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6/9/2020

Looking unto God

There is no doubt that when we look around us, we see that things have changed, at least in the present anyway. Some are talking as though life will never be the same, whilst others are trying to live as though nothing happened. Others are doing the best they can to abide by the advice given by the Government, while others seem bent on doing the opposite. Maybe for you, you are somewhere in-between.

Whatever may be the case, it is clear that when we go out of our door, when we look at the television, when we meet people we know, when we go to work, from the time we get out of bed to the time we sleep life has changed. When we look around us, we see the changes and feel its effects.

As we look around, we can be forgiven for being weighed down and affected by it all. However, as Christians, we should not be moved by what we see going on around us, or troubled by current events, or surprised when such things occur. Nor are we to look for a solution apart from God. No, for the Christian is not without hope, for our hope is in God, our hope is in Christ. Not in ourselves nor in the world. We do not look to the world for hope or for a solution. We look and hope in God.

I am thankful for the doctors and those working tirelessly in the Government and other sectors who are doing all they can to keep things running as smoothly as possible. I am grateful for the advances in medicine and the many benefits we enjoy in today’s society in which we live. Yet my well being, and life is not dependant on these things. My hope and faith are not in them. They may prolong my earthly life a little, but they cannot deliver me or save me from the certainty of death and therefore have no eternal value.

As followers of Jesus Christ our Lord, we are not exempt from the cares of life. We cannot change these things or prevent them from occurring, but we can change our attitude. This we are responsible for. Our attitude and life should line up with the Word of God. It is in the Word that we find direction and instruction of how we should live in every situation. Our attitude and life should be in line with the Bible.

A lesson from the Psalms

In Psalm 121 the Psalmist writes, “I will lift my eyes to the hills - from whence cometh my help? He asks the question, where does my help come from? Is it from the hills?”

The hills and mountains were at times and still can be in some settings a place of refuge. For example, in the Bible we are told that the armies of Sodom and Gomorrah fled from the battle to the hill country (Gen 14:10 see also 1 Sam 13:6). Also, when the angels rescued Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah, they told him to flee to the mountains (Gen 19:17). When Joshua sent out spies they hid themselves for three days in the hills on their return so that they would not be found. Also, Jesus warned the disciples, “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains (Mark 13:14). From this we see that the hills and mountains were at times used as a place of refuge. This is further demonstrated in Revelation 6:15-16 where we are told that in vain “… the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb”.

Though the hills and mountains may be a point of refuge they offer no help or aid. For as the Psalmist says, “from whence comes my help?”. It certainly is not from the hills and mountains. Jeremiah 3:23 says, “Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel”. This same sentiment is echoed by the Psalmist in the following verse when he writes, “my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth”. In another place David says, “Shall I flee as a bird to the mountain?”. As believers and followers we are not to flee to the mountains but to take refuge in the Lord.

Let us take to heart the words of that old hymn that says, a mighty fortress is our God.

Let our eyes be ever fixed upon God and not the changing situations we find ourselves in. In these days of change, let us put our trust in the unchanging God. Let us fix our gaze on Him. As we see all that is going on around us, that is were our eyes are to ever and always be, on the Lord our God, for from Him and Him alone will our help come, from God who alone made the heaven and the earth. Let us together join with the Psalmist and ever say, “I lift up my eyes to You, the One enthroned in heaven” (Psalm 123:1). Let us heed the words of the prophet Isaiah when he said, “Lift up your eyes on high: Who created all these? He leads forth the starry host by number; He calls each one by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” (40:26). Let us look up to God and not down on this earth. Let us not look within but look to God. It was a lady called Corrie Ten Boom who once said, “look without and be distressed, look within and be depressed, look to Jesus and be at rest”. Corrie Ten Boom was used by God to speak all over the world, yet during world war 2, she spent much time in a concentration camp suffering under the hands of the Germans. If she could write that after going through what she went through, then we should take heart and take heed and ever and always in all circumstances look to Jesus our Saviour. He alone is the sure foundation.

May God richly bless you,

Rev. David Bracken.


30/03/2020

A short word of encouragement -

https://www.facebook.com/david.bracken.56884/videos/118976346402121/


 

 

 

27/03/2020

A Word from the Minister -

I think it is not an exaggeration to say that we at this moment are going through an extraordinary time. Never before in peace time have we been told to self – isolate and avoid public contact, to stop meeting in public gatherings, for those who can to work from home, for pubs, restaurants, shops as well as schools to close. We are seeing lockdown in countries on an unprecedented scale. Up to a quarter of the world is on lockdown according to the news.  So much is changing so quickly. It was only at the end of December 2019 an outbreak of Covid-19 was identified in Wuhan, China and seemed a million miles away from us. That has all changed. No longer is it in China alone, it has spread throughout the world, affecting many people in many countries. Moreover, there is still so much about the virus that is not known, and we are yet to have a vaccine or treatment. There is so much being said, some true, some false about the virus. If you were to take it all in, you would be left confused and bewildered.

This has caused much fear and panic. A fear of the unknown, a fear of something that cannot be seen. I think much of this fear is driven from the fact that it is something unseen. An enemy seen you can deal with, or at least identify, but one that is not seen, this is a different situation altogether.

As I ponder this, I am reminded of David in the bible and what he did in challenging and fearful situations. David was chosen and anointed to be king of Israel, however, he was no stranger to adversity and challenging situations. Often times he found himself in situations that were life and death, and yet in all of these instances we see David did not look to himself but to God.

For example, in Psalm 3:5-6 he says, "I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me." He goes on to say, "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around." David's trust was not in himself but in God and therefore his confidence was not in himself but in God.

Before David became king he was on the run from king Saul for many years. One account in the bible of David that stands out to me is when one time he and his men returned to their camp and found that their goods had been plundered, and their wifes and children taken. We are told that at that time some of the men that followed David wanted to kill him. We are told that these men cried until there was no more power to weep and that David was greatly distressed. People, what I want to encourage you with is David's response. David did not cave with fear, but strengthened Himself in the Lord His God (read 1 Samuel 30 for the full account and outcome).

David did not face Covid-19, and if he did, we were not told about it. However, what we are told about is what he did in a time of crisis. Friends, I want to encourage you to do as David did and to strenghten yourself in the Lord. Do not give into fear but rest on the Lord our God and in His everlasting arms.

Psalm 46:1-3 tells us that, "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." Let us likewise not fear but look to God and meditate upon His word. Let His word dwell in you richly and your trust be only in Him. God will not fail us. He is with us in every circumstance we face. Put your trust in Him, He will not fail you nor forsake you.

Let us take to heart the word of Nehemiah when he told the told the people, "Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Friends, the joy of the Lord is our strength too. Let nothing steal your joy in Christ from you. Whatever troubles you, take it to the Lord in prayer, and as the hymn says, "in His arms He will take and sheild you, thou will find a solace there."

May the Lord our God bless you, and keep you, and cause His face to shine upon you, and give you peace.

David.


16/03/2020

A message from Rev. David Bracken:

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I am writing this email in response to the current situation regarding the Coronavirus. I am mindful as I am sure many of us are that the total number of diagnosed cases continues to rise. I am aware that this news may cause worry and anxiety. Especially with constant updates and conversation regarding the virus.

In the midst of concern, let us not panic but keep our eyes on Jesus. Nothing comes as a surprise to God. He who kept Israel in the desert for 40 years can keep us.

As I write this, I am reminded of what God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to His people Israel when He said,

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Saviour".

Though this was spoken to Israel, it is equally applicable to us who God has purchased through His Son Jesus. He who has redeemed us by Christ, will keep us in Christ. He who has redeemed us from this world, will keep us and see us through whatever may face us in life's journey. As the text says, He will see us through whatever we go through. Just as Jesus also said in John 17,

"I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one".

Let us put our trust and faith in God who alone is unchanging, who is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Psm 102:27, Dan 7:14 Heb 13:8). Who alone is our Rock.

Let us be praying for one another and our community and especially for those most vulnerable and for those who have contracted the disease as well as for the health services that are working around the clock. Where we can let us be on hand to help one another, look out for one another and do whatever we can to help serve our community. In all that we do let us do it as unto the Lord Jesus Christ who we serve.

Also, let us be mindful to follow the advice of the health professionals and keep up good hygiene. I would advise checking the NHS website and GOV.UK website for updates on the ever changing situation. I have attached documents (some of this information is already dated but still relevant) sent by the WRU regarding procedures based largely on information found on the NHS website.

 

Basic advice:

1. Please ensure that you are washing hands thoroughly on a regular basis and if coughing, using a tissue and discarding it shortly afterwards.

2. If you feel you may have symptoms (or any sickness) take appropriate action and heed the advice of the medical profession.

3. If you have access to the internet, then by all means look for a service online or go to YouTube and listen to a worship service or sermon, spend time in prayer and bible reading, and keep in touch with one another over the phone, being especially mindful of those who are more at risk or worried among us.

4. Let us act wisely in the eyes of God, and not react hastily in the current climate. These are mere suggestions based largely on the advice many other churches are given to their congregants and I feel only right that we do the same. Consider what I have said prayerfully and may the Lord give you peace.

 

May God richly bless you all,

David

 

 

 

 

 


 


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