Sunday, 19 November 2017

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer

When we pray God answers, but He doesn't just give answers and move on, He watches over us, He guides us, and He gets us through the more difficult roads we have to travel

Source: Behappy.me
Sometimes when we pray God doesn't give us the answer straight away, but if we pray earnestly and without ceasing and trust God for the answer, whatever it might end up being, then we will be led in the way we should be going, and the Lord will bless us. I am not a typically intelligent person, school was hard for me, I would watch my older brother put in minimal effort and still get good grades, but I couldn't do that. Even when I worked extremely hard I would often fall short, so the decision to go to university was a tough one for me. 

I took a year out after college working and praying about my next step. I had applied to three universities and got rejected by two, however I received a conditional offer from the third. The conditional offer required me to get higher grades in my A level than I had previously achieved, so I re-took an exam, but as usual it didn't amount to much and I came away with no better results. My parents and I continued to pray, that if it was meant to be, I would get a place anyway and if not (which seemed the most obvious path) I would get the inevitable rejection. I had to wait for that year’s pupils to receive their A level results to find out if I would be offered a place. On results day, as I prepared to call and check in to find out, my mom called me to advise that a letter had arrived that morning from the university. She opened it for me and to my delight I had got in, I couldn't believe it. 

Source: Agents of Light
During the first few months at university doubts crept in and I remember thinking; what if I wasn't doing the right course? However, no sooner had I asked the question than I got my first assignment grade back, which was a really high mark. It felt like God was letting me know I was on the right path and it was going to be okay. I had prayed that if I got into university, that God would see me through it and He did, I graduated with a 2:1 honors degree. My usual style was to just pass or fail everything, it was always touch and go with my grades, but this was a very firm middle of the road 2:1 result and I owe it all completely to the Lord. When we pray God answers, but He doesn't just give answers and move on, He watches over us, He guides us, and He gets us through the more difficult roads we have to travel. Matthew 21:22 ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer’.

There are some other things we must take into consideration. Sometimes when we pray, we won't always get the answer we are hoping for. Often, this can be really tough, but when we pray for something we have to keep an open mind and know that God will never do anything to hurt us, He only has our best interests at heart. In fact, it is worth remembering that God sees the future, He sees it all and He may be leading us down a path we may not want to travel, however it is the path that will keep us safe. This may be something we can't see ourselves as we can only comprehend the here and now and can't see the bigger picture. A few years ago, I found out that I wouldn't be able to have children and for about a year I struggled with this and grieved a great deal for the loss of something I felt, as a woman, was my right. During this difficult and extremely painful time, as I prayed, I felt a peace wash over me. Maybe having a child would have caused me difficulty or harm? I can't see that far into the future, but God can. Or maybe it just wasn't the right time? Even though medically I was told I can't have children, that wouldn't stop the Lord, so if it was meant to be, in time it would happen. My faith allowed me to know that whatever the future, God holds it and that is all that I could ever hope for. Philippians 4:6 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God’.

Sometimes when we pray, God doesn't seem to offer an answer. Sometimes He wants us to make our own choices, to take a leap of faith and trust that no matter what, He is there with us and will see us through. Recently I faced a very difficult situation where I had to make a decision I just couldn't make. I prayed, my parents prayed, but no answer came. I knew that I had two choices and either one would lead me down a difficult and painful road and all I wanted was for God to tell me which one to choose, because I wanted to be walking in His will. Still no answer came, and it was so painful. As time went on I swung back and forth in my decision, but eventually chose a path and as I committed to that I found the Lord’s peace again. I knew it wouldn't be easy and I didn't know if it was the right path to be taking, but I did know that God would be in it with me every step of the way non-the-less. All I have to do is keep reaching out and trusting that He is always by my side.

Whatever you may be praying for remember to keep an open mind and willingness to accept an answer that may sometimes be difficult. Be prepared to sometimes not hear at all, but in all circumstances, trust that God knows and believe that He will be with you through it all, every step of the way. Romans 12:12 ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 


Author:Rebekah Cronk

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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Serving the Lord requires obedience and faithfulness

God wants to bring you to the place where you don't have to be begged, badgered or browbeaten to serve, where one instruction from Him means that you will be obedient without question

Source: PInterest
Have you ever seen a dog that has completed obedience classes? The dog is a pleasure to its master, because it has learnt to respond to his word. Sometimes only a simple look is needed to let the dog know what the master is expecting. In Psalm 32:8 God says; 'I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you'. God wants to bring you to the place where you don't have to be begged, badgered or browbeaten to serve, where one instruction from Him means that you will be obedient without question. As a servant we can't change our master's order, in fact, it is a great deal easier to do what God gives us to do, no matter how hard it is, than to face the consequences of not doing it.  God doesn't want ‘foot dragging compliance’, He wants willing obedience, and when He gets it He blesses it; Isaiah 1:19 ‘If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land’. God's best is reserved for those who say 'yes'.  Ask yourself ‘how will I know when I arrive at that place?’ Well, you will know when you are able to truly say (from your heart), ‘I desire to do Your will O my God’. Psalm 40:8 ‘I desire to do Your will, my God; Your law is within my heart’.

If by doing God’s will you are upset over giving up your 'rights' and 'privileges' to serve others, just take a moment to consider what Christ gave up to serve us. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death; Philippians 2:8 ‘And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!’ When we are tempted to remind others of the sacrifices we have made in our lives and continue to make; hear Christ's words; Luke 17:10‘..when you have done everything you were told to do, you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’.

Source: PInterest
As a Chaplain in a large hospital, I am very mindful that every time I visit the hospital that it is only the will of God that will be done. I go in obedience to God, and only through Him do I pray for people. I often come away thinking of what I have achieved, however it's not for me to go and achieve anything, but that God should get all the Glory. I am a hospital Chaplain, not to serve myself, but to serve others in obedience to God and as His commands, speaking the Word in and out of season. In His dealings with people, the bible tells us in John 13:1 that Christ 'Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end' and when He came to His dealings with God, in John 5:30 He could say; 'For I seek not to please Myself but Him who sent Me'. Can God count on you (or me) to be obedient and to seek His will?  Will those who God puts in our path see God in us because we are obedient and seek His will first and not our own? When we make a commitment do we keep to it or do we quit on a whim, or do we break our word because we get a better offer?

In John 13:3-5 Jesus Himself provided an example of service and obedience when He began to wash the disciples feet; ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him'. In this single act of obedience Jesus settled three big issues; He knew who sent Him, He knew who sustained Him and He knew who was going to reward Him. Jesus demonstrated that service and obedience can never become slavery to one who loves. When we serve the Lord, let us do so with a willing heart in obedience and faithfulness. For we are no longer a slave to fear/sin, as we are accepted, loved, and a child of God. Amen.


Author: Herbert Jean

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Sunday, 5 November 2017

Hell, or Hades?

There will be a day when heaven will be real to a few and hell will be real to many more. Then, we will all be judged and know the glory of heaven or the agony of hell.

Source: What Christians Want To Know
Hell - Who wants to think about that?  Hell can be ignored as though it does not exist, but it does.  It is absolute and eternal, but why is it so important to be aware of and know about hell?  Well, Jesus thought it was so important that He referred to the topic of hell, or the subject of hell, more than any other subject or topic after ‘salvation’. Jesus referred to saving lost souls more than anything else and second to that, was the consequences of sin and separation in hell.  Hell is a real, physical place. It is not a state of mind, as some would say.  I have heard some say they do not believe in hell however the fact is, it does not matter if they believe it or not, hell is real – opinions do not matter!

My first introduction to the subject of hell happened in college.  As a reading requirement for ‘World literature’, I read Dante’s Inferno, in which Dante believed that he walked through the nine levels of hell with Satan. As he walked through hell, he kept hearing loud screaming of agony and torture and in one of the levels of Hell, he stood with Satan, looking down on people running in an eternal circle, screaming with unbelievable pain. It was so hot and the people were being stung by bees and hornets.  As they pulled off the bees and hornets from their bodies, there were other bees and hornets to take their place.  They threw the bees and hornets to the floor and they were eaten up by the maggots on the floor. I read this to my room-mate and I remember saying to him; ‘What if hell really is that bad?’, and he said something that I have never forgotten – ‘What if it is worse?

Source:  SlideShare
So, what is hell?  One reference defines it as ‘the eternal hell-fire and damnation promised to the unrighteous sinner’.  That seems to be a good definition as hell-fire and eternal damnation provide us with a number of Bible references for consideration:

Isaiah 47:14 – ‘Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. These are not coals for warmth; this is not a fire to sit by’.


Revelation 21:6-8 – ‘He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all of this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.  But, the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death’.

Matthew 13:40-42 – ‘As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’.
         
Luke 16:22-24 – ‘The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire’.

Matthew 5:29-30 – ‘If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell’.

Luke 12:4-5 – ‘I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  But I will show you whom you should fear. Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him’.

The Problem:  The subject of hell is almost a taboo subject that is not to be thought about or discussed. For the most part, it is not talked about or preached about by preachers on the pulpit.  Why not?  Jesus talked about it.  Most Sunday school teachers never broach the subject of hell.  Why not? Jesus talked about it. However, it hasn’t always been that way. The old-time preachers preached about hell and the consequences of unrighteousness, and it had a positive effect. People had a healthy fear of hell, so they tried to avoid sin. These days, most people do what they want, and when they want to do it, with no fear of the consequences of sin/hell. The heathen, and even most ‘Christians’ are consumed with self and pursue the world fearlessly without a sense of the consequences of sin/hell. There will be a day when heaven will be real to a few and hell will be real to many more. Then, we will all be judged and know the glory of heaven or the agony of hell.

If it were possible to get a five-second peek of the reality of hell, a person would undoubtedly do anything to avoid an eternity of hell-fire and damnation. The good news is that it isn’t too late.  God is always calling you to be with Him. Hell is not what God called you to, He called you to be with Him. You need to be 100% sure of your salvation. Remember, God loves you even though you are a sinner. Come to him; just as you are.


Author: David Leatherman

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Sunday, 29 October 2017

You’ll never walk alone

‘….I never once felt alone! I have the living spirit of Jesus in me and there was no way He was ever going to leave me on my own’

Source: Google+
Recently, through my work, God has sent me all over the World and I’ve been asking the question; why? I know that God does not do anything by chance, He has a plan and purpose for my life (and for your life too) but sometimes it can take us a little time for us to understand His purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’. In fact, sometimes, we may never understand, He may never reveal to us why He puts us in certain situations, however without a doubt, we can be certain that He has a purpose. God may be using us to plant some seeds for others to reap the harvest in the future and we will not know until one day when we are in heaven we might get a tap on the shoulder from a complete stranger, who might say ‘do you remember when……’, and relay an event that we vaguely remember and thought nothing of at the time. God is at work through us all the time and that is such an amazing thought. In addition, and an even more amazing thought is that He is always with us; Joshua 1:9 ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go’.

To many, travelling the World may seem to be very glamorous and exciting however the reality of my situation is that I have such busy schedules and I am required to move around from place to place regularly. All I really get to see are the insides of airports, taxis, hotel rooms and the venues where my events are being hosted. The absolute worst part is being away from my family for a week or two weeks at a time. I am very close to my Wife and we have been married for nearly 32 years and prior to this year we have never really spent anytime apart. Although both of my kids are grown up and have left home we still see them regularly and I really miss them as well. I also can’t forget my cheeky dog, Prince, who is also a big part of our family. I suppose what I am trying to say is that when you travel half way across the World it is very easy to feel isolated and alone. As I write this article I am currently part way through a trip to China and Hong Kong and I would like to share a short testimony which shows that having God with us wherever we go, as described above in Joshua 1:9 means that no matter how far away from home we may be or how isolated we may feel, that we are never alone.

Source: Etsy
I was travelling from Coventry to Heathrow Airport by coach to catch an eleven-hour flight to Shanghai and then a three-hour connecting flight to a place called Chongqing in South West China.  Halfway through the coach journey I received an email on my mobile phone which was in Chinese. I had no idea what it said and as the Wi-Fi on the coach was very poor I had to wait until I got to the airport to translate it. I copied the email into Google translate and to my horror it stated that my connecting flight to Chongqing had been cancelled. I tried to get some assistance at the airport however as the connecting flight was with a Chinese airline, the only advice was get to Shanghai and sort it out there!  ‘Brilliant’ I thought. Having been to China a few months earlier I was aware that Chinese flights are notorious for being late and there is a real language barrier at airports. I sat myself down said a quick prayer and eventually got on the plane to Shanghai.

After going through customs and retrieving my luggage at Shanghai Airport I then started looking for the information desk for the Chinese Airline. I landed at terminal two and for local flights across China I was told by someone who spoke very broken English to go to terminal one. Fifteen minutes later I arrived at terminal one and after being told to go to four different desks I eventually was told that the next available flight (with this airline) was in the late evening which would mean a wait of eight hours (remember I had just got off an eleven-hour flight and spent the last hour trying to find the right person to talk to). I insisted that I could not wait that long and that I wanted to be transferred to another airline. Anyway, after being directed back to terminal two, plus a further four information desks later, and leaving some very confused Chinese people behind, I finally managed to get a boarding pass for a different Chinese airline for a flight that was going to Chongqing and amazingly it would arrive only fifteen minutes later than my originally scheduled flight that had been cancelled. Throughout this whole situation where I was in a foreign land and very tired I managed to keep calm and I never once felt alone! I have the living spirit of Jesus in me and there was no way He was ever going to leave me on my own. Isaiah 41:10 ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’. Praise God.

During my trip I also woke up one morning with a very painful sore throat. I felt a niggling pain in my throat the evening before but during the night the pain was severe, and it woke me up. I immediately felt God tell me to gently put my hand on the sore part of my throat and to pray for healing.  The moment I did this I felt the pain subside significantly and I managed get a few further hours’ sleep. When I woke up there was still some discomfort but nothing that stopped me having my breakfast and attending a local church service in Hong Kong. Psalm 30:2 ‘LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me’.

So back to the original question of why God has been sending me all over the World recently? Well, I believe it is because He wants me to depend on Him more in order to help deepen my relationship with Him. In the testimonies above I have learned to hold onto to Jesus, to ask for His help and to really trust that He will deliver. I’m aware that I do not need to be far away from home to depend on Jesus, however in my case maybe it was necessary to send me around the world in order to really get my attention to make me realise this. I just thank God that He loves me so much that He wants a deeper relationship with me.

Romans 8:38-39 ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’


Author: Gary O’Neill

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Sunday, 22 October 2017

Where your heart is, is where your treasure will be

The Bible is the most amazing gift ever, a book of Holy instructions on every situation you will ever have to face while living on Planet Earth.

Source: PInterest
Our worship leader at MCF Life Church was recently due to go into to hospital for surgery on his knee. As his family in Christ Jesus we were confident that God will use the finest surgeon to carry out the procedure and we believe that the surgeon along with all his team will be educated to the highest standard possible. Every member of the medical team will all have gone to university for several years to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out the operation successfully and safely. This led me to think of how important education is (according to the world system).

Education helps to equip a person to do the task or job. For example, a Pilot to fly an aeroplane, a Surgeon to carry out an operation, a School Teacher to teach, a Police Officer to enforce the law etc. Many hours of our lives are invested into education; 0-2 years is stay and play, 2-4 years is nursery, 4-16 years is school, 16-18 higher education, 18- 21 can be university, currently costing a staggering £9,250 a year in the UK (which rules out the poor and the needy) and 21 onwards, Consultants, Lawyers, Architects etc. Basically, education is often ongoing throughout our lives. Most parents encourage their child’s education. Some parents will give their children time and space with no interruptions and some will offer incentives for good results. This made me think how awesome it would be if we spent as many hours studying the Word of God with parents encouraging their children to read their Bibles and to attend Sunday School. Wouldn’t it be just wonderful if learning about and forming a relationship with Jesus was seen as important as gaining knowledge and being educated for worldly things, that ‘spiritual education’ was given the same esteem as our ‘earthly education’.

Source: PInterest
When praying for our worship leader God led me to two scriptures; 1 Corinthians 1:27 ‘But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong’ and 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 ‘Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight’.  Many teachings in the Bible may seem to be back to front to our human way of thinking and God clearly states in the above scripture that the wisdom of this world is foolishness. God does not mind if people seek an education but it states clearly in the Bible that God is a jealous God and that He will not allow anything to come before him. We have been set apart for God and for his Glory. The Bible tells us over and over that to fear God is the beginning of wisdom.

In our fellowship at MCF life church we read three chapters of the Bible a day together.  We are currently in the book of 1 Thessalonians however you can find information about which chapters we are reading by visiting our website which is updated daily; https://www.mcflifechurch.com/ This may seem to be religious however it was initially set up to encourage those who have never read their Bibles before and for those who had tried to read the Bible on their own and had struggled. The idea was that by reading three chapters together the infant Christians would get the encouragement and support from the more mature Christians. We soon realised that God used this venture to bless everyone. There was a real sense of unity and God’s presence for all those participating.

As a fellowship, we would like to invite and encourage the body of Christ around the world to join with us and read the same three chapters of the Bible. The response I sometimes get is ‘I don’t have the time’. How sad that we don’t have five minutes for God and yet Jesus gave his life up for me and you, He was battered and beaten to death so that we might live. This really is not to make any one feel guilty because God has given us all free will to make our own choices.

I would challenge each of us to complete a one week ‘honest’ inventory of how we spend our time and then let the results speak for themselves. Reading the Bible will not get us into heaven. God is looking for ‘sold out’ hearts, however reading the bible gives us the weapons we need in these critical ‘end times’, in the chaotic, fast moving World we currently live in. The Bible teaches us to fix our eyes on God and to seek him in all things, it teaches us to stand firm and not to be afraid because the battle is God’s. It teaches us about the Holy Spirit who will help us to resist the temptations of this world. The Bible is the most amazing gift ever, a book of Holy instructions on every situation you will ever have to face while living on planet earth. The absolute ultimate teaching for me is found in 1 Corinthians 15:55 ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? Death has no hold over us’. Amen

Father God help us to never put anything before you. Everything we have you have given to us. Father God help us not to value or hold onto the temporal things of this world but to use every blessing you have given us to bring Glory to your Holy Name. Help us to be on fire with passion to commit to you Our Lord and Saviour. Help us to take the time to get get to know you more deeply by studying you and experiencing you by being in your presence in an intimate Holy relationship. Amen.

‘Each new day is God’s gift to you, what you do with it is your gift to him’ (T.D Jakes) Amen.

Please join us on this exciting adventure and read three chapters each day with us. (a reminder that they are posted on our website each day; https://www.mcflifechurch.com/


Author: Christina O’Neill

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this site with friends, family and others