Today is the last day of 2021 and sees me taking a break from writing a daily devotional that I have done for 15 years. I am actually going to come off social media for 40 days in order to refocus my mind on Him. These blogs are my own morning devotions. They are not theologically proven with cross-references and commentary to back up any argument. I have never intended for it to be anything other than me sending out what I have written in my own devotion. I know that others are far more capable to write on issues that I simply touch on. But I love the Bible and my prayer is to try and bring application to our everyday life. I hope it helps to do that. Thank you for using these notes in your own devotions, for some every day and for others dipping into them as and when it is appropriate. This last year has been remarkable in that readers from 101 nations have engaged with the devotions with 13,274 different individuals. So it is particularly difficult for me to stop now. However, I believe the Lord is calling me for some private time for 40 days. I would appreciate your prayers! I will write again on the morning of 10th February.
Therefore it seems that today I kept writing and have written a far longer devotion than usual. See it as 40 days-worth!
So on this final morning of 2021 I write the final words of Matthew’s gospel: “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28 v 20)
How did these words impact not only those first disciples but those hearing the gospel of Matthew for the first time? In AD64 Rome had a huge fire break out that lasted nearly a week and burned three quarters of the city. The people blamed the Emperor Nero for the fire and he in turn blamed the Christians. The Romans rounded them all up and in a savage and brutal way killed them. Can you imagine how these words of the gospel would encourage the believers? And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
He was still with us by the middle of the 2nd century as the Mission had begun to die through the Church focusing on itself with new hierarchical titles replacing the five-fold offices. God raised up a renewal movement as He would do throughout the coming ages. The Montanists were the present day Pentecostals with belief in spiritual gifts, holiness and the pursuit of Christ’s return. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
He was still with us by the 5th century when He empowered a Scottish man called Patrick, an evangelist in Ireland. Familiar with the Irish clan system he had a gospel strategy: convert the person of influence first, the chiefs first, who would then influence their clans. He found that God was with him and Ireland soon became known as one of Europe’s Christian centres. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age
He was still with us by the 6th century when 2 major crises hit the world. Firstly a volcanic eruption of Krakatoa, Indonesia in AD535 resulting in economies across the world crashing as harvests failed, famine and plague struck. God raised up ordinary Christians like the Celts, the Berbers of North Africa, those on the fringe of the Church responded to the crises, learnt new languages and cultures and successfully took the gospel with actions to desperate people. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age
He was still with us by the 10th century in the midst of terrible crusades not just in Palestine but in Europe. Most of the Scandinavian countries were Christianised by political manipulation but mainly by threat of punishment or death. God anointed two particular men with a missionary calling and apostolic gifting that changed the world yet was strongly opposed by much of the established Church. Cyril and Methodius, missionaries to the Ukraine introduced the Slavanic language to worship to make it available to the ordinary man. They translated the Bible into the common language, and invented a Slavanic alphabet based on Greek characters which is still in use in a number of Slavic languages today. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
He was still with us by the 14th century despite the Black Death plague which would kill 75 million people and the Pope declaring a Papal Bull, meaning that he is the supreme authority in the church and that salvation happens only through submission to him. For God once again raised up another and John Wycliffe was born who would go on to translate the Bible into English. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
He was still with us by the 18th and 19th century which saw a new move of God that came out of prayer. The praying of David Brainerd, the passion of Jonathan Edwards for ‘concerts of prayer’ and the 100 year chain of prayer of the Morovians changed the church into a renewal, awakened modern mission movement. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
He was still with us by the 20th century powerfully moving through the 1904 Welsh Revival which then contributed to bigger revivals in India, US, Korea, South Africa, China and Indonesia. Despite there being more Christian martyrs than at any other time in history (almost 50 million: 65% of all Christian martyrs in the previous 2,000 years) it was said ‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’.
He was still with us in 2020 with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic which took lives, devastated so many families and left the church needing to readjust drastically all over again so that the mission could continue. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
The point is: He never left us.
I don’t know who you are nor what has gone on in your life but I do know He is here with you.
If you once walked in the promises of God but now wallow in self-pity, bitterness and hurt – YOU CAN RISE AGAIN. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
If you have long since given up the fight, your armour and weapons of war are stored up with dust, your youthful passion for souls and your energy to give up all for one soul to find Jesus is now a faint dream, hear this wake-up call – YOU CAN RISE AGAIN. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
If you couldn’t hold on any longer, something had to give and you gave away your destiny; you broke up your potential, you ruined your desires and were ruined by new ones. You can regain your footing, it’s time to walk – YOU CAN RISE AGAIN. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
If you came under a stronghold that so gripped your life it paralysed you. Maybe an area of your life is now not functioning like it used to, you feel a lesser man, as a woman you feel your beauty has been taken, you are tarnished and you are stained with an impurity. YOU CAN RISE AGAIN. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
If you think it’s all over: your faith is dead, your anointing is dead, that relationship is dead and you cannot pretend anymore. The Master is touching you even now as you read this and is calling you to get up for YOU CAN RISE AGAIN. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
A young boy misbehaved on his football team. He wasted his time, the team’s time and the manager’s time. He just did not try. He was lazy and he didn’t care. His heart was never in it. He liked to hear the cheers but he didn’t like to run around. He liked to wear the football shirt but didn’t like to practice. One day the team was training and the manager came and said, “hey there’s a phone call for you.” The boy went to answer the phone, the message was “Your father is dead, come home immediately.” The manager filled with compassion said “Take as much time as you want.” But to be truthful he didn’t care if he took the whole year off.
Saturday came, the teams ran on to the pitch. The same time-waster of a boy came charging into the manager’s dugout, “Can I play? I want to play.”
“No, this is an important game. We need every committed player, you’re not one of them.” Half time came and the manager’s team were losing and into the second half it got worse.
“Let me play, please let me play.” With 30 minutes to play and 3-0 down the manager thought, well, it can’t do any more harm and he let him play.
As soon as the boy got onto the pitch the team exploded. He ran for everything, tackled, headed, passed and eventually the team caught up to 3-3. In the dying seconds the ball lands at his feet and he shoots and he scores. The crowd leap up and down. Now this boy is every ones hero. After the crowds went home, the manager asked just what had happened to him.
“Boss, you know my dad died last week? Well my dad was blind. But today was the first day he ever saw me play!”
God is not dead nor is he blind. He is alive and watching you. When you know this truly, it can make all the difference. Get up. Get back in the game. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
He never left us. He is still here. He is with you today as you end your year and begin a new one.
See you soon.