Old Meeting House Congregational Church (1643)

The Best Hidden Church in Norwich!


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.


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.”


          “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.


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!


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.


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?




One of the things a love to do when I am on holiday is to explore the backroads by car but when I do this I often find myself in places which I don't know and roads that I am very unfamiliar. At such times I am so glad that we still have signpost - you might remember they were all removed during World War ll to confuse the enemy should they invade our country. The old wooden signposts which leaned at all sorts of angles, and were high up so that men on horseback and drivers of stagecoaches could read them easily, and the low, modern signposts with enamel plates, bearing road numbers which can be read by motorists.

During the war many people didn't realise just how much they had relied on the signposts that had been removed. Missing them, people were often in difficulties to know which way to go. I once heard the story of a school teacher who was asking his class questions, using the word "perplexed", and one boy confessed that he didn't know what the word meant. So the teacher imagined his going along a road and reaching the cross-roads. "Then", she said, "you would be perplexed as to which road you ought to take." "But", the boy replied, "at such a place as that there would be a signpost.."

Do you know who was the man in the Gospels who said that he was a signpost? It was John the Baptist. He declared that the only thing he had to do in this world was to point out to men that lead to Jesus. "No one thinks the signpost very valuable", he said. "The only thing worth while about it is that it points to the right road." So when men left him and followed Jesus, John did not worry. "I am the signpost", he said. "Jesus is the road."

The Jesus came and said, "I am the way." We are always glad to if we find a signpost at the cross-roads, but how much better it is if we find there is someone who will show us the way. Christian, in John Bunyan's Pilgrim Progress, was very perplexed which way he should go until he met one called Evangelist, who pointed out the way to him. "Do you see yonder wicket-gate?" Christian said, "No." Then Evangelist said, "Do you see yonder shining light?" And Christian said, "I think I do." Then, said Evangelist, "Keep that light in your eye, and go up directly thereto, so shalt thou see the gate, at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do." That was very much better than just finding a signpost, was it not? Jesus does not merely say to us, "I will point out the way", but He says, "I am the way. Follow Me!"

It may seem strange to say that a man can be the way. Dan Crawford (1870-1926), the African missionary, was one day being guided along a strange road by a native guide, and the missionary was not at all sure that he was being led in the right direction . In fact, he was more than a little doubtful. "I wish I knew the way", he said. The African guide overheard him and came and pulled himself up to his full height and tapped himself on the chest. "The way?" he questioned, "the way? Want to know the way? I am the way." the knowledge he had of the country; the confidence that he could be trusted to lead the travellers safely; that was the way.

We come to the cross-road at the start of a new year when we scarcely know which way to turn, and there we find, not just a signpost but a Guide, Jesus of Nazareth, Who says, "I am the way. Follow Me!" 


The Road Ahead


This year we are hoping to have a Watch Night service on New Year’s Eve and I have started to think about what I should say at the start of 2019. I often think that our human life is rather like travelling on a road. You can stand on a hill, and look down and across the valley, and another prodigious hill lifts itself upon the other side. The day is hot, and you are tired; and it seems that you cannot climb that long hill. But you had better walk down the hill you are one, and not trouble yourself about the other one. You find the valley pleasant and inspiring. When you get across it, you only meet a slight ascent, and begin to wonder where the steep hill is which you saw. You walk along briskly, and when you reach the highest point, you find that there has not been an inch of the hill over which you have just walked. You see that it was illusory. The slight ascent looked almost like a perpendicular steep; but when you come to pass over it, step by step, you find it to be a good traveling road.

I recently read some words by the American Congregational minister, Henry Ward Beecher (1813 – 1887). As I read them I thought to myself that what he had written then still applies to us in 2018 even is some of the words have changed. Here is what he said, and I wonder if you can agree with my observation? “So, it is with your troubles. Just in that way your anticipation of mischief hand before you; and when you come to where they are, you find them to be all smooth turnpikes. Men ought to be ashamed, after they have done that two or three times, not to take the hint, and profit by it; yet they will not. They will suffer from anticipated troubles just as much as though they had no such experience. They have not wit enough to make use of the lesson which their life is continually teaching them; namely, that a large majority of the troubles which they worry themselves about beforehand either never come or are easily borne. They form a habit of fretting about future troubles. It was not the old monks alone who wore sackcloth and hair shirts; you wear them as much as they did; only you wear them inside, while they wore them outside – you wear them in your heart, they wore them on their body. They were wiser than you.”



Never let go of hope

I recently came across a story of an experiment that was carried out by some behavioural scientists in America. First they put some rats in a large tank of water with steep walls so that it would be impossible for the rats the climb out, then they turned to lights out. Just four hours later all the rats had drowned because they had lost all hope of escape. They then put some more rats into the same tank but this time the left the light on. Thirty-two hours later all these rats had also drowned. What can we learn from this experiment? Surely it must be that we must cling onto hope. Most people understand hope as wishful thinking, as in "I hope something will happen." This is not what the Bible means by hope. The biblical definition of hope is "confident expectation." Hope is a firm assurance regarding things that are unclear and unknown (Romans 8:24-25; Hebrews 11:1, 7). Hope is a fundamental component of the life of the righteous (Proverbs 23:18). Without hope, life loses its meaning (Lamentations 3:18; Job 7:6) and in death there is no hope (Isaiah 38:18; Job 17:15). The righteous who trust or put their hope in God will be helped (Psalm 28:7), and they will not be confounded, put to shame, or disappointed (Isaiah 49:23). The righteous, who have this trustful hope in God, have a general confidence in God's protection and help (Jeremiah 29:11) and are free from fear and anxiety (Psalm 46:2-3).

I rather like the words of this hymn and I hope you will as well.

Lord of all hopefulness,
Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever child-like,
No cares could destroy,
Be there at our waking,
And give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord,
At the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled
At the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labours,
And give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord,
At the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome,
Your arms to embrace,
Be there at our homing,
And give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord,
At the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment,
Whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping,
And give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord,
At the end of the day.


Hope you find this helpful. John



Prayer is the answer to every problem in life. It puts us in tune with divine wisdom, which knows how to adjust everything perfectly. So often we do not pray in certain situations, because from our standpoint the outlook is hopeless. But nothing is impossible with God.


Nothing is so entangled that it cannot be remedied; no human relationship is too strained for God to bring about human reconciliation and understanding; no habit so deep-rooted that it cannot be overcome; no one is so weak that he cannot be strong. No one is so ill that he cannot be healed. No mind is so dull that it cannot be made brilliant.


Whatever we need if we trust God, He will supply it. If anything is causing worry or anxiety, let us stop rehearsing the difficulty and trust God for healing, love and power.


Into the experience of all there comes times of keen disappointment and utter discouragement – days when sorrow is the portion, and it is hard to believe that God is still the kind benefactor of His earthborn children; days when troubles harass the soul, till death seems preferable to life. It is then that many lose their hold on God and are brought into slavery of doubt, the bondage of unbelief. Could we at such times discern with spiritual insight the meaning of God’s providences we should see angels seeking to save us from ourselves, striving to plant our feet upon a foundation more form than the everlasting hills, and new faith would spring into being.


"And He could do no mighty work there...because of their unbelief."

Time and time again as we read through the gospels we see how demonstrations of God’s power were directly linked with faith. Eg. Jesus told the distraught father of an epileptic boy – “All things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23) – and on another occasion, when two blind men came to Him seeking healing He asked them – “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They did believe and as Jesus touched their sightless eyes He said, “According to your faith be it unto you.” We see too, that at Nazareth where the people did not believe, Jesus could do no mighty works.

I wonder how often in our own Christian lives we limit God because of our unbelief? Jesus said He came to:- preach good news to the poor – do we believe it? Proclaim release to the captives – do we believe it? Give sight to the blind – do we believe it? Set at liberty those who are oppressed – do we believe it?

As children of God we have been given a new life to enjoy and a new kingdom to live in. We have been taken out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light. As we entered initially into that kingdom by faith, so we enjoy the blessings of it day by day by faith. So often we try to live our Christian lives the other way round, looking at our experiences before we will believe God and trust His promises.

Do you remember the incident on the Lake of Gennesaret? Simon and some other fishermen had been toiling all night and caught absolutely nothing. Then Jesus came along and calmly told Simon to take the boats out again and let down the nets for a catch. I wonder what our reaction would have been in that situation and I wonder what thoughts went through Simon’s mind? Let’s look at his answer.

“Master, we toiled all night and took nothing.” (Luke 5:5). But then, quite simply Simon adds – “At Your word I will let down the nets.” Although everything about the situation led to disbelieving, to not trusting Jesus, this disciple was prepared to believe. He held on to what Jesus had said, and acted in obedience to that, and as he did so we are told, “they enclosed a great shoal of fish… so that the boat began to sink.”

If Peter had trusted in his own judgement of the situation or waiting to see the fish around the boat before casting the nets the miracle would not have happened. He believed God’s word. So with us we have the choice to believe or not to believe, but it is by that we will see the fulfilment in our own lives of the promises of God. We enter into them by faith, which is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”


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