A New Song!

There is a time to sing a new song.

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

Psalm 33v1

After 8years of leading the UK Navigators, I hand over leadership to Phil Boydell. I am relieved! We sing a new song for many reasons. 

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

Psalm 33v4

We look back on the mission coming to a good place with God. Our people have developed so beautifully. In all of this we affirm that it was the Lord first and last. We are so grateful to him.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

Psalm 33v6

When I contrast all that he has done through us with all that he has done without us we are left in humble awe.  Why does he even involve us?  Why do we take so much onto our shoulders as if it depended on us?

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Psalm 33v11

Now we look at how the Lord will create new songs and new ways forward into an unknown future. We look in expectation!

Humility in Conflict

In a divisive world the counsel of Jerusalem stands as a beacon of hope.

While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Acts 15v1

Two theologies had developed in tandem. Only one could be true.

Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, …, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question.

Jerusalem was the seat of power for the circumcision view making this an act of humility and faith.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the whole church,

Acts 15v4

In polarised situations the opposing party could not welcome. As the church of Antioch had shown humility, so did the church in Jerusalem.

some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.”

Acts 15v5

The opposing view was openly stated. Without this there could never have been the necessary range of discussion. Any solution would have appeared a fudge.

Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe.

Acts 15v7

When everyone had been heard, Peter took them back to the critical intervention from God. May God give grace that we could resolve things with such humility.

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Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

Who is exalted?

Many want endorsement through signs and wonders, after all-

God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him.

Acts 2:22

Yet we forget that endorsement was not enough

Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.

Acts 2:23

When we are right in our own eyes we will stop at nothing to arrange the world in our image – even at the cost of the Way the Truth and the Life.

But God … raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.

Acts 2:24

The Father’s sovereign power was so much greater than we people in our arrogance could produce. Not even death was enough to stop Jesus.

Now he is exalted to the place of highest honour in heaven, at God’s right hand.

Acts 2:33

When we want endorsement, we are in danger of becoming conceited and arrogantly arranging the world in our image. Let us rather exalt Jesus to the highest place and acknowledge that he alone is sovereign, no matter what appearances are.

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Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

What Value?

Would we accept being smaller if more precious?

O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate!

Isaiah 54:11

Jesus’ church seems to be consistently battered. We are battered by the pressures of a culture intent on replacing the Lord with mankind as its centre. Now, even Covid is having its impact.

I will rebuild you with precious jewels and make your foundations from lapis lazuli.  I will make your towers of sparkling rubies, your gates of shining gems, and your walls of precious stones.

Isaiah 54:11-12

We feel such losers. Our theology demands growth, while we shrink. Yet, the Lord speaks of doing something else. He speaks of rebuilding with a people whom he is making precious, transformed to reflect him.

I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace.

Isaiah 54:13

Will we allow ourselves and our children to be rebuilt as precious and at peace with God?

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Empowered?

Why does Luke emphasis that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit’s power? Surely as the Son of God that’s obvious. Yet,

Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power.  

Luke 4:14

After being in the wilderness fasting forty days and been tempted by the devil Jesus should be weary. So, anything he did demonstrated the power of the Spirit.

Jesus said, blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The temptations demonstrated Jesus’ attitude. Consider his response to each,

“No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”

Luke 4:4

The passage Jesus quotes continues,

“But on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Deuteronomy 8:2

The source of his life is God and his word.

When offered the world if he worships the devil, Jesus responds,

“The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

Luke 4:8

Jesus affirms the Father is the only one to be worshipped.

When encouraged to manipulate the Father into saving him and so gain honour for himself, Jesus responds,

“The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

At each temptation, Jesus affirms he is not sufficient in himself, he needs the Father and so the whole Kingdom of Heaven is available to him.

For the year ahead when we are weary of the issolation where is our hope and strength?

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Do you love me?

What do we love most?

 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”  “We’ll come, too,” they all said.

John 21:3

Following his denial of Jesus, and Jesus’ death, Peter goes fishing; his goto place when not doing well.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, … He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”  “No,” they replied.

John 21:4-5

Peter’s attempt to find happiness has fallen flat.

When they got [to Jesus], they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard … There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

John 21:9-11

Jesus shows grace. He gives it all, fellowship around breakfast following the catch of a lifetime. We would love it if that was where the story ended. But this is the prequal to a challenge.

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”  “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

John 21:15

Jesus has created what Peter loves best. Now he uses it to challenge Peter’s heart. He asks, “Do you love me more than these?” The life on offer, feeding lambs, has nothing to do with fishing. How would we do if Jesus asked us to give up what we love to be with him in what he loves?

Why all the evil?

Wild animal in dark

Why are God’s people succumbing to spiritual attacks?

… Come, wild animals of the forest! Come and devour my people!

Isaiah 56:9

We have cut down the defences against evil and have become an open target.

For the leaders of my people … are blind and ignorant. They are like silent watchdogs that give no warning.

Isaiah 56:10

Our defencelessness indicates a failure of spiritual leadership. Leaders fear challenging evil because in our day it is considered offensive to challenge behaviour.

Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied.

Isaiah 56:11

Spiritual greed for numbers to demonstrate fruitfulness overwhelms faithfulness to our Lord and silences our challenge to a culture casting off constraint.

They are ignorant shepherds …

We harden ourselves to silence our guilty consciences by deliberately forgetting what we know of the Bible. We prefer ignorance to a conflicted heart.

… all following their own path and intent on personal gain.

Having hardened ourselves against God and his word we are freed to follow the paths that will give us numerical following, the ‘indication of fruitfulness.’

All this might be expedient in our day, but there are consequences …

Come, wild animals of the field! Come, wild animals of the forest! Come and devour my people!

Isaiah 56:9

People are suffering and asking why isn’t God stopping it from happening?

Prepare the way

For years I have observed Christians shut down by the vehement anger of others that falsely accuses in order to silence its own conscience.

Pass through, pass through the gates!

The Lord encourages us to go out. Despite our fears, we are called to leave the safety of our stronghold.

 Prepare the way for the people.

We are to prepare a way. A way for Jesus’ people to return, those who left for the pleasures and experiences of the world, and for those who have yet to know Jesus. All these need a safe path, a path of grace and forgiveness.

 Build up, build up the highway!

We are to build a road that anticipates and overcomes the obstacles for those who would enter.

 Remove the stones.

There are stumbling blocks of old religious views and expectations, the ways of the prodigal son’s older brother. We need to examine our own hearts.

 Raise a banner for the nations.

Let us raise up Jesus as our banner. There can be so many extras raised to attract. Let us not allow anything to distract from him.

Awake! Awake!

Cathedral in ruins

Many of those who made commitments as children have abandoned any sense of faith.

The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make … her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her.

Isaiah 51:3

If God’s people are Zion, then Zion is currently in ruins. However, we sense that the Lord has begun a new work. This can seem little comfort when we look at where we have come from.

look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.

Isaiah 51:2

Our culture believes that to build, you need a large base. Our Lord specialises in building from the least.

My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way …. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.

Isaiah 51:5

Our restoration does not begin by discovering the right formula, but through putting our trust and hope in Jesus.

Awake, awake, arm of the Lord, clothe yourself with strength!

Isaiah 51:9

We begin with people calling on the Lord to awake. That sounds a little strange, that we would need to awaken him who never slumbers, but this is the cry of a desperate people who are desperate to see the Lord working.

Change coming?

Is a new day of favour coming?

 “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; 


Isaiah 49:8

After decades of proclamation, it stretches faith to suggest this time might be almost here.

I will keep you … to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’


Isaiah 49:8-9

So many Christians are living in darkness as captives, so bowed down that few have capacity to live for Jesus.

For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.


Isaiah 49:13

Not many believe we are captives – how could we be in such affluence! However, we know we need Jesus to comfort us.

See, I will beckon to the nations, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons …


Isaiah 49:22

The Lord will turn things around. We have reached out to an unresponsive people. Now, Jesus will be lifted up so people come to him.

Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.


Isaiah 49:23

From our perspective now, if we saw this, it would clearly be Jesus! It seems unrealistic.

“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.


Isaiah 49:25

Jesus is clear, this is not a problem for him.