Thought for the month

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

Thought for the month – March 2019

“SEE THE UNSEEN”

Some of you know that I am a birder. A “birder” might be defined as an enthusiastic “birdwatcher”, but not as extreme as a “twitcher” (but we’ll not get hung up over the definitions…). Anyway, this year, a few of us are aiming to see 200 bird species in a calendar year, or if not, then at least beat our personal best (I managed 143 in 2018, so I need to step it up a bit this year!). So far, I am on 110, not a bad start to the year, and there will be some more to see at Camp (including the cliff nesting sand martins). To help us with our birding, we need some kit: usually binoculars (“bins”), perhaps a telescope and tripod (“scope”), and some intelligence (I don’t mean brainpower, I mean “intel” – some way of knowing where rarer birds have been seen, to make it easier to find them).

There is plenty of intel inside “Bird Watching” magazine, which contains lots of articles, hints and tips to improve your birding. One recent edition advertised a new piece of kit: the “binocular spotting scope”. This new concept combines the two eye pieces of bins, with the range of a scope. The ad said: “SEE THE UNSEEN”. With any additions to your birding kit-bag, you aim to see birds you’ve never seen before, that had only previously existed on the pages of the Collins Birds of Britain & Europe. Of course, the birds were there, but you couldn’t see them for yourself. Once you can see them, then you can study them: observe their plumage patterns and colours, their behaviour and flight, their calls and songs, their ecology: how they interact with the environment around them.

The same holds true with God. We know from the Bible that God is Spirit – that is, He is not a physical, but spiritual being (note that “not physical”, does not mean “not real”). How can we “see” God, if He is not physical? John 1 v 18 says “no one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” And Colossians 1 v 15 says “He (the Lord Jesus) is the image of the invisible God”.

So God can be seen, even though He is invisible. But we need to “use the right kit” to see Him – when we read about the life of Jesus in the Bible, we are actually learning about God, who He is, and what He is like. How good is your vision? Can you “see God”? It is easy to live life in purely physical or material ways, because our lives are dominated by things we can touch and feel. But although the physical realm all ultimately comes from God anyway, such that we can understand Him “in the things that have been made” (Romans 1 v 20), this should make us look deeper, to see the unseen.

Maybe you need some better kit. Yes, start with the Guide Book, the Bible. Find out what God is like, what to look for, how does He interact with His people? But remember that it’s one thing knowing what a bird looks like from a book, but you need to experience it first-hand. Now the question has changed: not just have you seen God, but do you know Him? After all, “this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” John 17 v 3.

We ought not to think of God as something to tick-off on our bucket list though, and move on to the next thing. The point is – we need to see Him, and then we need to experience Him for ourselves.

Jon Bustard, Young Christians’ Camp Leader

Thought for the month – December 2018

The summer at Bible Camp seems a long time ago. December has arrived, and Christmas is in sight. Many of us are looking forward to time off to relax and enjoy with family. But there’s opportunity to think again about the wonderful message of God reaching out to mankind.

God was manifest in flesh
1 Timothy 3v16

The Bible teaches that in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘God was manifest in flesh’. How wonderful that God revealed Himself to us in the Lord Jesus. The perfection, justice, power and love of God was all shown to us in a unique Man, the Son of God and He ‘lived among us’ that His glory could be witnessed and appreciated.

The wonderful thing for us is the purpose of it all. The Son of God was given so that He would suffer and die to pay the price for sin at the cross. God’s plan was that He would be ‘believed on in the world’ – that ordinary people would trust in Him in all His perfection as the One that can bring personal forgiveness through His death. He was ‘received up into glory’ accepted by God for all that He has accomplished and because He lives, we can know eternal life.

Have you received the eternal life that the Lord Jesus can give? Don’t leave it until Bible Camp next year but thank God for His Son now and ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved’ (Acts 16v31).

Andrew Dutton

Thought for the month – October 2018

Well it’s October and it’s time for the thought of the month, but how important will this thought be to you? Will it be a thought that will change your life?
Will it be a thought that will bring you hope?
Will it be a thought that will lift your heart?
Or will it be a thought that will not touch you at all?

I was 18 years old when I sat in church one Tuesday evening. I remember that night over 32 years ago, how sad and how far from the Lord I was, going my own way and doing my own thing. Then it happened! The Lord intervened in my life in such a powerful way and changed my life forever. Now what about you? Have you had that change within?

Let me ask you a question. Are you saved? Have you asked the Lord Jesus Christ into your life? The Bible says in Romans 10v13 ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
You may have come to camp this year and you wanted so desperately to call, but you didn’t. Then call upon Him now!
‘Lord save me!’ is all it takes. I believe if those words come from your heart then that’s enough and you will receive salvation.

The Lord Jesus is a wonderful saviour. One who will help you in every aspect of your life, at school, at College, at University, at work. In every situation you find yourself in He will be there helping and guiding you. He is so able to help you in your every need.
‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us’ Ephesians 3v20.
I will be honest with you, I have always found my Christian life hard. But deep down in my heart there is a longing to love and serve The Lord, to know Him more and to walk close with Him.

May you and all who read this simple thought have a longing like this, and may The Lord use this for His glory and honour.

Paul Fox

Thought for the month – September 2018

Can you believe it! Camp is over again for another year, and as fast as the camp site was put up it has to come down again. It’s all over so quickly! September is here, and very soon it will be back to school, college or work. But don’t forget what you learnt at Camp, will you? We do so much at Camp, don’t we? You’ll have lots of memories, maybe some photos, or a even a stick of rock from Sheringham (do people still do that these days?!). What did you enjoy – some good food, exciting sports, fun activities, walks up the Bump, trips to Cromer, all these are good things for us to enjoy.

But if that’s all you can remember, then you’ve forgotten the heart of Camp – it is a place where God is present and working among each of the groups at Camp. Sometimes perhaps we do forget for a moment – the sessions where the speakers and leaders guide us through the Bible, and teach us what it means for us today.

In Genesis 28 v 10-22 a man called Jacob realised that where he was camping was also more than just a camp site. He didn’t have much kit with him, no marquee or bell tent, definitely no cookhouse! Verse 11 says:

“And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.”

Jacob might not have had a pillow, but he must have had an amazing view of the stars, with no light pollution to interfere, a bit like Camp. That night Jacob had a dream, which God used to tell him things that would shape his life for years to come. The promises God made to him to give him and his offspring a land, that he would be a blessing to countless others, to bring him back after years of wanderings, and to be with him, made such an impression upon him that he said:

Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And later “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

What an incredible experience! Jacob was a changed man as a result, and knew that the place was significant – and not just for stargazing. He set up that “pillow-stone” as a pillar, naming the place Bethel – the house of God.

Do we think of Camp in the same way? Enjoying lots of things without realising that “the Lord is in this place” – that He has something to say to us. He has spoken at Camp – but were we listening? God has promises for us too, a home in heaven, work to do for Him to help others, and the fulfilment of His presence with us. If you realise these things as many others have done over the years, you too can “set up a pillar” so to speak – by taking that decision to accept Him and His message for yourself, and begin a journey to follow Him. Don’t be at the house of God and stay outside. Don’t be at the gate of heaven and not go in.

Jon Bustard (Young Christians’ Camp Leader)

Thought for the month – July 2018

You have probably noticed that we are in the middle of the football World Cup finals. Depending on when you read this, one of several things could have happened:

  • England won the World Cup
  • England were knocked out of the World Cup
  • A team faced penalties and won
  • A team faced penalties and lost

Football is dominating the headlines, the tv and the radio at the moment. Some people, like me, will love that, others, like my wife, will not. Whatever your thoughts on the “beautiful game” please bear with me for a little while as we consider some of the phrases and terms you might associate with a football match, but also can be applied to our lives too.

A game going to penalties is probably one of the most nerve-wracking experiences for a fan and probably for the players too. We don’t know what the outcome will be. You hope that your team will score and the other team will miss, that your goalkeeper will be the hero having saved at least one. There are two words that are important to the Christian there, penalty and saved.

In life we go through many different experiences, some good, some not so good, some of our choosing, some not. We make our own decisions and sometime we make bad choices, we get ourselves into trouble; doing things, saying things we know we shouldn’t. The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. In other words we all do wrong. Importantly, the Bible also tells us the result of that sin; the wages of sin is death. The penalty we face for the wrongdoing, the sin in our life is to be separated from God forever, an eternity facing the consequences of the actions of our life; the wages for our sin.

However, we can be saved. Saved from this lost eternity, reconciled with God and welcomed one day into a wonderful place he has prepared for us in heaven.

How? Simply by putting our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, his son. The Bible tells us that whilst we were still sinners Christ died for us. He died in order that our sins could be punished, but he rose again to overcome the penalty of sin; death. He came to give us eternal life. He gives the greatest gift you could ever receive; your salvation.

So as the World Cup continues, look at the cross on the flag of England and think of the work that the Lord Jesus did for you on a cross at Calvary and ask yourself “am I saved from the penalty of my sins?”

There are still spaces left on camp this year, so if you haven’t already, get your application form in now.

Nick Lincoln

Thought for the month – June 2018

Royal Celebrations

Last month the world was presented with a spectacular event. On Saturday 19 May 2018, attention was focused on the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which was held in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. On the morning of the wedding it was announced that the Queen had conferred a Dukedom on Prince Henry of Wales. Consequently, Prince Harry is His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle has become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex. After the wedding ceremony, they commenced a procession in the Ascot Landau carriage pulled by two Windsor Grey horses.

This reminded me of a far more stunning sequence of Royal events that will occur in the future, but the precise timing has not been revealed. The first event is the marriage of the Lamb (Jesus Christ) to his wife, the Church (all real Christians). A marriage supper is then prepared to celebrate this occasion[1]. Prior to all this, the Lord Jesus will have rescued Christians away from the impending 7-year Tribulation on earth[2]. We are not granted a Dukedom, but are made “unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10). Jesus Christ will be established as the King of Kings, universally seen returning from heaven to the Mount Olivet[3] in Israel. He is established as the victorious Sovereign to reign on earth for 1,000 years from Jerusalem, and we will reign with Him. He will arrive riding a white horse, and his entourage will be armies on white horses. All His enemies (those who do not accept Him as Lord and Saviour) will be instantaneously defeated by Him[4]. The apostle Paul informs Christians “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).

The apostle John is the only New Testament writer to use the Lord Jesus’ title “the Lamb”, firstly reporting Him being announced by John the Baptist as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Lord Jesus is the sacrifice and His blood, which was shed when He died on the cross, secures our freedom from the penalty and power of sin.[5] Emphasising the importance of faith, the apostle Paul refers to Jesus Christ as the One “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13). Have you trusted the Lord Jesus as your Lord and Saviour? If so, you can look forward with great anticipation to the marriage of the Lamb celebrations and those ensuing glorious and victorious events. If not, only judgement awaits. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Therefore “being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:8, 9).

Michael Sparkes (Committee member & Junior Camp Support worker)

[1] Revelation 19:6-9

[2] 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 4:16-17

[3] Revelation 1:7;  Zechariah 14:4

[4] Revelation 19:11-21

[5] 1 Peter 1:18-19; Ephesians 1:7