minor prophets

Uganda 649

Rev. E. Anderson

DEEP-SEATED EVIL

Amos 1-5

In the first two chapters there is the revelation of the fact that the nations are found to be guilty of sin and awful mat-practices. Nation after nation is mentioned and finally, Samaria and Judah. It is stated that they ‘sin again and again.’ Such a phrase indicates the deep-seated nature of evil that was the lot of the people. It is an exposure of inveterate evil. The life and lifestyle was the manifestation of sin that could not be left unanswered by the Lord, the true Judge of all. At the end of the day, it could be not excused and treated as if was not of no consequence. The messenger of the Lord discloses the truth that it had been observed by the Lord and would be dealt with. This was certainly to be so in relation to Israel and Judah – Amos 2: 4-15. The day of accountability had arrived and judgement – v4. One sees what is tabulated against these professed godly nations.

1/. THE REJECTION OF GOD’S LAWS AND DISOBEDIENCE – v4

High on the agenda and first mentioned is their blatant and flagrant disregard for God’s law. He had particularly given them a Book of Law in order to guide and govern them in its belief and behaviour but such had been both neglected and rejected. Creed and conduct were both evil.

2/. THE PREVALENCE OF A SPIRIT OF DECEPTION -v4 

They had been deluded and so were guilty of falsehood. They were enacting a lie in their way of life. Sin is of this character and the more it is persisted in the more deceit is manifested. It is not easy to become disentangled and freed from evil. It gets into the warp and woof of being and conduct. The word ‘sinister’ has the word sin in it and expresses that which is stealthy, furtive and untrustworthy.

3/. THE PERVERSION OF JUSTICE IN EVERY WAY – v6

Sin is the opposite of divine righteousness and brings about not only wrong thinking but also shameful practices that are altogether obnoxious. Dishonesty prevails and there is a trampling on the rights of weak people. No integrity!

4/. THE PREVALENCE OF IMMORALITY -v7

Sin does find its expression in unbecoming sexual activity and people believe they can perform at this level without impunity. God thinks otherwise!

5/. THE ROTTENNESS OF THE RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS – v8

The impression is given of a sound and good relationship with the Lord but even such is loaded with sin – see also 4: 4,5.5: 21-24. He is not deceived or moved. 

6/. THE CORRUPTING OF THE GOOD AND RESISTANCE TO  GOD’S MESSENGERS -v12

This was a sad procedure that had been adopted and this made things worse. No wonder the time was now right and ripe for divine justice and judgement.

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feasts of the Lord

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

Rev. John Willoughby

UNDERSTANDING THE FEASTS OF THE LORD.

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

IX. TABERNACLES – THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.

Tabernacles includes the Feast of Trumpets (‘Rosh HaShanah’), the Day of Atonement (‘Yom Kippur’) and the Feast of Tabernacles (‘Sukkot’).

1. Historical background.

The Feast was called Tabernacles, because the Israelites slept in booths or shelters. It was also called the Feast of Ingathering (Ex 23:16), due to it taking place at the end of the harvest season.

a) Its time. Lev 23:33-36. There were two aspects:

* Seven days. From the 15th to the 21st of the seventh month of Tishri (Sept to Oct).

* Eighth day. On the 22nd of Tishri 

b) Its time in relation to the other two Feasts. The following is a summary:

* The Feast of Trumpets – a day for the blowing of trumpets. On the 1st day of Tishri. (There followed the Ten Days of Repentance.)

* The Day of Atonement – a day of repentance. On the 10th of Tishri.

* The Feast of Tabernacles – eight days of celebration. On the 15th to 22nd of Tishri.

c) Its activities. It was the last of the three major Feasts, at which all males must attend yearly to celebrate (Dt 16:16). There were the:

* First seven days. Num 29:12-16. On the first day (15th), “you shall have a holy convocation” (Sabbath). There were to be various offerings for each day, a burnt offering of “two rams and fourteen lambs in their first year … without blemish”, also young bulls (starting at 13 for the first day and reducing each day to 7 for the 7th day), a sin offering of, “one kid of the goats”, together with their grain offerings.

* Eighth day. Num 29:35-38. It was a Sabbath of rest and rejoicing, with a burnt offering of, “one bull, one ram, seven lambs in their first year without blemish”, grain offerings and “one goat as a sin offering”.

d) Its purpose. Lev 23:40-43. It was a time of great rejoicing, to celebrate the final ingathering of the harvest, which God had blessed the people with for the year. They were to build and then dwell in booths or shelters, in which they were to live during the Feast. This reminded them to:

* Look back. They remembered the time their forefathers (after being led out of Egypt) wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, living in shelters or tabernacles and that this was due to their unbelief and disobedience. Also that during this time, they could rest in God’s provision, as He provided for their every need, eventually bringing them into the land of rest, which He had promised them.

* Look forward. The shelters were loosely constructed, so that they could see through the leaves to heaven. This would remind them that they were pilgrims, passing through this life and that God had an even greater rest for them in the future, when their promised Messiah would come to bring them final deliverance, a hope of their ancestor Abraham who, “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10).

2. Special celebration of the Feast under the Old Covenant.

Neh 8:13-18. This took place as a time of great rejoicing in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, after the Temple in Jerusalem had been dedicated and the walls had been completed (Neh 6:15). 

3. Celebration of the Feast at the time of Jesus.

As with the Feasts of Passover and Pentecost, all Jewish males were required to journey to Jerusalem each year for its celebration (Dt 16:16). The fruit of the land had been reaped, so the people could now rest from their labour. Tabernacles was known as, ‘the season of rejoicing’ and was such a joyous occasion that the Jews said that the person who had not been to Jerusalem during this Feast did not know what rejoicing really meant! An additional reason for celebration was that the month of Tishri was and is to this day, the start of the Jewish New Year under the civil calendar and was the beginning of the agricultural season with its early rains. 

4. Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Tabernacles.

As God resided with His people in the Tabernacle in the wilderness, so Jesus took on His earthly body (tabernacle) as a temporary dwelling place (Jn 1:14) to reside with us as, “Immanuel, God with us” (Mt 1:23). There were two Jewish rituals that illustrated its fulfillment through the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ:

a) The pouring of water. Jn 7:37-39. This took place on the 7th day (v37), “the last day” of the Feast (21st of Tishri), which was called in Hebrew ‘Hoshana Rabba’ (‘Day of the Great Hosanna’) and which translates into English as, ‘save now’. On this day the Jews would pray particularly for:

* The coming rain. This was needed in order to soften the ground for plowing, thus they made a special thanksgiving offering to God for the rain, which He was going to send.

* The coming of the Messiah. As part of the ritual of the Feast, a priest would draw water from the Pool of Siloam with a golden pitcher and while doing so would quote Isa 12:3, “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation”. He would then go to the Temple, where the High Priest would take the pitcher and pour the water mingled with wine into a basin at the foot of the altar. As this was taking place, the priests would blow their trumpets and the Levites and all the people would wave palm branches, while singing Ps 113-118 (the Hallel). This pouring of the water was done in remembrance of the water supplied by God from the rock (Ex 17:6) and which spiritually pointed to Christ, as we read in I Cor 10:4, “they drunk of that spiritual Rock that followed them and that Rock was Christ”. This was the most joyous day of the celebration and the pouring of water was its climax. Jesus was present to keep the Feast, in obedience to the Law and just as the celebration reached its peak at the pouring of the water, He made the bold declaration, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (v37), pointing to Himself as the Messiah, the One who would give them the true water of life. 

b) The lighting of the Temple. Jn 8:2, 12. “Now early in the morning He came again into the Temple” (v2), being the 8th day (22nd of Tishri), which was the Sabbath. At this time tens of thousands crowded into the Temple area, each one carrying a lighted torch, resulting in the entire city of Jerusalem being illuminated for miles. This was to celebrate and to thank God for:

* The sun. The lighted torches represented the sun, plenty of which was needed, in order to have a successful agricultural season, thus they thanked God for this blessing.

* The coming of the Messiah. They acknowledged that God was their true light (Ps 27:1), who would one day give them spiritual sight through the Messiah. It was then that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (v12).

In both events Jesus pointed to Himself as the One who had come to satisfy their spiritual thirst and to take them out of the darkness of unbelief into His true spiritual light. They rejected Him, because they thirsted after their religious rituals and traditions, rather than thirsting after God. Also because they desired a political Messiah or Deliverer, who would set them free from the bondage of Rome, rather than receiving the light of His conviction, resulting in deliverance from the bondage of sin. The result was that they missed the rest Jesus offered them and continued to be restless wanderers (as were their forefathers) for the coming 1,900 years.

5. Jesus will fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles.

As part of the three Feasts of Tabernacles on every fiftieth year, “you shall cause the trumpet of Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month on the Day of Atonement, you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout your land” (Lev 25:9). During this Year of Jubilee, there was a time of great rejoicing and a time for proclaiming liberty throughout the land – all prisoners were to be set free, property was returned to its original owner and the land rested without being worked. As the Hebrews looked through the leaves of their booths to the stars, it pointed to a future time, when God’s people will be completely set free, the earth will be restored to the godly and there will be rest in the land. There are two aspects of rest, when God will tabernacle in the midst of His people, which are still to be fulfilled:

a) The Millennium Rest. Rev 20:4-6. It represents the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. (It is interesting that this is the seventh Feast, the seventh dispensation and the seventh thousand years in Biblical history.) As God rested on the seventh day and as we are to rest on the Sabbath (Ex 20:8-11), so too this seventh dispensation shall be a time of rest. Those who have received new resurrection bodies as part of the first resurrection (both Jews and Gentiles) will reign with Christ (v4) and those who comprise the sheep nations, together with those who are born during this time, will be its inhabitants. We read of this time in Zech 14:9, “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth”. The Millennium (Latin ‘milli’ means one thousand and ‘annum’ means year) will be a time of great rejoicing and rest for all people living at that time:

* Satan will be bound. Rev 20:1-3. Together with all his demonic forces of darkness they will be cast, “into the bottomless pit” (v3), so that they will not be able to entice and tempt the world’s inhabitants, nor control the world system, as they used to do.

* The Jews will be blessed. Jer 23:5-8. Israel will rest in peace in the full area promised to them through Abraham, which will extend far beyond its present borders, each tribe having its allotted land (Ez 47:13-48:29). They will also have a new Temple (Zech 6:12-13). We read of that day, “ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’” (Zech 8:23).

* The Gentiles will be blessed. Isa 2:1-4. It will be a utopia for which man has so desperately strived, but has never achieved – with peace, safety, prosperity and righteousness as their inheritance. We read of this time in Zech 14:16-21, “everyone who is left of the nations (Gentiles) … shall go up from year to year to worship the King (Jesus), the Lord of hosts and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (v16) and those who do not will be punished.

* Jerusalem will be a blessing. Zech 8:3-8. From this ancient city Jesus will rule and all blessings will flow, as we can see from some of the various names given to it: “You shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city” (Isa 1:26), “The city of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isa 60:14), in Isa 62:4 “you shall be called Hephzibah (‘My Delight is in her’) and your land Beulah” (‘Married’) and in v12 she is called, “Sought Out, a city not forsaken”. In Jer 3:17 we read, “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord”, in 33:16 “this is the name by which she shall be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNES” and in Ez 48:35 she is named, “THE LORD IS THERE”.

* The Gentiles and the Jews will be tested. Rev 20:7-10. Because of sin still residing in the heart of man, Satan will be released to entice many into a final rebellion against God at the end of this time, in order to test the hearts of those still living in His Kingdom. This rebellion will be speedily overcome, after which will be the Great Judgment (Rev 20:11-15). As wonderful as the Millennium will be, it is still not the final rest that God has planned for us. 

b) The Eternal Rest. Rev 21:1-7, 22-27. We read in Isa 65:17, “behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind”. The old will be destroyed by fire (II Pet 3:7) and the new shall remain forever (Isa 66:22). There will be no need of a temple for worship or the sun and moon to give light for, “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” and “the glory of God illuminated it, the Lamb is its light” (v22-23). We read in Num 29:35 that, as part of the Feast of Tabernacles, there was a special Sabbath on the 8th day (the 22nd), which was a day of great rejoicing and corresponds to the new heavens and earth. This is the final rest for which we are longing, when Satan (together with all demons and fallen angels) have been cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10), when there will be no temptation to sin throughout creation, His universe and in the hearts of men and when God will come to live amongst His people (Rev 22:1-5). It will return to a time of innocence and rest, when nature will be restored as it was before the fall and when God’s full purposes will be fulfilled in His universe.

6. Personal application.

Mt 11:28-30. This seventh Feast completes the religious season and represents the completed work of God, not only for Israel, but also for Christians – the seventh step to spiritual maturity, a level to which we can all grow. Our bodies are our temporary dwelling places (tabernacles), as we make the journey through this world to our heavenly home (II Pet 1:13-14). Jesus said of Himself, “He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed”, He continues, “to preach the acceptable year of the Lord”, which refers to the Year of Jubilee (Lk 4:18-19). This Jubilee rest is not only for eternity, but is the inheritance of all those who would make Jesus Lord of their lives in this earthly pilgrimage. For those who have come into His light and drunk of His Spirit, we can rejoice that through Christ, there is:

a) A present rest. Heb 3:7-4:10. It was always God’s desire to lead His people Israel into their inheritance, the promised land of rest, but an entire generation did not make it, because of unbelief, disobedience and a hardness of heart towards Him (v7-11, 16-19). How easy it is for Christians to travel a similar path (v12-15). Egypt symbolizes the world system, the promised land symbolizes God’s rest and the wilderness lies in between. When a person accepts Jesus as Saviour, God delivers them out of a type of spiritual Egypt, but Egypt does not always come out of us, at least not for a while and in that time we can wander in a wilderness. Like the Jews, we Christians will not receive His inheritance and enjoy His rest in this lifetime, until we walk with Him in loving trust and obedience, not through our own efforts, but only through relying on His grace. Many never enter the promised land of God’s rest, because they seek the blessings, rather than the One who blesses. As we allow Jesus to be Lord of all and to live His life in us and through us, He becomes our life. We can now simply rest in Him, no matter the circumstances for as Paul wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil 4:11). His rest is the place Christians come to in their walk with God, when they tabernacle in Him and He in them. The full blessings of the Feasts become a reality to us only by the work of the Holy Spirit and are received in an ordered sequence of events, as we receive His truths and put them into operation. We can rejoice in:

* Passover – Jesus died for our sins and we (our old life and self) by faith died in Him.

* Unleavened Bread – Jesus was buried and our old self was by faith buried in Him.

* First Fruits – Jesus was resurrected from the dead and our new spiritual life was by faith resurrected in Him.

* Pentecost – Jesus was glorified, sent the “promise of the Father” and we receive by faith His power through the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

b) A future rest. II Cor 5:1-8. It is interesting that the Jewish month of Tishri, is also the start of the new year in the Jewish civil calendar and thus for Christians can symbolically be taken as the start of something new. One day we must all put off this tent (II Pet 1:14) and “be clothed with our habitation, which is from heaven” (v2), in which we will be able to fully enjoy His blessings. For those who fully tabernacle in Him now, “as sojourners and pilgrims” (I Pet 2:11), His rest will also be their inheritance for the Millennium and for eternity, as the apostle Peter wrote, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (II Pet 3:13). We can rejoice in the sequence of future events.

* Trumpets – Jesus will return for His bride and we who are ready will be caught up to meet Him in the air. Let us watch, with our lamps burning, for His return.

* Day of Atonement – Jesus will be the judge of all who have ever lived and for us (who are His bride), there will be an account of our stewardship (not of our salvation). Let us glorify Christ in all we are and do.

* Tabernacles – Jesus will bring eternal rest for His universe and we will receive and be part of that rest for eternity, all due to His grace and mercy. Let us enter that rest and tabernacle in Him now. 

Rev 22:1-5. We also read of that time in Rev Ch 21: That God will “tabernacle … with men and He will dwell with them” (v3). “There shall be no more death, nor sorrow … nor pain for the former things are passed away” (v4), that those “who overcome shall inherit all things and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (v7). No evil will be permitted (v8) and there will be a glorious New Jerusalem to accommodate all the righteous, who have ever lived (v2, 9-21), “with no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light” (v23). What a future inheritance of rest for the redeemed.

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pastor’s weekly thought

ianwilliams

Rev. Ian Williams

STAGNATION, PROCRASTINATION OR PRESSING ON?

The Apostle Paul sat in a prison, chained to a guard, his ministry cut short, awaiting trial. He faced immense opposition yet he maintained a great attitude throughout and wrote letters to churches and individuals that breathed life, joy and confidence.

Paul’s attitude enabled him to see what others were unable to see and to stay focused regardless of circumstances.

He chose not to stagnate or procrastinate; he chose to press on, take hold of and advance towards the goal set before him.

Stagnation is when we stop moving forward and stop growing while procrastination is when we defer action and put things off until another day.

Paul lived satisfied and yet with a Divine discontent. This allowed him to concentrate on what mattered, having a willingness to let go of what was periphery and stick to what was primary.

Paul was not bound by or to his past; the hurts, injustices, failures, and even triumphs forgotten as he pressed on, running confidently to win the prize for which Christ Jesus had called him.

Let us follow the example of Paul – this is not a time to stagnate or even procrastinate. It’s our time to press through, onward and upward!

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womens’ page

petrina kent

Patricia Kent

GOD SPEAKS TO ME AS I WORK

Elim member Petrina Kent says her faith inspires her to create incredible works of art.

Petrina Kent started painting at the age of 15 and has never looked back. Based on the Isle of Man, she runs a small studio gallery in Castletown where she paints after roaming the hills for inspiration.

“My inspiration has always come from the world around me,” she says. “I see, I ponder, I paint. There is always an emotional response to the things I see, which translates into painting.”

Petrina felt overwhelmed when she saw the tidal currents at the southernmost point of the Isle of Man, as she movingly describes: “The tide had turned, the sea was rough, there was turbulence; a struggle; a battle between sky and sea; a battle between day’s end and night taking over; and in the direction the water wanted to go.

“The experience was amazing and I simply wanted to do something with it. My resulting painting hopefully speaks of these things and at the same time can be seen as a reflection on life.”

Asked if she can pinpoint one piece in her collection that stands out the most, Petrina mentions a painting called The Throne Room’.

She explains, “Around the time of painting this I had been asking God the question, ‘If you had to paint light with paint and canvas, how would you do it?’ An odd question, I know, as God is light; but ask it I did. It is

Throne Room and below, more of Petrina’s work a reflection on John’s vision of heaven as recorded in Revelation 4, and my aim was to depict the Throne Room with all its beauty and light, and to draw people into that place.

“A lady asked me recently, ‘How do you paint again after painting that?’ It was a good question. My answer was that I have returned to painting from what is seen in the natural world, and I am weaving into that, spiritual concepts so that people can progress easily from what they know to accessing the hidden spiritual message. As the years have gone by, I have become increasingly aware of how God speaks to me as I work, and also through the finished work. I might produce a painting, flowing in the Holy Spirit as I work, and then afterwards I see what the work is ‘saying’.

For Petrina, the link between art and Christianity is ages old. Art, she claims, is about seeing the beauty in things and reflecting a sense of wonder at the world God has made. Her aim is that people will see the glory of God in her paintings, and to experience a sense of hope and beauty as they look beyond the obvious to find the hidden, spiritual meanings.

She adds, “God is the ultimate creator, so it stands to reason that he created people to be creative too: to think, consider, create, and communicate. His desire is for a relationship with us. Because of this he speaks, and his voice can be heard in so many ways and through so many things. The Scripture says that creation displays his glory. I think art does all of this.”

Petrina grew up in the Brethren Church but has attended Elim’s Peel Community Church for five years and is a deacon there. She says, “It’s a great place to be, and we now have a new young energetic pastor and his wife who have great vision and passion to see the church grow.”

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wisdom’s ways

 aaronlinford

Rev. Aaron Linford

THE LADY OF THE LAMP 

“Her candle goeth not out by night”Proverbs 31:14-18

 With his vast harem of a thousand wives and concubines, Solomon could not find one “woman” among them (read 1 Kings 11:3 and Eccl 7:28). But here is a woman worth a thousand females: a great argument for monogamy – find her, and you don’t need another. Consider five additional virtues of this paragon among women.

SHE IS A GOOD SHOPPER. She travels far to get a bargain, or to supply variety to the household benefits. She is like the merchant’s ships:- not as elegant as a yacht, or as aggressive as a battleship, but she brings back the goods.

SHE IS A GOOD SUPPLIER. She rises before day break to bake bread and prepare victuals for the day. Her husband awakes to a freshly – cooked meal; and the maidservants, too, are the objects of her industrious care. You begin the day well in her house.

SHE IS A GOOD SALESWOMAN. With an eye to adding to the family estate, she scans the sales-catalogues, examines with a critical eye an adjacent field, bids a reasonable price and gains a valuable asset.

SHE IS A GOOD SUPPORTER OF HER FAMILY’S FORTUNES. She buys a vineyard with money she has saved by her astute management of the household economy. This helps to supply present needs of wine for home-use, and to support the family’s status for the future. A vineyard was looked upon as part of a properly equipped homestead. “Every man under his vine” (1 Kings 4:25) was looked upon as the social ideal. Under her wise management the household has a stake and a status in society, upheld by the dignity and the diligence of this great woman.

SHE IS A GOOD “SERVANT” OF ALL. She girdeth her loins that is “she fixes her skirt firmly round her waist so that she shall not be incommoded in her work” (Oesterly). “And straighteneth her arms”, that is, she rolls up her sleeves and sets to work with vigour. She examines her wares to test their worth and see if her purchases are profitable. “Her lamp goeth not out by night1′. In the houses of the time, small latticed windows admitted little light. She countered the fading light of day with the light of her household lamps, and kept mem burning well into the late hours. Her diligence and industry was not regulated by sunrise or sunset. She anticipated the former and exceeded the latter. Wonderful woman!

PRAYER: May I ever be industrious in things that matter, O Lord!

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sermons to notes

ernes1

Rev. E. Anderson

FROM BITTER TO SWEET

Reading  Psalm 84

Text              v6

Introduction

INEVITABLE:  One of the inevitable facts of life and human experience is that of having to face events and situations that are most difficult and trying and which can mess up everything, even the person. No one is rendered immune from very painful and grieving circumstances and affairs that can create weals and wounds that certainly hurt and scar. These sorts of things not only occur to the non-believer in God but even to those who do and are most choice people in faith and behaviour. There are real knocks to be taken and these bring about tears and weeping. The psalmist states: “who passing through the valley of weeping….”  It does appear that the valley of tears has to be negotiated, and it is intended to be a passing through factor. There is not only an entrance in, there is a way through and an exit.

BITTERNESS: One of the problems that can and do arise in and through painful ordeals, they can a turn an individual into a condition where they are inwardly and totally embittered. There can be an awful amount of spirit-damage effected in the person and personality so that the whole state is soured and life permanently ruined in relationships etc. Instead of life, nature and conduct being sweet and fragrant, the opposite becomes so. Everything becomes a tale of woe and misery. Bitter people are difficult to cope with and require divine healing. Whilst in this condition they are no good to themselves, others or to God and life holds nothing of worth.

TRANSFORMATION:  The vital thing is to see this bitter state changed from one of bitterness to blessedness, from a negative to a strong, positive spiritual state of mind and heart that is altogether healthy.  This is not an easy procedure but it is altogether possible through God’s love, grace, wisdom and power. The psalmist speaks of the place of weeping becoming ‘a well.’ Such is a beautiful becoming place of life, ministry and refreshing. Renewal can take place to such a degree that the bitter is made to serve in the interest of blessing and great good. Out of it can flow a life of freshness and fullness that enriches others in a marvelous fashion. 

TRACE:  It is essential to trace this factor in the lives of the saints and see, note and be inspired by the way they dealt with their Marah situations. They seem to come through into a rich state of blessedness. Having been enriched they were able to encourage others in their tragic lot. Each went through varied happenings to teach and show that all bitterness can be dealt with. It is needful to highlight each and observe how they were successfully negotiated. None were left in a desolated and defeated state.

1/.  THE BITTERNESS OF BEREAVEMENT

This is first on the agenda because it is one of the major things that bring about this state. The loss of loved ones is often the grounds of the begetting of this kind of condition. It has to be said that one of the bitterest blows to be struck is that of the decease of a person greatly beloved.  The graveyards and tombstones of this world have much to relate on this! If only the cemeteries had minds and mouths ! 

Jacob is one of the characters, besides others, who had known a full measure of sorrow arising out of bereavement. As he faces the prospect of losing another son, Benjamin, after previous loss, he says, “Me have you bereaved….: all these things are against me…..you shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.” – Genesis 42: 36,38. What an evident pessimistic and doleful mood he appeared to be in. Very much like Naomi. “Do not call me Naomi but Marah” – Ruth 1: 20. Not all can say like Job, “The Lord gave…..”    But Jacob did come to the point of resignation – Gen. 42: 14.

Little did he know that soon things would be divinely altered? His desolateness and mourning was not to be lasting. It was to be wonderfully attended to with the news that all were not lost. Joseph himself was still alive and chief administrator in Egypt. The fellow that had been misrepresented by his sons was the one who was his son and in charge of the resources of Egypt. He discovered God had been working amidst his painful lot – Genesis 45: 26-28.

2/.  THE BITTERNESS OF FALSE ACCUSATION

Being accused is one thing but being falsely accused and sentenced is another. Such can and does bring in its wake great anger, hatred and resentment especially when there has been an honest dedication to morality and integrity. One of the worst lots in life to bear is to be charged with crimes that one is not guilty of.

It was to be a tough and rough ride for Joseph when he was wrongly accused and judged on a sex case of which he was utterly innocent. But it had to be negotiated – Genesis 39. It was one thing to be in the prison of hard knocks, but was more severe because there was no just reason for it. It was a grievous time that could have soured his whole life and future.

But it was all a divine process and program that he could not escape from. He needed to be trained and toughened up and the quality of his character made better.  This was all part of God’s purpose and amidst his hurts he could know healing on a great front – Psalm 105: 17-19. He was to become the future messiah/provider of a nation and his own family.

Job also had to suffer at the hands of his professed comforters. They wounded him severely with their words and insinuations and it was hard for him to bear. No wonder he called them ‘miserable comforters.’ But in both Joseph and Job’s experiences transformation came and it was by means of a gracious attitude and spirit of forgiveness.

3/.  THE BITERNESS OF DISCOURAGEMENT

There is no doubt that God purposed to take the children of Israel through the desert in order to teach them many lessons and also to prove their character and worth – Ex. 20: 20; Deut..8: 2, 16; 13:  3; 33:8. It was not going to be by an easy route but by a hard way because they were called to develop a faith and trust in God in all kinds of circumstances. Having successfully crossed the Red Sea and their enemies destroyed there are other factors to be dealt with. 

One of the all-important considerations in the wilderness would be a great demand for water that they could drink. It was an absolute necessity and God knew that. Having travelled three days and not seen water and when they did see it their expectations must have been high. What disappointment became theirs when they discovered that the waters were bitter! Somehow that bitterness came into them and caused them to be discouraged and so began to murmur and complain – Exodus 15:  23, 24.

Jehovah revealed that He could attend to this situation and make the bitter waters sweet. Moses was shown how the thing could be dealt with miraculously v25. Here the Lord enters into a covenant with them. If they would keep their hearts and lives right and sweet then nothing would by any means destroy their lives and health – v26. The biggest problem was not the waters but themselves. It was needful to counteract the discouragement with faith.

4/. THE BITTERNESS OF SICKNESS AND SUFFERING

It is in the vale of affliction and pain that people can be tortured and become all twisted up in mind, being and spirit. When some dreadful disease has come and overtaken it is so easy to fall foul not only of depression but to become all-bitter within. Not only has the affliction got to the body, it has penetrated and possessed the whole mental and spiritual attitude and infected the person for the worse. 

It must be remembered that this is one of the tactics of the evil one. He believes and knows that as he launches an offensive against the bodies of people the effect it can have upon their spirit-beings. This comes out in his onslaught against Job. See his debate and argument with God on the issue – Job 2: 4, 5. We note that even his wife provoked him to fulfil Satan’s desire v9.

It was going to be a difficult period to be negotiated by this godly man. As the flesh fell off him and his friends made their remarks, it would have been easy for Job to have become utterly resentful and full of rancour and ill-feeling. It was one thing to be able to retain a faith and fidelity in prosperity, but what about adversity and pain? This was a school he had to go through and be educated in and come out on graduation day with honours. In the final chapter he reveals that he is free from personal antagonism and resentment because he is able to pray for these men at God’s directive – 42: 10.

5/.  THE BITTERNESS OF BARRENNESS

One woman who reflects this in the Scriptures was a person called Hannah – 1 Samuel 1. Looking at her life’s lot we discover that she found it most difficult to cope with the fact that she was childless and that the prospects look gloomy from this standpoint v5. Unless there was divine intervention then this is how things would remain. To this woman it was a real, gnawing problem. 

It was intensified by the fact that the other wife of Elkanah was highly productive vv2, 4. This made her feel worthless and not a real woman. It had the re-action of making things worse and added a tremendous amount of grief to her being. The whole affair tortured her year after year. Even in her husband’s love and her own prayer life there seemed to be no relief. He adversary taunted her and so one can appreciate the mental and spiritual state she came to be in. She was in the vale of tears v7.

We are informed that she was in bitterness of soul and wept in anguish v10. It was quite a stretch of years that this woman was put through but she won through to becoming a well of life. Her bitterness is turned into blessedness by a word from the Lord that changed her spirit and future v17. From that moment she knew that something was going to happen. She became pregnant with the word first before she became pregnant with the baby. What a child he turned out to be in God’s plans! Even her womb became productive yet again 1 Samuel 2: 20,21.

6/.  THE BITTERNESS OF CONFLICT

There are personal conflicts and trials that beset that seem to be needless but do happen and can bring a great sense of agitation and grief. This appears to be so in the experience of David. He did not look for these things but they occurred and could have riddled him with resentment. 

In looking at the good he had done for Saul and Israel one would have expected better treatment. When Saul had known an awful bout of depression and sullenness he was there to bring relief through his musical skills. When Israel is under enormous pressure through Goliath and the Philistines, he is ready to enter the fight and win the day and bring a great deliverance. One would have thought that there would have been gratefulness on Saul’s part, instead there was only a revengeful mind, mood and manner.

For a very long time David had to put up with this and it would have been expected that he would deal with Saul at his first opportunity. This was part of an essential training programme for him in God that he would not react badly but has a different spirit. When it seemed that providence had put this man in the way to slay him he refused – 1 Samuel 24:  5. Note how he is restrained from taking the law into his own hands in 1 Samuel 25: 30, 31. He had to be rid of anything and everything of a resentful and revengeful attitude. There was a divine conclusion and he was exalted to kingly status.

7/.  THE BITTERNNESS OF REJECTION AND ISOLATION

At some time or other there will come moments when one will experience the rejection of others in some form or other and be in the place of seeming isolation. It is at such times that one may well throw a ‘pity-party’ and tears will flow with regard to what is happening to you. There arises the feeling that you are all alone and the danger is that of becoming bitter. 

Elijah appears to have known this at one point in his life and there is the hint that he may well have sensed some sort of resentment – 1 Kings 19: 10,14. It was not a very welcome experience to deal with after such heights of testimony and blessing. It was a real and genuine low in the prophet’s life. He was reduced to a condition where he wondered whether he had achieved anything with his life and work, and so was aggrieved. But the Lord knew how to renew him and to put him back on to his feet and in service again!

John could have had awful feelings of resentment as he is exiled to Patmos – Rev.1. He had been doing a good job overseeing the churches in Asia Minor and now he is suddenly parted from his sphere of vocation. Exile is not a welcome experience and does produce aggrieved people. But John knew a divine way of coping with rejection and isolation – v10. Any bitterness that may have been was dispelled by a blessed revelation of the Lord and His purposes. (See Daniel and his exile).

Illustration:  Daniel and his exile

CONCLUSION

It is important to know how to be able to turn our bitterness into a state of blessedness and make it serve to God’s glory and our good. One of the things to be realized is that though the devil intends that evil should undo us, God purposes that such should make us. But we can keep sweet at all times by :

  • an increased sense of the Lord’s presence. He has given us His word on His commitment to be ever-present – Hebrews 13: 5; Psalm 23: 5.
  • a spirit of faith and determination – Job 13: 15. No quitting or giving in.
  • an abandonment to praise and worship – Habakkuk 3: 17-19
  • lane

sermon starters

ernes1

Rev. E. Anderson

RESTORATION IN ITS FULNESS

Joel 1-3

This servant of the Lord was called to be the prophet of restoration. His first task was to announce and foretell what was to occur of a serious order in terms of judgement but then came with an assured word in terms of divine renewal and restoration. What he first predicted would not be welcome news but, thankfully, it was to be followed up with the assurance that the Lord would not leave His people or situation in an awful condition. The latter state would reflect His immeasurable grace, goodness and glory.

1/. DEVASTAION -1:1-1 – 2:11

The disclosure here is quite descriptive as the prophet declares a seemingly unparalleled state of ruin of historic significance as he calls all to listen and take note. He says: “In all your history has anything like this happened before?” The nation is to be threatened and destroyed by an invading host and it is detailed in v4. All before them looks like the garden of Eden but after they have been on the scene there is absolutely nothing. They leave behind a. . trail of ruin and devastation that places His people in a very vulnerable position. They are stripped of everything and there is nothing around to sustain them.

2/. SUPPLICATION-2:12-17

The summons and call in the wake of such is to wake up and to humble themselves before the Lord and cry out to Him especially in repentance. The reason for this whole evil condition is due to the wickedness in the people and land. The leadership is called upon to give a lead in prayer, fasting and humiliation before the Lord. It has not to be mere outward show but a genuine brokenness expressed before the Lord and the will to get things properly sorted out with Him. It was time to throw themselves as a people on the mercy and grace of the Lord. It does show the potency and power of genuine intercession and supplication. 

3/. RESTORATION – 2:18-27

What an assurance to know that His ear is attentive and that He will respond in miraculous fashion. There comes the word that he will turn this tragic state all round and there will be a tremendous transformation take place. Whatever has taken place negatively, He is able to work positively to renew and restore. The army will be removed and everything will again flourish.

4/. BENEDICTION-2:28-32

The crowning blessing will be in the outpouring of His Holy Spirit that will effect choice renewal amongst His people. This was to be realised in greater detail in Acts 2 followed by great works of salvation. 

CONCLUSION

The final chapter deals with the ultimate re-Israel and world history. There is still something of major note to take place among the nations and for God’s people.

 lake 6

 

powerful quotes

leigh 10

Rev.Leigh Goodwin

POWERFUL QUOTES

“Nothing is so easy as to deceive oneself; for what we wish, we readily believe” – Demosthenes

 “Accept everything about yourselfI mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end no apologies, no regrets”Clark Moustakas 

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is a beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is life, fight for it!”
Mother Teresa

“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, un-forgiveness, selfishness, and fears.”  Glenn Clarke

“There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal”F.A. Hayek

“When we extend ourselves to another human being in any way at all, when we positively touch the life of one person, we benefit the whole of humanity”Gail Pursell Elliott

RIVER

 

prayer dynamics

ernest-024[1]

Rev. E. Anderson

GOD’S MERCIES

Taken from All About Prayer

COME, MY MERCIES ARE NEVER CONSUMED

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’ The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him” – Lamentations 3:22-25.

Through overwhelming tragedies and prevailing circumstances, Jeremiah felt as though his prayers were blocked, encased in hewn stone. Pierced to the depths of his soul, filled with bitterness, broken, bowed down in ashes and ridiculed by his people, he cried out as his strength and hope perished. Then He remembered Me. He remembered My mercies. He remembered My compassions fail not. He recalled these things to mind, acknowledging My great faithfulness. He knew when all else failed, or abandoned him, I remain. He depended on My goodness and in all humbleness, waited for the salvation he knew I would surely bring. He came with a heart of repentance and positioned himself before Me. You see, I am faithful when you are faithful and when you are faithless – 2 Timothy 2:13.

Therefore, have hope in Me, and await my salvation in your circumstances. Be like Jeremiah, and remember the Father’s mercies are never consumed – John 1:2; Lamentations 3:22-25. The very fact that My life was laid down for you verifies this. My mercies are endless for you, My beloved. With complete trust in the character and mercy of My Father, I endured, carried with steadfast, unwavering hope the entire weight of sin for the hope which sat before Me: you – Hebrews 12:2).

Come quietly, and sit with Me awhile, and let Me encourage you today. All is not lost; all is not hopeless. In humbleness, confess all your failures to Me – 1 John 1:9. I already know what you think and how you feel. Nothing you say will take Me by surprise. I am here to alleviate your load; exchange your heavy yoke for Mine – Matthew 11:30).

Oh, how I love you, My beloved. I am your portion and your faithfulness. Goodness is My nature, My character. I change not. Even if I wanted to change, which I don’t, I couldn’t – Hebrews 13:8. You can take this to the bank and cash it in. It is a check without limits in your life. I am your portion. Therefore, wait and hope in Me. Wait at My feet; pour your penitent heart out to My merciful one until you hear the words, “Arise and shine, My glorious one” – Isaiah 60:1.

PRAYER

Lord, I receive Your great mercies as I trust in Your faithfulness, Your goodness. You are the delight of my soul in the land of the living. I surrender all my circumstances this day into Your capable hands. I confess my tendency to let my circumstances prevail, therefore, robbing my joy and hope. Jesus, You are my Hope, my StrongTower, my Deliverer in whom I trust. Thank You for giving Your life that I might live and have abundant life, not a hopeless one. I give myself to Your encouragement.

Let me know in the deepest parts of my being that You remain when everything else I have trusted in departs. You stick closer than a brother. You are an ever-present help in times of affliction. I return Your love by trusting You. My hope is in You, Lord, my Everlasting Rock. I love You. I wait upon You this day for wisdom, guidance, hope, and enduring love. I love You. Amen.

REFLECT AND JOURNAL

  • What circumstances seem overwhelming in your life?
  • When Jeremiah was distressed, he reflected on previous mercies. Remember and record the mercies of God in prior situations. They are your well of faith. Draw from this well and be encouraged.
  • Confess any doubt and unbelief.

lake 6

 

points to ponder

ernest - computor

Rev. E. Anderson

NOT HEEDING THE WARNING

The Winter 1991 issue of the University of Pacific Review offers a chilling description of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster:

There were two electrical engineers in the control room that night, and the best thing that could be said for what they were doing is they were “playing around” with the machine. They were performing what the Soviets later described as an unauthorized experiment. They were trying to see how long a turbine would “freewheel” when they took the power off it.

Now, taking the power off that kind of a nuclear reactor is a difficult, dangerous thing to do, because these reactors are very unstable in their lower ranges. In order to get the reactor down to that kind of power, where they could perform the test they were interested in performing, they had to override manually six separate computer-driven alarm systems. One by one the computers would come up and say, “Stop! Dangerous! Go no further!” And one by one, rather than shutting off the experiment, they shut off the alarms and kept going. You know the results: nuclear fallout that was recorded all around the world, from the largest industrial accident ever to occur in the world.

The instructions and warnings in Scripture are just as clear. We ignore them at our own peril, and tragically, at the peril of innocent others.

RIVER

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