(February 20, 2023) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring a timely challenge …
Happened to watch a recent Abbots Cross Congregational Church service (our ‘old’ church back in Northern Ireland) and heard an outstanding sermon by Reverend Philip Campbell. What a message! So well…
- Structured perfectly,
- Strongly principled,
- Sensitively preached.
Under an obvious Holy Spirit anointing, Philip clearly spoke convincingly from his heart on Philippians 3.
There was a sense of destiny as Philip – known for his easy-to-listen-to-and-absorb style – reminded his audience of God’s incredible goodness, the Christian’s need to take opportunities to share one’s faith and the gospel of Jesus and, forgetting past hindrances, move on this year under God’s directions into His plans for His spiritual children and church.
It triggered off the heart of this particular article!
Philip Campbell knows the cost of the challenge of moving on as God declares!
Our minds immediately went back 50 years to when I, Robert, was leader of Abbots Cross’ 150+ ever-growing youth group. Philip was on our young committee (as was Brian Bell, one of our regular Onliner contributors). An astute young man, he was so dedicated to God’s call on his life.
Well do I remember the resignation note the 20-year-old wrote me: ‘One cannot give one’s time to everything; one must be obedient to what God prioritises. I must move on to what the Lord has called me to…’
And move on he did as the Lord directed him… from kids’ beach missions and youth evangelism, to full-time ministry as a congregational pastor in a large county town. Although retired now, he still opens God’s word to hungry ears in an attention-gripping way, with some good humour slipped in.
But here’s the major thing we immediately noticed watching the above service… before he started preaching, Philip first asked the congregation to bow their heads and join him in prayer. This was no insecure, rushed few seconds, prayer! Philip courteously lifted Jesus so high, honouring our Saviour, and asking our Lord to be in charge! And other Jesus-centred requests.
(Anyone remember those great old days when preachers, whether reverends, pastors, priests, doctors, professors, elders, deacons or whatever… even untitled… prayed unrushed, deeply, sincerely and meaningfully before preaching or teaching?).
Yes, Philip’s prayer was so Jesus oriented. How he lifted our Saviour high, evidencing that he knew Him personally, acknowledging Him, proclaiming His majesty, warmly saying other notable things about Him…! And not loud and over-blustery (like some loud-voiced ministers!) but gently and earnestly… his thoughts clearly centred on his Lord. No wonder he got a good ‘Amen.’
The congregation could but focus on Jesus even before Philip went into his sermon. And in this too, it was obvious that he was speaking from his heart. His eyes were on his listeners, not constantly on his notes! He smiled lovingly at the congregation, laughed when they did at his simple jokes (some about himself!), honoured former great ministers from that church, had his audience relaxing as Jesus would have had on a mountainside or in a synagogue.
No fiddling with notes and prancing around like some preachers, no silly interrupting childish ‘Ums…’or ‘Ahs’ or ‘ers’ every new sentence or thought, distracting listeners…
Our prayer is that the congregation responds actively to Philip’s kingdom message in the ensuing weeks, to his major challenge of forgetting about past drawbacks, hindering issues, disappointments and such. And to boldly move ahead into a glorious 2023 (of which two months are almost gone!).
But wait a minute… this article isn’t about glorifying Philip Campbell (this gentle soul would be upset), but referring to him and his manner and that message as a prime example about honouring and glorifying Jesus!
Our prayer goes beyond that church – we pray and trust that every church, every Christian, will not let anything prevent us from moving on, whatever God intends as ‘moving on’ for us!
Therefore we draw your attention to the necessity of dealing now with hindrances to moving on with Jesus, some of which we have written about before… several times!
Here’s a common one – some Christians still don’t know their God!
This is a reality, despite well-known Bible preachers and teachers worldwide calling for Jesus to be known and trusted, lifted high in our services – and in our lives in the continuing battle against the uncertainty of these dark times, and demonic forces (see Dr Richard Winter’s It’s a War out There. Meditations on Mark-2).
Christians claim to know God, but circumstances prove they only know about God, do not know Him personally, intimately, as Paul desired (Philippians 3:10), don’t know –
- The depths of His love.
- To fully trust His caring and protection.
- His daily interest in us and our needs!
- His desire that we would want to grow in our Christianity.
- His word, even just prime scriptures such as the one above.
- The Holy Spirit – our comforter, friend and guide.
- How to ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ as Jesus taught.
- That the Matthew 28 great commission is meant to be active today!
- How to move ahead unafraid in His 2023 plans.
- How to forgive as He has!
- And more…
So often trouble hits us… sickness, job loss, marriage problems, rebellious kids sorrows, loss of finance, passing of loved ones, fears… and other disasters. And here many Christians flounder instead of turning to God through His Son, our Saviour on high!
Yes, Jesus is seated on high in the highest heaven… but this doesn’t mean He can’t see any of us! His eye is not only on the sparrow but on us!
But so many times Christians pray about something, and then grab back their prayer. What do we mean by that? Come on… you know! They don’t leave it with Him, they panic, and do not trust their Lord! This is actually belittling Jesus, not trusting Him, not honouring Him as our Lord high above everything else!
If we would follow Him this year… then let Jesus be lifted high in our heart, our thoughts, our actions, our desires, our trust. May He be like a tall skyscraper, a high-rise before us!
Came a time when one of Jesus’ disciples casually asked Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us’ (John 14:8).
In authentic translations and many versions, Jesus’ response comes across as pointed but very gentle. However the Message version really hits the nail on the head!
‘You’ve been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t understand? To see me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, “Where is the Father?”’(v9).
Get it? Ours is the triune God… Father, Son and Holy Spirit! All mighty God! All powerful God! All three are there for us… not to be wrongly used by us, not to be disappointed by us, but to be fully trusted!
Jesus expects us to know our God… in a deep intimate relationship through a strong bonding with Himself, our honoured Lord!
Paul knew the reality of the trinity and desired Christians would know its threefold blessing too: ‘May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Kentucky, USA is currently in the news. Reports – testimonies – have come through of Holy Spirit fresh fire falling in a new, small Kentucky church (See Mark Ellis‘ GodReports Revival-fire-continues-at-rural-kentucky-church).
So many YouTube programs are featuring what has happened, and still is, at Asbury University, a Kentuckian Christian theological college which has been blessed with genuine revival several times before, particularly 1970. A Holy Spirit nonstop prayer meeting has thousands attending, not just some of its students but God-hungry locals and many visitors from interstate, with long queues of people gathering and worshipping outside on the lawn.
It’s regarded as a sovereign revival, especially among young people, who are standing for hours, not seated, inside and outside just worshipping, softly, meaningfully. As one young man said, ‘Real worship, good old choruses, no loud music, no fog lights, no fake smoke.’ (See Tik Tok highlights. And Extraordinary-revival-at-asbury-university). And it’s Jesus centred, Jesus heeded! People are repenting, getting saved, discovering Him. Mini-revivals, which some call these Holy Spirit outpourings, confirm there is ‘a moving on’ occurring!
Jesus wants us to really leave old things behind and move into His plans for His church’s growth, with real worship, meaningful Christianity, faith growth, stronger believing prayers for miracles and healings, winning lost souls for Him and welcoming new people into local churches!
However… one other major issue that hinders many, lumbers them from moving on, is non-forgiveness. This is yet another ugly hindrance, one that’s like a slap in the face to Jesus who like His Father loves us and is ever ready to graciously forgive us!
What did He highlight as the most important commandment in all of what we call the Lord’s prayer (Reality: It’s meant to be our prayer, Afterall, Jesus had no sin!)? He firmly warned –
‘But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins’ (Matthew 6:15). This needs to sincerely heeded, especially as Matthew’s gospel is regarded as the gospel about the king and His kingdom (Dr Warren Wiersbe). One mark of the true Christian living for our king is the readiness to swiftly forgive!
It’s interesting… we mentioned Asbury revival above. One visiting Christian good news commentator has pointed out that you can’t have revival if there is no forgiveness!
If there is anything major or minor, especially satanic deceits and ‘nonbiblical teachings’ that would hold you back from moving forward into exciting, dynamic, encouraging new ventures, even mini-revivals… dump it quickly!
Following Jesus into new avenues of service is truly rewarding!
Want genuine Holy Spirit revival in your church, in your life? Paul knew what moving on with Jesus into new dimensions would lead to, and what he had still to do!
‘But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things’ (Philippians 3:13-15).
That’s plain enough! How does it challenge you, dear reader? Are you mature in Jesus? We are re-challenged ourselves!
Now we’ve only mentioned two major hindrances… do others come to mind, even subtle ones? Dump them!
As a very young Philip Campbell wrote: ‘One cannot give one’s time to everything.’ May we all concentrate on what Jesus wants – giving our time, energies, willingness, abilities, ministries or whatever we can over to Jesus to help advance the kingdom of our king… however He wants us to be involved.
Remember this: The word ‘minister’ that we designate pastors with, is diakoneō, from which we get deacon. But let’s not miss that basically it simply means servant! Jesus use this word of Himself, even though it would cost Him everything! (Mark 10:45).
- J C Ryle commented on this scripture, ‘The world’s idea of greatness is to rule, but Christian greatness consists in serving.’
- Paul points out in 2 Corinthians 3:6 that we all are able ministers.
- The J B Phillips version of Colossians 1:28 is ‘So naturally, we proclaim Christ!’
It’s been said that either we reflect our cold, cruel culture… or more and more a reflection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus.
The blessed Holy Spirit will help us! May our lives reflect that to us, Jesus is Lord above all else!
Dr Robert and Pr Maureen McQuillan’s links: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com and Facebook