HCC Community - Thoughts and readings October 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.
The following readings were shared during Zoom church on Sunday 25th October: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.' (Psalm 118:22-24) 'The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.' (Psalm 116:5-7) 'My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.' (Psalm 131:1-2) 'This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.' (1 John 3:19-20) 'The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.' (Psalm 28:7-9) 'When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”' (John 8:12)
On Tuesday 20th October Merle wrote a blog entitled 'Obstacles': 'We received a surprise invitation to have fish and chips at Aldeburgh at the weekend. My daughter's instructions were to order the fish and chips in the middle of the town and then cut through one of the narrow roads straight down to the sea ...' Click here to read Merle's latest blog.
Shealan shared the following insight during Zoom church on Sunday 18th October: 'A large portion of my temperament is the Melancholic. On my recent return from 2.5 months in beautiful Switzerland, I felt very low and troubled. I have many blessings here in the UK, but the transition and a negative Melancholic state of mind made me very muddled internally, making it hard for me to think bigger and feel excited about a new season. I had many questions on all aspects of life, so many things unsettled or uncertain about how they will turn out. From thoughts like 'when will I be able to enjoy the sunshine again?' to more troubling ones on a deeper level like, 'will I be very lonely and have no friendships?'. It all seemed very doom and gloom, and I really needed the Lord to help my inner state find joy, hope, and peace again. Arriving back home to my little apartment, I immediately noticed everything that was wrong. My bed's size is too big for my bedroom, knives that were just not sharp enough in the kitchen, and the tomatoes were not as tasty as the ones I had enjoyed in Switzerland! My poor mother was bearing the brunt of constant negative remarks. I felt even worse because I could feel the battle in me to find my peace in the Lord, and it was affecting those around me. It felt as if I were pushing open an automatically closing door - trying to be positive. Every time I pushed it open, it wouldn't stay open for long and quite instantly returned to what it was programmed to do - be closed. During the online church on the day after arriving in England, the scripture popped into my head that the Lord had actually given me many seasons ago when I was going through a tough time. Immediately the scripture gave me life and perspective once again in a new way! 'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.' (Romans 15:13) I realized that it was my choice to put my trust in the Lord, which would act like a Rock that I could put in front of the automatically closing door, and it would stay open. When I decide to trust the Lord, despite things not being the way I think they should be right now, and despite unanswered questions in my life, then that trust allows for hope, joy, and peace to flow through. Which is all the works of the Holy Spirit in me. Trust keeps the door open for the Holy Spirit to produce these things in me. Every time I would feel the door closing again, I would go back to 'I need to trust God now.' This has now helped me act differently, reach out, organize some girl meet-ups, dream more, and look forward to the joy that the Lord is using me, and to let go of things still not certain.'
The following thoughts were shared during Zoom church on Sunday 18th October: John shared Colossians 3:16, 'Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts'. The setting is the church at worship and there are two distinct ways in which the message of Christ can 'dwell among you richly'. Firstly, by teaching and admonishing one another - that is us addressing our brothers and sisters - and secondly in worship and thankfulness through song. That links with 1 Corinthians 14:26 in which Paul writes, 'When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up' The picture is of each of us building up the body by bringing something that encourages and challenges and then together directing our worship to God. What a privilege! Two of the themes of our sharing were trust and freedom. When God sets us free we are able to deal with those things in life which are wrong and walk in the good works which God created us to do. The following scriptures were shared: 'May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.' (Romans 15:5) 'But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.' (Ephesians 2:4-10) 'And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession - to the praise of his glory.' (Ephesians 1:13-14)
The following thoughts were shared during Zoom church on Sunday 11th October: The focus of the sharing was trust. The Lord is building trust within each of us. We don't always need to understand what is going on - we simply need to believe and then trust. The following readings were shared:
'Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.' (Proverbs 23:17-18)
Whereby shall I know? Oswald Chambers edited by James Reimann 'My Utmost for His Highest' (updated edition) 10th October
“Jesus answered and said, “I thank you, Father…that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes” Matthew 11:25 We do not grow into a spiritual relationship step by step – we either have a relationship or we do not. God does not continue to cleanse us more and more from sin – “But if we walk in the light”, we are cleansed “from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It is a matter of obedience, and once we obey, the relationship is instantly perfected. But if we turn away from obedience for even one second, darkness and death are immediately at work again. All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. You will never open them through philosophy or thinking. But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. Let God’s truth work into you by immersing yourself in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know the truth of God is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you. You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things as clear as sunlight. Don’t say, “I suppose I will understand these things someday!” You can understand them now. And it is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming one of the “wise and prudent”. “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know…” (John 7:17).'
'Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down - this leaning wall, this tottering fence? Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;together they are only a breath. Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”' (Psalm 62)
'That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.' (2 Corinthians 5:7)
The following thoughts were shared in summary:
Keep it simple
When you pray believe God will answer.
Love is not complicated.
Offer praise to God.
God wants us to believe in him, believe that he is with us and that we can trust him. Keep hold of what has been shared this morning, don't lose it, don't let the challenges we face rob us of the the words shared today.
John's latest article for the Halesworth Community News is entitled 'Divine intervention': 'In these strange and difficult times, I am sure many have thought we could all do with some divine intervention. Recently, my mind has gone back to dramatic instances of such intervention...' Click here to read John's article.
John has written an article entitled 'God's church is amazing!' an introduction to our Autumn Bible study series: 'God’s church is amazing. That vast number of people, found across the globe, often in the most unlikely of places, was God’s great idea ... It is right at the heart of God’s eternal purposes. When Paul writes of the power that raised Christ from the dead, and that put him above all other powers, he says that ‘God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church’ (Ephesians 1:22).' Click here to read John's article and here for details of the Bible studies.
On 4/10/2020 Cathy wrote: 'These extra spaces of time during lockdown give one an opportunity to go through old diaries and see what has been written. Something caught my attention from August 2019, that I thought was really good. I don't know where it came from so can't claim any personal inspiration. It goes like this: "Jesus and the cross. Man has been deceived by Satan i.e. God cannot be trusted, he's not who he says he is - the all powerful, all loving, creator. Man believed what Satan said, didn't trust God, tried to go it alone. So Satan continually deceiving, reinforcing guilt, distancing from God. On the cross Jesus had to deal with all this deceit, all subsequent sinning, all blasphemy against God's righteousness, holiness, omnipotence, His very essence. It was a cosmic battle, Satan was absolutely defeated, he could not claim any ground for himself, win any battle. So as God's children, we are enabled to win any battle within ourselves, or outside ourselves, because the cross resolved the whole sin issue, utterly defeated Satan. So we are enabled to know victory in every circumstance, there is nothing outside his remit, beyond his control. It only remains for us to choose to trust Him."'
On Friday 2nd October Merle wrote her latest reflection, 'A cry for help: '“I called out to God to help me.” I’ve often heard these words spoken as a testimony in a crisis that someone has faced in the past or is facing in the present. The word ‘help’ came to mind as I sat in the car at Southwold harbour. It was such a grey, misty day that I couldn’t see the panoramic view towards Sizewell on the opposite headland. To my consternation I made out the image of a fully grown cygnet swimming, or should I say being carried along by the outgoing tide, to the harbour entrance.' Click here to read Merle's reflection.
Julie shares her Bible reading from Wednesday 30th September from UCB 'The Word for Today', entitled 'Our...affliction...is working for us'. She found it a helpful and encouraging message in the troubled times we're living in: 'Paul describes the Christian life: ‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us’ (2 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV). Note the word ‘treasure’. Paul treasured what God had put within him; he protected it, rejoiced over it, and maximised it. Does that mean the Christian life will be easy or trouble free? No, Paul continues: ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing…the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal’ (vv. 16-18 NKJV). Notice that ‘our…affliction…is working for us’. God uses life’s experiences – good and bad – to enrich, sharpen, deepen, and stabilise you. And here’s another important truth: what you believe and speak during difficult times determines the quality of your spiritual life and your future. ‘Since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak’ (v. 13 NKJV). So instead of seeing your situation as working against you, stand up in faith today and declare: ‘This is working for me!’
John's latest Bible insight, which is based on Philippians 1:1, is entitled 'In Christ': 'I am very wealthy. I have two places of residence – one, a small bungalow in Halesworth and the second - ‘in Christ.’ It’s my second residence that makes me wealthy because, as Paul writes in this same letter, ‘my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus’ (4:19). Time and again when writing to those early Christian churches, Paul points out that they have an earthly location, but they are also ‘in Christ.’ What does that simple phrase mean?' Click here to read John's latest Bible insight and here to listen to his talk on 27th September 'How to live in Christ'.
Phil has shared his thoughts on the book of James and the relationship between faith and action: 'As my Christian walk has developed over the years I’ve found the book of James to be a very interesting one, as its core meaning has taken on a very different form as I’ve matured. I’ve noticed that my old view of the key take-outs from James remains prevalent for many people and the deeper meaning remains hidden. The old view isn’t actually wrong but, for the full picture James paints to be seen and applied, you need to see the deeper meaning too. It got me thinking about the reasons for this and I thought I’d put a few of those thoughts down.' Click here to read Phil's article.