Yesterday brought a day of wintry weather which, combined with the end of summertime, gave a very different feel to the day. The meetings were led by Major Ian F Payne with the morning meeting theme of ‘Is God in the House?’ and a ‘Songs of Praise’ in the evening. Many folk were still on holiday so numbers were less than usual but we had a blessed time together.
‘How far would you go to see Jesus?’ was the question posed by Major Ian at the beginning of the morning meeting. ‘What makes you determined to seek out Jesus?’ After singing SA Song 939 ‘We have heard the joyful sound, Jesus saves.’ the morning meeting focused on Zaccheus and how ‘he wanted to see Jesus’. We were asked to reflect on the community surrounding the SA Hall, think about language barriers which can bar our conversations with the Turkish people living/working just down the road. ‘Do they know about Jesus?’. The Bible reading from Luke 19:1-10 was the well known story of the meeting of Zaccheus and Jesus. Major Ian pointed out that there was a similarity with the call of Matthew (Matt 9:12). They were both tax collectors, both had a meal with Jesus and people moaned that He was eating with sinners.
It was appropriate that we sang the chorus ‘Blessing them now, Saviour. Blessing them now’ whilst praying for our community, we want to see them coming in to our Hall. The New Road School headteacher is keen to have links with the Corps/church, people in the flats, the homeless, those who don’t know Christ. There were many voluntary prayers to cover this.
‘What can I say to cheer a world of sorrow?’ (SA Song 944) with the chorus ‘Just where He needs me, my Lord has placed me’ encouraged us to think about what we can do. Major Ian said he is convinced that he is just where God has placed him and needs him to be but he cannot do everything on his own. We all need help and ‘if God wants us to do more He will give us the means to do it.’
The Songsters’ contribution to the meeting was ‘He is my Way’ reminding us that Jesus is like a lamp shining bright and showing us the way.
In his message, Major Ian said that thinking of the story of Matthew, when Jesus had called him and eaten a meal with him, he went on to make a difference. People want to know what makes us step out and make a difference. Eating a meal around the table is a great opportunity to tell our story about what is good. We have a lifetime commitment to do this. Zaccheus climbed up a tree. What made him become like a child and do this. Was it curiosity that make him search out Jesus? It is said that it is sometimes a sense of pride which keeps people from seeking out Jesus. Zaccheus was a seeker but Jesus was seeking him too. Why else did He stop by the tree. The lost sinner doesn’t seek Jesus by nature. At Christmastime the message tells us that Jesus sought us out. These days, after Jesus, the Holy Spirit seeks us out and covers us. When Jesus met somebody he gave the person His full attention. He surprised people – often people who were scoundrels. He wasn’t bothered about public opinion but He chose to change somebody’s, Zaccheus’, life who He had noticed and ‘turned a big man into a little man’ who had climbed a tree to see Him. Zaccheus became so repentant and generous that people in the town noticed. We wonder what the conversation had been around the table – it changed the town. People changed their minds about him when Zaccheus repaid the money he owed them, and more. Zaccheus was a rich man but spiritually bankrupt. Because Jesus invited himself into the house Zaccheus’ life was changed. Zaccheus allowed Jesus into his heart. Revelation 3:20 tells us that Jesus stands at the door and knocks and will come in and eat with anyone who asks Him. We need to think how we can engage with people and invite them in to a welcoming, neighbourly meeting in our hall. We need to knock on hearts and tell people about Jesus. In Zaccheus’ case, the host became a guest in his own home.
The SA Song 715 ‘Knowing my failings’ gave opportunity for us to recommit our lives to Christ. The final song SA Song 990 ‘We’re a band that will conquer the foe’ sent us out with a flourish and confidence that God will do what He promises.
Songs of Praise evening commenced with SA Song 413 ‘Come to the Saviour’ accompanied by the eight-piece band who performed valiantly. This was followed by SA Song 741 ‘When peace like a river attendeth my way. It is well with my soul’ chosen by Penny Clay. Her reason for choosing this song was because of the confidence and trust in the Lord that both the family of Leonard, a 14 yr old African boy, conveyed at his funeral and the writer of the hymn Horatio Spafford had shown by writing the words even after his four daughters had drowned. Horatio never lost his trust and confidence in the Lord and Penny’s prayer is that ‘All God’s children will have the same confidence and trust in the Lord.’
After Major Ian prayed the band played the tune ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus’ which is the prayer for each of us. SA Song 249 ‘Christ whose glory fills the skies’ was the choice of Major Estelle Clack. She loves the Songster piece and the words are meaningful for her. Her prayer was that Christ would be revealed in us. Major Ian read Psalm 147:1-3.
Heather Scott chose the next song, SA Song 370 ‘I want to sing it. I want to shout it.’ She’d been looking through the childhood section for a joyful song and had given Major Ian a few suggestions which she realised afterwards all referred to the way God loves us and his creation. She was reminded of the words of a 92 yr old lady survivor of Auschwitz who said, in a television interview, that the mental torture was very hard as you were made to feel worthless and that your life could be cut short at any time. However, she was encouraged by the reassurance that ‘God does not make junk’.
The Songsters contributed to the meeting by singing Psalm 91 ‘He who dwells in the shadow of the most high’ which fitted in with Psalm 147 Major Ian had read earlier. Pam (Strood SA) then explained her choice of song SA Song 522 ‘Standing on the promises of Christ our King’. She said that she had been worthless and in the gutter but God had changed her life 100% and she has complete trust and confidence that God will never let us down. She can’t understand why people don’t come to church and be changed as she has done because it is so wonderful.
Major Ian’s thoughts on Psalm 147 were how good it is to sing together. We feel good. The Lord builds us up, and Chatham, when we praise Him. v 3 He heals the brokenhearted. It is the truth. We want people to know this. Because He loves us. Those who call upon the Lord will be saved. Let’s bring people in and tell them about Jesus. God is our refuge and strength. We are in God’s family.
Teresa Pennington chose the last song SA Song 960 ‘In the Army of Jesus we’ve taken our stand’. We need to stand up for Jesus in the world and this song is a reminder of how we should live our lives.
It was a really blessed day with a message that we need to speak about Jesus to those in the community and bring them in.
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