We began the service with a deeply moving call to fix our hearts on Jesus. Words from the first song were quoted, just before we stood to sing:
“The Innocent judged guilty
While the guilty one walks free
Death would be His portion
And our portion liberty.
Our chains are gone
Our debt is paid
The cross has overthrown the grave
For Jesus’ blood that sets us free
Means death to death
And life for me”.
We sang two more songs, one of which I have sung all my life and is well known and loved in Nigeria:
You are my strength when I am weak,
You are the treasure that I seek,
You are my all in all
Seeking you as a precious jewel
Lord, to give up I’d be a fool
You are my all in all
Our Elders shared themes from our reading and sharing the bible as a church this month. Afterwards, we watched an amazing sermon jam which I am happy to share with you:
What a great reminder of the command to rejoice! Every time I have watched it, it has deeply ministered to me.
We had our Bible reading from Psalm 46:1-11 and sang a wonderful song just before the sermon:
“No separation from the world,
No work I do, no gift I give
Can cleanse my conscience,
cleanse my hands,
I cannot cause my soul to live
But Jesus died and rose again
The pow’r of death is overthrown!
My God is merciful to me
and merciful in Christ alone.”
God spoke powerfully through our pastor on a subject which deeply resonated with us. How do we as Christians, cope with what seems to be no answer(s) from God after we have asked and cried and kept pleading again and again? Especially when what we are asking for is good?
We were reminded that prayer is talking to God and this is only possible because Jesus gave his life to bring us into a relationship with The Father. The Father began this relationship by offering His Son and so our prayers are a response to him. Hence, our prayers should be rooted in the assurance that as we pray in Jesus name, God listens and answers.
What an incredible thing that our prayers can influence God’s actions! We remember Hezekiah’s story and how his death sentence was given from God, yet when he pleaded, God listened and answered saying:
“Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.” – 2 Kings 20: 5-6
We are well aware of verses such as 1 John 5: 14-15:
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
We can all relate to the confusion, disappointment, frustration and even anger which can stir our hearts when we feel God is being slow or not answering our prayers. We can get disillusioned and start to resent Him. How do we deal with this?
We need to humble ourselves before God. God is God; we are not. As much as He is an intimate Father, He is God – transcendent, sovereign and his purposes stand.
He always answers our prayers – sometimes His answer is No. This may be hard to understand especially when we think of prayers such as those for the salvation of a family member or friend, for healing from an illness or the ability to have child.
Our inability to cope with his answer to our prayers is rooted in not trusting His goodness. We must take our eyes off ourselves and what we want and fix them on God. Let us remember that He is an incredibly good Father who gave us what we most needed -Jesus.
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” – Romans 8: 32
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” – Matthew 7:11
We cannot see the future. God sees the end from the beginning. He is all-powerful and wise beyond our comprehension. Most importantly, He is Love. He proved it by giving up his only begotten son to die for us. Nothing we ever ask for can compare to the gift of salvation. We can rejoice in God’s “No” knowing that He says so out of love for us. If He tells us No, it is what we need. He gives and withholds in love.
We need God to do a massive work on our hearts. We cannot harbour frustration and anger at God for not answering our prayers. We should trust Him. Our hearts can be at rest; we can be satisfied in Him. He is good.
After having lunch, I spent most of my Sunday afternoon sleeping as I felt quite tired. The good thing is, I woke up feeling so refreshed and ready for the evening service!
We gathered to pray at 5:15 pm for God to use every part of the evening service powerfully to save souls to himself.
In the evening, we sang 4 songs and listened to two members testify about how God has used the truths in a song to anchor their hearts to him and point them to Jesus through their struggles, hopes and fears. I will share parts of two of those songs:
When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold;
He must hold me fast
There is grace for the daily war with sin
For the battles that rage within my heart,
I am held in my Father’s everlasting arms,
He’s my shield from the devil’s fiery darts.
There is power in the finished work of Jesus,
To change helpless sinners just like me
There’s contentment where
nothing else can satisfy;
So I’ll flee from my sin to Christ the Lord
Put my faith in the promise of His word
You have wearied the Lord with your words;
Yet you say,
“In what way have we wearied Him?”
In that you say,
“Everyone who does evil
Is good in the sight of the Lord,
And He delights in them,”
Or, “Where is the God of justice?”
God is wearied by character assassination. He is against his character being perverted, distorted or misrepresented and having things attributed to Him, that He is absolutely against.
How can we say God delights in or is okay with wickedness? We do this when we look at the wickedness in our hearts and refuse to repent by turning to Jesus. We are in essence saying that its fine to remain the way we are even though God is not okay with it.
Jesus is the judge of all. His flaming eyes of fire (as depicted in the book of Revelation) see through all pretenses, deep secrets and evil!
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. 5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. – Malachi 3: 2-5
These two images are used to describe the work of sanctification in our lives – Refiner’s fire, Launderer’s soap. Those who accept Jesus, welcome this transforming work which He does in the lives of those He has saved. We have diseased, evil, dark and twisted hearts. Only Jesus has the cure. God is not okay with our evil. We need to run to Jesus who has taken the punishment we deserve and paid the price in full once for all.
Thank You For Reading!
I hope you were blessed, and pray you enjoy a deeply engaging time with your church family, fixing your hearts on Jesus and worshipping Him in Spirit and truth.