NT60 - RICH LUSH
As we head towards the final couple of weeks in the New Testament, it felt like the perfect time to reflect on this season. I don’t know about you, but for me there has been some real challenge in what I’ve read. Not only in terms of the scriptures, but practically fitting it in as well. Life is busy, as I’m sure we’re all aware and reading four chapters some days feels like more effort then perhaps we’re willing to put in.
Still, it has been a great joy to engage with the scriptures. For me it has felt like someone has put me on a physical workout plan or set diet for a season - and I feel the benefits of that in my daily walk. I’ve found that parts of scriptures have come alive in a way that I’d never really felt before. The book of Acts no longer felt like a record of events, but a story where I felt Paul’s pain as he said goodbye to the leaders of the Ephesian church for the last time, knowing that prison awaited him next. Where I could read about the churches he visited and read the letters he wrote to those same churches, whether he wrote in excitement to them or in desperation.
Reading through the letters, it was good to be reminded that the culture Paul was speaking to was not completely removed from our own as so often is claimed. Instead these were churches, much like our own, were working through day to day life, with ordinary people wanting to live a Godly extraordinary life, whilst dealing with fear and worry, questions around death and life, issues of how to connect with the culture and how to be a light to it. The world they lived in was filled with sexual promiscuity, drunkenness, con-men, judgment and a government that petrified many of them by the actions they took. This could easily be any English city.
For me all of this reminds me again and again that this book that we hold is still as relevant today as it has ever been - it still carries a great weight and is still a model of God’s authority in our life. When I don’t know the answer to an issue, the answer is probably in the Bible. And if it isn’t, then the way to work it out has probably already been modelled in the Bible!
Too often our culture wants to claim that this book is worthless, but it should be precious to us - as it holds truth in a world that wants to claim there is no truth.
In closing, I don’t know whether we’ve realised how revolutionary this time has been, to be a modern church intentionally reading their Bible heavily over a set season - there are plenty of churches out there whose congregations don’t read the word - whose pastors, as I read today, have said we need to stop “valuing” it in the same way; but I would argue that the Bible is no less relevant today then it was 2,000 years ago, and when we feast on His word through the eyes of the Holy Spirit and put it into action, both practically, thoughtfully and prayerfully, we will see His Glory.
Linda Roberts shares some of her thoughts on NT60 readings from Matthew...
"In Matthew chapters 1 and 2 I noticed that God spoke to Joseph three times in his dreams, giving him vital information, instructions or warnings. I don’t think God’s ever spoken to me in a dream (if he has I’ve missed it) but dreams are still such a common way for Jesus to make Himself known to Muslims.
I’ve read recently of Muslim refugees in England becoming Christians after Jesus appeared to them in a dream, and even of former members of ISIS seeing Jesus in dreams and visions. One former ISIS fighter who had killed many Christians said that he had begun having dreams of a man in white who came to him and said, 'You are killing my people.' The ISIS fighter said that just before he killed one Christian, the man said, 'I know you will kill me, but I give to you my Bible.' The Christian was killed and this ISIS fighter actually took the Bible and began to read it. In another dream, Jesus asked him to follow him and he is now asking to become a follower of Christ and be discipled! (source: YWAM)
Reading through the New Testament with Revs I’ve been reminded that however God choses to speak to us, through dreams or reading the Bible or an infinite number of other ways, He’s always communicating."
How does God communicate with you and what has he been saying recently?
In what ways might you be able to nurture a deepening of relationship with him?
I love these lyrics. They talk of a God whose character, His very essence, is that of a father. You're a good GOOD Father, that's who You are.
And it talks of humanity, not communally but personally. It talks about me, it talks about us. The individual and the whole.
It talks of our identity, that I am (that you are), LOVED, that's who I am. That’s who you are.
The fact that these two phrases are next to each other is not by chance, but an incredible statement:
It is reminding us that our identity is wrapped up in God’s character. That because God’s character is that of a Father...He loves us.
When Jesus died on the cross He chose that path, knowing that was the only way to our access to fullness of relationship with the Father. God sent Jesus because HE LOVED US. We weren’t even alive at the time, but God still sent His son for everybody. God’s character pulsating with love.
Matthew 6 v9-11 says;
"Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
When I see parents in church all I see is them loving their children. Parents make their children out of love, and when I see parents watching their beloved children taking their various steps in life all I see is the love in their eyes. If as a church we see our children this way, how much more does our Heavenly Father see us like that?
I believe that God’s saying to us that just because He is our wonderful father in heaven, He loves us. Cherishes us. Favours us. Not because of anything we do, but simply because of the fact that He is a father and He's overflowing with love.
By knowing we don't have to earn God's love by actions we can just rest in it. By knowing God’s love isn’t dependent or linked to MY character or MY actions. But because of His character and His actions, we unlock our identity;
That we are loved more than we can understand.
Andrew Benson is involved in leading a discipleship course called Ignite at Revelation Church every Monday evening. He is a passionate follower of Jesus, married to the wonderful Rachel and together they are a huge blessing to our community here in Chichester!
"At the end of May, we will be embarking on an adventure that is scary and exciting in equal measure. After much prayer and consideration, we have felt God’s calling to leave Chichester and move to Hong Kong to spend 2 years volunteering/training with St Stephen’s Society, which is the work of Jackie Pullinger amongst the broken, addicted and poor. We know that there will be challenging times ahead, but look forward to stepping into God’s plans for our future as we learn to live by faith and put our trust in Him more and more."
To find out how you can support Joel and Joelle, please join us for an evening together at Revelation Central on Wednesday 16th March at 8pm when we will be hearing more of their story and covering them in prayer.
New Wine – United National Gatherings 2016: Uniting Thousands to Worship One
Week A 23rd–29th July 2016
Why are you going to a field in the middle of Somerset? This was a question I was asked quite a few times in 2014 when I went to New Wine for the first time with the Borman family. My answer, although probably not so well put, went something like this (quoted from the New Wine website)…
"The Church was established on the promise of change – of hearts, families, communities, cities – that the entire history of humanity and the earth itself would be changed by those swept up in this movement of God. The reality of change is rooted in the reality of God’s promise that he will work in and through our lives. Now that's something worth celebrating!"
I also really wanted to go camping! There is actually nothing super spiritual about a field in the middle of Somerset, but I do think there is something special about taking time out of the everyday to pause, reflect, refocus and spend time worshipping, learning and growing in who God has made us to be along with 10,000 other people all doing the same thing. It's also an amazing talking point before and after you have been. People are curious, and it opens up lots of conversations.
So, the Bradberrys and the Bormans are heading off again in July to New Wine and we would love you to join us. Maybe you've been to New Wine before when it was a smaller festival but not been for a few years now. Maybe you've never been but always thought you fancied giving it go. Maybe you've never heard of it until now. Wherever you are coming from, New Wine is for everyone.
If you are interested in finding out more, head over to the New Wine website – https://www.new-wine.org/events/national-gatherings-2016-week-1 – it'll give you details on the programme, costings, speakers, children's and young people's programmes and accommodation. The sooner you book the cheaper it is, the deadline for the current cost if February 29th. You can do all the booking online and select Revelation (Chichester) as your church so we can all camp together (this is my absolute favourite part of New Wine as you get to know your church family in more depth over hot chocolate – what's not to love?).
So we can co-ordinate between everyone who's going from Revs and ensure hot chocolate supplies are plentiful please email me if you are planning to come!
Last weekend a large group of members from Revelation Church packed their bags and flew to Vienna for what was to be an unforgettable time at the 24-7 Prayer Conference. Read some of their experiences below.
"I love stories. Hearing what God is doing around the world and outside my own immediate circle is so encouraging and fuels my faith. I cried as I stood amongst 4000 people in St Stephen’s cathedral while prayers were read that looked back on all that has happened within 24-7 since we organised the first prayer room 15 years ago. What a privilege to be part of this crazy adventure!" Helen Crosby
"Wow!! What a great weekend celebrating 15 years of 24-7 prayer in Vienna. An inspiring, challenging and emotional weekend.
I hadn’t been to a 24-7 event for nearly ten years, as soon as I walked into the evening meeting on Thursday night it felt like being home and the feeling of being surrounded by family. I knew that night being there was what I needed, afresh awakening. God woke me up!! A fresh new passion for God and prayer.
Over the weekend I spent time catching up with old friends and making new ones, sharing our stories and reminiscing about 24-7 Prayer and the good old days. One of the things that struck me over the weekend was that 24-7 prayer is part of the DNA of our church, it’s where it started!!" Ben McIntyre
"It was great to celebrate what 24-7 Prayer has been upto the last 15 years as it is so closely linked to the DNA of Revelation Church, it was amazing to hear about what we’d be praying into at the conference being mirrored in the prophetic words shared at our evening gathering in Chichester." James Wright
"It was an amazing few days with the 24-7 Prayer family in the stunning setting of Vienna, Austria. Being with 750 people of all ages from 40 different countries with the same passion to see Christ lifted up high and shared in our generation was a very powerful thing alone. We worshiped in hostels, Palaces, coffee shops, bars and unforgettably in the 1000 year old Stephens Cathedral. Danielle Strickland’s session on 'Hope' and its 'defiant nature' I pray will live long within me." Dan Slatter