Friday, 20 December 2013

Life In The Sun

Jet LagI was discussing with some frequent flyers about the joys of jetlag. I mentioned to them that it has taken me about three weeks to have body realise what time-zone it was. They asked me what I did normally to combat jetlag. Apart from toughing it out, I told them, I was strategy-free when it came to overcoming jet-lag. Both of these travellers had clocked up hundreds of thousands of more air-miles than me, so I was curious as to whether they had learned a way to deal with jet-lag. "The sun!" they both independently said in unison. "When you arrive in a different time-zone, get as much sun as you can! Walk in it! Soak it in! Don't wear a hat! Get yourself into the sun!"
¶ I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me.
Eccl. 9:13
Circadian rhythm. All of us have it. It regulates our body's sleeping patterns - when we feel tired and when we feel it's time to get up. Our circadian rhythm is affected by the amount of vitamin D we have in our body and vitamin D is supplied from sunshine.
¶ Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
Eccl. 11:7
Vitamin D from soaking up the sunWithout direct sunlight, our bodies cannot perform as optimally as they were designed. God has placed the Sun at the perfect distance from our planet to provide the perfect amount of sunlight and heat to our planet. This balance of light and heat is parallelled by another of God's perfect gifts- His Word. Good preachers know how to offer the light of God's Word. Good evangelists know how to offer the heat of God's Word. Great preachers and great evangelists know how to offer both the light and heat of God's Word! Followers of Christ need both.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11
Without enough sunshine it is not possible to be as well as one could be. Health professionals tell us that the resultant lack of vitamin D and the associated constant tiredness contributes to depression and generall unwellness. Spiritually, without enough of the sunshine of God's Word, it is simply not possible to be as well as one could be. Of course, the sunshine which radiates from God's Word is in actuality only refracted from its Source. God Himself is the Sunshine for our soul! And a day will come when we bask in the His Sunshine without the need for a physical sun at all (Isa. 60:20; Rev. 21:23; 22:5).
¶ The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;
but the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.

Isaiah 60:19
But the follower of God's Only Son need not wait until the Resurrection to begin their life in the Sun. The very first Christmas Day marks the point in the Universe's history when the sunlight of God's utter and perfect radiance was revealed to mankind for the first time. The Prophet Malachi prophesied of the birth of Eternal Son of God that it was like the "sun of righteousness rising with healing in its wings" (Mal. 4:2). There is a healing for the human soul that can only be found in the sunshine of the presence of Jesus The Christ. Only by surrendering to Him, worshipping Him, serving Him, waiting on Him, are we living in the Sun-for-our-soul.
In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
Revelation 1:6
There are so many 'spiritual shutters' in our lives that block out the True Sun from enlightening and warming our souls. Amusements, entertainment, frivolity, alcohol, gadgets, can all be spiritual-shutters which throw our souls out of rhythm. This Summer, consider basking in the real Sun - or to say the same thing differently: consider basking in the Son.

¶ Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

Ps. Andrew

Monday, 16 December 2013

Where Do We Find God?

One of the most universal truths known to man, yet injuriously denied by those with a vested interest in doing so, is that man can find God. Two thousand years ago a large kith of Zoroastrians arrived in Jerusalem to do just that and every Advent Season we remember them in a distorted fashion...
¶ Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,
These "wise men from the east" (Greek, 'Magoi', transliterated into English as Magi) would have held to the traditions established by 6th century BC mystic, Zoroaster. He claims that he experienced God who revealed to him that there was a Satan who opposed the purposes of God, but one day God would send forth His Son into the world to vanquish Satan and save mankind. For centuries the followers of Zoroaster's revelations were looking for any phenomenological signs that God was beginning to fulfil this prophecy. When they observed a strange star in the west, they suspected this might be it. A company of around 600 kith were assembled to follow this roving star from Persia. Eventually they arrived in Jerusalem.
saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”MATTHEW 2:2
The Magi understood that the Creator-God had revealed Himself through His creation. They knew how to read this 'book' - the Book of Nature. We now know that God has revealed Himself through three books. And the second of these 'Books' would be needed to complete their quest.
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
"It is written", these chief priests were familiar with God's 'second Book'. The Magi weren't. By adding to their knowledge of God's book of Nature from the more authoritative book of Scripture, the Magi were able to find God and fulfil their commitment to "worship Him."
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”MATTHEW 2:6
What is striking about this episode is that the Chief Priests knew from their study of Scripture where the Christ was to be born (Micah 5:2). But they would have (or at least should have) known about when He was to be born based on Daniel 9:25-27 which linked the appearing of the Messiah to the decree to rebuild Jerusalem's walls. Yet, despite this highly prized priestly knowledge they were not interested in seeking the Messiah! Unacceptably, it is often the so-called "religious" who are the least helpful in assisting people to find God! These Chief Priests had the knowledge of the most authoritative book, Scripture, but they did not have knowledge of God.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” MATTHEW 2:8
Neither are political authorities a reliable source of direction to finding God. King Herod was selfish, evil and deceitful. These are precisely the qualities that inhibit anyone from finding God. 
After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. MATTHEW 2:9-10
This 'star' led them to Christ. Sometimes God places 'stars' in people's life in order to lead them to His Son. These 'stars' may be a converted friend, or a strange set of circumstances that leads them to ponder to eternal things. When these wise men found Christ it was the occasion for exceeding joy. It always is. Even today. The Magi were about to discover that God has a third book, His Living Word, the Logos, the Word Made Flesh, His Son.

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.MATTHEW 2:11
Their gifts reflect something profound about who this Christmas Child truly was. Gold, because He is a King. Frankincense, because He is the Priestly Mediator between God and Mankind. And Myrrh (the spice used for preparing dead bodies), because He is the Sacrifice for the sins of the world. They offered these gifts and we too are reminded that to find God we must approach Christ and acknowledge Him as our King, High Priest and God, and the Atonement for our sins.

Andrew Corbett

You Know Now, More Than The Apostle Peter Did!

Friday, 13 December 2013


One of the downsides to extensive travel (such as the nearly 8 weeks away that we've just enjoyed) is when you forget you have left an indoor plant - indoors. We have karted around with us for over twenty years some indoor maiden-hair fern plants. This plant started off as one plant in a pot. It was then divided and put into two planters, where they have been for over a decade now. In that time we have had to replace the stale soil, fertilise them, and especially keep the water up to them. But 8 weeks away makes all of this difficult if you keep them inside - which we did. I began to wonder how our maidens were fairing while I was away and upon our return was delighted to discover that the one immediately near our entrance door was still alive and doing OK (not great, but OK). The other one, over near the window, was dried out, brown, and dead.
"O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water."
Psalm 63:1
Most people would prefer to bask in the glorious sunshine than freeze in gloom of a Winter's day. But basking comes at a price. If you have skin like mine, you need shade. You have to keep your fluids up. And you have to be careful about drowsiness becoming unproductive sleep. My poor maiden-hair fern had been basking without the necessary precautions. What was once lush, moist, and thriving was now dry, withered and dead.
And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.
Luke 8:6
The very thing it both needed and enjoyed (bright, warm, sunshine) had caused its demise. Of course, it wasn't just this, it wasthis combined with a lack of nutrients and especially water. There are times when we too long for the sun. We crave those moments when we can just bask in the sun and relax. But when we fail to add to this bask, appropriate shade and hydration, we risk my maiden-hair's fate. This is also the case spiritually.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
John 15:2
Every gardener knows what to do in these times. The plant must be immediately pruned hard and saturated. It seems cruel but it's the only thing that can possibly save the plant. All the dead parts of the plant must be cut off immediately. Then water must be applied copiously and often. This is what I did. Within a week, I saw two new growth shoots appear from where there was previously deadness.
For the LORD comforts Zion;
he comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the LORD;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song.

Isaiah 51:3
It is possible to spiritually experience what my maiden-hair fern has just gone through. The bliss of not being accountable to anyone and basking in the warmth of the sunshine without the pesky responsibilities of having to always take on water. And like my maiden-hair fern, it is probable that such a lifestyle has resulted in spiritual dryness and near-spiritual-death. But also like my ferny friend, it is possible to find a solution that offers life-saving rescue. This requires the Gardener to prune our lives (some of our sun-basking pleasures may have to be cut out or at least back) and He will then want to saturate us in the water of His Word.

It's worth noting that my plant's rescue from its over-basking didn't come about because of prayer. It came about because of decisive action. Imagine the parents of a two-year child praying that their child would learn the alphabet and not seeing much progress. Then alternatively imagine other parents who aren't depending upon their prayers for their two-year old child to learn the alphabet, instead they patiently teach their child the alphabet. Spiritually, there are too many people that would rather talk about prayer being the solution, than actually implementing the solution.

When Moses brought Israel out of Egypt and led them up to the Red Sea, the Lord told him to lead them through that Sea. But Moses stalled and began to pray - and the Lord rebuked him for doing so.
¶ The LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward!"
Exodus 14:15
When things feel dried-out and dying, many people pray intensely and hope that their situation turns around - but it's actually the time to prune any life-stifling factors out of our lives and saturate ourselves in God's Word.
...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:25b-27
Maybe God wants to use you as one of His gardeners? If so, by all means pray for those you see who are dry, but most especially take your spiritual pruners and watering can.

Ps. Andrew