I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt.” (Job 38:11)
We arrive, again, at the end of another year. For some, looking back on 2021, will bring rejoicing at memories of the year gone by. It has been, largely, a year of new joys, surprises and happiness. But for others, it has been a year of trials and difficulties in their many shapes and forms. You may even be dreading entering another year which, stretching forward, all you can see is a repetition of the pain that you have known in 2021.
The children of Israel, as they sat in exile in Babylon, must have experienced this. The forced detention of the Jews in Babylonia commenced with the Babylonian conquest of the kingdom of Judah in 598/7 and 587/6 BC. The years stretched on in captivity, hope of deliverance fading with each year that passed. The future looked bleak, dismal, hopeless.
However, some years prior to captivity, Isaiah had prophesied that a King called Cyrus would arise and he would bring an end to the captivity. (Isaiah 45:1-3). The long awaited dawn of hope came in 538 BC when the Persian conqueror of Babylonia, Cyrus the Great, gave the Jews permission to return to Palestine. God had seen the pain of His people. There was a limit to what He would allow. He said said ‘thus far and no further’.
Centuries prior to this we read these words, “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area.” Job 1:1-3 NLT.
This ‘blameless’ man, finds his life changing in an instant as he is bereft of his children, his livestock and eventually his health. No-one would willingly swap places with Job. However, although his sufferings increased, there was a point at which God said to Satan, what He said to the sea, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt.” We know that Job’s days of suffering came to an end, there was a limit to his suffering, and a new day of light dawned for the man of integrity.
As we read through the Book of Revelation, we read of many battles and wars, strange armies and creatures, plagues and pestilences. However, we just need to skip to the last few chapters to discover that it has a happy ending! As Billy Graham once said, “I've read the last page of the Bible, it's all going to turn out all right.”
Friends, whatever trial or difficulty you are facing today, as you maintain your integrity and trust in God, there will a limit to your time of suffering also and God will tell the devil what he told the sea ‘This far you may come and no farther“ and, you too will find that, as you wait patiently, it will turn out all right in the end.
Pauline Ann Anderson
This week's Thought is written by Peter Hodson.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:3)
I recently came across a short book for young children called 'Archie and the Song Snatcher’. It is a story of a young boy called Archie who loved to sing. He lived in a town that had no colours; it was grey and the people were, well, rather dull. His grandma explained that the town was once full of colour, but then the Song Snatcher came, leaving grey mists wherever it went. However, she also explained that when Archie would sing it would drive the gloom away. So as Archie went through the town he started to sing and the grey mists began to give way to beautiful colour again, and as he persevered, the townspeople began to cheer up and to whistle and laugh. Ultimately the whole town became full of colour and happy people.
In these days when daylight is short and the weather cold and often damp, when health issues loom larger and Covid restrictions more limiting, it can be all too easy to allow our spirit to be dulled, or even just take the ‘sharp edge’ off our joy in our walk with God. He is the One who never changes and who’s love never fails. He is the One who has planted His song within our hearts, who gives songs in the night.
One who learned to sing in the night was Betsie Ten Boom who ultimately died in a Nazi concentration camp. She said: “There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still.'
King David also proved this and said:
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth; a hymn of praise to our God.
When we go through dark times it is comforting to know that they will pass. But while we wait patiently for the Lord, let’s prove our trust in Him as we “speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in our hearts to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:19).
“Wake up, lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn with my song.”
Psalm 108:2 NLT
This week's Thought is written by Pauline Anderson.
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. (Psalm 137:1)
In 597 BC, and in subsequent years, the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah were deported to Babylonia, where they remained until after the Fall of Babylon in 539 BC.
In Psalm 137, we meet the Jews as they are living beside the two great rivers, Tigris and Euphrates, mourning over their exile. They are longing and yearning for a past life, stolen from them because of sin and rebellion. There is a sense of loss of location but also, a loss of vocation.
In another book in the Bible, we read of a man called Daniel, one of those taken from his homeland at this time by the Babylonians and pressed into service for the king. Daniel would have been around 17 years of age when he was carried away from his beloved homeland to serve a pagan king. We can be almost sure that Daniel would have the same longings and yearnings for his homeland as his fellow Jews, however, he expressed himself quite differently. He understood the verse in Ecclesiastes 3:1,4:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven... a time to mourn and a time to dance.
Daniel understood that, without compromising his faith in God, he could serve this new king he had been called to serve. It was not that it was wrong to mourn, but, for Daniel, he would not allow his mourning to swallow up his ministry. There was ‘a time to mourn’; this just wasn’t it.
In his book ‘Totally Forgiving Ourselves’, R. T Kendall refers to a period of mourning he experienced after leaving London, his home of twenty-five years, and returning to America. He recalls, “Grief set in the moment we arrived (in America). I had given up a great church, great friends, the challenge to prepare fresh sermons, and last, but not least, London... We found it difficult to watch news reports from London, especially when they showed scenes of Big Ben, Buckingham Palace or those around piccadilly Circus.” However, despite the sense of sadness and loss, RT Kendall continued his work as an author and guest speaker at Christian conferences. He appeared on Christian TV programmes and regularly contributed to Christian publications. Like Daniel, ministry was more powerful than mourning.
It’s not wrong to mourn. We are even reminded that there is ‘a time to mourn’, but we must be careful that we do not immerse ourselves in mourning so deeply that we miss the opportunity to minister to others in the way God has called us to.
This week’s thought is written by Sharon Healy.
In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all people… (Acts 2:17)
As a fifteen year old boy from Wales, George Jeffreys found Christ as Saviour during the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival. Five years after his conversion, George saw people expressing the gifts of the Spirit, and in particular, speaking in tongues. At first he was opposed to this, but noticed a radical change in his nephew who had been Baptised in the Holy Spirit. This led to George receiving a mighty Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and being commissioned to preach the gospel. Over the following years George saw tens of thousands come to faith in Christ. Everywhere George went there was a mighty outpouring of Pentecostal power, with miraculous signs and wonders following the preaching of God’s Word.
In 1940, thirty-five years after George’s conversion, a young German boy by the name of Reinhard Bonnke was born. As the son of a Pastor, he found Christ as Saviour at the age of nine. One year later, aged only ten, he sensed a call from God to serve as a missionary in Africa.
In his late teens, Reinhard left Germany to attend Swansea Bible College in Wales. In one meeting, the president of the college spoke from his personal experience on how God answered prayer. Bonnke was so inspired by the president’s personal testimony that he later told how he had prayed, "Lord, I also want to be a man of faith. I want to see your way of providing for needs." Little did Reinhard know that God would answer his prayer in a phenomenal way!
At the end of his studies, aged 21, Reinhard set off back to Germany. Arriving in London, he found himself with a number of hours free before his train departed.
He decided to take a walk and found himself wandering around the streets of Clapham. At a certain street corner, behind a wooden fence, Reinhard suddenly noticed the name on a house door, 'George Jeffreys'. Reinhard had just read a book by George Jeffreys and couldn’t believe that he had stumbled on the very home of this mighty man of God.
Reinhard himself recounted what happened next, “Eagerly I ventured through the gate and up the path, ringing the doorbell. A lady appeared and I asked, 'Is this the George Jeffreys whom God used so mightily? She affirmed it was so, to my great delight. I asked, hopefully, "Could I please see Mr Jeffreys? The reply was firm. “No, that is not possible”. But then that deep, musical Welsh voice, that is said to have held thousands spellbound with its authority, spoke from inside. “Let him come in.” Thrilled, I entered, and there he was. He was seventy-two, but looked to me like a man of ninety. “What do you want?” were his words to me. I introduced myself, and then we talked about the work of God. Suddenly, the great man fell on his knees, pulling me down with him, and started to bless me. The power of the Holy Spirit entered that room. The anointing began to flow, and, like Aaron's oil, seemed to run over my head and down to the skirts of my robes', so to speak. I left that house dazed. Four weeks later, like Elijah, George Jeffreys had been translated to glory. I had been led to see him just before he died. But I knew that I had picked up something from this former Holy Spirit, fire-brand evangelist. The Lord, I am sure, had arranged that meeting. How else would it have been possible for me to stumble upon this one house in a city of ten million people, when George Jeffreys was not even on my mind?“
After seven years of pastoring a church in Germany, Reinhard eventually landed in Africa in 1967. His work began with small evangelistic meetings, with sometimes only five people gathering. Over the years this grew to meetings being held across the whole continent of Africa. It is estimated that over 79 million people were converted to Christ as a result of Bonnke's ministry, with millions also receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirt. He has been called a "giant and a general in the Army of God”.
It’s incredible to see the effect the Welsh Revival had on lives like George Jeffreys. A young boy saved and set alight by God, who went on to bring the Pentecostal message publicly to the people of Britain. Through this young man who had surrendered all to Jesus, cities were shaken, and tens of thousands witnessed the mighty power of God. And through Reinhard’s life, the river of fire continued to flow to countless others in a succeeding generation.
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