2019 has seen a ‘bumpy’ one for us all, as the Queen said in her Christmas broadcast, with much to trouble us, but more importantly, so much more for which to be thankful.
Dear ones have been lost to us with many partings being sudden and unexpected. Ill-health has also been the experience of many, within and without our small circle, so we lift up our hearts in praise to our God who has sustained us, and more, given us cause for rejoicing through the fiery trials.
1 PETER 4
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
All these troubles are to be expected, yet we rarely do. This is probably a good thing, otherwise we would spend our days looking in the wrong direction, focussing on the problem instead of the solution - at the creation, not The Creator. I freely admit that I write these words for my own benefit as for anyone else. The pressures of life in this digital speed-dialled age may not be different to those experienced across the centuries, merely that they assail us at a faster pace.
25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
In our fear of the events in the natural world, it is a glorious truth that we have the gift through the Holy Spirit of seeing Jesus walking on the sea. He has overcome the turmoil and as soon as He is reborn anew in the moment of crisis, we have unhindered access to His overcoming. It is a New Testament fulfilment if words found in Genesis 1:
2b And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
This is the time of the fourth watch - all is darkest just before the dawn - it is the last of the night, when the agents of our tribulation are still working and our need to see The Lord and His light becomes the more intense.
I believe that this is The Lord’s purpose in our lives. Simply, that we see Him walking on the waters. We think of this as our walk; God says this is the end He desires for us - the certainty that all is well because we see Jesus.
At Christmas, celebrating Jesus’ birth, maybe we are reminded of seeing the reality of Jesus for the first time - newborn in us. Now we see Him matured and walking atop the sea of humanity - Lord of All.
The keyword as always is ‘now’. ‘Now’ is all we ever really have, so whatever our state of being is in this instant, may we see Jesus and hear Him say “Be of good cheer”.
With love and every blessing,
George and Gill
for Cornerstone Christian Fellowship
PSALM 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by The LORD and he delights in His way
Two paintings in our collection show a view of steps. The first by the late Ian Purvis shows steps in a Mediterranean village lane going uphill, and a painting by myself of the Calvari Steps in Pollensa, Mallorca, is of the scene looking down to the cathedral.
Our Fellowship meeting recently dwelt for a time on mountains in Scripture, their meaning and spiritual significance.
Reading Hebrews 12, there appeared to be a pattern over the chapter of ascending to the spiritual peak of Zion, and then an encouragement to hear the Lord's voice when we are living our daily lives in the valley below. Keeping our minds and hearts set upon the glorious heights above, of which we have tasted and been filled.
The chapter emphasises the allusion and talks of a literal peak from verse 18 ¶ For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)
22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
The Chapter concludes thus: 28 Wherefore we, receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
29 For our God is a consuming fire.
He will burn away all that is not of Him within us - the 'refiner's fire' - eliminating the impurities.
The daily reality for us is in letting The LORD lead us down the spiritual mountainside to fellowship in His church (remain in His presence), and to lead us on our journey up and down the spiritual slopes of our lives - strengthening the bond of love with Him, until at last we come into rest in Zion, The City of the Living God.
PSALM 119:133 "Order my steps in Thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me"
THE POWER TO DESCEND
Following this meditation on climbing the hill to Zion, we came across this paragraph in Oswald Chamber's 'The Love of God' which seems an effective coda to what we have already shared ...
"The test of spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, there is something wrong. We all have had times on the mount when we have seen things from God's standpoint and we wanted to stay there; but if we are disciples of Jesus Christ, He will never allow us to stay there.
Spiritual selfishness makes us want to stay on the mount; we feel so good, as if we could do anything - talk like angels and live like angels, if only we could stay there. But there must be the power to descend; the mountain is not the place for us to live, we were built for the valleys.
This is one of the hardest things to learn because spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount."
Here are a couple of recent World Challenge devotions ... both David Wilkerson and his son Gary are gifted at getting to the heart of scripture and these meditations are fine examples for us to engage with and be pointed towards a deeper relationship with Christ.
JESUS NEVER FAILS
April 15, 2019
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me from the foundation of the world” (John 17:24, my emphasis). Jesus prayed for his disciples — and that includes us. He asked the Father that we may see his glory, meaning that we would know him.
At certain times in the Old Testament, Jesus revealed himself in human or angelic form, with varying results. For instance, Jacob’s hip was broken when he tried wrestling with the Lord. And when Moses said to God, “Please show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18), the Lord told him, “I have to cover your face and hide you behind a rock, and then you can see only the trailing afterglow of my presence.” In other words, he had to protect Moses from the full revelation of himself.
In the New Testament, when the apostle John heard the Lord’s voice and received the Revelation on the island of Patmos, he fell on his face. The normal response of men and women when they saw Jesus was awe and wonder. I wonder what would happen if we saw him in all his beauty and splendor as Moses or John did.
The truth is, Jesus is beautiful in a sense far deeper than our usual usage of the descriptive word. We remark that someone is lovely or handsome, but Jesus is far more. He is glorious, wonderful, separate, unique, special. He is also tender, kind, precious, full of majesty. He is wondrous, strong, mighty, powerful, wise, outstanding. And he never fails!
Even in his human nature, Jesus remained sovereign, one with God (see Colossians 2:10). Consider some of his beautiful attributes: full of justice (John 8:16); perfectly righteous (John 8:46). And he is love (John 13:34) — a love that is unfathomable.
We are totally undeserving of this love, but that is the beauty of our amazing, incomparable Savior. Give him praise today for his unspeakable sacrifice and gift of salvation.
David Wilkerson (1931-2011)
April 17, 2019
“Blessed be the … God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). All over the world, people are going through sufferings and trials and the Lord has promised to comfort us in them. Notice that nothing is said here about deliverance from the battle; we are told only that the Holy Spirit gives us comfort to endure and stay steadfast in our trial.
This comfort, provided by the Spirit in the midst of our troubles, is not simply a temporary lifting of the burden. It is not a sigh of relief, a shutting out of troubling thoughts or fears. Rather, it is supernatural. Such comfort is the exclusive ministry of the Holy Spirit, accomplished by faith as we trust in his love for us.
Scripture tells us, “You will comfort those in Zion. You will have a word of healing for those who are in despair and fear” (see Isaiah 61:2-3). In response to our faith, God’s Spirit promises to create something in us that will bring comfort in every conceivable trouble and fearsome circumstance. He will put in us a word that can heal, comfort and encourage others.
The Spirit said through Isaiah, “I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, and restore comforts to him … I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace” (Isaiah 57:18-19). This is one of the most encouraging promises in God’s Word. The Lord says he will drive out from us the spirit of fear and implant in us his supernatural spirit of peace. Isaiah repeats the word “peace” here to emphasize it is a continual peace. Simply put, the Holy Spirit promises, “I will create peace in you.”
As the gathering clouds cause fear in the world, may you walk according to this word from Paul: “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15). Amen!