Where are we now?
We live in unprecedented times, not knowing when and what is going to happen next. People
are running around with a lot of confusion; some have anxieties about their employment and
some have lost their jobs and are standing at the cross roads; some have health issues and the
delays in hospital appointments and some have lost their loved ones; some have troubles with
not being able to get full advantage by catching up lessons online and some have a threatened
future because of the inability to write year end exams; some have difficulties in family relationship in this 24/7 lockdown; some as a single parent running the family. None of us are exempted without difficulties. The scale varies with individuals.
It all depends on how we approach the problem! We, the
believers of Christ are anchored in Christ through the word
‘TRUST’. Every single day should be rolled on this precious
word. When we face uncertainties, the best possible and
quickest way to overcome them is laying them down at the
feet of Jesus. Trusting in His care and compassion, we need to move forward. Whenever we are weak, let us reflect on our past when He held our hands. Whenever we are weary, let us
ponder on the ways He lifted us up. Let us seek His presence in both our ups and downs. Let us look for His comfort, strength, protection and reassurance in our daily life. Let us breathe with gratitude holding on to Him, trusting with faith that He is still God even in the midst of this turmoil. Let us count the blessings and name them one by one and it will surely surprise us what the Lord has done!!
‘….. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 5’This is what I covenanted with you ……
And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear’. Haggai 2: 4-5
We are now living in unprecedented times. The entire world is in quarantine because of this disastrous pandemic. This invisible microorganism influenced every aspect of world-wide governing authorities including health, economics, social, education, religious etc. What does God expect us to act like in this static situation?
The people of Israel were returning from their captivity to rebuild the temple of God. God raised the prophet Haggai to deliver this message to His people: be strong, work and do not fear. While we proceed, He promised that He would be with us and His Spirit remain among us. We are to work individually and collectively in building ourselves (the temple) and God’s church, respectively.
This is a time for spiritual preparation. We need to look forward to every hour as if the end is near. Are we prepared to meet with the Lord when He comes and knocks now? Being strong and fearless are intrinsic spiritual attributes a believer must obtain by exercising our faith in God. In addition, God asks us to work. Work for attaining the growth of His Kingdom, both personally and for our community. The believers together make a community and that is the church. The new covenant promise from God is that He prefers to dwell among His people rather than in buildings constructed with bricks and mortar. Let us work this time to reconcile with one another, able to forgive others in Christ’ love, stripping off all our seen iniquities (one by one) in His Spirit’s strength and pleading God to forgive our unseen displeasing behaviour. When we come out as new creation with the effect of all these preparations, we are personally revived and eventually, the community will be revived.
God promises (2:9) this revived community that our latter glory will be better than the former glory! Successful people do consistently and regularly what normal people do occasionally. We are called to be successful people for His Kingdom work.
If not now, when?
Our world is being violently shaken by the coronavirus outbreak. Every organisation is shutting their regular businesses including church services. In history, we have never heard of Sunday service closures including during the world war. We get frustrated about not being able to come and worship God. When Christians follow government guidance and medical advice to, say, drastically reduce all social contacts, this is not an expression of unbelief (as though God did not have the power to protect or heal us). Rather, it is a demand of wisdom and, especially, of neighbourly love. Of course, abiding this shows our obedience to authorities (as scripture commands us) and a way of showing our compassion to the community. There are lots of opportunities widespread before us now to reflect, think and act. Lessons to learn and practice including being not self-centered.
This is a potential season to outreach and lit the light of Jesus in people’s hearts. When, if not now, is the church called to rise and shine? No weapon (Corona) formed against us shall remain! For fighting against the anxiety, we need to be assured of God’s love and guidance in our personal life. Only then, can we share the confidence with others. In situations like these, one of the best things we can do is remember just how great, how good, how strong and mighty, how faithful our God truly is. Personally, I find it most helpful in such situations to meditate on verses of Scripture (Psalm 23), that I think through, pray through, feel through, chew through, carry in my heart, and digest inwardly. First, David proclaims God’s making, leading and guiding faithfulness and he slowly and steadily steers towards self-assurance as the language turns from ‘He’ (Vs.1-3) to ‘You’ (Vs. 4-6). Both are necessary now currently, self-strengthening and sharing Christ with others. Let us continue doing the same keeping trust in God.
Let us be attentive!
We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Heb 2:1
God speaks. God always likes to communicate with us. When we have attentive ears, we can listen His voice loudly and clearly. Elijah was desperate to know what God’s response for his troubled heart would be (1 Kings 19:10-18). He was zealous for the Lord God Almighty. He could not tolerate people misbehaving to God and God sent prophets. Whilst he was seeking for God’s response, God did not tell him through which means He will speak to him. It was left with Elijah’s responsibility to be attentive and select God’s voice from all the other voices around. Elijah did not hear God in the stormy wind, earthquake or fire, but in a “gentle whisper” or a “still small voice.” The former powerful features would have easily led Elijah to misread as if they were from God. He did not give up and was attentive until He heard God’s voice. Open-handed receptivity; a yearning to hear God.
God will speak. Are we preparing our family members to hear? Are we alerting our children to listen? How often do we ask effective questions such as “what is the invitation in this particular Scripture”? Or perhaps, “in what way is our life changing because we recognized and responded to God’s voice”? God was speaking to Adam and Eve. Until they were listening His voice, they had a wonderful time. The serpent never tolerates with us talking with God. Adam and Eve fell into the serpent’s schematic desire. They started hearing the deceiver’s voice rather than being attentive to the creator’s voice. We must be attentive to where the voice is coming from so that we will not be drifted away. During this period of lent, people either give up various things or self-discipline themselves. Why not we practice being attentive to hear His gentle whisper?
Untold still Untold!!
“Christ is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only but also for the whole world”
1 John 2:2
Atheism is a sect that evolved from theism. It formed because of the loss of faith on something. They are not convinced about something, perhaps, the doctrines. They are looking for evidences claiming themselves as logical thinkers. The Word of God is the proof, but they want to visualize something before them. We, Christians need to become their proofs of evidence. On the other hand, the other faith communities struggle to accept Christianity. Mahatma Gandhi glimpsed Christ, but rejecting Christianity. He was deeply hurt by his experiences with apartheid and “Christians” during his time in South Africa, and it obviously stymied his relationship with Christ. So, are we the ones who are blocking Christ to be seen by others?
We read, ‘Christ came to save the whole world’. We hear, ‘Christ is the healer, not only for our sins but for the whole world’. We sing, ‘Lord, help me to love others as you have loved me’. Here, the world informs us the people from any background, culture, faith, country, etc. How do we embrace them? Do we possess Christ as our own? He is to be shared. We are now living at the end times. Our life on this earth is full of uncertainty. So we need to see as if today is the last day of our life on this earth. This thought shall provoke us to do good in the eyes of the Lord.
Every natural disaster, political instability, terrorism attack stimulates the community to pop-in through the church doors. People seek for peace and guidance. They come with wounded hearts. We may not know what is going on in their lives. Something has kindled them to come to church. The church must rejoice in receiving visitors and embrace them in the love of Christ. Christ in our midst will be our protector in welcoming and engaging with strangers. Let us remember, we were once strangers and are now adopted as His sons and daughters. It is a great opportunity to share Christ at our doorsteps even before we go out into the community! It is still untold, we Christians need to awake and tell the truth to the untold!
What is our Vision 2020?
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. Prov. 29:18. (ESV)
The number 2020 gives us a thrust to extend our imagination beyond the limit. This fetches an extravagant thinking which pressurizes the world to chase behind the wind. The churches around the world must have invested time and energy in prayers and discussions for its growth. Looking at the society around, grasping the huge need of change that must be adapted, for future betterment both in spiritual and secular life, a radical decision is necessary. Whenever we think of the word ‘radical’, the Reformation comes to our mind. The important aspect of the Reformation is to revisit the basics of our doctrine and restructure our spiritual life accordingly.
Vision 2020 of Ashurst is, ‘HEARING the MASTER’S VOICE’. As a church, we focus ourselves in hearing God’s voice and examining whether our footprints harmonise with our hearing. Let us hear our Master’s voice together through an individual and congregational setup. Individually, we pray for these: work, family, church, mission, nation, eternity, worship every day in a week by engaging through the prayer model, Daily Connect. This prayer model incorporates the Bible reading plan, a systematic reading of the Bible together in a year. As a congregation, we follow the Bible verse of the year, 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16-17. We will be hearing together on Sundays about the Sermon on the Mount, and the teachings of Jesus himself. Being strongly rooted on these two pillars, prayer, and meditating His Word, will enable us to branch out widely for other missional activities. By doing this, we shall be His children of hearers and doers.
Wish you a blessed and a happy new year 2020!