opposite, the darkness has never extinguished the light. (John 1:5)
Have you ever been in a situation where you have tried to give wonderful news to someone, only to have it discounted because it seems too good to be true? How often is bad news more readily acceptable than good!
When the women arrived at the tomb at dawn, they found the imprisoning stone of death rolled away, and the tomb empty. The women were confused by what they found, and only believed because angels bore testimony and awakened their recollection of Jesus’ words that he would “on the third day rise” (verse 7). Then, writes Luke, they remembered. How fitting that if it was angels who announced the incarnation of Jesus, angels should announce his resurrection.
Bringing their stunning news to the eleven and all the rest, they were disbelieved, and no wonder. Jesus was dead and buried. When Jesus died, hope died. It was over. Their senses and understanding of life made real resurrection seem impossible, even if they believed in it doctrinally, unless Jesus was involved and, in this case, that was a nonsense. It seemed to them an idle tale (Lk 24:11). How frustrated must the women have felt. Carrying the greatest message ever known to mankind, they were rebuffed by the closest followers of Jesus who needed to hear it most. How typical of the Lord that it’s the women, not the men, who are entrusted with the first witness of his resurrection.
Later that day they were all visited by those who had encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus and who had rushed back to tell the others with joy. As if that wasn’t enough, Jesus himself appeared to them all (Verse 36) and they went through the gamut of fear, doubt, confusion. No wonder Jesus said: “Peace to you”. Showing them his hands and feet, he invited them to touch him. Shared food with them. This was Jesus alive and he was with them again. Now it was personal. Now they believed. Faith, hope and love awoke.
Do you remember where you were when you first encountered the living Jesus Christ? You may have heard or read about the gospel from others, but suddenly you knew it to be true. And the joy that filled your heart? That was Easter Joy, and it wasn’t supposed to be a Sundays only, once in a year or once in a lifetime experience. That joy is supposed to be our daily bread. It’s a gift from God. It transforms our life. And hope: Jesus has opened heaven for us and we too shall rise and be with him. Could you become an Easter joy person? Someone who asks the Holy Spirit to fill them with the joy of his resurrection every day. Then why not start right now. You might pray:
“Heavenly Father, thank you for such love and mercy towards me. I believe in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Holy Spirit, I ask you to fill me with resurrection joy for every day of my life, until I too am raised and see him face to face. Amen.”
The only thing we know about the disciples on Easter Saturday is from a solemn, brief sentence.
“On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” That is, from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday.Luke 23:56
I don’t believe that those words meant they were enjoying a nice rest at all. Can we imagine the horror, the shock, the disappointment and disillusion that flooded their hearts and minds? All their faith, all their hope, now buried in a stranger’s grave. It must have seemed as though their own lives had been destroyed. Every moment with Jesus, every teaching, every miracle, all the vision – worse than futile. Their thoughts will have been going haywire. What had happened to justice? How could darkness overcome light? Jesus was crucified – would they be next? Panic. Who could they trust? How could Judas be a traitor? Did people know where they were? Flight was not an option; it was the sabbath.
As we look at the story, we are able to do so with full knowledge that Sunday is coming, but of course the disciples didn’t know that.
Have you ever felt angry with God? Most of us have. Found faith-filled prayer unanswered? Poured your heart out and seemed to receive the opposite? Trusted in, pleaded, God’s promise, but nothing has happened. Maybe you beseeched God for a loved-one’s life but lost them. Pinned your hope on a positive outcome, only to see everything collapse? Suffered false accusation and felt helpless, wanted to hide for shame, wondered what your family and friends thought of you now? Panicked about rumours getting out? Might you too be falsely accused and sentenced?
Even if we identify with any or all the above, which is the normal Christian’s experience, we are only scratching the surface of the depth and darkness of the disciple’s grief. Thank goodness they were under lockdown (sabbath). Who knows what they might have done, or where they might have fled.
Meanwhile, we know that the Pharisees and chief priests were meeting with Pilate who agreed that the tomb should be sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:62-66). What strange fear had gripped them? Here we see hypocritical religion in cahoots with earthly power in order to stifle life.
When things go wrong in life it’s normal for Christians to suffer every fear, every anger, every reaction that every other human being will suffer given similar circumstances. When the darkness of disappointment and disillusionment overwhelm us, it is normal to feel unfairly treated, to be angry, to need to express the anger that has been unleashed within us. We might fear losing self-control but that’s OK too. We might be unspeakably angry with God, disappointed and disillusioned in him and bottle it up out of fear rather than tell him how we feel.
The good news is that our God is big enough to cope with our anger; it is healthy to be honest with him. He will not be angry when we are honest.
We do, of course, know what was to come the next day. Our God reigns! And whatever we are going through, however black and lost it all feels; however angry, however alone; because God reigns, Sunday will always come.
‘Weeping might tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”Psalm 30:5
To those watching, it must have seemed like the end of the world. Jesus, who only days previously had triumphantly ridden into Jerusalem to the adulation of the crowd’s loud shouts, cries, and praises to God, now dragged out of His overnight stay in a pit to be tried in kangaroo courts, appearing before earthly authority to hear himself slandered and lied against. Then tortured by the soldiers; mocked, beaten; whipped with leather thongs containing fragments of bone that ripped the skin open. Carrying the top bar of His cross through the Jerusalem streets which were now transformed; not praise but laughter, shouts, curses. Stumbling. Lifted up on the cross naked and humiliated before the spectators. Mocked again and laughed at. The interaction with the two thieves. The skies going black as night as though the very sun was ashamed to shine, as Jesus prays and commits His spirit to the Father. Breathes His last.
The Son of God, did you say? The Saviour of the world? He cannot even save himself.
But for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, this is true wonder. Things are not what they seem. Jesus, truly the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the Light of the World, embraces weakness, vulnerability, and is overcoming the world. Mercy triumphs. We see Him whipped? By His stripes we are healed. Enduring shame? Yet He despised shame, hanging there in our place, and look! It is our shame that He is carrying. The weight of mankind’s sin is resting upon Him and see! It is our sin that He is carrying. See, he carries the curse of the law, of sin and death, away from us for “cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”. Gal 3:13.
Hear His cry:
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. And having said this, he breathed his last.Luke 23:46
And his legacy for you and for me: healing, reconciliation, freedom, liberation from the law of sin and death; shame mocked and disempowered forever. Curses broken. His dying gift to you and me is life. To the worldly-wise, the proud, the cross of Christ is utter foolishness, but for those of us who believe, it is the power of God unto salvation.
What wisdom from God! So absolutely unlike the wisdom of this world. The weak destroys the strong.
Have you ever found yourself walking in the valley of the shadow of death? Been misunderstood, lead about, mocked, cursed? Found yourself where you would never choose to be? Fallen into sin? Felt the guilt, and sensed Satan breathing down your neck? Believing that even God has abandoned you? My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Friends gone, utter darkness, no hope? If you have – Quick! Look again at Jesus on the cross. See him there, his nail-pierced hands outstretched to welcome you and to take it all away. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. It’s the Divine Exchange; he who was rich became poor, that we who are poor might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9)
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:George Herbert
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
And such a Life, as killeth death.
In the darkness and gloom of Good Friday, look up, not down. Marvel at such a Saviour; such love, such amazing grace, and welcome him afresh to come and find rest in your heart.
Would you betray…with a kiss?Luke 22:48
As we move into the Easter events, we find Jesus entering into the pain and grief of human experience; personal betrayal by one of His close friends. Then came Judas, with a kiss.
If we have lived life and interacted with others, we may well have experienced the darkness and pain of betrayal ourselves. It probably comes as a shock. Trust has been violated. Maybe we have loved and believed ourselves loved in return, yet it’s that very person who has betrayed us; may have humiliated us. Maybe we have trusted someone unwisely. So often it’s our closest friend, a marriage partner, a trusted adviser, who has betrayed us, and that makes it feel so much worse. King David experienced this. “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me”. (Psalm 41:9)
Some describe it as an excruciating pain, as though we have been pierced to the heart with a sword; a form of dying. We feel as though our life is out of control. If we cannot trust them, who can we trust? How could we have been so deceived? It’s as though the very ground of our world has shifted.
In the Garden, Jesus had agonized over His freedom to choose the way ahead. Oh, the depth of that conflict! In a sense, Jesus died on that Thursday evening; He died to His flesh and chose to fulfil the Father’s will in an agony of self-denial for your sake and for mine. As His flesh cried out against all that was to be triggered by Judas’ betrayal, love won the day. Love for the Father, love for you and me. “Father, your will be done” – all for love’s sake.
This is what you and I are worth. This is the value of your personal worth in the heart of God Himself.
In Jesus we have a Great High Priest who, while fully God, has born the pain of betrayal Himself, one who can therefore sympathize with us in our pain. (Heb 4:15)
But what if you are the betrayer? What if, somehow, it is you who have broken a confidence, betrayed trust, destroyed someone’s reputation, betrayed your partner or a friend? Is there any hope for you, then? Yes, there is.
The Good News is that, whether betrayer or betrayed, you can come now to that Great High Priest, Jesus Christ Himself, and find mercy.
First, though, we need to consider whether there is someone to forgive, or say sorry to, or something to put right, as far as we are able (read Matt 5: 23-24). Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Tomorrow never comes. Once we have taken any necessary practical steps, we can grasp God’s promise: “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)
“By your endurance you will gain your lives.”Luke 21:19
How are we to endure the circumstances and challenges of life? Each generation faces its own unique challenges. We hope to learn from the lessons of history, even while we know that history has a horrible pattern of repeating itself. The “war to end all wars” was quickly followed by another. Reason, science, communism, socialism all spoke of a new golden age on the horizon, as though mature mankind can deliver itself, become its own savior, endure. Human history shows how futile that idea is.
We all need a Saviour who can really save. To save is to rescue, deliver, restore, preserve, bless. Of all the major world religions, only Jesus lays claim to the be the savior of the world. The biblical record and 2,000 years of Christian history attest to the validity of that claim. He alone truly stands the test of time. Jesus is our Savior and the only hope for the world. Not only for eternal salvation but also within the practicalities and challenges of our daily lives.
Jesus highlights the question of endurance and reliance when speaking to the disciples. The truth is, He says, that the world will not get better. It’s going to get worse. Persecution will come. Don’t rely on yourself when that happens; renounce self-reliance. Rely on the Lord’s provision and promises instead. Trust the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to guide you, even to giving you every word you should speak. Your heavenly Father cares for you. He is a saving God for His people. He can enable you to endure whatever the world, the flesh and the devil throws at you.
Have you tended to rely on your own skills, gifts, abilities, to help you endure? Why not go to a quiet place and make an act of repentance? Fetch two pieces of paper; write your name on one piece and Jesus on the other. Put the Bible as a sign of God’s promises by the paper bearing His name. Choose any object that you can use as a symbol of reliance and put it on your name. You could pray like this:
“Jesus, I claim all your promises and provision for my life so that I can endure. I am sorry for the times that I have relied on myself to be my own savior. I acknowledge that only you are my Saviour. (Lift the object and transfer it to the paper named Jesus.) I choose to trust and believe that you are my provider, my deliverer. Please help me to look to You in confidence and to wait upon You. Amen.