Tag Archive: heart

God’s Now-Word for the Church in Europe’s chaos

newspaperEurope is in the clutches of deep, dark chaos. Open a newspaper and the message that greets you is the despair and confusion of a fractured and desperate world.

It appears to have solution to its deep trauma as it wrestles with a perplexing ‘in-out’ conundrum and it’s consequences. It is easy to see ourselves as a generation where, “hearts are failing for fear”, (Luke 21:26) but there is hope – and the hope lies in God’s ‘now-word’ for the church.

Not exemption from hardship

The Church is not exempt from experiencing the same concerns as the world surrounding them, but they have reason to view things in a different way. It’s a perfect time for the Church. We are never told in the Bible that we would not undergo, or spared from suffering, what we are told is that for those who love God, all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28) At the heart of that promise are two issues, God is at work in the events of our life for our good because he really loves us; and these things are working for the good of those who love God. The emphasis is on relationship. Loved by God, and lovers of God. That’s the Church!

As those dearly loved by God (Colossians 3:12), there is a word from Him to bring strength and courage to us so that we can comfort those around us in these tumultuous times, and it is “Don’t let your heart grow weary or fainthearted – keep your eyes on Christ.” (Hebrews 12:3)

He’s your Father

The writer to the Hebrews urges the Christians not to fail for lack of strength so that they stop running after God. He doesn’t want them to think that as they look at their circumstances, “I can’t do this!” He doesn’t want them to lose heart or be discouraged and be fearful. God has not left us to our own devices. The most helpful thing we can do today, no matter what crisis we face, is to call God, “Father”. He is the Father of all fathers. If there is someone who loves us perfectly, it is Him. He is the Father that speaks to our hearts, comforts us, loves us, approves us, admonishes us and tells us very clearly, be anxious for nothing.

Be anxious for nothing. Do you feel the weight of that love? Don’t let your heart grow weary.

Don’t let your heart grow weary.

Many in the Church in this hour need comfort. We find comfort in all sorts of things; chocolate, sport, cars, food and drink. Our Father in Heaven, looking down into our worldly affliction want us to find our treasure and deepest affection not in those things but in Him – calling Himself the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Don’t let your heart grow weary.  Don’t be passive, weariness is something YOU can do something about, don’t expect God to do it for you – He won’t.

Do whatever it takes to stir your heart to faith and obedience.

  • Read your Bible (it is the very words of God) as if these are the last days of world history and Christ is about to return at any moment. Seriously! Let’s stop the pathetic practice of just reading a few verses a day and then wondering why we are not seeing the power of God powerfully demonstrated in our unreached communities.
  • Pray! There is a trend in the church today to use public prayer as a place where we tell little sermons or give cool quips but neglect the fact that we are talking not others but to God. Maybe that is why tongues as a prayer language is so effective! God gave us an astonishing Pentecost-gift because prayer is so powerful. But if you are not asking for anything, don’t expect God to do anything. Ask you heart out!! Ask, Ask, Ask!
  • Sing! Worship like no one is looking. Don’t feel pressured to have a particular stance. Remember, true worship comes from your heart – and your Father who sees in secret rewards!
  • Pizza. In other words, get around people. Don’t be alone. Spend time with people, but at this moment I would say avoid the politicians. 🙂

What change?

Nothing has changed in the huge changes of Europe that are shaking many. God is still on the throne, still rules, reigns, provides, forgives, comforts, protects.

You are in very good hands – don’t let your heart grow weary.

    5 reasons you need to make sermon notes

    Old, BooksImagine the folly of a policeman taking a witness statement, and instead of making notes, he nods his head, occasionally glancing around, distracted by activity in the distance whilst all the while reassuring the poor victim that they will remember the details – and that any important information will not be overlooked or forgotten when the case comes to court. In a year’s time.

    Clearly, such an irresponsible approach to the gathering and recording of important information, facts and words would be unacceptable.

    You can see where this is going. There are five reasons that I want to suggest to you that you need to take sermons seriously by making notes. They are all flawed arguments in one way or another but I think you will sense the importance of this encouragement to you personally. And that is all it is, an encouragement. You don’t have to pursue this, but I think you will be in the benefit of it if you do.

    1. What works for you? 
    Of course, I am speaking to those who are not already convinced note-takers. If making notes of sermons doesn’t work for you, then what does?

    For your own sake, you have to answer the question both seriously and honestly. Probing a little further, how are you reminding yourself of truths that impacted you 3 or 4 years ago? What were those five things in Romans 9 that gripped your heart? Why were they so important? Have you grown in God since then? How do you know? Some people consider themselves to have eidetic memory, but most of us go about our every day business forgetting what has happened with no notes to trigger our memories or assist our recall.

    2. You may not be taking preaching seriously.
    It could be that if you are not taking notes, that you are yet to be convinced that sermons are an essential and important part of the Christian ongoing experience. Is it your conviction that the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart?  (Hebrews 4:12) This is what is coming into action when you hear sermons and it may well be that the best response to God’s grace is to make a careful note of what you hear, so that with a willing-heart, you can obey it.

    3. Getting approval
    The awesome news of the Gospel means that there’s nothing you need to do to gain God’s approval, but there is one thing you are encouraged to do, and it is will vastly increase your confidence in God and the veracity of His Word.  As you listen to sermons you are thinking, processing, meditating on God’s eternal, inerrant, infallible, sufficient and clear word. The encouragement is, do your utmost to present yourself to God as one approved a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15) This really is something to be ambitious for. Take notes and let the Word of God get under your skin, embedded in your heart and renewing your mind. Everyone loves John 3:16, but Colossians 3:16 is vibrant with promise too; “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

    4. It’s worth doing
    As Christians, we are to be known for our love for God, and a real love for God will produce a love for His Word – and what we hear, we want to remember. We are living in a time when Biblical illiteracy is on the rise. We want to continually grow in our knowledge, understanding, and application of God’s Word. This is why opening our Bible and making notes as we listen to the preaching of the Word is so important—it will help you to see what the preacher sees in the text, which will inevitably help you learn how to read the Bible well. Your notes become a reference point for you. Paul commended the Bereans (Acts 17:11) because they checked to see if what he was saying was in fact Biblical. Additionally, Paul commended the Thessalonians for the way they received the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13). What sermons should I make notes of? Make notes of the sermons you want to remember – the rest you will forget!

    5. Context.
    There is a very good reason for making notes and it is about context. Ask yourself what the central theme is that seems to be running through the messages you have heard over the last few years. You can guess, but having the notes to hand means you know. It becomes easier to connect the dots. How seriously are you looking to God to speak to you?

    It’s a bit like expecting God to speak to you in dreams, but ignoring them when you have them! During these last few years with the international trouble we have seen, the crisis in the economics, the evil actions of Islamic State do you notice something that God has been teaching us about putting our confidence in Him, about not being anxious, walking in faith and obedience, etc.

    What God says to you now, may very well be what He has been saying and encouraging you in for some time now. The context for what God does in the next few years, may well be seen in the past. Now what was it, oh dear, I didn’t make any notes….

    Personal suggestions.
    I use a few resources for taking notes.  My Moleskin notebooks, Evernote, Simplenote, Simplemind+ and Memo. I have included a few of my sermon notes as an example for you! Let me know what really works for you!

    sermon_notes Joseph