Weeds

Weeds

Sanctification is that process of working out our salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who works in us. In these days of ‘lockdown’ there are those, myself included, who have taken the opportunity of reduced schedules that have been imposed upon us to be involved in a bit of gardening (well at least on my part cutting the grass) and all the many other tasks gardening entails. Many following the ‘work’ given to Adam and Eve before the fall (Gen 2v15). As with all aspects of creation even the plant life points us to the Creator (indeed a witness that is to be perfected again in the future, Isaiah 55v12-13). The garden and plant life can picture to us many important truths. As I look at a untidy garden an activity that is on my mind is that of weeding (perhaps next week!). The weeding process reminds us of the presence of thorns and weeds and toil that the fall and sin brought into this world, it reminds us that this world is not as it once was, nor as it should be, or one day will be remade into. However, it also challenges me that even as we use this ‘free’ time to tend the physical garden that we should also use this appointed time to look after and to tend a more important garden; the garden of our souls. To survey the garden of our lives, to look for the pockets of weeds, of sin, and with God’s help, to root them out. Due to our nature (and certainly in the gardening realm my inability at times to tell weed from flower) we need to use the word of God to show us the many and varied weeds that can subtly grow, unchecked, and even admired in our lives. But not only do we need to remove what is invasive, and that which chokes other life, stealing nutrient and energy that could be better used, we need to tend the flowers and the plants, water them, feed them, plant new seeds, that they might produce beauty in our lives and fruit for the good of others. While there are many different types of weeds (sins) there is only one solution that can deal with them and it is the blood of Jesus, to place them in confession and repentance under the blood. There is much work to be done, and to be doing, both in the garden of our lives and in the field of the world. Take this time, these days God has appointed, and make it a sanctifying time in our lives. A time of tending to our souls, a spiritual spring clean. Praying for wisdom and insight from God, to reveal things to us that we ought to confess and dig up. For Him to show us other things that are withered and need to be nourished. Prepare the ground with the plough of prayer, plant the good seed, apply the water of the Word, pull up the weeds and burn them, so that we might have fruitful lives for God’s glory.

Helper

Helper

1 Samuel 23v15-18 – David, the anointed future King, had his back to the wall; alone, under pressure, and facing real danger, but in these trying circumstances we learn a few lessons about the power of true Christian fellowship. Recognising David’s predicament and physical isolation Jonathan rises to action in order to strengthen his anointed leader in the Lord.

Firstly, in seeing David’s circumstances we recognise that even great men and women need God’s helpers. Prayerful, practical, and in person help. David was in a wood, a place that was necessary for his safety but also as a consequence a place of separation and isolation (how relevant to the times we live in).

Secondly, David the shepherd was Jonathan’s anointed leader but this fact did not prevent him from acting to minister to his future king. David gladly accepts that help in the Lord, and the two men go on to make a covenant together, strengthening a bond, and to share a future vision together.

Thirdly, this was not accidental help, this was intentional help. It says Jonathan arose and acted. Sometimes we help others by ‘accident’ (divine appointment), but this was Jonathan’s active intention to help his future King. He saw a need, and he intentionally acted. He purposed in his heart to be useful and usable.

Fourthly, David received a special kind of help, (to be strengthened in the Lord). Jonathan did not only act to build up David’s confidence in himself, but Jonathan strengthened David’s confidence in the Lord. He reminded David of the promise of God, that he would be king, that what he was going through was not going to thwart God’s plans. He reminded him that God is not slack concerning His promises, he strengthened David’s confidence in God at a difficult time. It was vital this anointed leader of the nation knew the care and help and love of God expressed to him through his friends.

Fifthly, in the help Jonathan provided, there is always a part of that, or any other, ministry, that can only be accomplished by God. It is recorded, that after Jonathan met with David he then left, but David remained in the wood! This is a great difficulty in seeking to help others that, even against our desires to help, we can only enter into their situation to a point but no further. (Not so our Lord who fully and completely took on our burden, and now lives by His Spirit within us! That one who is always with us through every circumstance of life.). Jonathan was unable to change much about the circumstances but he did comfort the man in his circumstances. Jonathan was the willing instrument God used to strengthen David. His action is recorded in Scripture for us as an example to act with intent to help others – As God leads, to yield ourselves as a channel of encouragement, help, and even at times to challenge or rebuke that God can use and work through.

I would encourage you, as you have been doing, over the coming days and weeks, to help, pray and encourage one another. This example of true Christian fellowship, between David and Jonathan, is one we can seek to emulate as we not only take but also make opportunity to minister to others. Like Johathan’s, ours is a ministry that should spring from a genuine love and compassion for our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and our Love of God. We read in 1 Samuel 18v1 that Jonathan loved David’s soul as his own. What a challenging example and indeed high standard of love expressed that we find between these two Old Testament characters. I don’t know about you, but as I finish my thought I find myself challenged by such a shining example. To esteem others as better than ourselves.

Jonathan strengthened David’s hand in the Lord… …because he loved his soul!

Armour

. .

Armour

When preparing to care for patients with Covid-19 we are taught that first you need to protect yourself. It is unusual for one who works in health care to have to wear such gear in order to protect themselves rather than its primary use being to protect the vulnerable patients under our care. Even as others who work in many different areas of employment and even in leisure activities we need to wear suitable protective clothing to carry out whatever tasks we are engaged in. We ‘don’ or put on such protective gear in order to help or to serve to others, to carry out a necessary task, or even for many a dangerous tasks. Much care and attention needs to be taken as we prepare. Within the hospital we are encouraged to have a ‘buddy’ to check us over to ensure that we are adequately protected, protected in this case from an unseen enemy; a virus. This led my thoughts to much more dangerous unseen enemies that we all battle against, ones with eternal consequences (the world, The flesh, and the devil). Ephesians 6:12, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. These are very real and dangerous enemies that we all need to protect ourselves from, and God has given us our PPE (personal protective equipment). The passage continues to describe the protective clothing we are to don, and even the weapons we are to wield, Ephesians 6:13, Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Even while we are wisely encouraged in these days to ‘socially isolate’ ourselves for the good of others, we are never isolated from these spiritual enemies. Personally we must remain careful and vigilant, but we must also be looking out for one another as ‘buddies’ to encourage each other to stay safe and strong in the fight against the common enemies we all face. While I encourage you to read the whole passage, the one item I seek to highlight is the Word of God. When tempted, when tested, and tried this was the defense our Lord used. In all the uncertainty of life, we possess a book that is stronger than the very foundations of the world we stand upon. What a personal source of strength, comfort, wisdom and protection we miss when we neglect His word. We thank God for the encouragement and challenges we receive from His Word every day and we long for the time when we can meet again as a fellowship, with joy, around His Word, in common fellowship, worshiping together, and witnessing to God’s grace and mercy to us in every circumstance of life. We must not let this isolation break our common fellowship together or with God, a fellowship which was purchased by blood. So while we all endeavor to continue serving God, each other, and to reach the lost, we need to remember to make sure we are fully dressed and protected in the armour of God, fully trained in the use of God’s Word, and as each piece of PPE is put on with prayer, may we know in these days what it is to be true warriors of prayer and of the Word!