I've been reading about Elijah recently. When he left Mount Carmel after his victory over the prophets of Baal, he fled for his life and we read of the time when God spoke to him, not in the earthquake, the wind or the fire... but in a still small voice. Elijah knew what it was to hear God speak to him in mighty dramatic ways, but he also knew how to listen for that voice speaking to him in the quietness.
Sometimes we find it difficult to hear what God is saying to us and there can be many reasons for that - we are too busy with our own lives... we are too focused on what we want to happen, how we want a situation to work out... we are listening to what everyone else is saying. We need to learn how to shut down all these voices and to let God speak.
I remember something that happened to me many years ago. I was faced with a situation where two courses of action were possible... and I knew that I desperately wanted to take one road and not the other. But I did want to be careful to do the right thing. The battle I had was to be open to either way being the right way. I pictured the first road being the one God wanted - that was easy. But then I deliberately opened my spirit to the other road being the right way. I pictured how it might work out and asked God to help me accept that. And, gradually, that happened. Only then was I able to hear what the still, small voice was saying and to be sure I was making the right decision on the matter. A chorus comes to mind -
God’s way is the best way. God’s way is the right way.
I’ll trust in Him alway - He knoweth the best.
We can never improve on God’s plans - but we must learn to listen and to be open to what He is saying.
‘Tis Jesus the First and the Last
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home
We’ll praise Him for all that is past
And trust Him for all that’s to come’
Many of you will be aware that the past few days have been a bit of a roller coaster for us in Falkirk. We have been letting people know that The Almond Tree will be closing at the end of the year as it is no longer possible to sustain it as a business. This decision is not without its pain and sadness, but we have no doubt the decision is the right one. Our shop has been open for almost 20 years and the church is much better known in Falkirk as a result of its presence. Many lives have been touched, souls have been saved and people have been baptised in the Spirit. For all of this we praise and thank God!
But we see this as the end of an era, not the end of a work. The building is a wonderful resource and there is already the sense that we can continue to use it in future days for outreach ventures to take the gospel beyond the walls of our church.
As I thought about it this morning the words of the above hymn came to mind. My English teacher background (!) came to me as it struck me that the line
‘Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home’
uses the emphatic form of the verb ‘to be’ in the word ‘shall’ - underlining the certainty that it will be so. God has guided us, as a Church, thus far and as we lean heavily on our Beloved (... echoes of the livestream on Sunday night!) He surely will continue to lead us in the days to come until our journey is complete. And so, as we praise Him for all that is past, let’s trust Him for all that’s to come. He is well able to carry us through all the uncertainties in the world at this present time. Our God is much bigger than that!
Onward and upward!
This was the heading of a reading by Spurgeon which I was looking at last week and the words have stayed in my mind.
He began to write about the wolves which come to attack the Christian in the ‘evening’ and he painted a very vivid picture. These wolves were all the more ferocious because they had no food all day and were ravenous and vicious by evening time. And the Christian had felt very safe during daylight times when he was walking in pleasant places under sunny skies. Do you get the picture?
There are times when we are much more vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. Perhaps you have lived through days or hours when life has been hard, when the future has been uncertain or when you have wandered spiritually and are living in a shadowland. There are many ways in which we can feel the night shadows coming around us. And at such a time the wolves that come to snap at our heels and attack us can be very vicious... where is God in all of your present troubles... You’re not really doing well, you’re not going to make anything of this Christian life... etc.
Just at the time I read these words by Spurgeon I had felt the enemy snapping around me and trying to upset me about a particular set of circumstances. But at the same time another verse of scripture stood out from something I was reading:
Cast your burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain you. (Psalm 55:22)
And immediately I sensed there would be a way through! The snapping of the enemy and the swirling of the shadows didn’t disappear immediately but somehow they began to lose their potency and there came a certainty that they would soon be gone. And by the end of the following day it was so.
Always remember that things can be painted very black by the enemy of your soul and when the Sun of Righteousness draws near the shadows can be dispelled in the brightness of His Presence... and the evening wolves are forced to retreat.
Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Romans 4:3)
Abraham had to wait a long time for the fulfilment of God’s promise in the birth of Isaac. But during all that time he was growing spiritually, he wasn’t marking time. Sometimes he slipped, but he didn’t stay in a low place. He was brought back and he continued to believe. He is called ‘the father of the faithful’ - not because of his own track record but because he kept turning back to God and believed in His faithfulness.
Do we believe God? When we slip, when we doubt, do we languish in a low place for a long time before we are restored?
Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18)
Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice I will come in and sup with him and he with me (Revelation 3:20)
I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)
Do you believe what He says in these scriptures?
Promises like these should be like the bread of life to us - but you have to ‘eat’ them, digest them - and then they will become nourishment for your soul. And if we believe words like these we will keep coming back to them. We too will grow spiritually and begin to be rooted and grounded in the word of God and not swayed by every circumstance and mood. Our growth comes from drawing our life from Him. He is faithful - learn to believe in Him and trust Him in every situation.
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Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.