Thought for the month

Thought for the month – June 2015

If you’ve seen any news on TV at all over the last few weeks you’ll have picked up that the nation has chosen its leaders in the general election. People had to make their minds up about who to vote for, or whether to vote at all! All this election talk prompts us to think about decision making in life, and who we should choose to make our allegiance with.

Decision making is a strong Bible theme, and this invites both the Christian and non-Christian to make their minds up. Each of us must make our minds up as to whether we shall trust in God, to follow Him or reject Him. Several Bible passages help to illustrate this.

DEUTERONOMY 30 V 11-20 therefore choose life, that you may live – v19

Moses challenged God’s earthly people the children of Israel to follow God, so that they would prosper in the “promised land”. It was a stark choice: life or death, blessing or cursing. Moses has spent the rest of the book of Deuteronomy setting out God’s law for His people at that time, and now he asks the people to decide: will they follow or not? It was almost God’s manifesto! What Moses looked for, and what God looks for, is a conscious decision to follow Him. And he wasn’t asking too much! Read vs 11-14 again: the word is very near you… that you may do it – v14.

JOSHUA 24 V 14-28 choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve – v15

Now it’s Joshua’s turn to rally the people (remember Joshua led the people of Israel after Moses died). The people are now over the Jordon, well on their way to possess the promised land. The people were up for it, see v16-18. But Joshua does a strange thing, he says “you cannot serve the Lord” in v19. Why not? “For He is a holy God.” The point was, that they couldn’t say they would follow the Lord, unless their behaviour was consistent with that claim. They had to “incline your heart to the Lord” v23. So there are implications in following God, it must affect the way we live.

The people of Israel thought they had chosen God, but in fact it was the other way round – we read Deuteronomy 7 v 1-8 “the Lord your God has chosen you”. This is an important Bible truth: although it is true that we are all accountable to God for our decision to choose Him or not, it is also equally true that He has chosen us! John 15v16 says “you did not choose Me, I chose you” and Ephesians 1v4 tells us that “He chose us before the foundation of the world.”

Why is that important? Because it means that we had no opportunity to influence God’s decision to choose us – we weren’t even born! He also knew what we would be like, and had ample reason not to choose us. He chose us simply because He loves us – it’s as simple as that.

SO – you need to make a choice (one far more important than which political party is in Government). Will you choose to follow God and become a Christian? And if you are already a Christian, will you choose to commit to His way for your life, and live a distinctive Christian life?

Thought for the month – February 2015

The leaders of YPBC unsurprisingly believe the Bible to be God’s word to us, and many of you have come to recognise this. Most people realise that the gospels tell us about the life and death of Jesus. Have you sat down recently and read through one of the gospels?

I would like to share with you something that I read recently about the way in which God reveals himself and his plan of salvation. You notice that the Bible teaching is conveyed largely in the ‘symbolic and intuitive thought forms of the East’ rather than the ‘logical and didactic forms beloved by the West’. It is useful to trace the way that we are led to understand God through Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah and Jesus Christ.

Abraham found God in a pagan culture in Mesopotamia about 2000 years before Christ, and was known for his faith. Faith comes first because ‘anyone who comes to God must believe that he exists and he rewards those who earnestly seek him’. Heb 11 v 6

Moses is one who brought God’s laws to men, but when Jesus summed up the law, he said, ‘You must love the Lord your God … and your neighbour as yourself’. Mark 12 v 30 – 31 This shows that a relationship with God requires a love of God and for God.

Jeremiah lived at the end of the time of the nation of Israel before the people were deported to Babylon. Prophets from Elijah to Jeremiah called men to repent and return to God, but Jeremiah reveals a new promise from God: ‘I will put my law in their inward parts and write it on their hearts … I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more’. Jer 31 v 33 – 34 A new way was promised, a new covenant or testament.

We call the second part of our Bible the New Testament, where we read of the way that Jesus made this possible. That bit of the story we know quite well.

How wonderful that we have in our hands God’s word!

Lee Mack, a comedian, said at the end of ‘Desert Island Discs’ on Sunday 29 Sept 2013:
“I’m glad I’m getting the Bible because I would read the Bible.”

“I always think, if an alien came down and you were the only person he’d met, and he said, ‘What’s life about, what’s earth about? Tell us everything’ and you say, ‘Well there’s a book here that purports to tell you everything – some people believe it to be true, some people don’t believe it’s true’ and they say ‘Wow! What’s it like?’ and you go, ‘Well, I don’t know, I haven’t read it,’ ”

“It would be an odd thing, wouldn’t it? At the very least, read it!”

John Leftley
Junior 1 leader

Thought for the month – January 2015

A New Year

It hardly seems possible that 2015 is here! A New Year brings with it fresh hope, challenges, perhaps sorrows and difficulties. How good it is, that Christians have a faithful unchanging God.

A New Year reminds us of an event that took place in the Bible. The Children of Israel were captives in Egypt but God had a wonderful plan for them to be delivered out of Egypt. It involved the death of a lamb and applying the blood to the doorposts and lintels of their houses. They were then able to enjoy roast lamb inside their houses knowing with assurance that they were safe sheltering under the blood of the lamb. God said to them “It shall be the first month of the year to you”, what a wonderful way to start a year, delivered from bondage and free.

This event is only a picture of a greater event that was still in their future when God would give His Son. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God would lay down His life and shed His precious blood so that we could be free from the bondage and penalty of sin, which the Bible says is death.

The Lord Jesus died and was buried but praise God He was raised from the dead on the third day. The Bible says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” Acts 16 v 31.

I wonder as we start this New Year, it is like the New Year of Exodus 12 when after following God’s instructions the people were saved, are you saved?

As we start the New Year preparation is already underway for the Camps in July and August. We trust that you will be able to come and perhaps bring other friends as well.

We would like to wish you all God’s richest blessings for the New Year and trust and pray that if you don’t know the Lord as your Saviour then this will be the year you come to know Him personally.

Andy Meek (Senior Camp Leader)

Thought for the month – December 2014

I have a confession to make! Sometimes I watch the cheesy Christmas movies they put on TV at this time of year. They help to while away an hour or so if I need to sit and do something. The films are full of discovering the ‘Christmas spirit’, helping the Christmas scrooges enjoy the festive season, helping Santa to deliver his presents and so on. The one thing that strikes me about these films, though, is their almost complete lack of mention of the Lord Jesus.

The holiday time that we enjoy at Christmas came from a desire of the church to remember the birth of the Lord Jesus (so they tagged it on to a pre-existing festival). We don’t know, and aren’t told, when the Lord Jesus was born and in all likelihood it wasn’t December 25th but it is a good time to speak about the Lord Jesus and why He came to earth as a baby. So many people don’t see past the tiny baby in a manger, all cute and lovely and wrapped in swaddling clothes. All babies are lovely but this baby laid in a manger had a very special purpose. Galatians 4 v4 says,

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (ESV)

Mary was told not to be afraid, but that the child she would have would be a son and,

“… you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High …” Luke 1 v 31,32 (ESV)

Joseph was also told that Mary would have a son and,

“you shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.” Matt 1 v 21 (ESV)

The purpose for Jesus’ coming was not to be remembered as a cute, gurgling baby but to be recognised as the Saviour of the world – the God-Man, who can reconcile us to God. Some of the lines in a Christmas carol express this so well –

  • God and sinners reconciled
  • Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
  • Pleased, as Man, with man to dwell
  • Born that man no more may die
  • Born to give them second birth

It’s good to have a time when you think about others and for many people that time is Christmas time. The greatest act of sacrifice, and thought for others, and the greatest gift was that of the Lord Jesus. Through all the fun and laughter and family time remember this amazing gift of the Son of God who came to be the Saviour of the world.

Happy Christmas

(Carrie Skelly, Cook)

Thought for the month – November 2014

Over the past month, I have been working up on the North Norfolk Coast, repairing some damage to sea defences caused by the sea. One task in order to complete the works involves repairs to a head wall, which at high tide is below water level. King Canute is infamous for his attempts to hold back the sea. This was done to show his courtiers that his power and authority was empty, and that he had no power over the sea, despite what they thought.

The Bible would tell us that there is only One who has supreme authority over nature, that is God. In both the Old and New Testaments we have accounts of when God specifically controlled parts of His creation. He parted the Red Sea after the Israelites left Egypt, He brought drought to areas and rain to others, and in the New Testament we read of Jesus, the Son of God, walking on water and calming the sea.

Why though was Jesus, the Son of God, here on earth? 1 Timothy 1 verse 15 tells us that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” He came to save those that sin, that is all of us who fall short of God’s standards. God’s standards are detailed in the 10 Commandments and can be summed up in just one which is “to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul”. We all sin, whether that’s having something that you think is more important than God, or telling a lie to someone, and this sin separates us from God, and God demands it is punished.

The punishment for sin is physical death, and then, after that, eternity in a place called hell. Just because that is the punishment God has determined for sin, doesn’t mean that He wants us to face it. John chapter 3 verse 16 says that “For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God sent His only Son into the world to take the punishment for sin, not because He deserved it, but to take it in our place. Jesus always did as God wanted and is sinless. And because of His death and subsequent resurrection, if you believe that He took the punishment that you deserve and ask God for forgiveness, then you will be saved.

Now us as humans, as I have discovered, cannot hold back the sea and its power, however you can affect your destination in eternity. I pray that it would be heaven, and for you to believe that Jesus died in your place to save you from your sin and the punishment for it. Now as much as I or anyone else involved in the running and organising of Norfolk Camp would want that to be the case, we cannot change that destination for you, it has to be YOUR choice.

Tim
Speaker, Junior week 2 2014

Thought for the month – October 2014

The summer is ended

The evenings are getting dark more quickly, the colours of the leaves on the trees are changing and there’s that autumnal chill to the mornings. How quickly the weeks have flown by since the time at camp in the summer. By now we’re all back to our normal routines, with the great time enjoyed together at camp a memory of the holidays. The summer is ended!

A long time ago (about 600BC), Jeremiah had the same thoughts as he looked back on the summer, although his thoughts were filled with sadness – he said ‘the summer is ended and we are not saved’ (Jeremiah 8:20). He looked back on the time when all of the people had heard ‘the word of the Lord’ (7:2). The message was to turn away from their sin, obey the voice of God, and follow God (7:23). They had a great opportunity to be brought near to God, but they would not listen (7:24).

In fact, the people continued going further and further away from God. It just didn’t make sense, normally when people take a wrong turn, they want to find their way, but these people ‘refused to return’ (8:5). Others would be ashamed when they had done wrong things, but these people were not embarrassed by their sins (8:12).

Jeremiah was so sad when he looked back on the summer and realised that the people were not saved. Over 2600 summers later, we can look back on a great summer at camp. Not just a time of great fun, food and friendship, but times when the message of the gospel was spoken about; this was ‘the word of the Lord’. We heard about God’s great love in sending the Lord Jesus to die on the cross paying the full punishment for sin. We heard God’s invitation to turn away from sin and call upon the Lord Jesus for salvation.

It has been really encouraging for the camp leaders to hear that the summer is ended and some young people have been saved, others have been baptised. But what about you? Do you look back on camp and say, the summer is ended and I am not saved? The great thing is, it’s not too late, you can still call upon the Lord Jesus to save you today.

Andrew Dutton
Speaker, Senior Camp 2014

Thought for the month – September 2014

Safety and Security

We have now had another four weeks of camp. We thank God for His help in keeping everyone physically safe and secure. We are grateful also that many young people came to realise for themselves the reality of spiritual safety and security. Maybe you have been one of our campers. Perhaps you are someone who is just interested in the Camp. Whoever you are, have you realised you need to be saved from the penalty and power of sin? Do you appreciate the security of salvation? These things are a particular concern of Camp leaders.

Fun, Food and Faith

Once more those who attended had a lot of fun and a lot of food (both physical and spiritual). Many had their faith established or enhanced. You may have seen photographs that captured the expressions of excitement in the activities enjoyed. Somehow pictures never really capture the flavour and fragrance of food enjoyed. However, the facial expressions indicate the campers’ appreciation of the results of the hard (and often hot) work of our volunteer caterers. What the camera cannot capture is the decision made in the heart and mind to trust Christ as Saviour and Lord. It is unable to take a picture of the determination made to live the Christian life more devotedly. It is incapable of taking an image of the deepening of faith in God and His Word, the Bible. Nevertheless, these spiritual matters were a reality to a number on Camp.

Challenges

Competitive events presented challenges in sporting activities, regarding not only talent, but also tension. Have you seen the passion of a table-tennis tournament on Camp? Sometimes the challenges were mental when ‘quizzes’ of different styles tested the aptitudes of leaders as well as campers. Who remembers that a banana is not a fruit but an herb? Who knew that Benaiah slew a lion in a pit in a snowy day? Who realised that Samuel did not say, “Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth”? Christian teaching also presented challenges to the heart. Can you remember your own spiritual challenges and the way you faced them? However, challenges not only appeared in Competitive Tests and Christian Teaching. They were also in Climatic Trials. The ‘tail-end’ of Hurricane Bertha put our new bell tents to the test. While the substantial canvas creations seemed to be more than adequate, the poles were less so. Three poles broke under the storm pressure. Thankfully, by the grace of our God, there was no danger to the campers. We were looking after them in our large marquee at the time. Nevertheless, it was a reminder of the all-too-frequent feature of people’s lives. They appear to be great. However, they lack the critical element of faith in Christ and submission to the Word of God, the Bible.

Comparison

Surely this is similar to the story the Lord Jesus told when He spoke of hearing and heeding what He said (Mark 6:46-49). He used a wise (prudent) builder and a foolish builder as illustrations. Both builders constructed houses that may have been similar in design and quality. The significant difference was in whether there was a foundation. That was evident when testing conditions came. The building founded on rock stood firm throughout the storm. The one erected directly on shifting sand collapsed. The builders were compared to those who obey (wise) or disobey (foolish) His words. Are you building your life on a foundation that is the Rock, Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour? “But they have not all obeyed the gospel … faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:16-17). “I declare unto you the gospel … how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Michael Sparkes
Committee Member and Support Leader on Junior Camp (Week 1)

Thought for the month – August 2014

The war is won!

This month we have been remembering the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and thinking about the impact it has had on our country and nation.

As Christians we know that the war against sin and death has already been won by our Saviour Jesus Christ and we can be confident that he has won the victory for us. He has prepared a place for us and we know we will be going to heaven. We read in 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

If you are not a Christian yet, you too can share in this victory by putting your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

As a soldier fighting in a war, it is important to be prepared and to put on your uniform and equipment when engaged in battle. As David said in last month’s thought for the month; preparation is key. In order to survive in today’s world we should use the armour that the Lord has given us. We read in Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

During wartime it was important to restrict light and not be seen by the enemy. For Christians the reverse is true, it is important that our light is visible to other people around us so that they can see we are different. God says in Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

As you return home from camp this month, I trust you will be able to take confidence in the fact that God has won the victory for you and has given you his Spirit to help you in your daily walk with him. 2 Timothy 4:7 says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Chris
Treasurer

Thought for the month – July 2014

Preparation

Well July is now here; the month that sees the start of four weeks of Young People’s Bible Camp on the cliff top at Beeston Regis. It doesn’t seem very long since we were there last year does it?

Have you ever stopped and wondered what happens between each year’s camp? I know we have rallies throughout the year when we have the chance to meet our camp friends, but during that time there are a lot of people making plans and getting things prepared and ready for the next year.

The committee members are busy getting the site and the equipment organised, the leaders of each camp are getting their teams ready, the cooks are busy planning the delicious food we are going to eat, the tent leaders are devising the games and activities for us to enjoy and the speakers are preparing their talks.

Now July is here, it will not be long before you, if you are coming to camp, will be getting ready too, packing clothes and other things that you will need for the week.

There are many other things that we need to get ready for in life; some of you may be getting ready later this year to go a new school, or to university or a new job. But there is one thing we must all be prepared for – eternity.

In the Bible, we are taught that it is important for us to be ready because we are only promised today. Indeed the Bible says ”Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6 v 2).

In the Old Testament, God sent His people, Israel, an important message by the prophet Amos. The message said “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4 v 12) and it comes in a chapter where God spoke through Amos about judging Israel because of its sin and rebellion against Him. In the New Testament we learn that we must be prepared and ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus.

So how do we do this? We do so by believing that the Lord Jesus came into the world in order to take God’s judgment against our sin when he died on the cross. Through his death on the cross, the Lord Jesus has prepared a way for us to come back to God and have our sins forgiven. The Lord Jesus Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (John 14 v 6).

The important thing is that we accept the offer of God’s salvation by confessing our sin, asking God to forgive us and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says that “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10 v 9).

This is what camp is all about; the opportunity for young people to hear about the Lord Jesus and the message from God that He will forgive our sins if we are prepared to obey His word. So, as you get ready for camp this year, make sure you have made the most important preparation you can, by asking the Lord Jesus into your heart and life and to forgive your sin.

If you are coming to camp this year, I pray that you will have a great time and, above all, find the Lord Jesus as your Saviour.

David
(Young Christians Camp Leader)

Thought for the month – June 2014

“England have no hope”

Depending on when you’re reading this during June 2014, England will either have made it gloriously to the quarter finals, or will have crashed out embarrassingly at the group stage of the World Cup in Brazil. Millions of people will be supporting their national teams hoping that they’ll be victorious. How much hope can we have in England being triumphant? Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, has calculated the probability of winning the tournament and concluded that “England have no hope in World Cup”. That’s a bit sad really, that even before the team has flown to Brazil no one seriously thinks they’re going to win. But even though their chances are slim, we’ll still be desperately willing them to succeed – against all hope.

A confident hope

When the Bible talks about “hope”, it’s not in the sense of desperately willing something to happen, but in the sense of a sure conviction and confidence about what will happen. Hebrews 11:1 says

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Notice that we can have an assurance of the things we hope for, and a conviction about the things we can’t see. This isn’t the language of some vague hopefulness; these are strong words about how faith works. Being a follower of Jesus means that we can have a strong hope and confidence about many things; peace with God (Romans 5:1), the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7), joy (Romans 15:13), access to God (Ephesians 2:18) and eternal life (1 John 5:11). These are all things which cannot be seen, but about which we can have confidence because of the one who makes them possible – Jesus Christ.

The God of hope

So let’s hope that England perform well (even though we suspect that’s pretty unlikely), and let’s live with a bold confidence about those things which God has promised.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Steve
(Young Christians Camp Leader)