My fellow Elder, John Batten brought a great word at our Jubilee Celebration last Sunday morning. He felt God prompt him to read out Psalm 23. Now this is probably one of the most well-known Psalms, but he brought it with real conviction and faith that God was going to be speaking to people afresh through it. I know God did, because I was one of those people!
The phrase I’ve been thinking about a great deal this week is verse 3, “… he restores my soul.” Particularly, I’ve been meditating on the word, “restore”. What does it mean that God restores? The image that came to mind was of a master craftsman, working on an ancient artefact and restoring it to its original beauty. In fact, when gifted craftsman work on such things, you often cannot tell that restoration work has taken place – they are that good at their work! And the same is true of God’s work in us. When the Bible says that He restores, it doesn’t mean that He just patches up, tapes over and hopes for the best. God is the ultimate master craftsman, carefully working on us, His children; painstakingly and lovingly restoring that which is damaged, broken or cracked. God loves us in our damaged state, but He doesn’t leave us like that.
For me, I am waiting on God to restore me physically after a short season of ill health. For you, you may be asking God to restore other areas of your life. Whatever it is, be encouraged that we have a God who loves to restore, make whole and make new. The Lord is your shepherd – He restores your soul.
I like visiting other churches. I find it personally refreshing and always seek to learn something, so yesterday, I took a morning out from Jubilee and visited Christ Central Manchester. This young, vibrant church is being newly led by Jeremy Simpkins who also leads the Newfrontiers North UK Team. It was also great to see my good friend Matt Cernik of Etherscape Design, who having spent the last 10 years in Derby and part of Jubilee, moved to Manchester earlier this year to be part of Christ Central.
Yesterday was the second Sunday in their new venue, the Manchester Comedy Store in the City Centre. This is a great venue! And whilst they were working to overcome the technical challenges of a new venue, it still worked really well and they were served well by the Comedy Store staff.
Jeremy preached from Song of Songs. This is not a book most preachers preach from very often! It can be read in two ways, both equally accurate. Firstly, it is a love story of a man and woman. Most commentators agree this is most likely King Solomon and a young woman. It is the story of their love and their relationship. It reminds us that God created relationships and marriage. Secondly, it can also be interpreted as a description of Christ’s love for the church. In the Bible, the church is often described as the Bride of Christ, and the relationship between Christ and the church is portrayed in terms of being like a marriage.
Song of Songs is certainly a book full of passion! Jeremy talked about the importance of passionate worship, and how, if our worship is not passionate, we have probably not fully understood God’s passion for us. Song of Songs talks about a kiss – an intimate expression of love. Similarly, God has expressed an intimate and passionate love for us. The question is, what is our expression of love for God like?
As a child of God, God has a passionate and everlasting love for you. So what is your response in life and worship to this wonderful, passionate love?