Friday, 20 July 2012


Genesis 1v2: Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Psalm 46v10: "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

1 Kings 19v11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.'

If we look at these passages very simply, it becomes clear that God usually avoids the spectacular atmosphere for the quiet and still one. In the first scripture, the Spirit hovered over waters which were surrounded by an earth that was formless and empty. In the second, God tells His people to be still and just 'know' that He is God. In the third, God reveals that He does not reside even in the monumental and spectacular- although He may work such things, He reveals to Elijah that RELATIONSHIP with Him exists in a communication with Him which is very normal, very humble (ie Elijah hiding his head in his cloak), and usually quite private.

We as a people have begun to misunderstand the relationship and worship that He desires. This is seen when we look at the beginning of human history. Ironically, while the earth was formless and empty, the Spirit resided over it, however, when the garden came, and the TEMPTATION to the FLESH came, and when men had fallen to that temptation, they were driven from the presence of the Spirit. This was to show us that while God gives us all things to richly enjoy (1 Tim 6:17), men must at the same time flee those things that exist in the world which cause great temptation to our flesh. Even though Adam walked with God in the cool of the morning, the tree that existed was still a temptation to him. How could this be? How could the very presence, power and person of God be, not only with him and evident to him, but talking with him, and he still fall? The answer lies in realising, one, the power of the enemy to realise our weakness for being enamoured and deceived by the physical and the sensational (Gen 3v6: When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. + Gen 3:5 ...
'you will be like God, knowing good and evil'), and two, the fact that, while the garden was a perfect garden and a perfect atmosphere, still Adam and Eve weren't satisfied with it, and desired more in the fruit of tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As soon as we as a Church begin to focus on the material and physical in our worship, where and when do we stop? Is one big screen tv enough? Are two smoke machines good enough? Are three fluorescent light displays going to do it? Unfortunately, because we are are still very weak, and we all, like Paul, are the 'chief of sinners,' nothing physical will ever be enough, if we give in to the lust of our eyes, that lust is never satisfied, and we will become more and more distracted from the Spirit and from the relationship of faith that God desires for us (2 Cor 5v7: 'We walk by faith, not by sight')Like Adam and Eve, we'll go from a worship of God that can still be spiritual while enjoying those things God has given us, to a worship which tries to be spiritual AND fleshly (Adam and Eve eating the fruit), and obviously this can't be; instead of enhancing our relationship with God, it will hinder it. 

Furthermore, extending the irony, we see that it was not until Adam and Eve were driven from the garden that they ended up walking truly and consistently with God by faith. Remember, pain had entered the world at this point, as had the need to work, but still they followed God uprightly till they died. This shows us that while we as a Church may want the ideal atmosphere for worship, and while we may want the most ideal humanistic doctrines to bring us continual ease and comfort, these are not the will of God for us. One day men will be brought back into the ideal and perfect state with God and a perfect worship of Him, but for now, God has allowed hardship, pain and a less than spectacular physical setting for worship, whether in Churches or in our own day to day lives, because God desires that our relationship with Him be from the inside out, and that our relationship with Him be according to a simple communication and a faith walk with Him, not about what we see with our physical eye (1 John 2:16). The physical eye was what first got us in deep trouble with God, and so God didn't want that to happen again while on earth, so He kicked us out of a place which would still be tempting to us because of the weakness of our flesh. We then, as a Church, must learn from this and keep ourselves from creating a garden to surround our worship. If we do, we will tempt ourselves to think that ultimately we know better than God about what is good for worship (ie 'knowing good and evil'), and it will cause, not only great distraction for us, but also sin, grief and pain, and rather than grow our relationship with God, it will hinder it.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Acts 1v8: 'But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.'

It seems contradictory to be told to be Jesus' witnesses when He has been taken from our sight, and the sight of all mankind. As Jesus showed though, it doesn't matter whether He is on earth or not, there will still be those that question, even in the face of the miraculous. For this reason, although witness is both in word and deed, in order to effectively witness, we must always rely on, and trust in, the work of the Spirit, not the evidence or fruit that we watch for or think exists because of what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears. Evidence may or may not exist straight away, or in time, but nevertheless, the Word tells us that there is not 10 days till the harvest, but the harvest is right now, the Spirit is always effective, no matter how weak or ineffectual we think we are. The Word is powerful and living and sharper than any two edged sword, and so is any witness with that Word.

Often discouragement comes in our witnessing because we don't have Jesus by our sides, visibly encouraging or instructing us. It also comes in times when we don't even feel we have that kind of encouragement spiritually speaking. There comes no great illuminations from the Word, no word of encouragement from others, in fact, no support seems to come from anywhere, and yet we still hear Him speak to us in His Word, 'you will be my witnesses'. We are told to shine our light. We don't need a massive strategy for that, we simply must just 'shine our light;' shine truth, shine good works, shine life. Let deeds reveal truth, and truth deeds, and let the Holy Spirit reveal Jesus, and do the work which, whether evident or hidden, is definitely and powerfully going on.