Peter Holloway Posts

“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”

Psalm 107:9

Israel’s problem is my problem, is your problem, is everyone’s problem (including Mick Jagger’s). We’re all looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places. As another rock singer sang, “everybody has a hungry heart” (Bruce Springsteen), we just try to feed our hearts with the wrong food.

As Psalm 73 clearly shows us, it’s in the sanctuary that we see the reality, that God and God alone satisfies our longing souls, our hungry hearts. When we see this, when we seek God alone with all our hearts he will be found by us. When we see this clearly we find our satisfaction. When we stop looking elsewhere we are able to say honestly, and with a deep rooted sense of having found our spiritual home:

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Psalm 107:1

Not only can we get some satisfaction, but it’s enduring, forever.

General

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ESV

On a superficial reading these few verses can seem quite enigmatic, but they’re not. Here’s the background: Paul, in both his letters to the Corinthians is pointing out the distinction between the world and the Church. We can’t belong to both. Not only that, but the world doesn’t understand God, or spiritual things. There’s a battle going on between this world along with those running it, and the world to come that began with Jesus’ death and resurrection, but was planned from before this world was made. Significantly John the Apostle says this of the spirit of this world:

therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.

1 John 4:5 ESV

The world listens to those who are ruling it. In this context it’s the same spiritual powers that Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 10. So, how do we battle a world that listens to the spiritual powers controlling it? By listening to God in Christ. The words translated as obey, obedience, and disobedience have at their root the verb to hear. Disobedience is to choose to listen to someone other than God. Isn’t that what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden? We choose to listen to God, and not to the world.

The battle is won, then, when we listen to God. That’s not just reading the Bible, or listening to a sermon or a podcast; it’s taking it in and living it out by the power of the Spirit. This is what destroys arguments and everything that is raised against the knowledge of God. This is what taking every thought captive means. Make no mistake, the enemy is real – unseen, but not unknown. If we choose to do nothing then we allow this world to speak to us. If we choose to listen to God we have the assurance of victory – the divine power to destroy strongholds! As Paul tells the church in Ephesus that God’s plan is:

that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 3:10 ESV

General

The first thing that we need to do is understand what is actually happening. I don’t mean that we need to understand the science (I’m not convinced that even the scientists are 100% there yet). What we need to understand is where we stand, so that we know how to walk. Despite the deep disappointment about the closure of church buildings for public worship, this is not a Daniel moment. What I mean by that is that we are not being forbidden from practicing our religion on the basis of religion. We’re not being told, as Daniel was, that the very act of worship is banned. What we are being asked to endure is a ban on social interaction on the basis of public gatherings being dangerous. We can debate the scientific basis of that ban, we can even enquire as to the legality of that ban, but what we cannot do is set ourselves up as having our religious freedom curtailed, we’re not. The basis of the decision does make a difference. So, we’re not being mistreated on the basis of faith (if you believe that it is a mistreatment), and we’re not being singled out because of what we believe.

This means that we should not be calling on the government to reinstate our public worship on the basis of freedom of religion. That’s plainly not the basis of our current lockdown restrictions. We can, and should, no matter our disagreement with the government on their understanding and implementation, accept the rules put in place for the common good in the manner in which they have been given – for the common good.

The second, and related thing that we need to do is to understand how we can work for the common good ourselves. We should be devoting our time and energy, our study, our prayers, and our worship towards seeking how to seek God and share God and to honour him in the current difficult days. The time and energy taken disagreeing with the state and discussing that would be better served in building one another up. Romans 14:19 says  “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”

As I’ve pointed out above, we’re not, in this case, suffering on the basis of our faith, but 1 Peter 2:20 is helpful:

“For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”

So, let’s stand firm and look to God, trusting in his providence, and seeking to live in him no matter what the rest of the world tells us about our rights. Let’s use every means possible to encourage one another, using walking in pairs, video and voice calls, messaging and sharing what has encouraged you, one with another. But most of all, as Daniel did, let’s continue to take to our knees and pray for this world and for one another. There’s no law against that.

Bible Nine to Five Theses

The Jesus said to them,

“You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Matthew 26:31,32

Whenever we find ourselves in distress of trouble, we find ourselves less able to think clearly, to see a way through. This is true whether the cause of the distress is self inflicted or from some other source. The reason for this is that we can’t see the end, we don’t know what will happen, and so we worry, and we work at the problem, and we try to find our own way through.

It’s amazing that at the point when Jesus was looking to the immediate prospect of his crucifixion he is still thinking of and caring for his disciples. “You’re all going to fall away,” Jesus says to them, almost matter-of-factly. Despite the cup that Jesus was about to take, he was aware of how devastated the disciples would be by his apparent failure, by his capture by the Pharisees and the soldiers. Their world, for a time, would completely fall apart.

The reassurance we have is that, just as with the disciples, Jesus already knows the end. Don’t be surprised at times of trouble or distress because Jesus isn’t. Don’t fret over times of trouble or distress because Jesus has plans that go beyond those troubles. Jesus also, matter-of-factly tells the disciples that after he is raised up he will meet with them again. In effect Jesus is telling them, “You are going to be devastated for a brief time, but hold firm, there is an afterwards, there will be a raising and a restoration.”

So, when trials come, remember that they are only a surprise to us, not to God. Remember too that God made us, he knows that we are human. He knows we will fail him; he knows he will restore us. That restoration, as with those first disciples, is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. His victory raises us too.

So, don’t fear in your time of trial, don’t think God is taken by surprise by your circumstances. God sees the end, and the restoration.

General

I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.1 Chronicles 17:14

When David found his rest, in his own house, in the City of David, Jerusalem, he realised that the same was not true for the Ark of the Covenant, the place where the presence of the LORD was to be focused. So David determined to build a house for the presence of the LORD to rest. The LORD’s answer to David was twofold. First, “I don’t need a house, I’ve never asked for a house, and when I choose for a house to be built I will command.” But, secondly, the LORD promises to build David a house (1 Chronicles 17:10). Now, David had just built his house in Jerusalem, so that can’t be what God is referring to when he makes this promise to David.

God promises to build a house for David that is eternal. This is the real house, the place where God dwells among his people. David was looking at the immediate, but God was speaking of the eternal. We need always to lift our eyes from the immediate to the eternal, and see God’s bigger plans. Solomon’s great temple is nothing more than a memory now, but God’s house still endures, and will endure. This is our true hope, our real goal, our motivation for how we live now. Jesus is the great King, of the line of David, promised a millennium before Jesus was born in Bethlehem; Jesus is the great King whose throne endures forever. And rather than us building a house for him, he has built his house for us, and is even now building another home.

In chapter 14 of John’s Gospel Jesus tells his disciples very plainly that he is going to prepare that final home for us, so that, where he is, we may be too! But, for now, God has promised to be among us who believe here on earth – that is the Church, and all those who trust in Jesus as Lord and King are a part of that body, that temple in which Jesus dwells, until he comes again.

So, lift your hearts and your heads to things above, knowing that that is our true home, now in part, then in full. Live the immediate in the hope of the eternal in Christ Jesus.

Bible General