It can only be a good thing when Christians on this side of the Channel join with their brothers and sisters in the French speaking world and lift France to the Lord in prayer, as opposed to merely looking on it as a holiday destination!. Recent media perspective on events across the Channel tends to be rather narrowly defined by news filtering through from the journalists who take up residence beside the Arc de Triomphe, with little or no information on what is happening around the rest of the country. The fact is that, with the widespread protests of the so-called ‘gilets jaune,’ France finds itself in a distinctly uncomfortable situation. Friends who live outside Paris have spoken of widespread disruption – to say nothing of very low morale in the police force, overstretched as they have been in recent months.[i]
As we set our faces to ‘march’ into this coming year,
we start by thanking You, Lord Jesus,
for each venture and adventure
that You have led us to:
those that are now complete and those that are under way.
Let each one unfold and evolve
as we devote both time and thought:
our hearts a furnace of love.
Thank You . . .
For the incredible love and care that You have invested
in shaping and moulding us according to Your purposes.
We place the very circumstances that You have set us in
afresh into Your hands.
Have mercy . . .
Where we have fallen short in reflecting Your likeness
and let You and others down in thought and word and deed.
Forgive all tardiness in making You our focus,
or in extending our forgiveness
to those who have hurt or harmed us along the way.
Replace our littleness of mind and faith
with greater courage, trust and kinder ways.
Keep us, Lord . . .
From thoughts that taunt and daunt,
and in the midst of every threat and pitfall
and every peril that tests our mettle,
grant grace and provision to bear it well,
making up each shortfall to fulfil Your purposes.
Bless . . .
Each hope we hold within our hearts,
Each person, place or nation for whom we care
and for which You summon us to pray.
So as we journey on from day to day
and one adventure to another,
may we be faithful in seeking You,
and find delight in knowing
that You Yourself take pleasure
in each offering that we bring.
Always Near by Carol Sampson – a really lovely CD:
We would like to encourage you to consider purchasing this really special compilation of 15 of Carol Sampson’s songs, which she has recorded with us over the last few years. Carol is unique! In addition to being the worship leader of one of the churches here in Malvern, she was nominated BBC Hereford and Worcester Artist of the week recently. She regularly plays gigs in pubs and ministers in care homes; this latter is something Corinne (cellist) also does, so it is fitting that she features amongst the musicians playing on this CD with Carol.
Carol is donating all the proceeds from the sale of this CD to charity.
Purchase here at Just Giving.
The Scriptures have so much to say about the return of Jesus that it is perhaps surprising that there is still comparatively little teaching on the subject in the church at large.
In this introductory talk I gave recently in church, I began to unpack a few of the many themes, threads and pointers in the Bible leading up to the great moment when the Lord Jesus will return to inaugurate an entirely new era, in particular interweaving prophecies from Isaiah and Zechariah with teaching from the New Testament. Continue reading
When Huw Humphries wrote this sumptuous song, I love the fact that he wrote lead us on rather than just lead me on. It makes it so much easier to align ourselves with the Lord and His people everywhere!
May it bless deeply and become part of the rhythm of our prayer as we seek to draw close to God’s heart ‘right across the board’ – in His joys and sorrows as well as our own.
With both sides in the Brexit situation seemingly on the edge of despair at the terrible things which will happen if it goes the other way, here is a refreshingly encouraging contribution that was sent to me. I am not familiar with Jennifer Abigail Lawson-Wallace and the Quiver Prayer Movement, but this prophetic word provides a positive reminder of Who is on the throne, without pushing any particular viewpoint. It feels like a timely reminder. As a friend said who I sent it to, “My only reference point on that is the reminder that even though God had promised the return from Babylon it was still necessary for the intercessor to take hold of the promises and to pray them through until all was fulfilled. Whatever promises we may feel are given regarding the state of our country, there is still a clarion call for intercession at such a time to see His purposes fulfilled in the Earth.” Continue reading
There are so many excellent translations of the Bible in the English language – we are so blessed! I dip into many of them every day to deepen my understanding of particular passages, making good use of such resources as http://www.biblegateway.com A new version of the Bible is now sweeping the English speaking world, and has found its way onto that select list of Scriptures. The author of The Passion Translation (TPT) has the particular aim of stirring up passion in our hearts towards Jesus, and the Word of God. Here are my thoughts so far . . . Continue reading
On the basis that we should always perk up our ears whenever God speaks in the first person, and when we are eager to explore the deep truth that ‘History is His Story’, I have long loved serious attempts to get to grips with the writings of the prophets and their importance for us as believers today. Those of you who have known us for many years will remember some of our earlier books, Daniel, (The Open Window); Haggai, Then and Now, (with Dad) and Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, as well as extensive study in the books of Amos, Hosea. Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah. The writings of the prophets are so rich! Continue reading
At a conference in Westminster on Tuesday, the Lord spoke to Linda about His desire for restoration rather than ruin – effectively for a profound remodelling of Britain – not just in terms of our relationship with Europe but in His concern for the poor in this land. There is so much in the UK that cries out to the Lord in a cacophony of noise and chaos that is anything but attractive to Him. Can we sing a song that draws and attract the Lord to us again?
As Linda put it, it is not just that God wants restoration for us rather than ruin, but that in every crisis there is also opportunity. The clay is in the Potter’s hands as it were and it is for us to pray that the shape we finally become as a nation is pleasing to Him. May we come before the Lord, sitting, standing, kneeling or prostrate calling upon Him to find reasons to intervene to make a way forward.
Brexit is a game changer that has dominated political affairs to an unparalleled extent in British history – so much so that we have been effectively unable to play any meaningful role on the world stage in recent years. We explored in our previous edition that that when we bring matters to the Lord in prayer, we give Him the opportunity to draw our attention to the reasons behind events. In this case we may well conclude that much of the chaos and dissension currently at work in Britain is actually the consequence of deliberately pushing the Lord out of one realm after another of our national life.
What can the righteous accomplish
when truth’s pillars are destroyed and law and order collapse?
Yet the Eternal One is never shaken—
He is still found in his temple of holiness,
reigning as Lord and King over all.
He is closely watching everything that happens.
And with a glance, His eyes examine every heart.
For His heavenly rule will prevail over all.
He will test both the righteous and the wicked,
exposing each heart.
Remember this: the Righteous Lord loves
what is right and just, and every godly one
will come into His presence and gaze upon His face! (Ps. 11:3-7 TPT)
No two ways about it, the ‘pillars of truth’ have been shaking in the furore and division that Brexit has stirred up – which is itself a reflection of wider turmoil. In America, for instance, politics have become an undisguised vehicle for the President to exercise his own will with but the scantiest respect for traditions right up to and including the American Constitution, and the nation remains divided right down the middle. So too in Brazil in the aftermath of the election of the ‘Trump of the Tropics’. And we in the UK are now facing a pivotal moment, whether to approve the draft declaration to leave the ‘one size fits all framework’ but to remain closely linked. Even making the big assumption that Parliament accepts this, (thereby effectively endorsing Theresa May’s long standing efforts), many of the key matters such as fisheries will remain to be negotiated.
A comparison with Isaiah’s day
I found myself comparing our situation today with that of Israel in Isaiah’s day. There was so much that was wrong in both the nation and the world then, too, and the Lord was looking for those who would set up a godly standard and raise their voices for Him. At that time, only a small handful of exiles had returned from Babylon, and although the temple had been rebuilt, the walls had not – and even the temple was anything but ‘shining in glory’. In all the people’s very considerable distress, the Lord too was distressed. (Is. 63:9). Yet still God found ways to be gracious:
For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption (or ‘the year of My redeemed’) had come. (Is. 63:4 ESV)
Only the Lord can speak of intense distress and such opportunity in one breath! We can surely pray that out of the increasing distress and shaking will come a humbling that prepares the way for reconciliation between the Lord and His beloved people. We have seen this happen in Argentina, where defeat in the Falkland’s war led to a sense of humiliation across the nation – something that played a massive part in softening hearts and souls, and which effectively proved to be the unlikely touch paper that lit what has turned out to be the longest running revival in history!
Likewise, earthquakes that occurred thirty odd years ago in Romania and Armenia played their part in paving the way for a considerable spiritual harvest in their aftermath. How wonderful that God can even use horrendous shakings to achieve positive good.
When London was struck by two earthquakes in the late eighteenth century, the Church saw them as a serious warning and as a call to repentance. It is a sad reflection that we in the West no longer heed the Power behind ‘natural’ events. Yet since Scripture is clear that there are many significant earthquakes to come in the days ahead. (Revelation 11:13; 16:15-21, Isaiah 29:6,f Joel 2:10, and Zechariah 14:4-5) it is so important that we recover our recognition of God’s hand at work behind events rather than attributing everything to climatic and ‘rational’ explanations.
How can there not be shaking when sinful deeds and attitudes meet the holiness of God? Rather than being taken aback we should redouble our prayers for people, especially in the West, to humble their hearts so that God can bring good things out of the continuing shakings that assuredly lie ahead. Here is a hope can fuel our prayers for something better than merely being forced to choose between ‘the lesser of two weevils’ – to quote the appalling pun in Patrick O’Brian’s masterly Master and Commander!
Assuming that Theresa May does indeed remain for some time in office, the Parliamentary vote on the draft Declaration will presumably establish whether she will be in real power or merely ‘nominally’ in office – effectively as the leader of a minority government.
Things will doubtless continue to develop on a daily basis and take pundits – ourselves included! – by surprise. Will a hi-tech solution way be found to solve the outstanding issue of the Irish border? And what of Spain’s long standing concerns about Gibraltar? Not to mention its sudden decision to support Scotland rejoining the EU post Brexit? Frankly, this squares poorly with its own high-handed treatment of Catalonian separatist wishes. As for President Trump’s increasingly blatant placing of self-interest above human values is this not just giving strong autocratic leaders around the world carte blanche to do whatever they like with and to their own people?
How good it would be to hear the Lord saying, “For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now! (Isaiah 46:13 NLT) We are no doubt far too proud for Him to say such a thing, but we know that in His time He can move swiftly to accomplish so much ‘suddenly.’ See, for instance, this powerful song by Godfrey Birtill.
Btw, you may find it helpful to revisit this prayer we sent out for the future shaping of Britain and Europe.
Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him [so that] you are continually infused with strength, encouraged in every way. For you are established in the faith you have absorbed and enriched by your devotion to Him. (Col. 2:7 TLB and TPT)
I wrote this lovely piece with David Booth as a song with which we can bless one another. May Jesus, who is our ‘Healer, Redeemer, Friend, Liberator and the Lifter of our heads, cleanse and heal our ‘roots’ wherever they have been soaked in anything other than His grace and truth. As the Psalmist says, ‘All my springs are in You!’ (Ps. 87:7)
We are so grateful to Megan Mellamphy for ‘lending’ us her wonderful voice, and to Corinne Frost and Colin Owen for accompanying her.