Sunday, 20 May 2018

A Journey of Obedience

Obedience is the highest form of worship. If we love God, we should obey him

Source: Exhortation
Five years ago, this month I packed two suitcases and got on a plane to Burundi having said a big ‘yes’ to Papa God to step out to the unknown of a missionary life overseas. Recently, I was asked to share some of my story and I’ve found myself reflecting on this journey of obedience. I couldn’t have planned or written the story myself, but God has clearly weaved this beautiful, and sometimes painful, journey into existence:

The resignation letter… I clearly remember sitting with my boss, at a big London children’s hospital where I worked as a Pharmacist, with the letter shaking in my hand. I passed it to him and when he read the letter he asked me what I was going to do when I leave. The truth was, I didn’t know. I guessed something to do with mission work, but there was no clear plan, and if you know me I always have a plan. A plan for the day, a plan for the week, a plan for food, a plan for holidays, a plan for gifts, a plan for church activities, a plan for……. and here I was without a clear plan for the next step, post resignation. My boss handed me back the letter and encouraged me to keep the letter until I had plan. We played ‘pass the letter tennis’ for a few minutes as I shared that God had asked me to hand in my resignation, which I was now doing in obedience.

Preparation time… After finishing my job, I moved to All Nations Christian College and did a three month ‘En Route to Mission’ course with an idea I would go to Burundi as a missionary. God was so kind, as amongst the 13 students on the course there was a man from Burundi, which was a little confirmation that I was in the right place at the right time. From there I went to Burundi for a month to visit organisations and then on to Mozambique where I participated in Iris Global Harvest School for the first time. God knew I needed to receive His love and be completely transformed and forever changed so I could serve Him here in Burundi.

Feet on the ground… I arrived in Burundi with a two-week plan to stay with Burundian friends. The two weeks turned into seven months and I not only immersed myself in the culture, but learnt the language, as well as what stepping out in faith looks like. Looking back God gave such a grace for that time. I remember the laughter I caused the family with my screams when the rats (well probably big mice) ran over my face in the bed, the visitors, the different foods and the day I got caught in the floods and had to be carried over a river.

Source: Read My Bible Study - WordPress.com
Overcoming fear… Sometimes our journey requires us to overcome fear. It was a few days after the family first let me out by myself. I came back from town on the bus and as I walked across a dirt school playground I noticed a young man who had followed me from church on numerous occasions, was suddenly alongside me. Fear set in, the real deal fear that chokes at the neck. He had found me. I turned around and half-ran half-tripped back to the main road and just jumped into a passing taxi. The next day I had a choice – do I go out again by myself or let fear control me? I was reminded of a key life verse; Romans 8:15 ‘The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’. So, I decided to not live in fear, but as a Child of God to walk in confidence and knowing my inheritance and that I could ask God to hide me supernaturally if the young man was there.

Angels all around… I will never ever know the number of times angels have protected me here in Burundi. One day clearly sticks in my mind when I drove my good friend and her new baby to the vaccination clinic. They were both in the front passenger seat with no seatbelt. It was a clear good road and I remember driving at about 45mph on the dual carriageway. A bus parked at the side of the road pulled out and started driving across the dual carriageway in front of me to turn the other way. I slammed on the brakes, but knew we were not going to stop in time. My only option was to shout ‘Jesus’, and the next thing I knew the steering wheel had turned and the car came to a stop a finger gap from the turning bus. A miracle.

A move to the mountains… A year later God moved me up into the mountains to serve the beautiful TCOAC (The Cries of a Child) family. I had read many previous blogs about the joys and tears of being on the frontline in a rural Burundian village, especially babies needing milk as their mamas had died in childbirth. Opening a medical clinic and working on logistics such as no fuel for the generator which was needed for the oxygen machine. One of the babies was heavily dependent on oxygen! The journey there was clearly God, but there were days I literally started to pack my suitcase to leave, but I kept hearing God’s gentle whisper, ‘Don’t run away’ and I reluctantly unpacked my bag. That is where I really grew, in character, in using my gifts, in leadership, and in learning to trust and of course, it was in my obedience of staying that I met Claude!

Journey of obedience… So, what is the point of me sharing all this? Well, I think I am so challenged about obedience and continuing to walk on this journey of obedience and want to encourage you on your journey. Obedience is the highest form of worship. If we love God, we should obey him (see John 14:15,21,23). At church yesterday morning, the Preacher spoke about how Abram had to be obedient in Genesis 12:1-2 ‘The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing’.

We often want the blessing and our name to be made great, but obedience comes before the blessing. Please hear me, I can give you many examples of getting it wrong, of being disobedient, of falling short, and messing it up. Pray for me to hear God and to walk in obedience! Pray for Claude and I to hear God and to walk in obedience so we can be a blessing to the Nation of Burundi. May God bless you.


Author: Ruth Baraberewe

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Sunday, 13 May 2018

Only God knows who I really am!

When we want to know who we truly are and what we are really worth, we shouldn't be looking to those around us, we should be asking God. When you see yourself through His eyes you find hope and an overwhelming sense of pure love

Source: PInterest
Have you ever felt not good enough, not worthy to be loved by anyone, let alone God!? Have you ever felt like all you do is mess up, make mistakes, unworthy of forgiveness? When I was young I was bullied, and it became a defining moment in my life. For a whole year in school I didn't tell anyone about how I was feeling and it was painful and when I eventually told my parents I cried so hard I couldn't speak and could barely breathe, in fact, I wasn't sure it would ever stop. Ever since then, I think I have always cared too much about what other people think of me, which has had a huge and negative impact on my own self-worth. I have often had little confidence or self-esteem and I have struggled to believe that anyone could really love me, because I'm just not worth that love. However, here is the thing, no matter where I go and who I meet in life, no-one is ever going to know me the way God does, not even me! He is my creator, He knows every part of me, the good and the bad. He knows how I will deal with what life throws at me, He knows how I feel, He knows my inner most thoughts, and incredibly, He loves me completely and unconditionally at all times and in all circumstances! I might not be able to understand it, but it doesn't stop it being true; 1 John 4:16 ‘And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them’.

When we want to know who we truly are and what we are really worth, we shouldn't be looking to those around us, we should be asking God. When you see yourself through His eyes you find hope and an overwhelming sense of pure love. At the end of the day we are human, and we will mess up, but luckily for us, the Lord will always love us and forgive us for our sins if we ask. I look at the bible and it is full of people who can't help but mess up. When I read it I can't help but think 'no, why would you do that?' although I know my life is littered with those moments too. It fills me with hope that even someone like King David wasn't perfect however the Lord said in Acts 13:22 'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’. David took another man’s wife and had that man killed! But he repented and the Lord still loved him. In Exodus 3:11 Moses found himself unworthy; ‘But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ Moses didn't believe he could be used by the Lord and yet God used Moses to rescue the Israelites from their misery and slavery. Even Solomon in all his wisdom, eventually followed other Gods - not so wise you may think, but he allowed himself to be led by the love for his numerous wives rather than his God.

Source: Seeds Family Worship
The Lord knows us better than we know ourselves, which we see in the new testament when He predicts that Peter will deny Him three times; Matthew 26:31-34 ‘Then Jesus told them, ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee’. Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will’. ‘Truly I tell you’, Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times’. Peter, who loved the Lord deeply, couldn't imagine ever doing such a thing. I am sure the Lord knew exactly how much Peter loved Him and how He believed he could never do such a thing, but the Lord also knew the situation that Peter would be in when faced with that particular challenge, surrounded by people and being accused....

We aren't perfect, that honour belongs to the Lord alone, but if we are feeling lonely and struggling with who we are and what we are worth, don't look to the world for answers, because you will only find darkness and pain and misery. It is a real challenge because naturally we look to others, especially those close to us for their opinions, validation, love. However, those in the world are human too and will let us down, get it wrong and upset us. I still struggle with it all, but I’m trying to learn that I must spend time seeking out what God thinks of me and to base my identity in that alone. Look to the creator, the one who knitted you together in your mother’s womb and created you just as you are for a reason; Psalm 139:13 ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb’. Don't be defined by your past anymore. You are, who He says you are and He is who He says He is, in that you can trust!


Author:Rebekah Cronk

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Sunday, 6 May 2018

God will never let you down!

By trusting in the Lord in all things and being obedient (even when things are tough), beautiful blessings happen. This is a promise of God mentions all over the bible.

Source: pinterest.co.uk
God has wisdom, hindsight and understanding far more than any of us will ever have, which although at times is frustrating for us as we try to take control of situations ourselves. It is an absolute comfort and reassurance that such a knowledgeable, loving God is in control and knows exactly what must (or must not) happen at exactly the right times in our lives – He will never let us down.

Although we are Christians, we are also humans and it is human nature to feel the need to ‘fix things’. Whether it is work issues, relationships, finances, decisions etc. there is always something in some capacity that we think we can be in control of fixing, changing or swaying in a certain direction. However, sometimes it is necessary for us to lose that something or someone or maybe not to get that job/promotion at that time because God knew that we wouldn’t be able to serve Him, if we went to that place or situation at that specific time. The reality is that by taking control ourselves we are not trusting God.

God loves us with an unconditional, agape love and He has plans to prosper us not harm us; 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’. Sometimes to lose something is to actually gain and draw us closer to Him. For a while now I have felt a calling upon my life, but I have continued comfortably in my day-to-day routine and taken no steps in making that calling a reality. I have recently been experiencing a very challenging time at work, watching my colleagues and friends being bullied and another colleague having a nervous breakdown. Other colleagues have been on long term sick leave. It has been particularly painful time and on a number of occasions I have tried to take control and almost thrown the towel in. I now realize that God has me there and has let me go through this trauma to wake me up, to draw me closer to Him and to get things moving with His calling for me which is now underway. As well as being the only Christian at my workplace I am able to strengthen and witness to others.

Source: KoalaPal - DeviantArt
Another example of this in my life is having to say goodbye to someone dear to me, which is never easy and not something at the time that I wanted… but, God knew best. In a moment it is so easy to try and change a situation, however God is in control; Colossians 1:17 ‘He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’. God knows what is and what is not good for us and even although we may not see or feel it at the time, sometimes it is best for things to actually be taken away. By trusting in the Lord in all things and being obedient (even when things are tough), beautiful blessings happen. This is a promise of God mentions all over the bible; Proverbs 3:5-6 ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight’, and Isaiah 43:2 ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’.

As Christians we are not exempt from enduring trails and going through difficult seasons, however we have a God who is bigger and stronger than any challenge we face. We need to stay strong through the storm and just do nothing except pray and draw closer and closer to Him, trusting in Him and the promises He gives us. He is the Lion of Judah and is continually fighting our battles - There is nothing that will not work out for good if we hand it over to God and wholly surrender to Him, (as the song below declares) ‘He will NEVER let you down’.

Interestingly just after finishing this blog I read my daily devotion and a part of it seems so fitting to this blog ‘Do you have this spirit in your prayers to God? Are you able to thank him for his divine and sovereign working, even when it crosses your own desires?’. God bless.


Author: Anonymous

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Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Deception

We need to exercise discernment like never before. Christians can often be naive which we cannot afford to be. We need to weigh up what we hear, read and see.

Source: Bill Muehlenberg
We live in a time where not only the things of the world infiltrate the church but also false teaching is on the increase and often social media is used to disseminate it. We need to exercise discernment like never before. Christians can often be naive which we cannot afford to be. We need to weigh up what we hear, read and see. We need to ask ourselves some questions; Does it conform to the whole body of scripture? Does it sit right with your spirit? Does it accept the risen Christ and everything that that embraces? Not only is there a large amount of material on the web that is 'dodgy', you can find it on Christian TV channels as well.

God gave me a warning dream many years ago which said that I must not rush off to Christian events/meetings unless I have prayed about it and found out about the person or ministry leading the meeting. The dream warned about the severe effect on a person that deception can have even to the point of causing spiritual illness and spiritual death. In Matthew 7:15-16 Jesus himself said: ‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them’. In Luke 21:8 He also warns us to ‘watch out that you are not deceived’. There are further warnings in 2 Peter 2:1‘There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord’. 2 Peter 2:10 calls them ‘bold and arrogant’

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 ‘For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve’.

Source: Inspirational Bible Verse Images - Knowing Jesus
The second area where we can be gullible and naive is about prophecy which again is important to weigh up and discern. 1 John 4:1 tells us; ‘do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world’ and remember that in 1 Corinthians 14, we are told that prophecy is to be weighed up by other prophets in the body. We don't live our lives in isolation; we have brothers and sisters in Christ and we can go to those who exercise gifts of wisdom and discernment, who hear God clearly. Finally, we should not forget what the Bible says about wolves in sheep's clothing which still applies today. We will always have wolves in sheep's clothing coming into our churches with one aim and that is to destroy the church, so be vigilant.

We cannot afford to be unquestioning and unobservant, accepting of everything. We have to spend time in prayer and be grounded in scripture and we have to be in relationship within the body of Christ.  As the days darken, we need to be aware of what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.


Author: Muriel Allen

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Sunday, 22 April 2018

The Heart of Jesus is with the Lost

All we need to do is to make ourselves available for God to work through us and to be obedient to Him

Source: PInterest
Many of the homeless and destitute on our streets suffer from mental illnesses, can be aggressive, have alcohol and drug dependencies and these are reasons why we often don't pay much attention to them. Next time you are in your City Centre or walking down the High Street just take a while to watch how many people will cross over the road or walk right past a homeless person without a second thought. The vast majority of us are guilty of this however it is necessary for us to sometimes take a step of faith and to push through the barriers of fear, embarrassment, scepticism and cold heartedness; Isaiah 58:10 ‘and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday’.

It was a great privilege for me to be part of a team of Street Pastors in my City and I will always remember an encounter I had with a homeless man that I still keep close to my Heart even today. One cold winter’s night myself and a colleague were patrolling the dark streets in the early hours of a Saturday morning. We approached an elderly man who was sheltering with his dog in a doorway, as we approached him he was quite aggressive and told us to go away. A few hours later we came across him again in an underpass where there were usually quite a few people in this underpass at that time, but on this occasion it was nearly empty. There were five entrances in this particular underpass. As we walked past him I casually asked him if he would like some dog biscuits for his dog as I usually carried some in my bag. On this occasion he was pleased to receive them and his whole demeanour changed, and he even asked if we could spend some time with him, which we were more than happy to do. He talked a lot about his father in quite a bad way but later admitted his father wasn't so bad. Now my colleague had a good ear to God’s promptings and sure enough he felt God prompting him to tell this man about the importance of honoring your parents and the importance of the commandment the God gave us in Exodus 20:12 ‘Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you’.

Source:PInterest
This appeared to affect him quite deeply and he started to share some personal things about how he got his life into such a mess, and he talked about his deep love for his mother and the last time he saw her before she died which was when she came to visit him in prison!!  Through the tears he asked us to pray for him, he said he was afraid to pray to God himself because of the terrible life he had lived and the many years of pain and grief he had caused his parents. We shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with him and helped him to pray to the God he feared. We explained that God loved a repentant heart and that if he was the only person on the earth his saviour, Jesus Christ would have died for him alone. We helped him to understand that nobody would be excluded from the love of God because we were all part of His creation;

John 15:9 ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love’

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’.

As our time together was coming to an end an amazing thing happened. People started coming into the underpass from most of the entrances. We realised that God had given us a window of opportunity and given us some private moments with Him, where time seemed to have stood still. Almighty God Himself had set the whole thing up just for this man who may have been seen as worthless by society’s standards however this was not the way God saw him. God had moved heaven and Earth for him and used us as His vessels to do His work. All Glory to God. All we need to do is to make ourselves available for God to work through us and to be obedient to Him; Matthew 25:35-36 ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’.

Remember this; the poor and destitute are still with us, they are still part of society, they are all loved by God who does not love them any less than you or I. How can God use us to show His love to them?  It is something to think about. God bless.


Author: Eileen Greaves

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