Dear Church Family
After yesterday's General Election, the UK political landscape today feels somewhat different to yesterday and we have yet to see how events will fully unfold. It's a reminder of the fragility, instability and uncertainty of so much of our world.
Politics is important - but we don't put our faith in politics or politicians. Western culture continues to change and develop at a fast pace with new music, new technology and new cultural trends fascinating us - but most of these things come and then they go. We need more solid foundations on which to build our lives. Something more permanent to stand on. Someone more reliable to trust.
The someone is Christ. And the something is his Word.
That's been the witness of God's people for thousands of years. The prophet Isaiah declared it and the apostle Peter confirmed it: 'The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever' (Is 40:8; 1 Pet 1:25). In a world of uncertainty, Christ and his Word endures.
That's why we keep the Bible central. As a church the Bible shapes our worship and prayer, our teaching and mission. As we explore faith and science over these few days and at our services on Sunday with guest speaker David Wilkinson, the Bible will keep us rooted in eternal Truth. As individuals and families it's important to feed daily on God's word, allowing its message to sink deep into our hearts and minds and change the way we live.
When I was entering the United States recently and going through immigration, the man checking my passport asked me some questions. He asked me about the nature of my work back home and I told him I was a minister of religion - a pastor. He then asked me about the purpose of my visit, and where I'd be staying. And then he said, 'have you got your sword in your bag?' It wasn't a question I was expecting! In these days of heightened security I wasn't sure if it was a trick question. So I smiled, and hesitated slightly, to which he said, 'Your sword. Do you have one in your bag?' 'Oh, you mean the sword of the Spirit' I said. 'Yes' he replied, 'take up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Ephesians 6:17.' 'That's right' I said. 'The sword of the Spirit is right here. It's here in my case.' 'Good' he replied. 'You need your sword with you.' With that he handed me back my passport and he told me I was free to go.
I spent much of my time in the US with my sword. I especially appreciated studying and reading the Acts of the Apostles, in the Passion Translation. It was great having time to sharpen my sword.
What about you? Do you have your sword with you today, and are you using it? This morning in my devotions I read the story in 1 Samuel 13 of Israel struggling against their enemies because their supply of swords had been cut off. As soldiers of Christ, there's nothing the enemy would want more than to keep us from picking up and using the sword of the Spirit - the word of God. Because the word of God is powerful, transformative and enduring.
So let's take up our swords today. And may we put our trust in that which eternally endures and is forever reliable. Christ and his Word.