Thought for the month – April 2020

Come to me

Lockdown. Social distancing. 2m apart. Self-isolation. Pandemic. Stay at home. And above all, Coronavirus. These are the words and phrases that seem to dominate our lives now, and there is literally nothing else on the news at all! In the space of only a few months, what started as an outbreak in a distant land (China), in a city most of us had never heard of (Wuhan), has spread rapidly throughout much of the world’s population, taking thousands of lives in the process.

Although it is sad for those who have lost loved ones to the virus, what has affected all of us is the dramatic changes to our daily lives, whether we are working; in education; or retirement. ‘Stay at home’ is the new mantra and for good reason, but even if we are virus free, we are all surely affected by the need to keep our distance from each other. Even if we do venture out for our daily dose of fresh air; exercise; or shopping, we can’t get close; or share the same air; and must abide by one-way systems in the supermarkets (Ikea had it right all along!).

We surely feel it – our intrinsic need for human contact – and that which we’ve taken for granted is missed by all of us to some degree. These social restrictions have reached the YPBC Camp Family too, and sadly we had to cancel the Camp rally a few weeks ago. We miss each other, but many are finding innovative ways of keeping in touch, and a wave of appreciation (whether for the NHS, key workers, the natural environment etc.) is spreading almost as quickly as the virus itself.

The Christian can draw some comfort from the fact that their life is not limited to human contact (as important as that is), but has responded to their intrinsic need for spiritual contact – contact with God. Thankfully we don’t have to stay 2m away from God, and we don’t have to limit our time with Him to only once a day! His gracious invitation to all of us surely resonates powerfully in our current times: ‘come to me that you may have life’ John 5v40; ‘whoever comes to me shall never hunger / thirst’ John 6v35; ‘come to me… I will never cast out John 6v37; ‘come to me and drink’ John 7v37.

Whatever the circumstances we are faced with individually or collectively, and they are challenging, let the Christian draw encouragement from their closeness with the Lord, and if this is new to you then why not respond to the divine invitation – perhaps for the first time – and come to Him. We don’t need to invent a vaccine for the sin that separates us from God – the remedy is already there! ‘For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God’ 1 Peter 3v18

Draw me close to the cross
To the place of Your love,
To the place where You poured out Your mercy;
Where the river of life
That flows from Your wounded side
Brings refreshing to those who draw near.
Draw me close to Your throne
Where Your majesty is shown,
Where the crown of my life I lay down.
Draw me close to Your side,
Where my heart is satisfied,
Draw me close to You, Lord,
Draw me close.

Jon Bustard
Young Christians’ Camp Leader

Thought for the month – March 2020

There is a country weather saying, “A peck of March dust is worth a king’s ransom”. This saying, variants of which have been recorded as far back as the 1500s, recognises that dry weather in March, often a wet and windy month, allows the ground to be cultivated to produce a good seedbed, which will result in a better crop and greater yields.

The word “ransom” occurs 13 times in the Authorised Version of the Bible. In the Old Testament it is often used in relation to the slave and the sum of money required to set that slave at liberty. The Lord Jesus said “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:34). The Greek word he uses for servant means bond servant or slave.

The Lord Jesus said, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mat 20:28) This was the reason he came into our world, to deliver us from the penalty and power of sin.

He came as a perfect, sinless man in order that He could offer Himself to God as a sacrifice for sin. The Bible teaches me that He has paid the penalty of sin through His death upon the cross and the shedding of His blood.

Peter tells us “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet 1:18-19). This is a sum far exceeding any “King’s ransom”.

A ransom can be offered but it only becomes effective if it is accepted. God requires each one of us to believe in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to receive forgiveness and deliverance from the power and judgment of our sin.

David & Mary Honeyball

Thought for the month – January 2020

How far have I come?

We’re at the beginning of a year, and camp is once again in sight. It is a good time to think about the promises we made to ourselves and to the Lord, about growing closer to Him, reading His word more, or speaking to Him every day. Maybe we said we would make an effort to go to church, to meet with other Christians so that we would not grow cold towards God. So, how far have we come? It’s time to evaluate our progress!

There was a man who set out on a journey – people call him the ‘Prodigal (wasteful) Son’ (Luke 15:11-32). He left his family home and his loving father, and went in search of the life he thought he wanted. He took with him the riches his father gave him. But, away from home, his riches did not last long. The new friends he made didn’t have his best interests at heart. When he ran out of money, his friends ran out on him, and he was left alone. Maybe you feel like that. After leaving the warmth, teaching and friendship of camp, you set out back to your old life. You were full of good intentions, you were ready to follow Christ and make a stand for Him. Then the pull of old friends and the busy-ness of everyday life meant that the spiritual wealth you had, and that feeling of closeness with God, was soon gone and you were left feeling cold and alone.

It is at this point that you have a choice, and you don’t need to wait for next camp to make it! The man in the story realised he was better off in his father’s house and he made the choice to return home and to beg his father to forgive him. Of course, his father, who is a picture of God, ran out to meet him and gave him a huge hug, welcoming him back with open arms. So, what will you do? If you feel distant from God, will you turn back to Him? Will you say what you have done and ask for forgiveness? Will you commit again to growing closer to Him? It takes work, it’s not easy, but it is so worth it! Make sure, by the time camp comes around again, that you are closer to God than you were last year, and that you’re growing as a Christian.

Sharon Durrant, Senior Camp

Thought for the month – November 2019

Coughs, Sneezes and Diseases

At this time of year, there are many illnesses going around. People often try and cure themselves with different sorts of medication, although they may end up with a trip to the doctors. Doctors are usually able to give prescriptions to help relieve the symptoms or cure the illness. As humans, we are all born with sin (For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God – Romans 3v23). This is a more serious problem to us than bodily ailments and it is human nature for us to do things wrong no matter how big or small. Sin separates us from God (Your iniquities have separated between you and your God – Isaiah 59v2) and ultimately keeps us out of Heaven as we do not meet God’s perfect standard.

There is no medicine which can cure sin. As wonderful as many of our doctors are, there is only one way in which we can get to Heaven and that is by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, believing that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and that He rose again. By turning from your sin, and putting your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you can have forgiveness, for all the wrong you have done. This leads to a relationship with the living God, and means that you receive the gift of God which is eternal life.

David Meek

Thought for the month – October 2019

At this time of year, we notice the leaves on trees change colour from their usual green to a whole variety of yellows, browns, oranges and reds.

The trees are getting ready to drop them all. But what a beautiful sight it is!

Do you like change?

Not many of us do, as we like to be settled, comfortable and in control.

But God desires that we all change, and He will help us.

1. We need to be Born again, Repent and Be saved from our sin.

Acts 17v30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.”

The leaves are dropping and going to wither and die, and we will too one day! Have you been born again, repented/changed/turned round your mind and view of God to see He gave his son to die for you?

2. We need to be a good disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ

So, we may need to make some changes (large and/or small) to allow God to change and shape us how He desires!

The leaves have all served their purpose in life and given their all, have you?

Romans 12v2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

3. We all at times suffer trials/difficulties that can make us worry

Leaves change colour and how they look and we at times may change like that, but do we ever doubt God? Is He there or has He changed?

The Bible is very clear on this and we read that God does care, God does love us, God knows all about us and God will never change.

Micah 3v6 “For I the LORD do not change.”

Hebrews 13v8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever.”

So, when you see the leaves all changing colour and beginning to drop remember we all need CHANGE = Be Saved, Live for Jesus, God never changes!!!

David Brown, Young Christians’ Camp

Thought for the month – September 2019

No doubt many of us are thinking about new beginnings this September with a new school year. Perhaps we have plans, hopes and ambitions for how this year will be different and better than in the past. The Bible talks about a number of new beginnings.

The very start of the Bible states, ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.’ Despite what others in the world try to tell us, God was in control from the beginning and still holds the universe, and everything that happens within it, in his hands.

In John 1:1 we read, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ The Word is the Lord Jesus who was there at the start and who is ‘the same yesterday and today and for ever.’ Heb 13:8. Whatever may befall us in the year ahead, He will never change and will never leave us or forsake us if we have put our trust in Him.

But the perfect world that God created was spoilt in the Garden of Eden, and has been ever since, so we need a new beginning – cleansing and forgiveness from the only one who is able to give this to us, the Lord Jesus through his death on the cross. ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.’ 2 Cor 5:17. Whatever we may hope to achieve in the next academic year, it is only through the change that Jesus gives that we can make any real difference. Do you need a new beginning this year, with Jesus at the centre?

Jo Leftley

Thought for the month – July 2019

Faith in God

The countdown to camp is on and some of us will be anticipating the competition. Who will be in our team? Will my team win? Before a big football match the manager may say, “I have faith in my team.” However, we know that doesn’t mean they will win. As humans we can let ourselves and each other down.

So who can we confidently put our faith in – who will never let us down? Only God can never fail; He keeps all His promises. Deuteronomy 7:9 says “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His covenant (promise) and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations”.

There were many prophecies made in the first part of the Bible, the Old Testament, about the Lord Jesus Christ coming to Earth. These were made hundreds of years before the events happened and there was no way the authors could have guessed them. Even the smallest details of how the Lord died were foretold, such as that His hands and His feet would be pierced, and every prophecy was true.

The biggest promise was that a Saviour would be sent. He came to take our place of punishment that we deserve for the wrong we’ve done. Many people try to get right with God in their own way, but only the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is acceptable to God. God showed this by raising Him from the dead.

God’s promise for those who have faith in Jesus to be their Saviour is: “I will never again remember their sins.” Faith in God brings us eternal security from the punishment we deserve, as He promises a home in heaven. No one can snatch us out of His hand. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

Do you know this peace in your life?

Caroline Glenn

Thought for the month – June 2019

Many things in life can bring delight and great emotion with them. There may be an exam pass, a job offer, a sporting success, or a wedding which may bring such a reaction from us in our natural lives. Sometimes we are excited about things we have done in our spiritual lives; perhaps overcoming a particular temptation, maybe deciding to be baptised, or perhaps the way we were able to share the gospel with someone. All these are not without merit, and sometimes there might even be a sense of pride attached to them.

The Lord Jesus commissioned seventy delegates who returned to Him, elated at their results. The Saviour’s response to them was: “rather rejoice, because your names are written in Heaven” [Luke 10:20]. There are books in Heaven, such as a record of sins and the Book of Life [Revelation 20:12]. Having your name recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life in Heaven means that you are reckoned a citizen of Heaven. Only when your sins have been forgiven (because you have repented and trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your own Lord and Saviour) will this happen. He died on the cross, thereby paying the penalty for the sins of the whole world [1 John 2:2]. He did it so that by repenting and trusting Him, anyone can have their sins forgiven, “for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” [Romans 10:13].

Anyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life is still spiritually “dead in sins” but can be quickened (given new birth) by grace (an unearned gift) through faith [Ephesians 2:5, 8]. Those still spiritually dead when they physically die will stand before the Great White Throne and be “judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books”. [Revelation 20:11-12] “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” [20:15]. That place is often referred to as the final Hell.

If your name is written in Heaven, then rejoice about that – far more than anything else. If your name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, then trust Him now, and know your sins forgiven and a place in Heaven. You will then escape the otherwise certain judgement for your sins. In that case, you too can rejoice.

Michael Sparkes

Thought for the month – May 2019

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born on 6 May at 05:26 BST. Buckingham Palace said the baby weighed 7lbs 3oz (3.2kg). Possibly the most famous baby of the year; millions of people are keen to see pictures and capture a first look at the new addition to the Royal Family. Of course, birth is a miracle and, from royalty to ordinary families, there is a great appreciation and wonder when a child is born.

The biblical concept of the ‘new birth’ is just as miraculous and even more wonderful. The Lord Jesus explained what it meant to be born again, using natural birth as an illustration. We can see the following parallels:

  • Just as natural birth is the beginning of physical life, so the new birth is the beginning of eternal life.
  • Natural birth brings a baby into a human family just as new birth brings an individual into the family of God.

The new birth is based on receiving and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not … of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:12,13).

The Lord Jesus explained that new birth involved cleansing and receiving life from above (John 3:5). Since birth is the start of life, new birth is the start of new life, life ‘from above’, life from God.

Have you been born again? Call upon the Lord Jesus to save you; receive cleansing from sin and eternal life.

Andrew Dutton

Thought for the month – April 2019

Fear is something that we normally have a negative association with. We talk of people fearing the dark or spiders. While the bible does speak of fear in this sense, it also uses the word in a more positive way. The phrase “the fear of the Lord” occurs 26 times. The use of the word ‘fear’ in these references does not mean to be scared of, but instead to show reverence, respect, to give honour, to obey or to worship. It is very much a positive use of the word. This little thought on some of these phrases I hope will just encourage, or even challenge the heart of the reader in their daily life.

The first two we will look at go very nicely together; “I will teach you the fear of the LORD” (Ps 34:11) and “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7). The idea of the Proverbs reference is that it is the best knowledge to gain, and Psalms reference would tell us that it can be taught. That teaching is found in reading and studying the bible personally and hearing teaching on it. Both are good to enjoy, but that which you learn and discover yourself stays far longer in the memory and heart.

The next one to look at is “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 9:10). Wisdom is more to do with the use and application of knowledge than what we know. As we learn and understand more of God, and His Son Jesus Christ, you will find a spiritual wisdom grows. This fear of the Lord will give a right perception and understanding, not just of the Bible, but of all that you see and hear of in your life and in the world.

“His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD” (Isa 11:3). There is only one person that this verse is perfectly true of and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Another mention of this phrase speaks of it being “His treasure”. When we look at Christ we see one who lived a perfect holy life, He lives out each and every reference of the fear of the Lord.

Finally, we come to a couple of challenges that can be drawn. Firstly “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil” (Prov 8:13). It is to hate that which God hates. It will produce a Christ-like life in all of us and a sensitivity to that which is sinful and evil. Secondly, in Acts the Christians were said to be “walking in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). It was their daily walk; they were marked by it in their daily lives. These last two verses are probably the most challenging, but if we are to daily walk in the fear of the Lord, we will need to desire to learn, to gain the best knowledge of all (that knowledge of God), to allow that understanding to shape and mould our hearts. We will then see a desire to know Him more, a hatred of that which God hates in our lives and the world, and a more Christ-like walk.

Tim & Sarah