These notes from a talk by Rob Parsons were not made by me and are a little stilted, but I was struck by the number of things that resonated with me. In particular, our lives are meaningless without the presence of the Holy Spirit. I get a little worried when I find myself singing lyrics such as ‘you will never leave me’, because I know that even Jesus was abandoned by the Father on Calvary. And often the work of God is inscrutable until the heavens are rolled up like a scroll. Anyway, have a read….
When the work’s been set up and we come home, have we managed by the grace of God to have some relationship with the Father who called us to all this?
This is not supposed to be a guilt trip. Many are going through tough times in your lives. Faith is not easy.
On a weekend for parents and kids with special needs Rob slips in to give a talk, and during a hymn a woman collapses and sobs on the floor. The woman said “My son was a drug addict and the dealers caught him and set him alight. He was in a safe house over the weekend but then was released, and she found his dead body in a squat. The police didn’t know if he was
murdered or took his own life.” Rob goes back into the meeting and a woman is speaking: “I became pregnant after thinking I couldn’t have children. But my husband contracted cancer before she was born, and my daughter when born had Downs Syndrome. Now five years old, the girl prayed for my friend.” Rob changed his message and said that some of you wish that your disabled children were well but you love them anyway, don’t you. And said that’s how you love God, in spite of the difficulty. Against the odds.
We will never know where we’ve arrived in the faith until we say “Though the fig tree shall not blossom”, or even “Though you slay me I will trust you Lord”.
Numbers 11, when the Israelites were grumbling. Like many people in local church life, the second they get into the Promised Land or on the journey they miss it. They missed the cucumbers, the garlic and the leeks. Moses complained to God and said “Take them now”. Exodus Moses says “If your presence doesn’t go with us don’t send us up from here.”
When Rob is counselling a couple who are about to have a divorce, and people say “We still love each other but over the years we have grown apart”. “A creeping separateness”. Many of us have known that in our walk with God. Arthur Tovey took Rob and a friend around gospel halls to give their testimony. His friend used to soup up his testimony to make it more interesting. When you first get saved you feel near to God. Then as we grow there comes a “creeping separateness”. Not that we’re not busy in God’s work, but we have a nagging doubt that it was meant to be more than this.
Moses was a lot brighter than many Christians today. Unless God’s presence is with you it counts for nothing. You can’t tell it even by the miracles you can do – but by the touch of God. When God was disciplining Rob in his Christian life, his heart was breaking but felt that he couldn’t live without the presence of God. We dare not presume on the presence of God. It’s really important not to ignore the piece of time management advice to make the best of your time. If you ever have some space take some time for yourself, or possibly for God!
“While desiring to be alone I was frightened of being left alone”. Quoted from What they didn’t teach me in Sunday School. R.T. Kendall quoted the verse where Mary and Joseph had gone three days’ journey and had not realised that they had left Jesus behind.
Another example is Samson who had presumed that God was there. “One day he woke from his sleep” and decided to shake himself free from his bonds “but he didn’t know the Lord had left him”. We need to pray for the Lord to be with us each day.
It’s about changing our behaviour to accommodate the bird of heaven. Don’t have a hard heart. Indications of a hard heart:
1. We shouldn’t be irritated by other Christians. For prodigals, if we don’t stop fighting in local churches they may as well not come back. You cannot love God and hate his church. God has no illusions about his church, but you and I had better treat it with respect; it matters to him. Don’t say “Why were the old days better than this?”
2. Maybe you find it hard to pray. Rob says that five years ago he started to walk, and as he walked he prayed.
3. If we feel that God cannot speak to us, we may have a hard heart.
Why did the presence of God matter to Moses?
He knew that there were battles ahead, and he would need God. Rob used to doubt that there was a real devil, but now he doesn’t doubt that there is an enemy. He doesn’t doubt the Psalmist saying that there are arrows flying at us. For example people who are unfaithful to their wives. We need God with us. Help me not to take myself too seriously. Lord, if you’re not going to go up with me then I’m not going to go into the battle. God said “I will go up with you and I will give you rest.” None of us can ask for more.
I think the point that was coming across at the end here is that a hard heart keeps out the Holy Spirit. Unconfessed sin, for instance, or still walking knowingly in a sinful or hurtful attitude will keep out His voice.
I knew that there was an enemy today as I experienced a full-frontal attack on a ministry opportunity I am pursuing. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit reminded me that it was the name of the Lord that was being attacked, and that persecution is part of the kingdom. What we loose in heaven will be loosed on the earth. The powers and authorities have no other choice other than to bow. We HAVE to be desperate to see the kingdom of God breaking out on the earth. We HAVE to be obedient and we HAVE to be holy. God has no plan B and He delights to work through us!