I have to admit I just love the summer. Waking with the brightness of the early morning sun streaming into the bedroom is just so wonderful. The sense that the day is going to be bright and warm causes one to think about all the potential of the day ahead. Breakfast can be in the garden rather than the kitchen or dining room, although I guess for some they may prefer it in bed. The sun makes you hit the ground running, full of zeal for what can be accomplished.
Spiritually we have the ‘Son’ in our hearts every day. It is Jesus who causes us to arise every morning with a sense of purpose and potential. We leap into the day rejoicing along the pathway that leads to all the potential a new day with ‘the Son’ can bring. Proverbs 4 v 18 says: ‘The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day’.
Isaiah 60 v 1: ‘Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you’. Each day we are presented with the possibility of displaying the glory of God. He is the light that has shone into our hearts. His message, his Spirit, his power and His glory has caused the light of the knowledge of the glory of God to be shed abroad in our hearts. 2 Corinthians 4 v 6: For God, who said, ‘let light shine out of darkness, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’. The more time we spend looking at the face of our Lord the brighter the light will shine through us. It is his light we are displaying and not our own. This creates more than a positive outlook for the day because it causes us to arise in supernatural strength and expectancy as we live out his purpose.
SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER
Our young people won’t remember the hit song entitled; ‘School’s out for summer’. Some of the older folks in HICC will remember the track, I have to say; it’s probably even a bit before my time. It was written in a time when caution might be thrown to the wind and rebellion was strong. ‘If it feels good do it’ was probably the best slogan that describes the era of the song. When we take our break and head into the holiday time we hold fast to our Saviour. We press into His fullness and make every moment count for Him. Enjoy the summer but fill it with everything that pleases God.
Let’s make the summer count for Christ. Bring someone along to our summer meetings. Keep sharing your faith as the ‘Son’ shines through and God will give you the joy of seeing people saved and set free. Have a great summer. Let’s pray we actually get some sun.
Our nation needs a spiritual awakening. We need a Holy Spirit revival that will turn our nation back to the true and living God.
The true story is told of a great revivalist who was on route to conduct meetings in an American town. Travelling by horse-back meant the journey was arduous and the man of God grew weary. He began to ask God to prepare the community for his time of ministry among the people. He was three days away and as each hour passed he fervently sought God that he might move by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was intending to preach in a field in the open air just outside the town. There had been no preparation and no advertising instead, he cried unto God and asked the Holy Spirit to take control.
On the day planned for the event, a few praying people who were expecting him went to pray in the field. God began to speak to people in the town and draw them towards the field for no apparent reason. They flocked towards the place where the man of God would deliver his message as the Holy Spirit began to convict men and woman, young people and children. People cried out for forgiveness and, as the holiness of God’s presence was manifest, a deep spiritual awakening began within that town. Many were slain under the anointing of the Spirit as God worked a miracle in their hearts and lives. Public confession of sin and acknowledgement of the need for mercy and cleansing was heard as the man of God approached the field. To his amazement he realised the Lord had already done the work by the power of His Spirit. He simply preached the good news and the revival continued for many days. A whole community came to Christ as a direct result of the prayers of this man and those who prepared for his arrival.
Just a moment of God’s manifest power would be enough. I am not referring to a feeling, or an emotional moment, although it usually affects every dimension of our being, I am referring to a moment of deep conviction of sin and need which causes us to fall before God and cry out for mercy. His presence and glory should bring us to our knees in worship. It should bring us to faith and belief in Christ. It should bring us to a place of acknowledgement of His work on the Cross as we confess our sin. It should bring us to confess Jesus as Lord and that He is risen from the dead.
We need to continue to pray for a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit. This is what will save our nation. No political answer can turn the tide and heal the land. Only a move of God will bring this about. It can happen in a moment. KEEP PRAYING.
We are living in significant days for our nation with decisions being made that will affect us all as we serve the Lord here in the UK. We are seeing many different responses from people ranging from joy and celebration through to disappointment and fear. The major question for us is: How should Christians respond to all that is happening at this time? Let me share the following with you.
As a young pastor I served under a senior man who was gripped by the question ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ He asked all his ministry team to begin to ask ourselves the question as we went about our daily tasks, after all, we are called to reflect Christ in the world not only in word but also action.
The Bible says that the distinction between the godly and the ungodly will become more apparent again as we see the day of the Lord approaching. Mathew 25 v 31 – 46 records the parable of the king separating the sheep and goats, which will take place when the Son of Man (Jesus) comes in His glory. Those who are welcomed into the Kingdom and who receive inheritance are those who have served the Lord. We know we are not saved by good works, but here the test of true service which brings eternal reward is ‘how we have ministered to those in need’.
The King of glory says; ‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me’. The righteous are surprised because they cannot recall having done this directly for the King himself. The King replies; ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’.
In Romans 12 v 18 – 21 we are challenged. ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone’. It goes on to say; ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head’, (referring to God as judge).
It closes with the following statement: ‘do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’.
In this time of uncertainty and vulnerability let us also ask; ‘what would Jesus do’? THAT IS THE QUESTION.
We welcome you today as we celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday and hope that you will feel at home in the family of HICC. As you walk through this special occasion with us you will soon discover that HICC is a unique fellowship made up of ordinary people from over forty different nations.
We are a group of people who encounter the love of God through Jesus as we journey through life. Our relationship with Jesus influences every dimension of life. In our marriages, our homes, our work and life in general, Jesus is Lord in everything. He is the one who makes life work the way that God has designed and, like our Queen, we exist to serve the same King she serves. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are proud to have the opportunity of introducing you to Jesus today and our prayer is that you too will discover the most important relationship there can ever be is possible for you. If the Queen needs Jesus to be her King and has pledged her life to His service, then you and I can make the same pledge and make a real difference in our generation.
During the service, you will hear songs that praise the Lord as we worship. There will be a sense of joy and celebration because knowing Jesus makes us the happiest and most satisfied people in the world. You will hear people tell their own story about how they came to personal faith in Jesus and the difference he has made in their lives. A short message will be delivered from the Bible and an opportunity to bring a personal response to Jesus will be given as we pray together. No pressure or persuasion will be applied. Your decisions must be real and from your heart, however, you will be encouraged to take a step of faith because without the exercise of faith we cannot respond to God.
A wonderful team of HICC partners has prepared for your visit. We have been praying for you. Someone will have invited you or even brought you to this special place. It may well be a different type of experience from what you expected ‘Church’ to be, but be assured that everything in the service is in line with the Bible. We hope you will relax, be at peace and be open to what God wants to do in your life.
Finally, we hope that this will be the first of many times you come to HICC and as you see the genuine love of God in the family you will sense the warmth and acceptance from each of us. Thanks for coming. Enjoy the celebration and the food.
May God bless you today.
Pastor Paul & Miriam
There are far more ingredients needed to cause a fellowship to grow than we may think even though the Lord has promised ‘to build His Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’. God has placed within the Church the necessary gifting in order that it might grow. Ephesians 4 v 11 tells us that it was Christ who gave some to be Apostles, prophets, evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers. These Holy Spirit gifted people are raised up to ‘prepare God’s people for works of service’ and, as each ministers, the body of Christ is built up. (Edified) Three measurable outcomes happen as believers respond in a right heart; 1. Unity in the Faith. 2: Knowledge of the Son of God. (Relational Knowledge- not just facts) 3: Maturity in Christ. (Character transformation attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ)
The passage continues to remind us that further factors are vital that Church growth might really happen. Let me point them out for you:
In the recent publication; ‘a tribute for her Majesty’s 90th birthday’ we are challenged by observing her life lived in service to her people. Her commitment to a lifelong vow made to God and the nation has sustained and enabled her to persevere in times of great challenge.
Our Queen clearly recognises that her authority comes from God and not just from our government. The book itself, which is beautifully produced by the Bible Society, HOPE and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, is entitled, ‘The Servant Queen and the King she serves’. This says it all and clearly states that we have a Queen who is not ashamed to confess her faith in the True and Living God. In her foreword to the Book she reminds us of a poem quoted by her father in his Christmas Day speech, broadcast in 1939, which was the year that our country went to war for the second time in a quarter of a century:
I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the year; ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’. And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.’
As a nation we are not at war in the conventional sense but we are engaged in a war against terrorism and all who oppose peace in the world. It is right that as believers we recognise in the spiritual realm there is a war being fought, and often this is played out in the natural across the face of the world as nation rises against nation. What happens in the spiritual realm is often mirrored in the natural realm because the Word of God says that ‘our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’ Ephesians 6 v 12
We have all gone out into the darkness because the Bible explains that this world lies in the arms of the evil one, but we are making our journey with our hand firmly fixed in the hand of God. ‘We are in the world but not of the world’ because we belong to God. We are called to serve the King of Kings who calls us to live with the same type of commitment we have seen in our Queen. God save the Queen and long may she reign over us.
What a joy it is has been to see people coming to Christ and being baptised. Many fellowships do not see or experience what we are walking through in HICC in these days. It is all by His grace and by His hand. It does however, bring great responsibility to each partner and attendee. Our responsibility is to ‘live a life worthy of the calling we have received’. We must operate in life in such a way as to release the full expression of God’s Kingdom among us.
How do we do this?
The answer is found in how we serve together. In HICC we use the Biblical term ‘partnership’. Partnership is about walking in the unity of the Spirit and aligning ourselves as one body to the purpose of God. What an exciting prospect for us all. Where else can one find such purpose and cooperation? It is spiritual work with eternal accomplishments. This lifts it beyond just being part of a secular organisation or club. We are part of the ‘Ekklesia of God, which is the community of heaven who are still on the earth because we are a ‘people belonging to God’. We must be willing partners and serve with a right heart and spirit. It is a joy and privilege to serve together in the work of the Lord.
Who should be involved?
The answer is found in our calling. We believe God called you to belong to Himself and has placed you in the Church right where He wants you to be so it is not an accident that you are part of HICC. We hope you will become a partner with us because Partnership is such a vital part of our DNA as a Church. We want you to be fulfilled and complete what God has called you to do, and the best way for this to happen in HICC is to partner with us. This is where we agree to walk together as co-workers with Christ. It lets the leaders and the family know that you are committed and willing to serve alongside others in the family of HICC. (Please complete the form in the newsletter and pop it in the white letterbox in the foyer and we will process your request)
Why build this way?
The answer is because wise building requires strong structures. You have perhaps heard me say that what holds a building together is unseen. The foundations and steel structures are mostly unseen, but without these vital components the building would collapse. Jesus is the foundation and His completed work is the only foundation upon which we can build, but we have the responsibility of building wisely upon rock and not sand. Our prayer is that every partner will serve to build the fellowship wisely and that you will remain at your post, belong to the family and serve with all your heart.
Finally; Miriam and I are available to support you as we walk forward together. Let’s enjoy the journey as God takes us into new days together.
Pastor Paul & Miriam
As the curtain closes on 2015 and dawn breaks on 2016 we may begin to reflect and contemplate in a way that perhaps we do not at any other time of year. Reflection and memories can trigger very powerful reactions and emotions in us. These can be helpful or harmful depending on how we handle them.
CELEBRATE THE PAST AND TREASURE EVERY GOOD MEMORY
I remember the excitement in my heart when, as a little boy, I skipped along at the side of my mum or nanna and made my way to the family home known as 37 Mill Lane, Billingham. The sound of crisp untrodden snow seemed mellow and hushed by the drifts as it crunched under my feet. The smell of fish and chips wrapped in newspaper tantalised my taste buds and made the walk from the top of the lane seem so much further for little legs. This was a typical Sunday evening after a service in the family Church that was experiencing a tremendous move of the Holy Spirit. If only one could go back and savour once again moments etched on the memory that have served to shape the people we have become. I remember being surrounded by the love of an extraordinary family who knew how to love, laugh and cry together as they journeyed through life on route to the higher calling of God.
While we treasure every memory we cannot return to relive any moment that has passed. It was just a few years ago that we as a family drove down the lane and parked where the old house once proudly stood surrounded by mature trees and high hedges. You can still walk through the same garden gate and walk the paths laid by the hand of my grandad. If I was to open the garage door that still stands today I am sure the smell of oil and leather would cascade over my senses and take me back to moments when I would watch my grandad standing at his workbench as he cobbled the family shoes. Sadly the actual house has been replaced by a modern pair of semi-detached homes that are void of character. The building may have gone but my memories linger long.
CULTIVATE THE FUTURE BY SETTING YOUR VISION ON THE ROAD AHEAD
It would be only too possible for me to allow nostalgia and memories of bye-gone days to affect emotions and distract my focus from the future. We rightly celebrate the things God has done in the past but we are called to press on in the purpose of God. Inspired by the Holy Spirit Paul the Apostle wrote these awesome words, Philippians 3 v 12 -14 ………. ‘I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus’. The previous verse reveals Paul’s highest goal for his life. ‘I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead’. He speaks of the possibility of the Spirit filled believer living in the power of the resurrection of Christ.
There is a literal, physical resurrection in the future for us, but here Paul is referring to resurrection life being lived while we remain in the body. This is only experienced as our old self is being crucified with Christ. Not a literal crucifixion but a spiritual laying down of ourselves in surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. He also refers to the believer walking through times of suffering for the sake of Christ and his purpose. Whatever this year may bring, we all must set our vision on the road ahead. Be it smooth or rough we must live it for the glory of Christ. Sometimes our greatest moments of victory are experienced in the darkest hour. May God empower you to complete everything he has purposed for you in 2016.
I was recently driving my car, having picked up two of my grandchildren from school, when we began to talk excitedly about Christmas not being very far away. To my surprise my seven year old granddaughter responded in a very dramatic way stating; ‘Yes Papa; I was just saying to my friends today that it will soon be Christmas.’ She was so looking forward to it and then suddenly she said; ‘where does time go? Don’t the years fly by’? I giggled inside as I agreed with her statement. We must use our time well in service to God.
ARE YOU PLANNING A CHRIST FILLED CHRISTMAS?
Christmas will come and go as fast as ever and we will step into the New Year. It is actually possible for Christians not to focus on Christ at Christmas and to look back with disappointment at the Christmas season. This is not just family time for those who know Christ. It is more than a winter festival with the ‘tree tops glistening and children listening to hear sleigh bells in the snow’. It is the celebration of the birth of our Saviour which is one of our most important celebrations in the Christian calendar. We have the responsibility to ensure our Christmas is not ‘deep and crisp and even’ with all the glitter and tinsel, but that this Christmas is filled with the power, peace and presence of the Most High God. Set your heart in the right place and focus upon filling your Christmas with Christ rather than filling your stocking with worldly goods.
‘A SAVIOUR HAS BEEN BORN TO YOU; HE IS CHRIST THE LORD’.
This message rings out through every generation. In eternity past, present and future. The message of the coming saviour is the same, yesterday, today and forever. ‘A saviour has been born to you’. To you personally and to all the world. ‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’. ‘He is Christ the Lord’. I am reminded of the words of the famous carol; ‘Jesus was born to raise the sons of earth, and born to give them second birth’. He existed in eternity past, stepped into time, did everything necessary to save us and return to the Father’s right hand. One day Jesus will return in power and glory and we will reign with him forever. We have every reason to fill our Christmas with thanksgiving and celebration. Hallelujah! Make your Christmas the most Holy Spirit filled Christmas you have ever known as you enjoy every moment the family at HICC is together in celebration.
The Bible makes it plain. Where your spiritual eyes are focused will determine the direction you will take. We cannot walk forward into God’s purpose without our eyes focused in the direction He is leading us.
Hebrews 12 v 2 instructs us to fix our eyes upon ‘Jesus; the author and perfecter of our faith’. Proverbs 4 v 25 – 27 gives us clear instruction about how to make spiritual progress as we move forward in life and service
James 1 v 8 explains that a double minded man is unstable in all he does. One Christian writer called such a Christian; ‘Mr facing both ways’. We must operate in faith and strong belief in God’s Word, then we will not be blown around by circumstances and affected by the trials. Even the trials we face will become stepping stones to victory.
James teaches that spiritual stability comes from our perseverance of faith. I refer to very specific faith that breaks through and lifts us beyond the limitation of natural thinking and perception. It is faith that rests upon the Word of God and not just a human view or opinion. It is Holy Spirit produced in us as we stand upon truth being unwilling to move to the right or left. The promise of the Lord is that ‘’He will make level paths for our feet” as we walk in ways that are firm not swerving from the planned course of the Lord. We will keep our feet from evil.
In 2 Corinthians 5 v 7 the Apostle Paul challenges us to live by faith and not by sight. The unseen realm is the sphere where spiritual activity is always taking place and, although we exist in the physical, we are involved in the realm of the spirit. Our physical location is on the earth but our spiritual position is ‘In Christ’ and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms. It is this positioning that enables us to operate in the finished work of Jesus. His victory in the cross and resurrection is ours but where our eyes are fixed will affect our approach to everything.
Seeing beyond the physical enables the Christian to pray effectively as he recognises the battle is not against flesh and blood but with spiritual wickedness in high places. 2 Corinthians 10 v 3 – 5 says ‘For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive to make them obedient to Christ’.
We are in an exciting season as a fellowship as we prepare for the future together. We must not look back, we must not look to the left or the right. We must look up to Jesus. We must look straight ahead and face the future with perseverance and determination to finish everything God has called us to fulfil together.