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Old Meeting House Congregational Church (1643)

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Compromise - the sign of the times

 

Our minds have a strange capacity for adjusting themselves to unpleasant facts. I understand that during the First World War men lives in water-filled trenches, standing at times up to their waits in mud and sleeping in wet clothes, yet they managed somehow to survive. Their minds became adjusted to the seemingly impossible. It is the same with inner facts of our experience. We may find some unfortunate habit getting a hold on our lives. We begin to be critical, bitter, jealous or afraid. At first, we may realise the harm of having such thoughts or feelings, but gradually, unless we are careful, we find ourselves making excuses for these unwelcome thoughts and sooner or later we fail altogether to realise that they are wrong. We give them place in our lives and adjust ourselves to them. That is the serious element in the situation. We can keep up the forms of religion, go to church, say our prayers and yet never come to grips with the evil thig that has been allowed a place in our lives. If challenged, we may even conscientiously deny the presence of any harmful thing. To get at the sin in our lives which is keeping us from God or from spiritual vitality most of us need help. There can be no peace until we have faced and destroyed every known evil thing within our hearts. Let’s remember the words from Scripture, “Cleanse me, O God, from secret faults.”

John

Try two-way prayer


The other day I was invited to a meal which was a real treat to me. Over the meal my host asked me all kinds of questions and we discussed many issues which face human race. We both agreed that there were many things wrong in today’s society but then my host put me on the spot when he asked me what I could recommend that would make a difference. Gosh, that has put me on the spot, I thought but then from no-where I said, “try two-way prayer.”

Let me explain. Most people practice some form of prayer. The majority tend to only pray when they are in definite need. Their prayers, therefore, are in the nature of petitions. All prayer begins in this way. It is like the infant cry, “Father, give me.” But God does not want us to remain spiritual infants. Therefore, prayer ought to extend its range and its quality. Praise and thanksgiving soon begin to find a place in the prayers of anyone who takes prayer seriously. We must go on in the practice of prayer until we get to the stage of real communion with God. This means not merely talking to God, but also listening to Him. Everyone of us can cultivate this “two-way prayer.” At first, when we listen to God, we are not aware of any messages being given. Indeed, we find most of the messages come through the day. This is as it should be. But if we persist with “the listening heart,” we shall be surprised at the messages God puts into our minds. There are difficulties, of course. But patient practice in listening to God will be rewarded by a growing sensitiveness to His voice. We shall discover that God has things to say to us that no one else dare say. When we hold our lives quietly before God, we find a searchlight turned onto our hearts. Prayer is fellowship. We talk to God, and God talks to us. Do we always give God a chance to speak to us? His words are spirit, and they are life.

John

 

Have you found answers to the problems in your own life?

It’s becoming more and more popular these days for folk to go on a pilgrimage. The BBC has recently brought out a programme that brought together a group of 8 celebrities who travel together on an ancient pilgrim route that starts in Canterbury and ends up in Rome. The programme however starts in Switzerland and unlike ancient pilgrims our celebrities travel part-way by coach. However, whilst they are together they share their beliefs, some profess to have faith whilst several others have none. It seems to me that all of us are searching for something in today’s complex world.

Have you ever considered what is the maximum contribution you can make to the Kingdom of God during your life? Is it to become an eloquent exponent of the message of God contained in the Bible? Is it to show your interest by regular attendance at church? Is it to attend meetings and give yourself to help good causes? All these are valuable, but are they the highest? In a world which has lost faith in the practicability of Christianity, the biggest contribution you can make is first of all to demonstrate that through Christ you have found the answer to the problems in your own life. Unless Christ meets the needs in our own experience we cannot present His message as the answer to the difficulties in life of another. We must reveal Him as the Master of our own lives first. In the second place, we must demonstrate, His power to deal with the circumstances of our own daily lives. He has the answer for every problem in the domestic, business, political, and international life of the world. Can we demonstrate that He enables us to become master over our own circumstances? The only gospel which will meet with acceptance in the world today is a gospel which really works. It must show its power to help men and women to become more than conquerors. The call today is not primarily for fine speaking and earnest social service, but for a faith that will achieve otherwise impossible results in the ordinary fields of human activity.

John

Spiritual Thermometers

 

We’ve just adjusted our clocks to Summer Time, but I wonder if you have recently made any adjustment to your spiritual thermometer? Most of us have something which reveals to us our spiritual condition. In most cases it is some special weakness of failing which we have had to fight hard to overcome. One of the hardest things that I have battled with over the years is taking greater control over my weight – I guess that you may others with the same challenge. There are so many things that the world offers that can reduce our spiritual effectiveness. Over the years there have been times when I seemed to have gained more control over my appetite and I have felt fantastic BUT then temptation comes along unexpectedly, and I have discovered that I have fallen yet again. In nearly every case the cause of its recurrence is to do with a drop in my spiritual temperature to a level where the old temptation again can assert itself. Doctors tell us that if we keep our general health above a certain level we are in a position to ward off automatically some of the more deadly bacteria that attack us. When the level falls these enemies seize their opportunity assert their presence. In the same way, when we allow our spiritual temperature to fall through slackness, loss of effective “quite times,” compromise on some vital issue or deliberate sin, we find that old temptations begin to creep back. The only cure is to face them again, confess them, surrender them, and commence once more the close walking with God, which is our only security and our only way of effective and triumphant living.

John

I do not build up barriers in my mind that do not exist. I use my failures to open the door of achievement

Houdini, the famous magician and escape artist, could get out of any jail, handcuffs, or straight-jacket that he ever tried – that is, all except one.

That one place was a little jail in England. Houdini worked at the cell lock for more than two hours. He worked with that terrific speed that usually unlocked doors in thirty seconds. But he couldn’t get the lock to spring. Finally, tired out by his strenuous efforts, he leaned against the door. It swung open – it had never been locked!

Life is something like that, isn’t it? We build up barriers in our minds that do not exist. We lock ourselves up in the jail of failure by doubts and fears, that only live in our imagination.

I meet many people who seem to think that they can sort out their own lives, but they are doomed to fail as self-effort does not open every door but when we are empowered by God in our lives, He enables us to make the changes. Sadly, some of us have stopped trying, because of past failures – we think there is no use. We assume that the door to success has been locked against us. Maybe, if instead of sitting down and giving up, we would just lean against the door and with God’s help, it would swing open.

John.

 

According to my faith - so shall it be. (Matthew 9:29)

Pray a great deal and always let your prayers take the form of thanks giving on the assumption that God is giving you great and wonderful things; for if you think He is, He surely is. God will not give you any greater blessing than you can believe in. He wants to give you great things, but even He cannot make you take anything greater than you are equipped by faith to receive.

John

Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah

 

Written in 1745 by William Williams of Wales, it tells the story of how God cared for the Israelites during their exile and wanderings through the desert wilderness for 40 years.

“And during that time, God provided for them with MANNA to eat, a sort of wafer-bread made of honey, which fell with the dew on the ground each day.” (Exodus 16).

And God spoke to Moses, “Strike the large rock at Horeb with your staff!” Moses obeyed, and a great stream of water issued forth – pure and clean to drink. (Exodus 17).

The hymn says:

          “Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow.”

          and

          “Bread of Heaven feed me (till I want no more) now and evermore.”

Sometimes, we too, like the Hebrews, may feel we are walking through a desert wilderness in need of Heavenly support and guidance.

And as followers of JESUS CHRIST we are assured that He will supply all our needs, for Jesus Himself said “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE – those who come to Me will never go hungry; and whoever believes in Me will never thirst again.” (John 6).

So, let us put all our trust in Jesus, who cares for and loves us all, Jesus who is our Saviour and Friend.

 

          Guide me O Thou great Jehovah

          Pilgrim through this barren land

          I am weak, but Thou art mighty

          Hold me with Thy powerful hand.

 

          Strong deliverer be Thou still my strength and shield

          Lead me all my journey through

          Songs of Praises I will ever give You.

John

I let go, and let God

 

Challenges seem to come out of nowhere sometimes. The other week out of the blue my low mileage car broke down but not before I had been able to get home. However, the garage had some bad news for me – the repair would cost more then the car was worth and advised to scrap it. The thought “Heck how on earth can I replace it?” flashed through my mind but I was reminded of verse from Romans chapter 8 verse 28 which says that ALL thing work together for good for those who love the Lord. So, I was able to let go and let God…

Today “I let go and let God” take charge of this life of mine and my circumstances. Now in the dark corners of my soul His light is beginning to shine.

All the cares and worries I’ve carried around for so long…He’s lifted them from my shoulders and filled my heart with His song.

Problems that were overwhelming suddenly seem so small…and come what may, starting today, I know I can handle them all.

If you are troubled, “Let go, and let God” take charge of your life for you…and however dark life’s shadows may seem, His light will come shining through!

John

Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes, is oft but perservance in disguise. (Heney Willard Austin).

When is a situation hopeless? There is a tendency today for people to quite rather than try to win out over a seemingly hopeless situation. “Be realistic – why knock yourself out?” Is the phrase used.

I’m reminded of the story of two frogs that fell in a pail of cream. One frog swam around for a while, then gave up and drowned. The other refused to quit, paddled for all he was worth to climb up the side of the pail. To an observer it was obviously hopeless. Yet the furious paddling turned the cream to butter and the frog was able to jump out to safety.

John

Followed by angels

Sometime ago someone suggested to me that the “goodness” and “mercy” mentioned in Psalm 23 verse 6 were names given to angels. Since I heard that I have had many examples of seeing these angels following me around. Just this week I had booked a day return ticket in advance on the train to go to Nottingham. These tickets only allow you to travel at times previously booked however my business ended several hours earlier than I had booked and as it was pouring with rain I really wanted to travel on an earlier train. I enquired at the ticket office if this was possible and was told that if I payed extra they could change the ticket; however, it would have cost more than my original return ticket. I decided that I would go and have a quiet moment to pray over a coffee. After I had prayed I sensed that I should try and catch the next train but before boarding to ask the guard if I would be permitted to travel on the train. He not only agreed but found me a seat on a crowed train and I was not asked to pay any addition fare. I would like to think that God answered my prayer. Why not see what happens when you pray?

John.

 

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