Friday 28 June 2019

                  GALATIANS 5, v13/25
In all Paul’s Letters he adopts the pattern of setting out doctrine in the first part before going on to illustrate practical application.

He has set out in Galatians the danger of listening to false teachers who tried to impose the need for new Christians first to accept the restrictions of Jewish Law and practice.  Now in this last half of the Letter he is warning that freedom, if not properly applied, can turn into licence.  Christian freedom given to us in Christ, demands self control.  This passage is full of the mention of the Holy Spirit,

When I first entered Christian ministry, I was inspired and influenced by a well-known Baptist pastor who taught faithfully and fearlessly, and in simple terms, through a Bible passage.  I have tried to emulate that style, but it can be difficult at these times when there is so much liberal Christianity, and I have found there is nothing so illiberal as a liberal; they do not allow a contrary view or opinion, and tend to infer some kind of phobia or allegation of intolerance on anyone trying just to interpret Scripture as God intended.

This passage is full of the Holy Spirit, seven times by name, and presented as the One who can tell you what to do so that you won’t be doing the wrong things and following our natural desires which are just the opposite. We can read the Bible and other religious writings and know all the theory, but find it hard to put into practice. 

In this passage Paul is calling on us to obey the Holy Spirit’s guidance so that we will not offend God by following less than proper actions.  When we follow our own inclinations we often engage in such actions as eagerness for our own pleasure, impurity of some kind by word or deed, jealousy, envy, hatred or pride.

There are two sides to all our natures, and often life is a struggle as to which one prevails.  In the Christian life two forces between flesh and the Spirit compete.  In the flesh, what we are by nature and fallen condition, but when under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we become the kind of person of which Jesus would approve.  In the flesh, what we are by birth; and in the Spirit when we are born anew.

This is where baptism needs to be understood sensibly and theologically.  In the baptism service in some denominations it is declared ‘that this child has been born anew (or again)’.  It is both nonsensical and irresponsible to say a new born child, or a child of most ages, knows what being born again means in the spiritual sense.  Before a person can claim to be born again, there has to be repentance from sin, and a confession of faith.

Christians will often face an internal struggle intensely as their own nature dearly wishes to follow a course of life which their spiritual conscience tells them is wrong, and the Holy Spirit will not let them feel comfortable with it.  He will convict us by reminding us why Jesus died on the Cross.

 The story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is well known.  The doctor, who was a respected London surgeon, had discovered a drug which caused him to change his nature and so do shameful things.  When he came out from under its influence, he was ashamed of himself, but the drug was too strong to resist and in mental torment he killed himself.

By nature and inheritance we all have a conflict within us which at times causes us to do things we know within we should not be doing, and it is only with the power of the Holy Spirit we can fight and resist, for we cannot fight on our own.  Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to help and give us the ability and the Bible states, ‘if anyone does not have the Spirit of Jesus Christ he does not belong to Christ’.  The Holy Spirit provides all the resources, and Paul is saying, be like Christ.

 When we are led by the Holy Spirit our lives will reveal love, joy, pace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness and self-control.  These are the fruits of the Spirit and fruit depends on the health of the tree.  Spiritual fruit means character and producing a quality of life.  If we follow Christ we shall produce abundant fruit.

A Christian should always be aware that he or she is a public figure in that when people know you are a Christian, they will watch you and any fall from grace will be noticed and commented upon.  As Paul viewed things, Jesus Christ was the most important part of one’s life and the Christian should devote oneself to act in such a way as to be worthy of Him. This is largely the theme of Chapter 5 of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.

The non-Christian may face a moral conflict and never feel guilty, for they are doing what seems normal behaviour, but the Christian will feel an internal conflict quite strongly, for the Holy Spirit will not allow a Christian to feel at ease with improper behaviour. 

The Church is often reluctant to speak frankly on parts of the Bible as many within, both lay and clergy do not subscribe fully to what is written, and often fall down on more than one sin.

It is still a fact that most of us who attend Church strive to live in the way we are called to do so, and to a great degree succeed.  When we do fall, we know Christ is waiting to pick us up, having given His life on the Cross to put us right with God.

The works of the flesh are spelled out in verses 19/21 starting with sexual immorality.  When Paul wrote this, he was referring to behaviour which preachers of today find the most sensitive of subjects.  If they preached it as it was meant when written, they would lose many of their congregations, for all sexual relationships outside of marriage were being condemned. 

The greater part of the population is living in ‘partnership,’ and, or, indulging in sexual conduct.  The psychotic devotees of political correctness now object to the terms, husband/wife.  When I am asked about my partner, I reply firmly that I do not have a partner, but I do have a wife and am quite proud to be a husband. 

The press and television have fanned up the flames, giving the impression that free sex is not to be ashamed of and is quite acceptable and an essential part of life.  Almost every relationship portrayed on television programmes involves an immediate sexual encounter.  This had led young, and very young people to feel odd if not taking part, and led the United Kingdom to have the largest teenage pregnancy rate (and abortions) in Europe, in spite of the legal fact that under age sex is contrary to law.  Judges have made rulings which encourage free sexual expression. 

The list goes on to mention impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, hatred, malice, jealousy anger, rage drunkenness, wrong doctrine. 

Paul adds that anyone who belongs to Christ will have nailed such evil desires to his cross and crucified them there, but we must accept there are plenty of people within the Church who have not done so.   There are far too many calling for sexual behaviour, which is totally contrary to Scripture, to be seen as acceptable. Last year we had the incredible statement of senior clergy, inviting couples to come and get married in Church and bring their children to be baptised at the same time, a sort of two for one offer. Even society found that mad.

We frequently find people who will not be friendly with other members, who get jealous when someone else gets asked to do something, and upset if they cannot have their own way.  This is a complete affront to Christian teaching and should be condemned when revealed.

Paul then turns to speak of the fruits of the Spirit which come when the Holy Spirit controls our lives. When we are Christian we must produce love, which is the opposite of selfishness and having a caring nature;-- joy being and making people feel cheerful;-- peace, not looking to make trouble; --patience, being long suffering and having endurance;-- kindness, always willing to be helpful and giving of oneself; --gentleness, a sensitive feeling to people;-- faithfulness, having dependability and reliability;-- and self control, not being ready to respond aggressively.

 For all those people who mock and ridicule Christians and the Bible, a time of reality will one day come when they will wish they had taken our way of life.

The Bible states ‘heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad and its gate is wide enough for all the multitude who choose its easy way. But the Gateway to Life is small, and the road is narrow and only a few ever find it.

Make sure you choose the right road.


Friday 21 June 2019

Luke 8 v 22-25

This week’s gospel passage is one recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels.  It is the story of when Jesus was asleep in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and a storm blew up.

The sea is 8 miles across and 15 miles long and is 600 feet below hills on either side.  At times winds blow between the hills and can whip up the water and create difficult conditions on the water. This is what happened on this occasion.

The Apostles had set out with |Jesus to cross the lake and during the crossing Jesus fell asleep due to being very tired.  He had had a busy day healing people and teaching the crowd, which was the reason He wanted to cross the lake so He could have some peace and quiet, being physically exhausted. This shows the humanity of Jesus who experienced all the motions we feel. 

Suddenly a storm of great proportions blew and caused water to swamp the boat.   The sea of all the natural phenomena causes much fear, but these were experienced fishermen used to the sea, so Jesus would have left them with complete confidence to cope with the uncertainties of the weather. They knew that particular lake and would have had experience of its vagaries.  This must have been therefore a particularly violent storm

When the boat began to take in water the Apostles became afraid and woke Jesus, telling Him they feared drowning, but it appeared to them Jesus just wasn’t interested.

The question they asked Jesus is one which many people will have asked in their own minds when faced with some problem or disaster in their life. ‘Jesus don’t you care?  Maybe there is someone who will read this letter who feels like asking that very question because of some spiritual, domestic or economic worry. 

When He is awakened Jesus causes the wind and waters to subside, which they did, and then rebukes the men by asking them where their faith is. The fact they called urgently on Jesus suggests they had some faith that He could save them. His actions did however cause them to be struck with amazement that such miraculous power was being displayed before their eyes.

Television brings into our homes incredible pictures of nature’s power in action, and we see storms pounding our shores with the consequent damage they cause.  Just recently we have witnessed horrific winds in America’s South where cars and homes have been lifted up and carried away.  Imagine some clergyman standing in the middle of a town and crying ‘be still’.  What do you think your reaction would be? yet this actually happened that day on the Sea of Galilee, but this was no ordinary man.

If Jesus was to ask you the same question He asked the Apostles, (where is your faith) how would you answer?  The Apostles had lived and travelled with Jesus and seen just how miraculous and powerful He could be, yet still panicked when a difficult occasion arose. Do we not do likewise?

Perhaps for many people the fact they have managed to cope with their lives for a long time and have littler contact with the Lord, fail to realise the help that could be available to them.  For others they have no time to spare for God or Jesus, but when disaster strikes the first thing they do, is to question why God let it happen and where was He then. 

This I read was the oft repeated cry when the Twin Towers were struck in America. And a reply was given that He was in the same place in all the years before when people were not interested.

People cannot treat God as if He doesn’t exist and ignore Him until suddenly, they feel a need of His help and expect Him to be at their beck and call.

It is one thing to believe about Jesus, quite another to trust him, and it is only when we see and understand who Jesus is that we will truly place our faith in him.  Such was the Apostles’ problem, their faith was misplaced; they had seen all the miracles he had performed, and all the words he spoke pointed to one fact that he was their Lord and their God. Perhaps they trusted their own boating skills, but wherever their faith was it was not where it should have been.

Our problems today are due to us trusting ourselves and that is when the storms hit. We feel we cannot trust anyone else, often with good reason, for even our closest friends let us down at times. So, all we have left is ourselves when we are hurt, but it is at this point we need to remember the One who promised to guide us through this barren land.

 When tough times come, when illness strikes, when work becomes more tiring, however stormy the seas are, we need to keep trusting and praying to Jesus

Christ has promised to be at our side through all our life, but He expects us to show our loyalty to Him.  When anyone feels the need to cry out, ‘why God haven’t you done anything,’ remember what God has done for us when He gave His Son to die on the Cross, and Jesus us from the gravest peril we could ever face, the judgement of God because of our sins.  The next time you see a Cross, remember Jesus is saying ‘I am here in your place.’

May God bless you, and be at Church onSunday.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

                     Insight to the enemy within the Church             

A disturbing story came to knowledge recently when it was reported that a Vicar had resigned his position as a governor of his local Church of England primary school. This was the result of a young child in the school being allowed by the head teacher to stand in front of the school and state he no longer considered himself a boy, and was to be treated as a girl.  To exacerbate the occurrence, the school had invited some aggressive activist transgender group who call themselves ‘Mermaids’, to provide training for staff and governors. One report suggested even the boy’s parents were unaware of what had occurred.

The Vicar, who is an Oxford graduate in biology, felt that the school which was backed up by the Diocesan Board of Education had gone too far supporting transgender ideology, and made his views known.

The Vicar resigned his Office as Vicar after it was alleged, he spoke to his bishop who told him if he wished to follow the Bible’s teaching on sexuality, he should follow his conscience and resign.  An alternative version in a different report went stronger and alleged, the bishop stated if he wished to follow the Bible’s teaching there was no place for him in the Church.  Whichever version is correct, the point is made clear.

Whilst some people may be horrified and find it unbelievable, I would not be surprised if it was true, for another campaigning bishop recently stated the Church should abandoned the Bible’s traditional teaching to avoid offending same sex supporters.

The Bishop, on the story breaking, issued a statement to the Diocesan clergy firmly denying making such a statement, claiming the allegations were false as were the circumstances quoted.
Further confusion was added when it was then stated that thirty (Unnamed) clergy came forward to support the Vicar and claim they heard the bishop’s words.

Christian Concern, the legal defence team which represents Christians unfairly treated, commented that the, bishop's letter is "at best misleading and arguably irresponsible in its portrayal of the situation ... A truly loving Church would provide – in its congregations and schools – a safe space for all who are confused about their gender to find healing and comfort in Christ the Redeemer.

The Church at large has treated transgenderism far too casually and sympathetically, instead of exposing it as some trendy unreality, seized upon by secular activists, totally undermining the teaching of Scripture. Such is the departure of the Church of England into Apostasy that special liturgy has been created to allow a second baptism, which is completely against the original teaching of the Church, and contrary to the Creed. Clergy are called upon to welcome such a trend, when in fact it is a cruel teaching which confuses children in our primary schools and encourages them to deny the reality of who they are, more especially when so many people of all ages are unable to resist joining in the latest trendy social craze without realising the long term consequences.

Billy Graham, the all-time greatest Christian preacher once stated if God does not act against Britain and America, he should apologise to Sodom and Gomarrah. Who could challenge such a statement?

 If older people want to play about with their gender that is a personal choice, but there is no right to target children of tender years, especially when parents are not consulted.

The wide difference between what has been alleged and the serious nature of the allegations must surely demand an enquiry.

Thursday 13 June 2019

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all    (2 Corinthians 13 v 14)

On Sunday the Church celebrates Trinity Sunday. 

Paul has been writing to the Church in Corinth and ends the Letter with the Trinitarian benediction. This verse has ever since has been read at Churches in every country in most services each Sunday at some point.

The doctrine of the Trinity is an important doctrine, although is hard to understand and even harder to explain, which is why a lot of preachers try to avoid doing so. All our services begin with the words, ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and we often end with the same and baptise with those words.

We speak of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, but the Bible states,’ hear O Israel the Lord our God is one God’, who is present in all three.
God was fully God when He made the world
God was/is fully God living in the saving grace of Jesus
God is fully God when He lives in the power of the Holy Spirit. These are not three different Gods but one, with three different dimensions or three different qualities.
Let us look at each.

The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul wants us to know when he speaks of the grace of Jesus, you and I achieve salvation because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross, that gracious act of undeserved kindness who gave His life willingly so that we are made right with God. Great Riches At Christ’s Expense. We are spared any punishment for our sins. This is why Jesus was sent by God for that purpose; this is the heart of the gospel message.

The love of God the Father.
When people speak of love generally, it is either an emotional feeling, or even more so something sensual. We are plagued with many songs all about love, but the deepest and truest love stories are those which are mysterious and profound.

Paul wanted us to fully appreciate the love of God which is beyond all understanding and which cared for the world so much He sent His only Son to suffer such a cruel death on the Cross so we should not perish. God’s love is extended to all His children, just as an earthly father loves his own. But such love is for His own, just as an earthly father loves his own. We are God’s children only when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Remember the words of the Bible, Jesus said.’ no one comes to the Father except through me’. This is why it is vitally important for us to have those we love come to know the love of God by turning to Jesus; there is no other way

God is a righteous and just God and as such, demands payment for sin, which has been met by Jesus on the Cross.

Imagine a Judge in a Court of law who has before him a woman who has stolen food to feed her child because she has no money to afford it. He imposes a fine which the woman pleads she cannot pay, so the judge has to impose a penalty, but in pity writes a cheque and pays himself. Such is God’s action to us.

Paul then turns to the third person of the Trinity the Holy Spirit.
Paul is saying there is a fellowship all Christians enjoy and experience through the Holy Spirit, and that that experience is what unites them. We are no longer out of relationship with God, we think of Him as a Father.

You and I as Christians achieve salvation because of the sacrifice made on the Cross, that gracious act of Jesus enable us to know the love of God through the gift of God the Holy Spirit. This must flow out over the whole Church and there should never be any difficulty or hindrance in Christians being able to relate to each other, even if we have not previously met.

But the Church is not a social club where we meet for an hour or so once a week. There has to be the truth of the Bible present in our heart and mind. We can meet as strangers and part as brothers and sisters.

At one time I lived in Mombasa Kenya, a major port on the East coast of Africa. Regularly ships would bring missionaries from other lands, principally from the United States, and whilst Americans are generally friendly people, we were able to engage with them in a way which we would not with other people, simply because we have the same God, same Father and the same Saviour, same Spirit within us.

The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is just one of the blessings of being in Christ that we can know a bond which stretches across time and space to unite us with many we have never met and barriers are broken down in the fellowship of believers

We become Christians through the grace of Jesus; the love of God allows us to walk in that grace and the Holy Spirit brings us to be at one with each other, which can stop all in fighting and the rivalry which sometimes invades and infects a Church.

May we experience that amazing grace in our lives and be true disciples of Jesus

Sunday 9 June 2019

Pentecost Sunday, the day the Church celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit to the believers in Jerusalem, which was effectively the birth of the Christian Church.

The Apostles had been told to stay in Jerusalem and wait.  Jesus pointed out they would have to wait for God to give them the gift that had always been promised when they would be baptised with the Holy Spirit.  All they could do was pray, which we later read they did.

Imagine how the apostles felt as they waited. For three years they had been following the most unique person in all history. They had witnessed miracles and heard wonderful teaching from the greatest of teachers. They had suffered the sorrow of seeing Him die but had rejoiced by His resurrection.

He had told them to go to Jerusalem and to wait.  But would they be able to cope without Him by their side.  

Eventually after ten days the day dawned at Pentecost. On that day God came down in power and changed the lives of them and so many others.  The Church was born and carried on the life of Christ and we see it was empowered to do so by the work of the Holy Spirit.

We have now no need however to wait for the Holy Spirit, it is freely available to all who choose to follow Jesus and make Him Lord of our lives. We receive the Holy Spirit when our faith comes alive, but there may be a period before we have the power of the Spirit.  If God makes us wait there must be a reason, so giving us time to meditate and seek His will for us. Just as the Apostles had to realise their dependence on Jesus, so we Christians need to realise we too need His power. 

Peter gave his famous sermon which resulted in many people believing and asking ‘what shall we do?’  Peter replied, ‘repent and be baptised every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This was the real purpose of baptism, confession of faith, repentance for past sins, and accepting Christ as Saviour; not the situation we have today where people come for baptism without knowing really why, and make promises they have no intention of keeping.  I personally do not do baptism services as it upsets me to see the Church being abused.  I do however long to attend a service where the preacher gives a sermon in simple terms to explain to those assembled the meaning of what is taking place, and indicating the seriousness of what is said and done.

In the Bible we find a confession of faith and the gift of the Holy Spirit happen together. Nowhere in the Bible is there a separation.   I believe this means that within Churches we need to have a deeper understanding of baptism and confirmation.  Whilst I have often preached on baptism, I have never been at a service when this has been preached upon by others.  In fact I have never been in a congregation where the preacher gives an explanation of what baptism should mean.  We allow false promises to be made with impunity.

Three thousand people responded to Peter’s call and we are told they ‘devoted’ themselves to the teaching of the Apostles who were of course taught by our Lord Himself.  They were not coerced, they went freely.  God has graciously provided these teachings for our learning; they are called the New Testament.

One sentence closes this chapter, ‘and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved’.  This tells us that it is the Lord who builds His Church.
God comes to us in different ways as we seek to serve Jesus.  There is the infilling of the Spirit, which is for all believers. 

For some people there is indeed a dramatic experience such as Paul had on the Damascus Road, whilst for others there is a growing in grace. 

Charles and John Wesley, who are in our minds at this time, experienced the Holy Spirit in special ways, too. Both were ordained into the Church and ministered as such for some years, yet both had deep spiritual experiences which changed their lives in May 1738, and went on to do greater things as a result.  Charles wrote his most loved and famous hymns afterwards. Charles experienced a "strange palpitation of heart," and just a few days later John felt his heart "strangely warmed." From that time on, the Wesleys were used powerfully by God to spread the news of salvation.

We may take as an analogy two situations from life.  A man and woman may meet at a social occasion and such is the chemistry between them they fall in immediate love and marry soon after, which may or may not last.  Another couple may meet, find they enjoy being with each other, and gradually become totally dependent upon each other and spend the rest of their life together.  (They may even have a diamond wedding)

Thousands attended the great Billy Graham Crusades in the 1960s/80s and were immediately affected by the atmosphere of massed choirs leading joyous praise with so many people, and hearing the preaching of the most successful preacher in all Church history.  They rushed forward to the altar call, committing their lives to the Lord, but on returning to their local parish Church found 1662 Matins with chants of canticles and indifferent preaching were disillusioned. Others just grow in grace to love the Lord. We each come as the Lord calls us, but should know when there was that moment we understood what the gospel was all about. For me, it was being at a Pentecostal meeting in Mombasa in Kenya when also I first heard one of the lovely hymns you are about to sing. 

When Pentecost came it was a transforming happening when God took over and filled all gathered with His power.  God came down in power and the lives of all present were for ever changed.  Our lives will be changed when we have that same power.
 In the light of falling attendances in the Churches it may be asked ‘why doesn’t the Lord add to the Church now?’   The answer is that He does, in Africa, South Korea, China (the country with the most Christians) and South America.  In those countries the Churches are not dismantling the Bible and are keeping to the teaching of the Apostles, whereas in the West in a lot of places, the Bible is being re-interpreted and adapted to satisfy society, and to avoid criticising lifestyles which are contrary to biblical teaching. We are meant to be people of the Word, not people of the WorLd.  One might reverently say there is an L of a difference.

In the absence of any charismatic figure on the national Church scene, each local Church is called upon to so make an impact.  Christian Research has just provided the results of a survey which showed people preferred Vicars to preach sermons of biblical exposition of between 20/30 minutes, and to stop trying to be comedians.

Jesus told the Apostles they were to be His witnesses and that duty has now been passed down to His Church and all its members.  The Church can be His witness by faithful preaching of Scripture, as all its Ministers vow to do at their ordination, and offer people a credible and united teaching.  Individual members can do so by their manner of living, reflecting the image of Christ rather than the ungracious kind we too often see.


Thursday 6 June 2019

Galatians 2 Verses 15/21

Anyone who reads a newspaper carefully, or listens to radio/television broadcasts, will be in no doubt that we live in an evil world. Countless stories of violence, murder, and immorality, with even a combination of all three, and where as once a murder would attract headlines for days, now with one a week it is just another item of news.

Something has gone badly wrong with society and it is more than coincidental that as religion has decreased in people’s lives, evil has risen. We have become separated more than ever from God, and when God gives us up we are in big trouble. There is a big chasm between us and God but God has provided a bridge for us to cross. The answer is the One who died on a wooden Cross at Calvary.

Paul in this Letter to the Galatian Church tells how we can be restored to a proper relationship with God, it is called being justified with faith.

We have to accept, with sadness, that this is no longer a truly Christian country; indeed the government has been at pains to tell and show us. It is true the majority of people like to think of themselves as Christians, but this is in name only without any biblical significance.

The Christian belief and teaching is that when we die our spirit moves on to either eternal life with Jesus, or to eternal destruction. This is not popular theology, but it is thoroughly biblical.

There are two lines of thought as to how we can get to heaven. One, which is so popular with a lot of people, and with many in the Church both lay and ordained, is through our own endeavours and deeds. It is a common belief that if one is honest, kind and helpful to others, there is no need to suffer the inconvenience of going to Church or getting religious. So what should we base our hope on?

Paul had founded the Church in Galatia and then moved on. Later some Jewish Christians from Jerusalem arrived and said it was necessary for all the Christians to keep the Jewish Law and men should be circumcised in addition to accepting the teaching about Jesus. Paul was furious that anyone should say it was necessary to add anything at all to the teaching of Jesus, and as he had been made an Apostle by God through Jesus Christ, he had the authority to speak on behalf of God.

Paul taught that Jesus came into the world to live and die for us. In His death He suffered for our disobedience, and as the penalty for sin was death, instead of us being made to pay that penalty, Jesus stood in our place. All that was required of us was to repent of our sin and put our whole faith and trust in Jesus to save us, then God accepts us as a son or daughter into His family; we are justified through our faith. Such a simple yet profound act, but one beyond the ability of many to accept. They have such faith in themselves and one day will find how wrong they were.

God will not accept human terms for He wanted it understood that it was only through Jesus that salvation could be obtained. The Bible states there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. Our Lord declared Himself, ‘no one comes to the Father except through me’.

When we are prepared to accept this, God acquits us of all our past wrongdoing. Imagine how you would feel if all your deeds and thoughts and actions from the past were displayed on a computer. There are things in all our lives of which we regret and are even ashamed of, things we bitterly wish we had not done or said and would like to think they had not happened. If they were so displayed it would make us feel rather depressed. But imagine next that someone touched the delete button on the computer, they would all be wiped out. This is what God does when we turn to Jesus Christ as Saviour.

This is all through the grace of God. The Bible states, ‘by grace are you saved through faith and this is not of your own doing.’ Sadly the Church too often neglects to talk about salvation as it implies an element of judgement and no one wants to appear judgemental. Try to think how often, and when was the last time you heard a sermon on this subject.

Faith is belief for which there is no visible proof. There has to be strong conviction. There was a famous acrobat who once walked across Niagra Falls on a tight rope, 1100 feet long and 160 feet above the waters below. One day he carried a man on his back and after doing so asked a spectator if he thought it could be done again. The man said he did so believe, but when asked if he would jump on the acrobat’s back and go across, you can guess the answer. The man had seen the act performed but he did not have faith or trust. People have seen others rejoicing in the love of Jesus but are not prepared to go with them.

However commendable and necessary it is to attend Church, sing hymns, say the Creed, it needs more. John Wesley had been ordained for more than 10 years and on a journey to America was asked by a missionary leader if he knew Jesus as his Saviour. Wesley replied that he knew Jesus was the Saviour of the world. It was pointed out to him that was not what was asked, but was Jesus his own Saviour, and Wesley said Jesus was. Later Wesley wrote in his journal, ‘I fear they were vain words’.

Belief has to be personal and just as the Lord promised good to John Newton in that beautiful hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, and His Word and hope secured, so God will be with all who seek Him and He will be your shield and portion as long as life endures.

May amazing grace be yours today and always.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

A personal Letter to the United States.

We in the United Kingdom have the pleasure and honour of having the President of the United States of America visiting our country. During this visit, he will dine with the Queen, visit the tomb of the unknown solider in Westminster Abbey, which remembers those who were killed anonymously whilst serving their country in the last war.

Significantly and particularly, he will  pay a special tribute as we all remember the many military people who lost their lives from both our countries during the invasion of Europe 75 years ago.  We join with him in that remembrance and give thanks for their sacrifices.

Sadly, we have a Mayor London making prominence of himself by refusing to meet the President, and even encouraging protests at his visit.  His juvenile behaviour and comments are an embarrassment to those who recognise the gravity of the occasion.
His intelligence has failed to realise without the gallantry of those American young men, he would not be standing making a clown of himself today.

Whatever personal views people may have regarding Mr Trump, he is the democratically elected President of our greatest ally and a great nation in itself; as such he should be treated with much respect and courtesy, even greater than the respect shown by all the left wing zealots who welcome dictators of oppressive regimes to this country.

Do not be fooled or misled, the protests against the President consist of a small proportion of people in our nation, and are a collection of political and intellectual misfits, and many who attend as a matter of fun for the day; it is of no consequence other than reflecting badly to the world who would expect better of British people. One woman said she objected to the President’s attitude to women, seemingly not even knowing what his attitude is. Some hypocrisy, when people refer to his ‘disgraceful respect for women’, but either ignore or forget previous occupants of that great Office named Clinton and Kennedy.

President Trump has achieved much for his own country already,
and done what no other world leader has done, in speaking firmly
for the rights of Christians in the world.  Meanwhile, the Mayor
London has presided over the largest murder rate in the capital
and concentrated his attention on trendy social issues.