The place of fasting in repentance (1 Samuel 7)

Today the church I am a part of Jubilee begins a church-wide call to prayer and fasting that will last three days. In one of those God-incidences I opened my Bible this morning to read 1 Samuel 7. God's people had turned away from pure worship of him. They had just deliberately marginalised the tangible presence of God among them. But despite this, God hadn't finished with them. God is an incredibly gentle, gracious and merciful God. He deals with us where we are and draws us forward. God … [Read more...]

Twenty-Five Responses to the presence of God (1 Samuel 1-7)

The following are a series of attitudes, responses, results and emotions seen when people come into contact with the presence of God. As we read the list it is quickly apparent that all of these effects happen today in response to God. I have written more about some of these already, so some of the words below are hyperlinks for more information. How we choose to respond to the presence of God is critical, and what happens to us as a result depends on the way we approach him.In the Old … [Read more...]

Supernatural displays don’t automatically produce faith (1 Samuel 5)

For both charismatics who believe that all the gifts of the Spirit are available today, and cessationists, there is often a nagging question in the back of our minds: why doesn't God do more of the stuff today?The theory goes something like this: if God would just be a bit more dramatic then surely people would immediately repent. The truth is even spectacular miracles don't automatically produce faith.In our circles we do hear sometimes quite dramatic accounts of when God heals today. But … [Read more...]

Right diagnosis, wrong prescription (1 Samuel 4)

The children of Israel were slow to learn. For generations the cycle had repeated. The book of Judges repeatedly explains that when his people were unfaithful to him he allowed their enemies to triumph over them. When they repented victory returned.So when they were defeated in Elis time they should have realised what they needed to do. Instead they realised the problem that God was fighting against them through his own enemies. But their solution was to rely on a formulaic approach. They … [Read more...]

7 tips on how to hear the Word of the LORD (1 Samuel 3)

Imagine the cessationists of the boy Samuel's time. They would have pointed to the relative absence of the supernatural, and said "Clearly God has stopped talking." How wrong they would have been. We see though, that even in Bible times there were seasons when "the word of the LORD was rare." How much less should we be surprised that over the centuries there are periods when it seems God is intervening in our world less, and others when he is intervening more. I know that some of my readers are … [Read more...]

Seven results of exulting in The Lord (1 Sam 2)

Reading 1 Sam 2 it struck me that if we will exult in The Lord there are a number of great results:He will give you strength We can be confident over our enemies We will be full of joy in God He will be a rock to us Proud and arrogant speech will be far from our lips God will raise us up out of the dust God will guard us … [Read more...]

Desperate women required (1 Samuel 1)

I was reading 1 Samuel 1 and it struck me first of all how what is perhaps one of the greatest books in the Bible begins with a woman with difficult family issues and a desperate desire for a child.God does often use women in very significant ways at key points of redemption history: not least at the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The Bible is very far from being anti-woman.I do wonder wherever you or I might choose to stand on the complementarian / egalitarian spectrum if we … [Read more...]

“And God knew” three words that change everything

And God heard their groaning . . . God saw the people of Israel-and God knewI just wanted to share a brief encouragement with you this morning that struck me reading in Exodus today. We do not serve a blind God. We do not serve an ignorant God. Nor do we serve an indifferent God. Whatever pain you are going through today, know this: GOD KNOWS.When God knows he cares. When God cares he acts. Just as he saved his people from their suffering in Exodus he has acted to save us in Jesus. However … [Read more...]

The God of new beginnings

Many believers will have decided to read the Bible through this year, and as I mentioned there are great promises for those who will reliably and regularly feast on God's word.Anita Mathias is one such person who has decided to blog through the Bible this year. She writes of what she has learnt so far from reading (as many will be) the book of Genesis. She speaks of how she has been struck by how God is the God of second chances (and many more, fortunately!), and how he blesses people who … [Read more...]

The Three Phases of Faith – a sermon on 2 Kings 4:8-37

Last Sunday I visited Beacon Church in Brixton, South London.  I preached a message on faith there. I began by explaining that in many circles today we can over-react to certain teachings and feel nervous about even talking about faith, but as Hebrews 11 tells us, without faith it is impossible to please God!  So, if you are eager to please God, finding out about and pursuing faith is a vital thing to do. You can listen to the MP3 here, or read my brief notes below:  1. Making room for Go … [Read more...]