Thursday 28 July 2011


This is an excerpt from the book Calvary Road

THOUSANDS of years ago, in the most beautiful Garden the world has ever known, lived a man and a woman. Formed in the likeness of their Creator, they lived solely to reveal Him to His creation and to each other and thus to glorify Him every moment of the day. Humbly they accepted the position of a creature with the Creator - that of complete submission and yieldedness to His will. Because they always submitted their wills to His, because they lived for Him and not for themselves, they were also completely submitted to each other. Thus in that first home in that beautiful garden, there was absolute harmony, peace, love and oneness not only with God, but with each other.
Then one day, the harmony was shattered, for the serpent stole into that God-centred home, and with him, sin. And now, because they had lost their peace and fellowship with God, they lost it with each other. No longer did they live for God - they each lived for themselves. They were each their own gods now, and because they no longer lived for God, they no longer lived for each other. Instead of peace, harmony, love and oneness - there was now discord and hate - in other words, SIN!

It was into the home that sin first came. It is in the home that we sin more than perhaps anywhere else, and it is to the home that revival first needs to come. Revival is desperately needed in the church - in the country - in the world, but a revived church with unrevived homes would be sheer hypocrisy. It is the hardest place, the most costly, but the most necessary place to begin.
Before we go on, let us remind ourselves again of what revival really is. It simply means new life, in hearts where the spiritual life has ebbed - but not a new life of self-effort or self-initiated activity. It is not man's life, but God's life, the life of Jesus filling us and flowing through us. That Life is manifested in fellowship and oneness with those with whom we live - nothing between us and God, and nothing between us and others. The home is the place before all others where this should be experienced.
How different is the experience of so many of us professing Christians in our homes - little irritations, frayed tempers, selfishness and resentments; and even where there is nothing very definitely wrong between us, just not that complete oneness and fellowship that ought to characterise Christians living together. All the things that come between us and others, come between us and God and spoil our fellowship with Him, so that our hearts are not overflowing with the Divine Life.

Now what at bottom is wrong with our homes? When we talk about homes, we mean the relationship which exists between a husband and wife, a parent and child, a brother and sister, or between any others who, through various circumstances, are compelled to live together.
The first thing that is wrong with so many families is that they are not really open with one another. We live so largely behind drawn blinds. The others do not know us for what we really are, and we do not intend that they should. Even those living in the most intimate relationships with us do not know what goes on inside - our difficulties, battles, failures, nor what the Lord Jesus has to cleanse us from so frequently. This lack of transparency and openness is ever the result of sin. The first effect of the first sin was to make Adam and Eve hide from God behind the trees of the Garden. They who had been so transparent with God and with one another were then hiding from God, because of sin; and if they hid from God you can be quite sure that they soon began to hide from one another. There were reactions and thoughts in Adam's heart that Eve was never allowed to know and there were like things hidden in Eve's heart too. And so it has been ever since. Having something to hide from God, we hide it, too, from one another. Behind that wall of reserve, which acts like a mask, we cover our real selves. Sometimes we hide in the most extraordinary way behind an assumed jocular manner. We are afraid to be serious because we do not want others to get too close and see us as we really are, and so we keep up a game of bluff. We are not real with one another, and no one can have fellowship with an unreal person, and so oneness and close fellowship are impossible in the home. This is what the Scripture calls "walking in darkness" - for the darkness is anything which hides.

The second thing that is wrong with our homes is our failure really to love one another. "Well," says somebody, "that could never be said of our home, for no one could love one another more than my husband and I love each other!" But wait a minute! It depends on what you mean by love. Love is not just a sentimental feeling, nor even strong passion. The famous passage in 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what real love is, and if we test ourselves by it we may find that after all we are hardly loving one another at all, and our behaviour is all in the opposite direction - and the opposite of love is hate! Let us look at some of the things that that passage tells us about love.
'Love is long suffering (patient) and is kind;
Love envieth not (is not jealous);
Love vaunteth not itself (does not boast),
is not puffed up (is not conceited);
Love does not behave itself unseemly (is not rude),
seeketh not her own (is not selfish),
is not easily provoked (does not get irritated),
thinketh no evil (does not entertain unkind thoughts of another).'
How do we stand up to those tests in our homes? So often we act in the very opposite way. We are often impatient with one another and even unkind in the way we answer back or react. How much envy, too, there can be in a home. A husband and wife can envy the other their gifts, even their spiritual progress. Parents may be envious of their children, and how often is there not bitter envy between brothers and sisters. Also "not behaving unseemly," that is, courtesy, what about that? Courtesy is just love in little things, but it is in the little things that we trip up. We think we can "let up" at home.
How "puffed up," that is, conceited, we so often are! Conceit comes out in all sorts of ways. We think we know best, we want our way and we nag or boss the other one; and nagging or bossing leads on to the tendency to despise the other one. Our very attitude of superiority sets us up above them. Then, when at the bottom of our hearts we despise someone, we blame them for everything - and yet we think we love.
Then what about "seeking not our own," that is, not being selfish? Many times a day we put our wishes and interests before those of the other one. How "easily provoked" we are! How quick to be irritated by something in the other. How often we allow the unkind thought, the resentful feeling over something the other has done or left undone! Yet we profess there are no failures in love in our homes. These things happen every day and we think nothing of them. They are all of them the opposite of love, and the opposite of love is hate. Impatience is hate, envy is hate, conceit and self-will are hate, and so are selfishness, irritability and resentment! And hate is SIN. "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in the darkness even until now." What tensions, barriers and discord it all causes, and fellowship with both God and the other is made impossible.

Now the question is, do I want new life, revival, in my home? I have got to challenge my heart about this. Am I prepared to continue in this state or am I really hungry for new life, His life, in my home? For not unless I am really hungry will I be willing to take the necessary steps. The first step I must take is to call sin, sin (my sin, not the other person's) and go with it to the Cross, and trust the Lord Jesus there and then to cleanse me from it.
As we bow the neck at the Cross, His self-forgetful love for the others, His long-suffering and forbearance flow into our hearts. The precious Blood cleanses us from the unlove and ill-will and the Holy Spirit fills us with the very nature of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 13 is nothing less than the nature of Jesus, and it is all gift to us, for His nature is ours, if He is ours. This blessed process can happen every single time the beginnings of sin and unlove creep in, for the cleansing fountain of Blood is available to us all the time.
All this will commit us very definitely to walking the Way of the Cross in our homes. Again and again we will see places where we must yield up our rights, as Jesus yielded up His for us. We shall have to see that the thing in us that reacts so sharply to another's selfishness and pride, is simply our own selfishness and pride, which we are unwilling to sacrifice. We shall have to accept another's ways and doings as God's will for us and meekly bend the neck to all God's providences. That does not mean that we must accept another's selfishness as God's will for them - far from it - but only as God's will for us. As far as the other is concerned, God will probably want to use us, if we are broken, to help him see his need.
Certainly, if we are a parent we shall often need to correct our child with firmness. But none of this is to be from selfish motives, but only out of love for the other and a longing for their good. Our own convenience and rights must all the time be yielded. Only so will the love of the Lord Jesus be able to fill us and express itself through us.
When we have been broken at Calvary, we must be willing to put things right with the others – sometimes even with the children. This is, so often, the test of our brokenness. Brokenness is the opposite of hardness. Hardness says, "It's your fault!" Brokenness, however, says, "It's my fault!" What a different atmosphere will begin to prevail in our homes when they hear us say that. Let us remember that at the Cross there is only room for one at a time. We cannot say, "I was wrong, but you were wrong too. You must come as well!" No, you must go alone, saying, "I'm wrong." God will work in the other more through your brokenness than through anything else you can do or say.
We may, however, have to wait - perhaps a long time. But that should only give us to feel more with God, for, as someone has said, "He too has had to wait a long time since His great attempt to put things right with man nineteen hundred years ago, although there was no wrong on His side." But God will surely answer our prayer and bring the other to Calvary too. There we shall be one; there the middle wall of partition between us will be broken down; there we shall be able to walk in the light, in true transparency, with Jesus and with one another, loving each other with a pure heart fervently. Sin is almost the only thing we have in common with everyone else, and so at the feet of Jesus where sin is cleansed is the only place where we can be one.
Real oneness conjures up for us the picture of two or more sinners together at Calvary.

Sent in by Phyllis Cromer

This can be downloaded in PDF format from Christian Issues

© 1950 Roy Hession Book Trust, England

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Our Father,

I heard someone recently say that the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16. I started to think about this and realised that this isn't exactly right, certainly not for Irish people.

I reckon the most well known Bible verse (or verses) in Ireland are the words Jesus spoke when His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. This passage of scripture from Matthew 6, is referred to in Irish culture as "The Our Father", and is often associated with confession; "He gave me 3 Our Fathers and 4 Hail Marys" or a similar phrase was what many people associate the words of Jesus with.

It is a prayer that for most people, can be reeled off in seconds, without a thought and yet what is contained in these few lines is spiritual dynamite, it is how Jesus taught His disciples to pray.

Two thousand years ago, in Israel, Jewish children were brought up in a culture where they aimed to emulate their teachers. The best students in the synagogue were encouraged to listen and understand their teachers, the pharisees and the priests. They learned by doing things the way they had always been done and not questioning these methods. The most intelligent students would continue to learn as they grew older and spend their youth watching and copying their teachers so that they would become like them. Knowing this is important to understanding the disciple's request for Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11 v 1). They wanted to be like Jesus.

There are many versions of the prayer, but for this, I'm going to use the one I'm most familiar with- the King James Version.

9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11Give us this day our daily bread.

12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6 v 9-13, KJV.

Lets go through it as Jesus prayed it.

He starts off by addressing God directly.

"Our Father which art in heaven".
He's your dad as much as mine Jesus is saying. He's the head of our family and He dwells in heaven, you can talk to Him the same way I do, in fact, this is how I want you to talk to Him.

"Hallowed be thy name".
Your name, Father, is Holy. Your name is above all other names and is worthy of our prayers. You are the Almighty God.

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done".
I want Your Kingdom to come, and I want Your Will to be done. I want what you want, to happen. I want what you have, to happen.

"in earth, as it is in heaven".
One of the reasons I like the King James Version here is the way this line is phrased. Most if not, all of the other versions of the Bible I looked at say "on earth, as it is in heaven" but the KJV uses the word "in". The significance of this, to me is that Jesus is inviting God's Kingdom to come and His Will to be done in the earth as opposed to it being done on the earth. It's possessive, it's inside, it's not just something to exist outside of us.
Jesus is actually telling us to ask God to do in the earth, what He does in heaven. Jesus is asking God to come and reign supreme in the earth, as He does in heaven. He is asking God to bring heaven into the earth.
This has the potential to be one of the most loaded lines in the whole Bible. If we really believe what we pray, then what we are asking God for here is an earth that is without pain, an earth that is without suffering, an earth that is without sickness, an earth that is exploding with the love and presence of God in such a substantial way that these things, which are not of God, simply can't exist. The Light of God is so bright that darkness just isn't around.

"Give us this day our daily bread"
I had been wondering what was the significance of this line for a long time. I'm a Christian over 30 years and I always thought it was about providing our needs. It is, but there's more to it than that. God is a God of abundance. God is a God who cares for the birds and God is a God who cares for you.
"Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"Matt 6v26

So, asking God for our daily bread is asking God for what we need. God, being gloriously abundant in nature, loves to look after us and has a wonderful track record of providing our needs. He gives us what we need, when we need it, and then some.

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us," Ephesians 3v20.

You ask God for something, He gives us what we need and more. He fed the Israelites in the desert abundantly, He gave them more than they needed and if they took too much, it wasn't of use anymore. Jesus is telling us that we don't need to be greedy, we can trust God to look after us. His name is Jehovah Jireh, He is our provider.

"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors"
Next we are asking God to forgive us our debts, trespasses or sins. Jesus prayed this knowing that we needed to pray it. Jesus didn't pray it for Himself- He was and is perfect and without sin, yet He encourages us to do it while we are forgiving others. Don't hold a grudge He's saying, God doesn't hold a grudge against you. He's talking about embracing the identity God has given us, not the old one that we love to cling on to.

"And lead us not into temptation"
This line has troubled me to be honest. Why would Jesus put this into a prayer? Why would He tell us to ask God to not lead us into temptation? If God is good, then why would He do that?
I had to look at other translations to get my head around this, most are similarly worded, but The Message puts it differently:
"Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil."
So according to the Message, it's Jesus asking God to help us to stay alert to what is in front of, or around us. We are asking God to help us stay away from temptation and to not yield to it.
Remember Jesus was tempted in the desert when He was there for 40 days, and He was without sin.
Being tempted is something that will happen, but we can try to stay away from temptation and this is why Jesus is encouraging us to pray in this way.

"but deliver us from evil;"
Keep us safe from the works of the enemy. Protect us from his works and keep holding onto us.

"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen"
The final part of the prayer in the KJV isn't regularly included in church or public prayers, it's a statement of who God is, it's praise of and onto Him, it's Jesus encouraging us to praise the Father by reminding us of how wonderful He is. Father, it's your kingdom, your power and your glory and it's beyond comparison. It goes on for all eternity. So be it.

Praying the "Our Father" is speaking the words that came out of Jesus' mouth. It's something that we are privileged to have because we can speak God's word into our situations and know that we are praying according to His will, asking Him for what He knows is best for us. It may be a prayer that is recited in many circumstances, but it is one that reflects the character of God and what is on His heart for us.
The next time you read or pray it, take a moment and thank God that He loves you enough to give you the words to speak to Him when you are speechless.

Roger C.

Monday 18 July 2011


Life is something that goes on for most of us at a rate that we are reasonably satisfied with, with everything we can keep in control, put safely away in a box that's kept on a shelf, ready to be accessed when we need it.

Our career is something we like to keep on track, whether it is as a doctor, a baker, a florist or a shopkeeper. We go into work and have our days planned out ahead of us.

10.00 Meeting with a customer.
11.00 Catch up on billing.
12.00 Reorder supplies.
13.00 Lunchtime.
14.00 Call the office in London.

Our routine is set out and when we are in it, we are reasonably happy. No surprises, no interruptions, no catastrophic events, nothing to knock us out of our comfort zone.

Then it happens. Redundancy. Illness. Family crisis. A Detour. Something that occurs to inconvenience us. Sometimes we bring it on ourselves, sometimes it's a complete shock. A Detour isn't usually what we want to happen, yet it is often one of the best things that can happen to us.
When we ask God to change things in us, He listens. When we ask Him to give us patience, He gives us the opportunity to learn it. When we ask Him to teach us how to love, He gives us people who in the flesh, we find it difficult to get along with. When we ask God to bring us closer to Him, He takes us to a place where we have to learn to trust Him.

The Israelites in the old testament were faced with such a situation. They had been taken out of Egypt by a series of miracles and then were faced with the wilderness, the desert and an opportunity to trust the God that had never let them down before, yet they didn't.
They decided to complain. They decided that the best option was to have a go at Moses, to say it was his fault that they had no decent food. After all, they had loads of choice vegetables and meat in Egypt didn't they? In the desert, they had nothing, they even went through a period where they'd no water. They complained about it.
Funny how they knew God had brought them into the desert, yet they didn't trust Him to provide for them there or bring them safely out the other side.

They complained. God provided for their needs and they complained. They had all the water they wanted in Egypt too. In the desert, they had their very best rose tinted glasses on.
Even though it was so much better in Egypt, they forgot that they had been slaves. Their parents and children were slaves too. Even their grandparents were slaves, but it was so much better in Egypt wasn't it?

They wanted food, so God gave them 'Manna', a kind of flakey thing that fell with the dew every night and was so called because they didn't know what it was, hence the name 'Manna' which means 'What is it?'
It was nutritious, free and abundant, yet they complained. The had a fresh miracle literally on their doorstep every day but still, they complained.

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:5, NIV

They wanted meat. They had meat in Egypt, all sorts of meat. They wanted meat in the wilderness, so God decided to give them meat. He gave them meat that spread for a day in each direction, an incredible provision of meat, quail in such amounts that it covered the ground of the camp.
In fact, God gave them quail to teach them. They asked for it and they got it. They were sick of quail. So they complained again.

Why is this relevant to us now? Every time they complained and moaned about where they were, how bad things were, and that they had nothing, God provided. God was constantly providing miracle after miracle, saying "I am worthy of your trust, you need to learn to depend on me."

Exodus tells us of incidents of water being bitter, water being needed and food being needed and each time God provided, yet the Israelites refused to trust in Him.

They complained. They refused to learn to trust God and they paid for it. A few years into their period in the wilderness, Moses sent 12 men to spy in Canaan, to look at the promised land. 10 gave bad reports, saying they couldn't defeat the giants that lived there, that they hadn't a hope of getting to the promised land. Joshua and Caleb gave good reports, saying there was an abundance of fruit, vines and it flowed with milk and honey (Numbers 13:27), and that they could defeat these enemies.
The people decided to believe the reports of 10 men instead of the testimony of the Lord God, the one who had brought them out of Egypt, sent plagues on the Egyptians, allowed them to leave their captors laden down with gold and jewelry and had then parted the sea to allow them to cross on dry land.

Their choice at this stage was critical. They believed man instead of the Lord and as a result, spent another 37 years in the wilderness.

What had started off as a detour turned into a disaster for them all because of their attitude and reaction to the situation. They trusted man and not God. They lost out.

Contrast this with the story of Joseph in Genesis 37. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, (a major detour in anyone's life it has to be said) and yet he trusted God. He rose to the top of his master's house as he trusted God. A second detour happened, his loyalty to his master got him imprisoned, yet he still trusted God. He was given responsibility by the warden, who trusted him so much that he let him go about business his own way:

The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. Genesis 39:23, NIV

He was left in prison for a few more years when suddenly, Pharaoh called on him and he became the Prime Minister of Egypt, all because he trusted God.

When we are faced with a detour, we can complain about it, moan about it, prolong it and wallow in it or we can trust God in it. We may not like it, but we can know without any doubt that God is working through the situation to bring us into a closer relationship with Him, and our attitude in the situation will determine how quickly we get to that place.
He could be using it to show us the things we listen to instead of Him, the things we trust before Him, the things we believe about Him.

A detour rarely happens when we want it to, yet it can be the most incredible experience we will ever go through. For many of us, we are going through a detour in our church lives. Some of us are looking forward to it. Some of us are not looking forward to it. Some of us are waiting to see what happens.
Wherever you are at this time, trust God. Seek Him. Ask Him what He is doing in this time. Talk to Him about His plans and where you fit in to them. Listen to Him say to you "I am worthy of your trust, you need to learn to depend on me."

Roger C.