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“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4-5, NIV)

Last Sunday morning as Jim and Jenny McCallum were finishing their talk at our 11:30am “Family Time” they held up a card showing this verse.

It is a frequent practice for us to have a memory verse for the young people to learn by the next Sunday but this time they said, “Why don’t we all learn it, adults as well?”

What a good idea! I look back to my own early days in Sunday School when every week we learned a new verse, and sometimes longer passages. Isaiah chapter 53, Psalms 1, 8, 23 and 100, and John 1:1-14 were just a few of the lengthier sections.

Yes, sometimes as children we found it a chore, but what a blessing it has been down the years since then to have God’s word “hard-wired” into one’s brain for ready reference in the many and varied circumstances of life.

And this reminds me of another psalm:

“I have hidden your word in my heart.” (Psalm 119:11)

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This morning I was shown a sample of the questions to be asked of people applying for British citizenship to check whether or not they understand what it means to be British. I must take a look at the full document very soon, but as I read this article two thoughts passed through my mind.

Firstly, there was an uncomfortable percentage of the questions that I myself couldn’t answer with any confidence. Secondly, if this selection of petty detail about Britain in any way defines the identity of our nation then may God help and forgive us.

We have lost our Christian identity, at least in the minds of our political and bureaucratic leadership. It may not yet be true among the bulk of the adult population aged over fifty, but the two generations under that age have been brought up deliberately to be godless. The Bible is virtually eliminated from most schools and parents have neglected to teach their children even what little they themselves know about God while most churches have sat quietly on the sidelines allowing it to happen. May God forgive us for our decades of timidity.

Is this too pessimistic a picture? As the SASRA speaker at our church supper said tonight, to the majority of the teenage soldiers with whom he works “Genesis is a pop group, Sin plays an instrument, and Grace is a vocalist.” There is a massive ignorance of even the foundational truths on which our civilisation, and that of Europe as a whole, was built for more than fifteen hundred years.

The Old Testament proverb tells us, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Righteousness? But surely, no-one today holds to the old fashioned ideas of right and wrong, do they? Sadly, few do! Morality is invented and reinvented according to populist media trends and campaigns with no reference to the God of heaven.

Which brings me to today’s Psalm, 80:19. Actually, similar words occur four times in the psalm:

“Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved.”

The poet’s nation was in a mess. Indeed, it was under the judgement of God for its turning away from Him to worship false idols. Today our nation’s idols are pleasure, wealth and self. May God forgive us and shine upon us once again! May he send spiritual revival to our land! May he send salvation! As Graham Kendrick’s hymn puts it:

“Shine, Jesus, shine,
Fill this land with the Father’s glory;
Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire.
Flow, river, flow,
Flood the nations with grace and mercy,
Send forth your word, Lord, and let there be light.”

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Preaching The Word

Thursday, 20th October, 7:30pm
John Risbridger (Above Bar Church, Southampton)

1 Corinthians 1:18-25  –  “Him We Proclaim”

Thursday, 27th October, 7:30pm
Bill Bygroves (Bridge Chapel, Liverpool)

Colossians 1:15-23 – “For What Purpose? The Invincible Jesus”

Thursday, 3rd November, 7:30pm
Bill Bygroves (Bridge Chapel, Liverpool)

Acts 1:4-8 – “With Whose Resources? Power At Work”

This is powerfully encouraging and challenging Bible-based ministry.
All welcome.

 

Last night (6th October 2011) we had the great privilege of listening to Mr Suresh Kumam from the Churachandpur district of Manipur State in Northeast India, close to the border with Burma/Myanmar.

Suresh & Kim Kumam - Manipur - India

Suresh Kumam and family: Manipur, India

There are almost a million Christians in Manipur State (in a total population of under three million) but in Suresh’s area Christians are a small minority. When he was in his early teens his uncle, who was a Christian preacher, was murdered while on a preaching tour of the countryside, and young Suresh promised that he would carry on his work.

He prepared himself thoroughly, and now many years later has two Batchelor degrees, in Theology and Divinity plus a Master’s in Theology and a further degree specialising in Bible translation. Suresh has worked as an advisor on projects for the translation of the Bible into several native languages, including the Manipuri Bible which was published earlier this year. He now has a church planting and Bible teaching ministry among his own people but plans to continue his association with Bible translation projects including for the Dai tribe, one of the Chin peoples over the border in Myanmar.

After describing his present ministry, and the background to it, he went on to read part of the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church and challenged us to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this country. He said that he grew up in India thinking that everyone in England was a Christian. He now knows that this is very far from the truth, and even many who would probably say in a vague way that they are “Christian” have little or no knowledge of the Bible and its Christian teachings, and no personal meaningful faith in Christ.

So Suresh challenged us again to live for the Gospel, the good news of eternal life through Jesus Christ. As Paul the apostle described his life he could say, “I do all this for the sake of the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:23, NIV). Can we say anything like the same?

It was a privilege to meet and to listen to Suresh Kamam. We need to make sure that we do not forget the challenge he brought to us.

(Thanks are due to Mr Thomas McLean of Logos Ministries International for arranging this visit)

This morning my attention was caught by two verses in Psalm 77:

“I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old. I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:11-12, New Revised Standard Version)

Hebrew poetry often works by repetition of the same idea in slightly different words. Here we have a double repetition, giving four similar statements.

“Call to mind … remember …meditate … muse”. There are forms of meditation that call on us to empty our minds. Meditation in the Bible is quite the opposite and calls on us to fill our minds. We are to fill them with thoughts of God, which means that we need to fill them with His Word, for that is where we learn of God.

Here the Psalmist’s thoughts are of “the deeds of the Lord … your wonders of old … all your work … your mighty deeds.” As we think back to what God has done, and preeminently what he has done through Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord, we bow in worship.

But this is not only about the past. The same God who raised Jesus from the dead is still the God of power and resurrection. We can still look to him to do great things in our world today … and He does!

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