Friday, 17 October 2008

The beauty of holiness

1 Chron 16:29

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name. Bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

When we worship we are worshipping a God who is holy. He is God and we are not. He is separate from us, above us in everyway. I read on the internet somewhere, "When we worship we must take conscious steps to recognise the vast difference between God and ourselves."

The Bible links holiness with beauty. That is not something that we naturally do. Our hearts are easily deceived into believing that God's holiness is pure but sterile, righteous but joyless, just but merciless. I also read this,
"God must remove the scales from the eyes of our heart before we can percieve that holiness is beautiful."

But it also seems to me that this instruction to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness is also about our own holiness. Does this verse not mean that we are told to bring an offering it is only acceptable when it blends in with the holiness of the one to whom we are giving it? To give an offering to God and harbour sin in our hearts is surely to mark our worship with an ugly stain.

However God delights when we worship him with a "sincere heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us form a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." " (Heb 10:21) This is holiness and that is beautiful.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness
Bow down before him his glory proclaim
With gold of obedienc and incense of lowliness
Kneel and adore him the Lord is his name.

(John Samuel Bewley Monsell)

God bless


Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A Praying People

Sir Ian Botham is walking to raise money for Leukemia Research at the moment. As he walks he is being joined by members of the public who get into step with him and walk with him, helping him to reach his goal. The more he walks the more people seem to join him.

In Pill Corps at the moment we are on a prayer journey, and as we proceed people are joining in and we've got a rhythm going.

We kicked off last Tuesday with early morning prayer, three people got together. Two of us prayer walked in the evening. There were about 15 of us at Prayer Concert on Sunday evening. There were four this morning at the prayer room and three of us prayer walked for an hour tonight. The cell groups meeting fortnightly spend valuable time praying.

Our prayer room is due a revamp and a 24/2 event is being planned for November at which we believe more people will get on board.

It is easy to plan these things, start well and then get weary and well doing so let's not forget to
keep encouraging one another to keep going. And if you haven't joined in yet, what are you waiting for?

God bless


Saturday, 11 October 2008

Partners in the gospel

We have just got back from conducting the wedding of Retired HLS Greta Nichols and Major Jack Shakespeare. It was a privilege to witness these two lovely people pledge what years they have left to a "partnership in the gospel" (Phil 1:3) as a married couple.

The wedding concluded with Albert Orsborne's song, "I know thee who thou art." We had this at our own wedding day, at our Covenant Day and at family funerals and I rarely manage to sing it dry-eyed.

Today the second and third verses are also particularly significant as our eldest daughter Katie was setting off with a team from Christian Solidarity Worldwide to walk the Great Wall of China. As well as raising funds for the charity, which campaigns on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world, they will be meeting up with Chinese Christians to support them in their sometimes difficult and dangerous walk with Christ. I know that Katie walks with Christ daily and I know that he will be with her during this trip.

Thy name is joined with mine
By every human tie
And my new name is thine
A child of God am I
And never more alone since thou
Art on the road beside me now.

Beside thee as I walk
I will delight in thee
In sweet communion talk
Of all thou art to me
The beauty of thy face behold
And know thy mercies manifold.

God bless


Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Upholding his holiness

I am continuing to study the word holiness in the Bible.

Moses is about to die. He has had an amazing life. The book of Deuteronomy ends with the words, "No prophet has risen in Isreal like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt to Pharoah and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the might power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did." (Dt 32:10)

Yet despite all of this achievement as he makes his way up a mountain in Moab where he knows he will die it is not his exploits that Moses is reminded of but his sin. He is told again why it is that he cannot enter the Promised Land.

"You broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel."

Back in Numbers 20:12 he is told why he cannot lead the people of God into the Promised Land "Because you did not trust me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites you will not bring this community into the land I give them."

It is tempting to think that God is being a bit unfair on Moses, after all he had had to put up with, in leading the people of Israel through the desert, not to let him take them into the Promised Land because he made one slip up.

However there is a crucial issue here. Moses represents the law. It was through him that God revealed to his people the way that they should live holy lives in order to honour the holy God they were dependent upon and whom they were called to serve.

Moses gave the law but even he did not keep it. He was probably one of the most righteous men that have ever lived but he failed to do the very thing that the law said he should do, honour God's holiness by complete obedience. Moses did not and could not do that.

What does this say to me? It says to me that it is complete obedience to a holy God that is required of me as a servant of God and as a leader of God's people. It is a necessary reminder in these days of celebrity Christians and mega ministries. Any amazing exploits for God mean very little if I am compromised somewhere in my obedience to God. If Moses one of the most righteous and powerful leaders that ever lived could not make it, then I am not likely to either.

This would be a very sad story, if becasue of the failure of Moses and the Law the Promised Land was never entered by the people of God. It is a very sad thing for me if holy living is required for me to enter into all that God has promised in the Bible but there is no way that it can be achieved.

But this story does not have a sad ending. The people of God did enter the land. They didn't do it through Moses but through Joshua, whose name means "God saves." In other words, they didn't get there because they passed the grade but because God sent a Saviour!

We enter our spiritual inheritance through a Saviour, by whose Spirit we are enabled live a life of obedience which is honouring to a holy God.

"Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance but just as he who called you is holy so be holy in all you do for it is written; "Be holy for I am holy."

God bless


Thursday, 2 October 2008

Holiness is the word

I have completed the Bible in One Year reading plan and I have now decided to study all the references in the Bible using the word holiness.

Here is the first one:

Exodus 15: 11
Who among the gods is like you O Lord?
Who is like you?
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory
working wonders?

The AV uses the phrase "glorious in holiness" and the GNB "wonderful in holiness"

Holiness means separateness, the old mystics talked about the "otherness" of God.

I like the word glorious associated with God's holiness. My understanding is that the word glory is connected with the idea of heaviness or weight. When we talk about someone's opinion carrying weight we mean that they are influential and important.

Anyway my immediate interpretation of this phrase "glorious in holiness is that we cannot view God's holiness as a slight thing, inconsequential thing. When I am dealing with God I am not dealing with someone who is a little bit more important than current world leaders or heroes of history.

If God is glroious in holiness then I need more than me to understand him and I need more than man made processes of investigation to know how to approach him.

And is God's holiness is glorious then how overwhelming is it that God both commands and promises this:

"You shall be holy for I the Lord am holy." (Exodus 22:31)

God bless