VOX magazine editor Ruth Garvey-Williams is at the New Wine Ireland summer conference in Sligo this week. She brings you summaries of all the Evening Celebrations and the morning Bible Teaching so you won’t miss a thing!
Sunday 14 July
Simon Genoe, the Assistant Leader of New Wine Ireland and rector of Dollingstown and Magheralin launched the week on Sunday evening. Here’s what he had to say:
I heard a story about a man who was brought before Alexander the Great for stealing a horse. Having compassion on him because he was so young, Alexander prepared to release him. He asked, “What is your name?” Nervously the young boy replied, “Alexander.” In anger, the leader told him, “Either change your name or mend your conduct.”
At the time of Zephaniah, the people were not living up to their name. Judah means praise but Judah had become a place of adultery and idolatry. Jerusalem means city of peace but it had become anything but. This prophet Zephaniah warns that judgement is coming. The prophecy is in three sections. The first section is judgement, followed by more judgement and then comes hope.
Zephaniah 3 paints a picture of when God will rescue, redeem and gather in a group of people and make a new family. Zephaniah does not tell us who will bring that season of hope but we know that it is Jesus. As we read a book like Zephaniah, how blessed are we that we live in a season of hope. The promise of the future is us. That is why we gather here in Sligo. We are the fulfilment of that dream through Jesus Christ. There is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus disarmed the powers of darkness.
Do we live up to the name that we have been given? Do we live up to the name of the rescued, redeemed family that Zephaniah saw? Zephaniah 3 gives us instructions about how we should live up to that name:
Rejoice and exult with all your heart
Don’t be afraid
Don’t let your hands grow weak
We are meant to be a worshipping people. We are meant to be a fearless people with strong hands. That is how we live up to our name. What stops us from doing that? It is crucial that our thinking is right. We need to think right but the enemy desperately wants to stop us from singing, shouting, exulting, being fearless and active and so he attacks our minds. Even we, who are redeemed people, are still easy pickings for an enemy that loves to plant seeds of doubt in our minds.
We need to be wearing hard hats of faith. The enemy wants to tell us that God is not there, God is not able and that God does not love us.
The most important thing about you is what you think about when you think about God.
A W TOZER
Your picture of God is your hard hat. We need a new revelation of God. Zephaniah 3:17 is such a significant verse because it reveals what God is like.
GOD IS PRESENT
The Lord your God is in your midst! The Lord is here. If He is here, He is going to do something. A few weeks ago, I heard about a guy whose brother (a pastor) was going on holiday and asked him to preach. Then this untrained brother found out that a first year theological student was going to be in the church when he was preaching. He got himself all worried about making mistakes. That weekend there was a big event in the Odyssey Arena with international speaker John Piper and suddenly the guy found out that John Piper was also going to be at his church on that Sunday morning. He was going into meltdown when his wife reminded him, “You do realise Jesus is going to be there too!”
Jesus is here. And if He is here, that makes all the difference. Why would you worry about anyone else if Jesus is in your midst?
CS Lewis said that the perfect worship service would be one in which we were unaware of anything because you would be so awe-struck by the presence of God. That is why the living beings around the throne of God are covered with eyes. They are so taken by the revelation of God.
Are you desperate for God’s presence?
GOD IS POWERFUL
He is a mighty one who will save. He is not just here but He is defining. Psalm 114:7 - “Tremble, O earth at the presence of the Lord.” If He is here, then He is all that matters. It is all about Him and He is powerful to save us and to intervene in our lives.
GOD IS PASSIONATE
“He will rejoice over you with gladness...” God is passionate about you. There is rejoicing when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10). As a bridegroom rejoices over His bride, so will God rejoice over you. He loves you.
The prophet says, “He will quiet you with His love.” When we see a baby crying, we lift the baby and quieten him or her with a “shhh.” Our Father loves us so much that when we are freaking out, He settles us with His love. When Elijah is terrified by Jezebel and runs away, God meets with him and whispers - quietening Elijah’s fear. When our hearts condemn us, He is greater than our hearts. Have you known that loving “shhh”?
Thirdly, it says that God will exult over us with loud singing. If we are living up to our name, we will be worshipping God. Isn’t it tragic that we have worship wars? People have been fighting over “new” music for centuries. But we sing because He first sang over us. We love because He first loved us. He thinks you are great. The Father loves you.
We are desperate for a father like this. There is a Spanish story about a father and son who became estranged. The father sets out to find his son but after searching desperately he still could not find him. Eventually he took out an advert in the newspaper: "Paco, meet me at the Hotel Montana at noon on Tuesday. All is forgiven! Love, Papa." Paco is such a common name in Spain that 800 Pacos turned up at the hotel, all looking for reconciliation with their fathers!
God wants us to put on the hard hat of truth... the helmet of salvation, the truth of who He is. This is what faith is - to know that God exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.