November 4th 2018: Norman Rees

Norman Rees-May18‘The Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s.
1 Samuel 17:47

Before us we have this great battle. The giant Goliath, standing at 9 foot 4 against David, the little shepherd boy, who was probably a teenager. This physical battle has spiritual overtones. The battle we face is spiritual. When we are faced with oppositional difficulties, the Captain of our Salvation is still in control. The battle is the Lord’s. This battle rages on. It started in heaven with Lucifer who was cast out of heaven into the earth.

In this chapter we read of the battle between the Philistines camped in Israelite land, who are facing each other on either side of a valley. The giant Goliath came out for forty days to challenge the Israelites. All the men of Israel were afraid and fled.

David was a choice servant in Saul’s company; he played for Saul for the spirit of depression to move from Saul. David was also a shepherd. He had a position of looking after his father’s sheep. David’s father, Jesse, sent him to the battlefield with provisions for his brothers and the commander of the army. Whilst he was there, Goliath came out once again to challenge the Israelites. David, hearing the giant’s challenge, asked why everyone was afraid of Goliath, who was not a man of God. He told the people he was not afraid of Goliath. He wanted to show God could defeat this enemy.

This giant, this one man, held the nation to ransom. David said there was a reason for this. God had allowed it and planned it. We are all here today for a reason. Where you are placed, in your situation, God has planned.

Saul, King of Israel, sent for David. He told him he couldn’t fight because he was a youth. David argued from past experience; he had fought a lion and a bear. Perhaps we might face situations where the devil casts us down and we ask how the Lord can deliver us. We may forget the past where God had delivered us. The devil is far too strong for us, but God delivers us. If you have difficulties and the devil is mocking you, turn to God. The devil is loose to attack. He is like a roaring lion. Look back and see how the Lord has helped you. David looked back and said the Lord helped him then and the Lord will help him now. The Lord has already silence the devil on the cross, in those three long hours of darkness. We cannot tell what He suffered, the spiritual darkness He suffered because of our sins. But on the third day He rose again. Praise God!

David lived a life of a believer in God. He’d experienced hard things in his life. The gospel needs to be preached to bring light. The devil is angry with people who are saved. David is one who is standing for the Lord. The Father keeps us day by day. Some attacks we will never know that we have been saved from as the evil one has been kept at bay. We are living in dark days, it’s nothing new. We face an enemy opposing the gospel.

This giant was not only 9 foot 4, but he was armed with a coat of mail of 125 pounds. He was confident in his armour and weapons – a formidable enemy. But with God, nothing is impossible. We have the challenge, we have the combat. The devil will attack when we are low. Sometimes we quote the Word of God and the devil laughs. But remember, the battle is the Lord’s. We are foot soldiers. We do battle for the Lord.

David shows how keen he is to fight the enemy. Satan, through Goliath, rises up. God has never lost and never will lose. David ran to meet the foe. Resist the devil. How easy it is to succumb to the devil. It’s not easy to resist. The devil is strong but God is stronger.

David slung one stone at Goliath and it was guided by God’s hand. Goliath fell by one stone. We can kill the devil’s attacks with the stone of prayer. The Bible is full of experiences of men who have faced the enemy head on but, in the name of the Lord, have triumphed. We go in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Captain of our Salvation.

David makes sure the enemy knows it is God who will deliver him. We are surrounded by enemies, people who despise us because we’re Christians. Jesus said ‘don’t be surprised by this. They hated me before they hated you.’ He will guide us and protect us.

The skirmish down here on earth is nothing compared to the glory of heaven. God has won the victory. Oh that God would slay the enemy before us this day. We need to have our eyes open to see God is glorious (Elisha) Do not fear. We are surrounded by enemies but God is with us. We are more than conquerors.

God has been with us in the past and He will always be with us. The weapons of our warfare are spiritual: prayer, the Word of God, seeking the face of our God (Colossians 2). Jesus, when He died upon the cross for our sins, triumphed over the devil. God delivers sinners from satan’s grasp. The battle is the Lord’s. Praise God! It is not ours, it’s the Lord’s. He gives us the victory.

October 21st 2018: Peter Gleave

Peter Gleave-Oct182 Kings 6: 8-23:

Where are you headed this week? What difficulties lies ahead? What does the church look like? Today, the church seems to be more and more marginalised. It is becoming more under pressure. As we reach out, the more we reach out, the more the enemy will try to stop you and distract you. How will we handle it?

Elisha is an amazing character in the Old Testament, an exciting man of God. The Bible is all about Jesus, from Genesis to Revelation. We see Bible characters who are people like Jesus, a shadow of what is to come in Jesus. Elisha points the way to Jesus. There are so many similarities between Elisha and Jesus, but Jesus is greater by far. Elisha means God saves. Jesus is the Saviour who saves. Both began their ministry at the river Jordan. Elisha fed 100 men, Jesus fed 5,000. Elisha foreshadows Jesus.

In this reading we see:
God gives direction;
God gives power;
God gives victory.

God gives direction:

The King of Aram was at war with the King of Israel. The Aramean king had a powerful army. However, the king of Israel had an advantage – he had a man of God on his side, a man who knew everything the King of Aram was doing and gave the King of Israel direction from God. The King of Aram thought there was a secret agent telling the King of Israel all his plans, but he was told it was the prophet Elisha who knew everything he was doing.

As we look forward, we see Jesus gave direction to His disciples and the early church. He told them what the greatest commandments were. He also called them together and told them to go into all the world and tell. Jesus taught them our priority is to love and worship Him and to glorify Him in our lives and to tell others. He also taught them that we are to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Look around at church this morning. These are your neighbours. We do God a great disservice when we show the world we don’t love each other. Sometimes, we only love people in church and not outside. They too are our neighbours. We are to tell others about Jesus. The direction for our church is to love Him, make Him our priority. This is borne out by loving each other, telling others about Him. This is what Jesus taught His disciples and us.

God gives power.

In the Old Testament Elisha and his young servant arrived in Dothan. The King of Aram told his servants to capture Elisha and his servant. All around him the young servant sees the King of Aram’s troops, horses and chariots. The enemy is all around. He cries out to Elisha, ‘What shall we do?’ Sometimes we experience that when personal problems come. When the enemy starts to attack we can feel a sense of panic. The servant had a choice – surrender or wait to be captured. Not great options! He had nowhere to turn, he felt like giving up, like the enemy was winning. Elisha’s response is, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ (II Kings 6:16). The servant was looking at the situation with human eyes. Elisha prayed for him (v17). Immediately, the servant’s eyes were opened, his spiritual eyes were opened. He can see what Elisha could see all along – all around them was the power of a heavenly host. He saw the power of the almighty God protecting him. Prayer is vital. The power of prayer brings peace.

Jesus prayed. He talked to His heavenly Father. If He did it, we too must do it. We need to soak ourselves in prayer. The power of prayer is available to you and I for all the circumstances we face. Faith begins where man’s power ends. When the difficulties come, use your spiritual eyes, fix your eyes on Jesus, not the enemy. Jesus stands with you.

God gives the victory (verses 19-20):

The enemy comes to capture Elisha and his servant. Elisha prays. Instead of asking for eyes to be opened, he now asks for eyes to be closed – the enemy’s eyes. When they were closed he then took them all the way to the stronghold city of Samaria. They were captured. The King of Israel became very excited. He didn’t know what to do with all the people who have been captured, whether to ‘strike them down’ or not. Elisha told the King that it was God who had captured the enemy, and the king should now feed and water them before sending them back home. Oh what grace! The young servant had had his spiritual eyes opened and seen the enemy captured. Victory had become a reality.

The spiritually open eyes look to Calvary – the victory has already been won. Jesus died for you and me, for all who put their trust in Jesus and confess their sins, God gives the victory. Eyes that are open to this, show us the direction we should go. The victory is won for you and me. Jesus wants us to tell everyone how He can make a difference. Share the good news. It is life-changing news for your friends and neighbours!

Our desire is to be like Jesus. Show others we love God. Summon God’s power so that eyes are opened. Serve God, the victor, in your life, the life of your church and the world. Revolutionise your community!