A topic of much discussion this week has been the proposed review of the criminal justice system whereby prisoners can receive ‘discounted’ sentences if they plead guilty early thus saving much agony and distress for victims.
The Central Criminal Court, London – Old Bailey
Christians rejoice that God’s justice system works differently. Confession of sin and repentance earns not just a ‘discount’ but complete remission and forgiveness, at whatever stage it is made. Quite a thought isn’t it?
This weekend our Songsters have been visiting the Tunbridge Wells Salvation Army centre where they have ministered with singing and led the meetings bringing inspiring variety to the worship. We will report in more detail as soon as we can.
At home our meetings were led by Commanding Officers Majors Drew and Beverley McCombe and in the morning we continued our theme of ‘God’s mission, God’s method’, this week considering ‘extraordinary commitment’.
The meeting, led by Major Beverley, began with scripture from John 1:10-15 and continued with songs 362, 1105 and 877 from Songs of Fellowship. Other songs included were 506 and 707 from the Salvation Army Song Book, 851 from Songs of Fellowship and ‘Made in the likeness of God‘.
The Singing Company brought ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord’ by way of musical ministry, singing without a conductor and to the accompaniment of a CD. They did a great job without the adults who were, of course, at Tunbridge Wells with the Songsters. Well done!
The dedication ceremony for Boipelo Chris Bule, son of Lancelot and Shingirai, was conducted by Major Drew.
For over 46 years the Davis Estate Home League (for ladies) has been run by Rose Reynolds, with assistance from Treasurer Pat Phillips, in her own home. The sterling work put in by Rose and Pat over such a long time was recognised as Rose now stands back from that responsibility due to advancing years. This is a sad day as it means the end of an era for that group and Major Beverley challenged the congregation to think about what each of us could do in the areas in which we live. She expressed gratitude and praise for the years of sacrifice and commitment.
In her message, based on Acts 5:1-11, Major Beverley said:
We need to see everything to get the complete picture, the good and the bad, ‘warts and all’. There were many converts to the church following the coming of the Holy Spirit. This was an extraordinary group of people. The reading from scripture shows the first ‘wart’ on the face of the church. Ananias lied about the amount of money received as the proceeds of a sale, holding back some without acknowledging it. He was deceiving God. Sometimes, as Christians today, we do similar things. Peter himself had recently denied Jesus but he was quick to repent and was able to start again. But Ananias didn’t. He stuck to his lies. A Christian’s sins are so often different from worldly sins. What goes on in our minds can be just as bad as if we had already committed the sin itself. This can be a daily battle for each of us, to keep our hearts and minds pure as well as our actions. Failure to win this battle will weaken us, affecting our progress. God values and expects truth because God is truth! He wants honesty from us all. We must acknowledge our sins to receive God’s forgiveness. The church is damaged when people think it is no different from the average club. What happened in this story is a demonstration of God’s judgement which will, one day, come to every single one of us. If we come honestly before God and acknowledge what we have done wrong he WILL forgive. We all need to make a response.
‘Groaning’ was the subject of our evening meeting, led by Major Drew Songs 6, 171, 33, 576 and 736, all from the Salvation Army Song Book were augmented by 1015 from Songs of Fellowship and scripture chosen was Romans 8:18-27. The Band brought musical ministry with ‘Move, Holy Spirit’.
A series of adverts used in Singapore to attract people to church (very successfully apparently) were shown and prompted some thought about how we might better demonstrate the church in this country.
In his message Major Drew said:
What frustrates you? Frustration is a fact of life, it is all around us constantly thwarting our aims and objectives. We need to get a perspective on this. The Kingdom of God has already started but is not yet fully revealed – frustrating? This is more than just a spiritual frustration, because it affects the whole of life. All the hard things of life which we experience every day tend to dominate us, but in the heavenly future there will be a huge difference. Keeping this perspective is well worth it. Life on this earth is a little bit like being stuck in first gear. There is more! Paul uses the illustration of childbirth because, despite the pain, the end result is wonderful. We now live with the consequences of sin but originally God created everything perfectly and one day he will restore that situation. We are waiting expectantly for that day. Sometimes we feel an inability to express ourselves to God (often when disasters happen) but the Spirit of God ‘groans’ on our behalf to the Father. God ,therefore, always understands how we are feeling. Then world groans, we groan, waiting for the day coming when we will reach glory. The early Christians believed God was going to do, for the whole cosmos, what he did for Jesus by raising him from the dead. What we are in this world will be resurrected by God but bearing only a shadowy likeness to our present form. There will be an absence of evil and destruction and this is our future as the children of God. We have strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. This is the future God has for us and its worth waiting for.
In the closing moments of the meeting prayers of intercession were raised (based on Romans 8:26-27) remembering people within our corps who are going through difficulties at this time (family circumstances, treatment for illness, etc.) asking for God’s heavenly love to abide with them.
Well, those who have made it this far will realize that the end of the world did not come at 6pm on Saturday as predicted by an American pastor. Why do people continue to predict this future happening when it is clearly stated that we will know neither the time nor the date of Christ’s second coming? I guess we’d all better be ready whenever it is!
Have a great week and remember these words from the final song of the day:
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me…
Great news don’t you think?