It is a strange human habit that starts when we are very young. I am speaking about the tendency we all have of comparing ourselves with others. If you have brothers or sisters you will know how many sweets they have compared to how many you have; you will know how tall you are compared to others of your age; you will know how many privileges they have compared to those you have. It continues throughout our lives. We have an inbuilt sense of fairness, even though this sense is often prejudiced towards us and the idea that somehow we are missing out!
I say this because we are entering a very sensitive and complicated period in the life of the church. If we are honest, many of us have compared our church with others churches. Size of congregation, type of music, popularity of online services, decoration of building, hymn book used, Bible version, all these and a thousand other comparisons are made. Nowhere is the grass seen to be greener than when we look at another church and make comparisons. That is probably never a very helpful thing to do, but right now it is particularly hazardous. Churches in the UK (in all four nations) are now allowed to return to meeting in their buildings for worship. But there will be great differences in the way this happens. I personally know of churches that have already returned, but I also know of a church that has decided not to return until after Christmas. Local situations will differ considerably depending on a number of factors: size of building; age and health of the congregation; number of regular members; ability to conform to guidance; confidence of members in returning – to name a few. So in this, as in so many areas of Christian life, we must be considerate and patient with one another. We will return at some point. Let’s look forward to that whilst being thankful to the Lord for his goodness to us as a church through these most dangerous and unusual times.
Brief Devotional: The Spirit of Sharing
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. Acts 4 v 32
When he first arrived at our church in 1927, Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones was keen to get the congregation reading their Bibles. He worked out a daily reading plan that would help them to read the whole Bible in a year. Shortly after he had shared this with them, he discovered Robert Murray McCheyne had produced one in 1842. Seeing that this was superior, and used by many believers already, Dr Lloyd Jones encouraged his congregation to use it to help them read the Bible regularly. It is that reading plan which is taking us through the New Testament and Psalms every day this year.
July is a favourite month of mine because we read the book of Acts. The life of the church in those early days fascinates and thrills me.Here are a group of people from many backgrounds, social classes, languages and ethnic origins and we read that the gospel transformed their relationships. They were of one heart and one mind, and they shared everything they had.
This practice of sharing so as to relieve the needs of other believers is not just for the early church in Acts. In Romans 12 verse 13 we are encouraged to do the same. Share with God’s people who are in need. This is John MacArthur’s comment on that verse:
“Society says we each have a claim on certain possessions, but God says we own nothing. You are simply a steward of whatever He has blessed you with. And part of that stewardship responsibility is to occasionally share your personal resources with fellow Christians who have needs.”
As the government’s financial support and job retention scheme comes to an end in the next few months, we will no doubt know of many Christians who are in need. Let us have open hearts towards those we know. As we are reminded in Acts 20 verse 35, the Lord Jesus himself said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Brief Prayer Requests
This week I have gathered together some prayer requests that I have found in various missionary prayer diaries. They are of general application, being the things we should always be praying for one another. I hope you find them helpful to inform and encourage your own prayers.
1. Pray that the Lord will send his Spirit to convict men and women of their need and bring them to Christ.
2. Pray for Christian workers to be effective in their area of work, united in vision, passion and zeal in reaching the lost and the unreached.
3. Pray that all Christian workers will live godly lives, walking in spirit and in truth, fully committed to our Lord, not compromising before God or man
4. That they will not fall into temptation when being tempted and that God would give them the strength to die to self daily and walk worthy of their calling in Christ Jesus.
5. To know the perfect will of God and to actively make decisions accordingly.
6. Reconciliation. We see a growing polarisation in our society, and it feels like we’re getting further from each other. Pray that churches will bring a message of reconciliation, where young and old, black and white, rich and poor can worship together.
Finally, for those who are following the daily readings, here are the readings from this Wednesday.
Wed 22nd Acts 9 Thursday 23rd Acts 10
Friday 24th Acts 11 Saturday 25th Acts 12
Sunday 26th Acts 13 Monday 27th Acts 14
Tuesday 28th Acts 15 Wed 29th Acts 16
Warmly yours in the Lord Your Pastor Jeremy 20th July 2020