Today we celebrate Pentecost - the day when the Holy Spirit was first poured out on those first Jesus followers. Tongues of fire, declaring the goodness of God in a variety of languages and an equipping, empowering and envisioning saw a people movement like no other that transformed communities, nations and the world in the 2000 or so years since.
The early church wasn't a new religion, a building, a denomination or something we do on a Sunday - it was 24/7 impacting everybody and everything, influencing every sphere of society with a Kingdom message of a new and different way of doing life.
The early church met in homes and often around a meal table (maybe like zoom and facebook live church gatherings today!). The role of the church was to be salt and light - bringing out the God colours in the world and people. It sought to transform, renew, bless, minister to needs and proclaim that the Kingdom of God can be a reality in people, communities, regions, nations and world.
The Holy Spirit working in us and through us: brings life; makes us wild and unpredictable; gives vision and dreams; causes us to call out situations that go against God's best; equips us to be people of justice and fairness; helps us stand against and destroy powers of darkness; and works with us towards God's Kingdom come, God's will be done on earth as in heaven.
I am privileged to be part of a movement that has seen crime and anti-social behaviour reduced and Kingdom of God principals influence several spheres of society. A movement that has become salt and light in community after community as our amazing volunteers, many of them partnering with the Holy Spirit, see God's kingdom become a reality!
In 2020 the world is in a different place than probably any other Pentecost throughout history! Let us be a people who once again ask the Holy Spirit to make us even more wild and unpredictable as we seek vision to be pioneers and influencers in a new and different way of doing life.
Have a great Pentecost
In this time some days will be good and some days will be tough. Some days will start off good and turn tough and some days will start off tough and turn good. Others will try and put their baggage and garbage onto you but thankfully most will try and share each others load. Some will be bitter and twisted and criticise and pull others down but thankfully most will will be loving and kind and give support and extrude generosity towards one another to make sure we get through this and out the other end helping as many on the way to do likewise. Some will become bullies, mostly out of fear or anxiety but, praise God, most will champion one another and believe that we are all valuable and all have a voice and all have something to bring to the table - even if it is different to what we bring to the table.
Someone told me this morning that looking after yourself is important - take time to sit in the garden, to go for a walk, to simply be. Someone else once told me if someone has a problem with you or something you do - they are the one with the problem not you (boy that is hard to live by as a problem solver!)
“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me (Jesus). I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.”
#YouAreAmazing #YouAreValuable #BelieveWhatGodSaysAboutYou
Paul featured on Premier Christian Radio / Churches Together in England Prayer of Hope on Sunday 26th April. Here is the prayer:
Just pondering on how our current situation is like a worldwide journey into the new Promised Land (based on the journey of the Israelites in Exodus - a journey that took 40 years of wandering round in the desert before the Israelites finally arrived)
40 years in the desert would have meant day after day in the intense dry heat. More than likely day after day of grumbling and complaining - 'if only we could...'. The Promised Land was a land of blessing - a land worth waiting and fighting for. Today's situation of isolation, not visiting family or friends, the unknown timescales, tragic and meaningless loss of life looks a lot like the wanderings but there is a Promised Land on the other side of this and it is worth waiting and fighting for.
The Israelites had the obstacle of the Red Sea but God got them through it and drowned the enemy behind. Our daily life may be filled with massive obstacles and challenges - but God will get us through it... God sees the bigger picture and we need to trust in a big picture seeing God!
God was a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night - he never left the wandering Israelites. God never leaves us alone - he is always with us - every isolated step of the way. Even if death or illness come - he is our comforter, our peace and the Promised Land of eternal life with him is far greater than any earthly Promised Land.
God helped the Israelites fight the battles of the enemy - God is fighting the battle of this coronavirus - we need to pray that our leaders will have wisdom, those looking for a cure will recognise insight. We need to pray for those in situations where the safety of home is anything but safety - whatever the enemy God is fighting our battles.
Food and water was provided for the Israelites - we have seen the panic buying of food, milk, toilet rolls, soap in our supermarkets - yet God's resources (and even the supermarket stock systems) never run out! There is always a miracle of provision.
The sin of moaning, grumbling, complaining, fear, panic, doubt took over the Israelites - let that be a lesson for it not to take over us! Remember the goodness of God and how God has got our back! God with us is never dependent on us but a 100% guarantee. We may have struggles, times of testing, wondering - but call out to God in the desert and the miracle of the Promised Land - of time beyond the current situation - is a minute, hour, day, week closer...
For all of us, but especially those in the charity, ministry and church world, this is a time not to set up camp in the desert. We need to increase our planning, our strategies, our faith levels, our risks to take the lead - not only in getting others through this desert experience but, and more importantly, moving people from this current wilderness once the Promised Land is on the horizon. We need to be bolder, stronger, coordinated like never before, thinking and dreaming bigger. We need to be ready, in tune with God, prepared, tooled up to be at the forefront of the new Promised Land that is beyond the wilderness of the now.
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