HCC Community - Thoughts and readings November 2020
As we cannot meet together as church at this time we have provided a place where we can share our thoughts and readings, as we normally do in our Sunday morning meetings. Please click here to submit your own thoughts and they will be added to this page.
The following readings were shared during our Zoom church meeting on Sunday 29th November:
'Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.' (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
'Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.' (Psalm 100:4-5)
'I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.' (Psalm 9:1-2)
'Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.' (Psalm 95:6)
'He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.' (Psalm 40:)
'I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.' (Psalm 27:13-14)
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.' (Proverbs 3:5-6)
'Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.' (Philippians 4:4-8)
The following readings were shared during our Zoom church meeting on Sunday 22nd November:
'He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.' (Psalm 40:2)
'Examine and see how good the Lord is. Happy is the person who trusts him.' (Psalm 43:8 NCV)
'Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?' (Hebrews 12:7)
'Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten - the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm - my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.' (Joel 2:23-26)
'Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.' (John 8:47)
'In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulphur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.' (Psalm 11)
John's latest article for the Halesworth community News is entitled 'The best - or worse': 'Extreme and unusual situations bring out the best, or worst, in us as human beings. This present pandemic is no exception. For some, the whole thing has brought to the surface troubling insecurities and fears while others have seen it as an opportunity to reach out and show love to one another.' Click here to read the article.
On Sunday 15th November Merle wrote a blog entitled 'Not by halves' based on what she had shared during the Sunday meeting: 'One of the small trees in my garden has not done very well. There wasn’t an abundance of the white florets in the spring or an abundance of maroon coloured leaves in the autumn. This year I asked my grandson if he would like to give it a drastic prune so that it could start again, as it were.' Click here to read Merle's blog.
The following thoughts and readings were shared during our Zoom church meeting on Sunday 15th November: John read 2 Chronicles 20:1-29. Jehoshaphat faced an impossible situation but trusted the Lord. Let us always look to the Lord and trust him, whatever our situation. It's important to praise him in the midst of challenges, to be obedient to his word and take time to hear what the Lord is saying to us. 'After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi).Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying,‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them.See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance.Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord.Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.”After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his[c] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it.On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day. Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies.They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets.The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.'
The following readings were shared during our Zoom church meeting on Sunday 8th November:
'Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.' (2 Corinthians 7:1)
'Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.' (Romans 12:2 NLT)
'Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness. The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord twists the oaksand strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.' (Psalm 29)
On Saturday 7th November Merle wrote her latest reflection 'There's a way around everything': 'On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the First World War came to an end. It was the costliest war ever fought in terms of lives lost. It was to be the war that ended all wars. The first remembrance commemorations were held on the second Sunday in November in 1919 with artificial poppies being used to remember those who had lost their lives.' Click here to read Merle's reflection.
On Wednesday 4th November Merle asked the question 'What is in your hands?' in her latest blog: 'One afternoon at the end of October I decided to do one last little job in the garden. Several days had passed by since I started my vision to change a small, but well-established, garden from the peak of its glory to a more practical one for our enjoyment in the next ten years.' Click here to read the blog.
On Monday 2nd November Merle wrote a blog entitled 'Another view' based on what she had shared during the Sunday meeting: 'It came to me this morning how once more our world is decreasing. This is reflected not only internationally, but on a personal level. We are bombarded with lots of political information and arguments for and against, as well as sometimes heated local opinions.' Click here to read Merle's blog.
The following readings were shared during our Zoom church meeting on Sunday 1st November: The theme of the sharing was trusting in God's goodness and our hope in God. It's important to keep our focus on God - where we fix our gaze defines us.
'The Trial of Faith' from 'My Utmost for His Highest' by Oswald Chambers, reading for 31st October.
'If you have faith as small as a mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you.' Matthew 17:20 'We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, and it may be so in the initial stages. But we do not earn anything through faith- faith brings us into the right relationship with God and gives Him His opportunity to work. Yet God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as His saint to get you in direct contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of emotional enjoyment of His blessings. The beginning of your life of faith was very narrow and intense, centered around a small amount of experience that had as much emotion as faith in it, and it was full of light and sweetness. Then God withdrew His conscious blessings to teach you to “walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7). And you are worth much more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight with your thrilling testimony. Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven as trustworthy in our own minds. Faith being worked out into reality must experience times of unbroken isolation. Never confuse the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, because a great deal of what we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him - a faith that says, “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.” The highest and the greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is - “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).'
'For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.' (Romans 1:20)
'God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.' (Psalm 46)
'The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.' (1 Corinthians 2:15-16) John commented that where we fix our gaze defines us. We can always find something to feel bad about, something we could have done better. We can make our emotional struggles where we fix our gaze. The alternative is to let the Lord and our relationship with him define us and consciously break free from the feelings.