Peter Horrobin

International Director of Ellel Ministries

February 15, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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Hated for the Right Reasons

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as one of its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

John 15:18-19, NIV

When I was growing up in the UK, in the nineteen-fifties and sixties, Pastors and Ministers of the Church were generally well respected. Even if people didn’t believe for themselves, they recognised that foundational Christian teaching was central to what it means to be living a good and godly life. When people were in trouble, even unbelievers would turn to a Christian leader for help. I will never forget being with my Dad at the doors of Maidstone Prison at 6.00am one morning, to welcome back into the world a young man who had got into wrong company, broken the law and had served his time behind bars. Dad became his pastoral bridge back into society.

But the world in which we are now living is radically different to what it was like in those far more innocent times. We have just seen how a volunteer Christian Prison Chaplain, of twenty years exemplary standing, has been dismissed from his role in a UK prison. For all those years he had worked unpaid, using his day off, every week, to spend time with prisoners, helping them with life’s issues and sharing with them the good news of the Gospel. But because he has been introducing prisoners, who voluntarily asked for more information about being a Christian, to the Alpha Course, he was considered an extremist and denied any further access to the prison as a volunteer Chaplain.

There are many instances today of Christians being marginalised or losing their jobs because of their beliefs. This is no surprise to God. When Jesus spoke the words of our text to the disciples, He was spelling out a present reality for His own life, but also declaring for the rest of time that when Christian beliefs and practice are at enmity with the world’s standards, respect for Christians will quickly fly out of the window and be replaced by the hatred of those who sense that the truth of God and His Word is in opposition to the way of the world.

Hatred of believers and subsequent persecution for holding to Christian beliefs has been part of Christian history. When we are hated for Christ’s sake we are part of an unbroken line of believers that stretches right back to the days when Jesus walked this Earth with His disciples.

So how are we to respond when we experience personal hatred and antagonism to our faith? Jesus only gave us one thing we can do – pray for our accusers and bless them! In Matthew 5:44 Jesus said, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven.”

This is how Jesus, the Son of God responded and when we follow in His steps we are true sons of our Father in Heaven. This is the only way that those who hate us can ever respond to the Gospel for themselves. Unless they experience God’s love first hand, they will never know that there is a Father in Heaven who loves them, who had a Son who died for them.

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that You showed us how to respond to those who hate us because of You. Help me to remember to pray for those who would oppose the truth and for people such as this Prison Chaplain who are at the forefront of being hated for Christ’s sake. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

February 14, 2018
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God Watches Over You

2 Chronicles 16:9, NIV
“The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

One of our younger grandsons has his second birthday this month. It’s an age of rapid development, and he’s been learning new things, increasing his vocabulary almost daily, and learning to string words together, which is very endearing. However, he’s too young to understand what might be dangerous for him, so his parents (or his Granny if she’s around!) need to keep careful watch over him. They’re watching to protect him, to correct him if need be, to encourage him, to comfort him and to teach him. It’s also fun to be together, so it is a time of joy (mostly!) for all concerned.

Thinking about this reminded me of today’s verse, which describes how God is constantly watching over us. He’s not doing this in order to be critical, or to catch us out. He’s a loving Father who wants to keep His children from harm, and to protect us. He knows what’s best for us, and wants to teach us His ways. He also wants to provide for us, giving us everything we need, including strength, peace and comfort in every situation.

He also delights in us (Zephaniah 3:17), as parents delight in their children. I used to love watching our sons when they were younger, taking part in sport, acting in plays, and doing many other things. I would notice the other children who were taking part, but my eyes tended to be fixed on my own sons. I was watching them because I delighted in them, and also because I wanted to provide some support and encouragement to them. That seems to be what today’s verse is saying – that God’s particularly watching over His own children, to be there for them as a source of strength and encouragement.

In 2 Chronicles 16, we read that, even though the Lord was there for King Asa, King Asa hadn’t been relying on Him. He’d taken matters into his own hands and had made a treaty with his enemies. It was in response to this that Hanani, the seer, spoke the words in today’s verse. He reminded Asa that, when he’d looked to the Lord, his enemies had been defeated, but, because he hadn’t done so in this situation, he would continue to be at war.

God is watching over you and me today, to strengthen us and to provide what we need in each situation. However, we need to look to Him and trust in Him, not trying to fix things for ourselves.

Prayer: Lord, thank You that You’re watching over me to provide the strength and comfort I need in each situation. I’m sorry for the times I’ve tried to do things in my own strength. I look to You today and put my trust in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

February 13, 2018
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Heed the Warning Signs

Proverbs 22:3, NLT
“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

I was delighted when I received an email from a friend recently. I’d been waiting to hear from her, and that day I’d asked the Lord that I would. So, I was doubly blessed, because the Lord had answered me, and I hastily set about writing a reply to her. I was about half-way through the reply, which I was typing on my smartphone, when a notification popped up saying that the battery was low. I didn’t take too much notice of it, knowing that I had at least 11 per cent power left. I duly finished writing the email and was just reading through it to correct any typing mistakes when, suddenly, the screen went black, and the word ‘Goodbye’ appeared in white writing, and the phone closed down. It had run out of power and needed to be plugged into the mains to recharge the battery.

I hastily plugged it in and searched for my e-mail. My friend’s mail was there, but there was no trace of mine. I looked in my drafts folder, but no, it wasn’t there either. So, there was nothing else for it but to start again. I felt cross with myself. I should have taken action when I saw that warning notice.

I wonder, how often is it, as Christians, that we keep going and ignore God’s warning signs. Our bodies may be tired and shouting at us that they need a rest, or it may be that we’re cramming too many things into our days and not spending quality time with the Lord to be spiritually recharged and built up. In every case, be it physical, mental or spiritual weariness, Jesus is saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Don’t be like me and ignore the warning signs. True, I wasn’t in danger – I just had to rewrite my e-mail. But it could be more serious if we ignore the Lord’s warning signs.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I want to thank You for Your love and care, and for being so patient with me. Please help me to be sensitive to You and to take Jesus’ yoke on me and let Him teach me. Help me to take notice when You warn me that I need to stop and rest and spend time with You. I don’t want to go on blindly and suffer the consequences. I ask this in Jesus’ name and for Your glory. Amen.

February 12, 2018
Comments Off on A Key to Spiritual Awakening

A Key to Spiritual Awakening

2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV
“If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

I recently watched a YouTube video clip which was made in November last year (2017) to celebrate Billy Graham’s 99th Birthday. Among the tributes being given were comments made by Billy Graham himself. He said that he was praying that there might be a spiritual awakening. This statement caught my attention, because we’d just attended a day of prayer for the nation, and also our church has recently held several days of prayer and fasting. The main thrust of these events was for there to be a great awakening across the nation and the Church, and a turning back to God, asking for His forgiveness, mercy and deliverance.

Billy Graham went on to say that this awakening was only possible when we, as individuals, surrender our lives anew to Jesus Christ, and live the Christian life wherever we are. He then outlined three steps that need to be taken if this is to happen. These steps are something which we all need reminding of from time to time.

Firstly, do all you can to follow in the steps of Jesus by loving and caring for others, asking for the help of the Holy Spirit for His power to live this way.

Secondly, read God’s word every day as a source of spiritual nourishment.

Thirdly, keep praying until you and God become intimate friends, and you experience His joy and peace.

As I reflected on these thoughts, and the growing desire there seems to be among God’s people today for awakening, I was reminded of the verse above, so often used in the context of prayer for this. It contains God’s promise of blessing for His people if certain conditions are met. Four conditions are given, three of which, although challenging, most of us can comply with, to a lesser or greater extent, that is, to humble ourselves, to pray and to seek intimacy with God.

But the fourth condition presents the greatest challenge of all – to ‘turn from our wicked ways’. A spirit of repentance isn’t always the first thing we think about when praying for spiritual awakening, but Scripture makes it clear that we can’t expect blessing without it.

Turning from all traces of pride, arrogance, wilfulness, indifference, bitterness, un-forgiveness, sinful desires and wrong thoughts in our hearts may seem too painful to some. But that’s what God requires of us before He can impart His blessing. And there are many illustrations in Scripture of those who missed out on God’s best by not being willing to turn from their sinful ways. Yet there are also many accounts of those who were willing, and they received God’s blessing on their lives.

I believe the lessons are clear, the pathway to spiritual awakening for both individuals and nations is through repentance. Our prayers, individually and collectively, should be preceded by the King David’s prayer, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart. … See if there is any offensive way in me’ (Psalm 139:23-24). If we’re willing, God, through the help of His Spirit, will give the grace, the courage and the power to deal with these hindrances, and will allow His Spirit to flow through us.

Prayer: Lord, send revival. Start with me, for I’m one of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King. Your glory I have glimpsed. Send revival. Start with me. (Matt Redman)

February 11, 2018
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Living Water

Revelation 7:17, NIV
“For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

At supermarkets in the UK recently I’ve noticed cardboard boxes of green stalks in bunches. At one end they’ve been cut and at the top they have a sort of pointed end. If you take them home, and put them into a vase of water, in a day or two, you’ll have a vase of beautiful golden daffodils. It’s an amazing transformation.

I’ve just had the joy and privilege to spend the weekend helping on a course at one of the Ellel Ministries centres, and I was struck, as I listened to the testimonies at the end of the course, by the similarity to those lovely daffodils. When we spend time with the Lord Jesus, drinking in the living water He provides from the teaching of the truth of His word, and time in worship and loving fellowship, we see that transformation from the, often untapped, potential to the glorious reality of who He created us to be.

It’s quite interesting to look up the other references to living water in the bible. In Jeremiah 2:13, God calls Himself ‘the spring of living water’, and He points out the fruitlessness of trying to provide our own water by digging cisterns which don’t hold water (doing things our own way).

In John 4:10-11, Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman at the well and tells her she should be asking Him for living water. And, in John 7:38, Jesus says that, if we believe in Him, living water will flow from us. How exciting is that!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we long to be like those daffodils and fulfil all the glorious potential that You intended for us. Help us to drink from those springs of living water which You provide for us. Amen.

February 10, 2018
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But the Greatest of These is Love

1 Corinthians 13:1, AMP
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction].”

Every year, on my birthday, I ask the Lord for a special verse to take with me into the new year. This time, He gave 1 Corinthians 13. For many of us this is such a familiar chapter in the Bible, and we sometimes tend to skip it, or we think we know it already.

I took the time to read this special chapter in different versions of the Bible – trying to make each verse relevant to my life and asking myself: “Am I actually living this Word of God to the world around me?”. In verse 1 and 2 in the Amplified version, love for others (and that means all people) is described as growing out of God’s love for me, and reaching out to others. It’s not the same feeling I have towards my loved ones, but a God-inspired love and understanding for people. It’s a mindset of asking God to help us see the unlovable as He sees them. It’s His heart to see beyond the hurt they cause by asking the Lord where they’re coming from. What hurt and pain are they carrying?

Verse 4 and 5 refers to our reactions and attitudes: patience, kindness and being thoughtful. Love is not envious, jealous, not rude or self-seeking, not over sensitive and easily angered. Love does not take into account a wrong we endured. The list goes on.

When I stop to ask myself if this is me, I can only bow my head and humble myself before the Lord, because I fall short in so many ways. How can I ever ‘get this right’? But then the Lord comes with love and gentleness and reminds me that this whole chapter is Him. It’s His heart towards me and every other person He created.

If I allow the Lord’s love to sink into every part of my being, I become more and more rooted in Him, and more and more rooted in who I am in Him. It’s about being positioned in the Lord, and knowing where my worth and security comes from. When I look at life and people from this place of safety, I begin to understand that 1 Corinthians 13 is not about me falling short. It’s about Him living in me and through me.

‘May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love (Ephesians 3:16-17). I can only live God’s love when I have accepted it as my own. Then I can read 1 Corinthians 13 by focussing on Him, and allowing Him to show me how to love as He does.

Prayer: Dear Father, thank You for this beautiful truth in Your Word, and for showing me more of Your character. Lord, I ask You today to reveal more and more of Yourself to me and to fill every fibre of my being – my body, soul and spirit. My desire is to be securely rooted in You, and to show others who You are; to bear up under all things, to believe the best of others and to have hope that never gives up. Amen.

February 9, 2018
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Turn the Page

Philippians 3:13-14, NIV
“But one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

This advice from God’s word in our scripture for today has stood the test of time. The past is just that … the past.

God’s sent Jesus to us so we don’t have to live our lives imprisoned by our past. We’ve all made wrong decisions, and said, and done, wrong things. Maybe we’ve failed in relationships, failed our parents, or failed ourselves. This scripture is encouraging us today to not allow ourselves to get bogged down by our past failures.

We may have to say sorry to the Lord and to others, but we shouldn’t dwell on our past in such a way that it stops us moving forward into the future God has for us. Many of us spend our adult lives trying to come to terms with what happened in the past. We can have an emotional ‘limp’ from our past hurts, or broken hearts. We need to get the healing of Jesus for our inner pain and make sure that our past hurts don’t become our identity.

Dwelling on our past can hold us back from spiritual growth and walking fully in our healing and destiny. Today we can rise to the challenge of this scripture and say to ourselves “With God’s help, I’m going to move on from my past. I’m going to stop torturing myself about what I did or didn’t do”. This is a good day to stop being chained to my past failures. God doesn’t want us to go through life branding ourselves as failures. On the cross Jesus died so we could be fully forgiven, forgive ourselves and forget our failures.

God says ‘I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake and remembers your sins no more’ (Isaiah 43:25). Do you need to apply the truth of this scripture in your own life today? Accept the forgiveness of Jesus for the very worst thing that you’ve ever done. Forgive yourself, and all those who’ve hurt you in the past, and, with God’s help, turn the page once and for all. Move on in the freedom and blessing God has for you.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the finished work of Calvary. Help me today to forget what is behind me and press on to take hold of my future in You. Hep me to truly turn the page. Amen.

February 8, 2018
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Fellow Citizens

Ephesians 2:19, NIV
“You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.”

I wonder if you’ve been on an international flight recently, and had the experience of being offered the option of going through the special passport control line reserved for citizens of your own country or continent? Often the citizens’ queue seems longer than the general one. The benefits appear to be for the sake of passport control, rather than the passengers. Yet citizenship is supposed to bring positive things for its citizens.

Those of us who are citizens of a country can expect protection and support from our government, according to one dictionary definition. So, we get very upset when our hopes are dashed, and our expectations are crushed. God, however, warns us in Hebrews 12:26 that He will ‘shake not only the earth but the heavens’, and perhaps the current worldwide political and economic climate is an indication that the shaking has begun.

What do we mean when we call ourselves citizens of the Kingdom of God? Firstly, we’re saying that we’re outside the constraints of worldly political order. We’re to be in the world, but not of it. When God shakes this world, He will exclude his own domain, although our humanity may still lead us into a degree of suffering. This isn’t promoting anarchy, but it’s encouraging us to pray for God’s mercy on our governments.

Secondly, we’re not hopeless, but hopeful. Our foundation stone is Jesus Christ, not a political system. Indeed, the old order will be swept away at the coming of Christ, and we’ll have the privilege of being fellow citizens with the countless millions around the throne of God. We’ll benefit from the fullness of God’s promises. What a destiny!

Thirdly, there’s no differentiation between the citizens of God’s Kingdom. There won’t be rich and poor, slave and free, Jew and Gentile in God’s household. We’re all fellow-citizens in Christ. Perhaps we need to start getting used to this, for example, by sharing the bounty that God gives us with those less fortunate, by seeing Jesus in those who come from a different culture or background to ours, and by not putting our hope in political systems and their ambassadors, but rather trusting in the Lord to accomplish His purposes through each of us, as His Spirit works in us.

We won’t see a separate passport queue here on earth for the citizens of heaven, but, one day, we’ll enter into the presence of the Father through that special gateway reserved for those who are sons and daughters of the King, co-heirs with Jesus. Something to look forward to!

Prayer: We thank You, Lord, for those who’ve been appointed to lead our countries and communities, and we pray for Your blessing and guidance in their lives. Thank You that You have made us citizens together in Your greater Kingdom, which won’t be shaken by the events of earth, but will endure for ever. We look forward in hope to that day when we shall be with You in heaven, beyond the shaking of this world. Amen.

February 7, 2018
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Psalm 91: 9 & 10, NIV
“If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.”

As I was walking near the canal which runs not far from Ellel Grange, I heard a rustling in the trees above me and, looking up, I saw a squirrel – sadly not a native red one, which are now quite rare in this country, but the grey ones are still fun to watch. This particular one was going right to the very ends of the slender branches of a beech tree, reaching for the beech mast which still hung there. At one time he let go with his front legs and swung head down feasting on his finds. There was no fear as he swung around the tree-tops, he trusted completely that he would be safe.

For many of us there are times when we feel we are being taken right to the ends of the “branches” in our lives. We feel as though we are being stretched to the very limits of what we believe is possible for us to achieve, but if we have put our trust in God and are walking in His will, He will never let us go. Unlike the squirrel which has to depend on its own ability and agility to scamper about the trees, we have our Father to depend on.

At Ellel Grange there is a clay model of a pair of hands holding a small child. It is a powerful reminder that we are always being held in God’s hands, unless we wilfully walk away from Him, and He will keep us safe in and through (though not necessarily from) all circumstances.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You so much that You are my strength and shield. Thank You that You have given Your angels command concerning me to guard me in all my ways. (Psalm 91: 11) May I always be aware of this as You ask me to step out in faith beyond my comfort zone. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

February 6, 2018
by Seeds of the Kingdom
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Don’t Give Up!

“Tell Archippus: See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.”

Colossians 4:18, NIV

Some of the seemingly insignificant little verses in Scripture contain profound truths and lessons for life. Today’s Scripture is one of them. We know very little about Archippus, although his name means ‘trainer of horses’. But we do know that he was called to do a specific work for the Lord – and the implication of Paul’s comment is that he was in danger of not completing the task.

When God speaks vision into a person’s life and gives them a calling, it is undoubtedly easier to start the work than to complete the journey of faith. The simple fact is that obedience to the Lord attracts the attention of the enemy of souls. And when he sees that we are serious about doing God’s work then he begins to take note of what we are doing and plans to oppose it in every possible way.

Paul was very much aware of the activities of Satan and his Kingdom and encouraged believers to wear spiritual armour so that they would be able to stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). A real work of God will require persistence and endurance and, also, a willingness to keep pressing on, even when the opposition and difficulties mount. A partially completed work is never enough.

By way of example, a local authority may go 95% of the way towards building and equipping a new hospital. But if they have no money to recruit any doctors or nurses to run it, it is a redundant building which, even though it may have cost a lot of money, has no value whatsoever to the community. It is that final 5% which makes the whole project worth doing.

It was the final act of Jesus’s life, his sacrifice on the cross, which made sense of the whole of His life. Hebrews describes Jesus as “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Because Jesus finished the task that Father God had given Him to do His destiny was fulfilled. Jesus was the most amazing example of a completer-finisher. Hebrews urges us to look to Jesus, follow His example and walk in his steps.

So, if there is something that you know God has given you to do, keep going. Persevere and complete the task. It is that final stage of the journey which will result in the greatest blessing and fruit.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You love us enough to share with us your visions for our lives. Forgive me, Lord, for times when I have given up because the going has seemed too tough. Help me, Lord, to persevere so that You will be blessed by the completion of the things you have given me to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.