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

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; 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;

Author: Christina O’Neill

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Sunday, 15 October 2017


We can have confidence in the knowledge that God is always with us to speak to us, encourage and guide us and that we can have courage even if we are normally timid

Source: Etsy
I have been reminded of how, many years ago when I faced a very difficult situation that I had to go through, I prayed to God and asked Him to give me the courage I needed. His answer was that I was not to pray for courage, but to ask him for the strength and His help to go through it. Having courage is something that we ‘do’. We might be frightened, but we go ahead and do it anyway.  Soldiers facing battle must be very scared and anxious but they still go into battle and fight, even when everything in them must be screaming to run in the opposite direction. 

Often when we face something difficult God speaks to us beforehand and gives us everything we need, but that does not stop us having to go ahead and do it. I think of Moses who kept arguing with God when he was told to return to Egypt. God equipped him with what he needed - the staff to show miraculous signs and Aaron to speak on his behalf.  Another example found in the Bible is Gideon. When the angel of the Lord told Gideon to defeat the Midianites, He reassured him and even gave him two signs that he would be successful (Judges 6). In Matthew 14:27 when Jesus walked upon the water, the disciples were terrified when they saw Him, but Jesus immediately said to them, ‘Take courage!  It is I.  Don't be afraid’.  In 1 Corinthians 16:13 we are told, ‘Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong and in Hebrews 3:6; ‘Christ is faithful as a son over God's house, if we hold onto our courage and the hope of which we boast’. In Acts 27:22, when the ship the Apostle Paul was travelling on found itself in a violent storm and was about to be shipwrecked He said to the men on board to ‘keep up your courage’ and was able to tell them that their lives would be spared; ‘But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed’.

Source: PInterest
The phrase 'take courage' - can mean to ‘grasp’, or ‘to get hold of’.  All the phrases mentioned above are what we used to call 'doing' words when learning grammar.  We ‘grasp courage’, ‘hold onto our courage’ and endeavour to be ‘men or people of courage’. It is not just a stance or an attitude, it’s an action. We can have confidence in the knowledge that God is always with us to speak to us, encourage and guide us and that we can have courage even if we are normally timid; 1 John 4:4 ‘You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world’. I know that in my times of weakness and doubt that I can sometimes be a bit of a coward but I take comfort in the fact that I can have courage if I need it.  As I step out to do what needs to be done, He will give me everything I need to go through it; Philippians 4:19 ‘And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus’. What a blessing this is.

The song I have selected below; ‘Oceans, where feet may fail’, for me is prophetic. When I sing this song, I mean every word of it. Why not take a bit of quiet time to listen carefully to the words for yourself? 

Love in Christ and blessings.

Author: Muriel Allen

May God bless and enrich your life 

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Sunday, 8 October 2017

Please forgive me

We are all on our own personal spiritual journey and l ask Almighty God to forgive me and to help me to continue to see the best in people, for me to learn how to forgive and to try and change ‘me’

Source: PInterest
A few years ago, l was finding it very difficult, and even today l still wrestle with forgiveness, and it seemed that everywhere l went I witnessed great acts of forgiveness. I recently went to my local church and the fact that the Pastor was preaching on forgiveness really blew me away. During the sermon, the Pastor introduced a visiting Pastor from Rwanda who went onto explain the terrible conflict between the two warring factions, the Tutsi’s and the Hutu’s. The visiting Pastor explained that nine of his family members had been massacred by the opposition and went onto describe the terrible genocide that took place. When our Pastor asked him how he felt he said that he had forgiven those who carried out this atrocity to his family and many others; Colossians 3:13 ‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you’.

Eventually the opposition had managed to gain control of Rwanda but they couldn't bring the country together peacefully. The visiting Pastor explained that the leader of the opposition (now the ruling party), ask him to forgive him and to help him to unite the country, which he did. A few days earlier and by a pure coincidence l had watched the film Hotel Rwanda (a fantastic movie for which the two actors should have got Oscars). When the visiting Pastor was explaining his harrowing memories, the film became very raw in my mind. This all happened at a time when my ex-husband was being particularly nasty, needless to say, I was not in a particularly ‘holy’ frame of mind and I definitely did not feel very forgiving to say the least. However, while l sat there listening I felt as if Almighty God was talking directly to me through this Pastor who was giving his testimony.  l sat there and my conscience started to burn. I thought to myself ‘look at this man, he has lost so many family members and he was now helping the man who was responsible and the terrible genocide in Rwanda. He has embraced and forgiven him’. It really bought into question my own understanding of forgiveness.

To be honest I still find it hard to forgive certain things however l know l cannot do it by myself. l know that I need to be still and hand it over to the Lord; Psalm 46:10 ‘Be still, and know that I am God’. I need to listen to hear His voice. The testimony from the visiting Pastor was an amazing experience that really challenged me. God knew that I would be at that service on that day and at that time, it was no coincidence. He knew I needed to hear that particular message because God loves me and wanted to show me something about myself; Psalm 18:6 ‘In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears’. Praise God for the way He listens and communicates with us. All we need to do is be obedient and be open to hear what He has to say, even though it sometimes might highlight a human weakness in us, it actually helps and addresses a spiritual issue to help us develop our relationship with Him.

We are all on our own personal spiritual journey and l ask Almighty God to forgive me and to help me to continue to see the best in people, for me to learn how to forgive and to try and change ‘me’.

I pray blessings on everyone who reads this testimony. God bless.

Author: Jackie Peacock

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Sunday, 1 October 2017

Don’t forget the Children

If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will tell them not to.

Source: Pinterest
In the early 1900’s, Emily Pannal taught many students to read and write, including bible readings and prayers. Memorizing bible readings were all part of the school curriculum. Emily had taught a young farm boy who as a soldier served as a tunneller, digging trench ‘fox-holes’ in France, and she often wondered what had become of him. Years later he stopped by to see her and told her that when he was in the fox holes, he could not think or remember very much but he did remember the 23rd Psalm that Emily had taught him. He explained that he kept saying the Psalm over and over again. Proverbs 22:6 ‘Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it’. When I read that story, I thought about the painful times in my life, when I, and I’m sure all of us have been too hurt or scarred or numb to think of much or remember much, but at these times the Word of God would flood our soul and we would repeat comforting verses over and over again. If only we could go back and thank all those who taught us God’s Word long ago when we were young.

We should let those bible stories that we may have learned in Sunday School or elsewhere, burn in our hearts and to ‘live these stories out in our own lives! 2 Timothy 3:14 ‘…..continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it’. The Sunday Schools that I used to attend were mostly run by women although men were sometimes also used for this ministry. One such example is Pastor Bill Wilson who is one of the World’s most loved and respected children’s workers and his testimony is amazing. He was born in 1948 in South Boston and is the founder and Senior Pastor of Metro World Child which is America’s largest children’s ministry, however there are also branches in South Africa, Kenya, Romania, India and the Philippines. Pastor Wilson and his ministry act as an advocate for poor inner-city children. Bill was abandoned on a street corner in Florida, by his mother when he was a young child. Before she abandoned him, she told him ‘I can’t do this anymore, wait here’. That was the last time he ever saw his mother. The young child stayed on that street comer for three days and as you could imagine he could have been picked up by a gang member or a paedophile, however thankfully, God had other plans for him.

David Rudenis was a local car mechanic and a committed Christian who noticed this young boy on the street corner. He walked up to him and asked him if he was alright, an encounter that was about to change both of their lives forever. Even though David’s own son was in hospital at the time dying of leukaemia, and with his own world falling apart, he took the time to help a poor little boy that nobody else wanted. Out of hundreds of people who had passed him by, only one person stopped. Not the hot shot evangelist, but an ordinary man who by his act of kindness that day, God used to bring about a Worldwide Global Ministry and allow many thousands of children to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. David paid for the young boy to go to a Christian Summer camp, where he came to faith in Jesus Christ. This is a great example of how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Hebrews 6:10 ‘God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them’.

Source: Metro World Child
Bill Wilson later graduated with a degree from South Eastern University of the Assemblies of God and then returned to his church and pioneered one of the first Bus Ministries in the United States. Each week he and his team picked-up thousands of children from a variety of projects in Florida to participate in games, music and a gospel message. He decided to take his children’s ministry to Brooklyn New York, which was one of the rougher areas, and moved there himself. In Brooklyn, he took his children’s work onto the streets and called it ‘Sidewalk Sunday School’. The ministry also continued to work in other dangerous neighbourhoods. Bill has been shot, beaten, stabbed and hospitalised numerous times yet he remains committed to his work. His children’s ministry has been extended to urban areas around the world and he has raised millions to support his ministry and he has met Presidents.

Source: Metro Hope For Kids
God helped Bill to channel all the hurt and pain that he felt by being abandoned as a child into an amazing worldwide children’s ministry; ‘who said men don’t do children’s work’? Bill brought Jesus Christ into the hearts of abandoned and hurting children from the most dangerous and deprived urban areas that many people would not venture into. Matthew 18:10 ‘See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven’; and Matthew 9:37 ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me’. Today Bill Wilson and David Rudenis have remained firm friends, although David is quite elderly now and with failing health. One day Bill took David to a Street corner in Brooklyn New York and as they stood on that corner Bill showed him all of the buses going past to collect the City’s deprived Children for Sunday School. David was able to see the results of his single act of kindness, on that fateful day.

During church service, every week you may not notice your Sunday School teachers and others involved in children’s ministry, slip out of the service and later slip back in again. What they do may appear to go unnoticed by the majority of the congregation however it does not go unnoticed by God. This ministry is close to God’s heart and all those involved in children’s ministry are precious to Him. 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain’.

So, let’s end as we started this article: Don’t forget the children and remember this; ‘If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will tell them not to’.

Author: Eileen Greaves

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Sunday, 24 September 2017

The Shunammite Woman

Sometimes God expects that bit extra from us for us to really engage with the problem and to go the whole journey to its fulfilment

Source: Jesus Loves You Today Ministry
I was in a prayer meeting recently when one of the group read out the story of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4, which is a story that has always touched me deeply every time I read it.  It is the honesty of both the woman and of Elisha and the miracles God performs because of that. The story is simple; a well-off woman invites Elisha the prophet of God to her house for a meal, from then on, whenever Elisha visits she invites him to eat with her and her husband. Recognising Elisha as a Holy man she then encourages her Husband to build a room for Elisha to stay in whenever he visits. Elisha is so grateful that he wants to repay her hospitality to him and offers to put in a good word with the King, but the woman says its ok because her family take care of her. In desperation, Elisha asks his servant Gehazi what he can do for her, who points out that she doesn’t have a child and her husband is on older man. ‘Brilliant’ thinks Elisha and he tells the woman that this time next year she will cradle a child in her arms. Instead of being really pleased, the woman was distressed; 2 Kings 4:16 ‘About this time next year, ‘Elisha said, ‘you will hold a son in your arms’. ‘No, my lord!’ she objected. ‘Please, man of God, don't mislead your servant!’

Sometimes things mean so much to me that I am reluctant to pray about them in case the prayer is not answered. I remember when I heard that a good friend of mine was dying and not expected to last the night. I was afraid to pray because I knew that if God did not answer it would challenge me too much about continuing my walk with God. Eventually, I prayed and through that obedience God led me into one of the most amazing faith journeys of my life. Praise God my friend lived and was healed, but the lessons of faith and obedience in prayer God taught me through that time were amazing.

Anyway, back to the story. As prophesied, the Shunammite woman had a child and he grew into a boy, but one day he took ill with a head pain while out with his Father. He was taken home to his mother and he died later that day in her arms. I just can`t even imagine her pain or what I would have done it I had been her. She must have felt a sense of un-fulfilment of a broken promise, emptiness and despair.  I`m not sure what I would have done in my anger and grief, however the woman went and laid the child on the bed in the room that they had made for Elisha and afterwards she set off with a servant for Mount Carmel, the place where the prophet was staying.  As she approached, Elisha saw her coming and sent his servant Gehazi out to meet her and to ask if everything was alright to which she replied that everything was fine. I`ve always thought how strange, even rude, it was for her not to share with Gehazi what the problem was however, this time whilst reading this it challenged me that in life; how often do I share with others what my problems are rather than going straight to the Lord? Many times, in the past, when I have been struggling with something, I’ve often wished that someone would ring me so I could talk over my problem. Even though it`s good for us to talk to others, and the Lord provides family or good friends for us to talk to, it`s imperative that we talk to the Lord first! Meanwhile back at the story….  the Shunammite woman falls at Elisha`s feet and catches hold of them, (what an act of submission and desperation) and utters the most heart rending words that must have cut Elisha to the heart; 2 Kings 4:28 ‘Did I ask you for a son, my lord?’ she said. ‘Didn't I tell you, 'Don't raise my hopes'?

Source: Join Our Journey
I can only imagine the sense of paralysing shock that would have run through Elisha (especially as the Lord had hidden from him the reason for the woman`s distress). Something he had prophesied and seen fulfilled but now it was dashed and broken. What a challenge of faith this must have been for him. Why would God allow this, what did it all mean and how could he answer the woman and what should he do? These are all questions we too often have in the face of receiving devastating news.  However, Elisha was a man of God and to God he looked. He dispatched Gehazi to run ahead with instructions to place his staff on the boy. This was an act of faith, a declaration that he expected God to answer and restore the child. Gehazi hurried ahead holding the staff without speaking to anyone. What must have been going through his mind? what was his expectation? He had seen God move through the hand of the prophet before, but would he this time? When he arrived, he placed the staff on the child and nothing happened. What a battle of doubt he must have had on the journey back to Elisha, to tell him nothing had happened. Did he question himself? or had he not done something, right? He had obeyed Elisha’s instructions so why had nothing happened? After all this internal turmoil it was now his job to break the news that the boy was still dead.

Meanwhile back at Mount Carmel the Shunammite women was explaining to Elisha that she was not going home unless he accompanied her. Was she holding him to account for the promise of a son he had made, that now lay in tatters or was it that her trust was in Elisha and his God alone, and that she was going to settle for nothing less than his direct engagement with her needs? Who knows but Elisha honoured her request and set off with her. How often are we tempted to respond to a need with a token gesture rather than engaging directly? Sometimes God expects that bit extra from us for us to really engage with the problem and to go the whole journey to its fulfilment. I can only imagine Elisha’s battle of faith and the thoughts going through his mind, asking himself (and God), ‘why did this happen’ and ‘God I obeyed you and promised this woman a child and all seemed good and now her grief is greater than before’. ‘Before the Shunammite women just longed for a child but now the unfairness of having a child and losing it, Lord how can I face her, how can I face this situation, what is your purpose in all this, did I hear wrong from you, did I act from my own wish to do something for this woman, did I step out of your will?’  All of these questions may have gone through Elisha’s mind and I’m sure similar questions will have gone through our minds at times of unfulfilled promises. Finally, to be faced with Gehazi telling him that he had done what he had asked, but the boy was still dead, must have compounded Elisha’s thoughts.

When they arrived at the house Elisha went into the room alone, and there lay the dead boy, lying on Elisha`s own bed. Then Elisha did what he had done so many times before, he turned to God and prayed to Him, alone in the room just himself the dead boy and God; 2 Kings 4:33 ‘He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD’. Elisha did a mighty battle of faith, he obeyed a direction from the Lord, to lie on the boy, eyes to eyes, mouth to mouth and hand to hand. There was a glimmer of hope, a warmth in the child but no life. Elisha got up and walked across the room then returned and stretched out on the boy again. Sometimes the Lord tells us to do some strange things and asks us to obey and sometimes we need to be persistent in our obedience. In this case, once was not enough to get the job done, once only started the warming process, it took Elisha`s continued persistence in obeying what the Lord had said to raise the boy to life. Then the boy sneezed.  Wow, the joy of Elisha to be able to restore the child to the mother knowing that God had truly fulfilled his promise, must have been overwhelming.

Now some would say; why did all this have to happen, why put these people through this trauma? I don’t know the answers to these questions except that sometimes it is only when we go through trying times that the real lessons of faith and dependence on God are learned. Did I want to go through weeks of praying for my friend, trusting God that she would live and recover? No certainly not. It was a very hard and scary time, but also a time I would  not trade, as it took my faith, trust and learning to walk in obedience to God voice to a place it had not been before and would not have gone to had it not been for the situation we were facing.

This story from 2 Kings 4 has always blessed and challenged me as I hope it has blessed and challenged you today. At some time in our lives we will stand in the place of the characters in this story and the focus of the story will change depending upon which character we are relating to most at that time. However, the truth of the story remains that God cares for our needs and sometimes our wants and will provide for them even though we are often tested in this. Also, sometimes God asks us to step out and declare His Word and travel the journey of faith until fulfilment comes, even though that journey may not always be straightforward.

Author: Jan Pearson

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Sunday, 17 September 2017

Seeing with new eyes

We all journey towards salvation differently but our paths all connect at the cross. At some point in our journey our eyes have to be opened to see Jesus and for Him to show us our salvation through His eyes.

Source: Nicki Edwards -
I was recently in hospital listening to Louis Giglio’s talk ‘Crushed by Grace’. This had a big impact upon me and I have been pondering it ever since – these thoughts come from those ponderings;

When our two boys were young we were in the habit of taking them to a local safari park maybe two or three times a year. The park was the usual mix of ‘drive through animals’, traditional zoo and fairground. Along with other families when we had seen enough animals we would migrate to the fairground rides. Our youngest son was only about three at the time and he was not able to go on any but the smallest rides however at six plus, our oldest son Tim was trying to branch out and be more adventurous. Towards the end of the day my wife took our youngest son back to the car and I took Tim to have a go on the carousel. Now I had never been on one of these rides myself and did not really appreciate the size of the machine and the motion involved – that is until the carousel started to move. I had stood there whilst Tim had climbed onto the ride and indicated an empty horse to him. He jumped on and the machinery started up. It was at this point that I realised the dangers - how fast the carousel was going to go, how big the horses were, that they were rising and falling quite a way – and that Tim had climbed on a horse with no pole to hold onto. My heart was in my mouth and as I started to panic the ride seemed to accelerate faster and faster and I was certain that Tim would be thrown off. In my distress I visualised how this would end with Tim badly hurt or worse. The trouble was that in my panic I simply could not see him. Although I searched for him I could not see him anywhere on the ride. After what seemed to be a thousand years the carousel slowed down and stopped. I still couldn’t see Tim anywhere. Then there he was – looking a bit shaken but OK. He came up to me and said ‘Dad it was a bit silly to put me on a horse with no pole – there wasn’t anything to hold onto’!

Source: From the Inside Out
Why share this story? Well it’s about seeing things in a new light. I had seen carousels before but not really appreciated their size and power or the dangers for a small boy. I had seen Tim all his life but could not see him on the ride because of my panic. In his talk, Louis speaks of his testimony – a young man walking a Christian path but really only focussed on the outside church youth activities and social aspects. He testifies that one day in a meeting that everything changed and Jesus gave him new eyes to see what salvation really was. He describes that he saw the Garden of Gethsemane through Jesus’ eyes – here was the place where Jesus signed off on a deal whereby He would be crushed and we would be free. This is an immense thing – Jesus the Eternal Word of God without whom nothing was made that was made; John 1:3 ‘All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made’, the one by whom all things are held together; Colossians 1:16-17 ‘For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’. He came to us and at the turning point of all history in the garden of Gethsemane and prayed; Luke 22:42 ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’. No wonder He asked the disciples to pray with Him – what a weight on His shoulders, sweating drops of blood as He agonised there. With the words ‘not My will but Yours be done’. He accepted the cross and its implications and signed off with the Father to carry out His part in the plan.

All of us make our way to the cross differently, rather like the animals making their way to the ark. Some slithered, some crawled, some ran, some trotted, some flew but there was only one door. We all journey towards salvation differently but our paths all connect at the cross. At some point in our journey our eyes have to be opened to see Jesus and for Him to show us our salvation through His eyes. Back at the carousel my eyes had to be opened to see the potential dangers unapparent to me until that time, and also to see that Tim was indeed safe – salvation was secure. In spiritual terms this is what people have called ‘revelation’ – a personal revelation of Jesus and His opening our eyes to what He has done for us (you and me). To see what He has saved us from and to see that He was ‘crushed’ for us, and through His death and resurrection, paid our debt and thereby setting us free. To some this revelation seems to come quickly at the point of their initial decision to follow Jesus but for others it takes a longer time. From my own observation, reading and listening to others it can often take more time for people who are from Christian homes, analytical thinkers, introverts and academics. (I can tick several of these boxes)! This is why the bible urges us in Jeremiah 29:13 to seek him for ourselves; ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ and in Hebrews 11:6 ‘anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him’.

Without this revelation (seeing things through God’s eyes) there seems to be a temptation for some to start to modify their belief in God to suit themselves – without the revelation of what danger God has saved us from we can be tempted to doubt that there is a Hell or a real being called Satan who means us harm. Without the revelation of who Jesus is and what He has done we can be tempted to develop a whole series of theories and ideas about who God is and start to recreate Him in ‘our image’. If we go this way there is a chance that we end up knowing a lot about God but not actually know the Lord Himself.

Listen to the words in the ‘Housefires’ song at the end of this article; ‘I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like (You’re a good, good Father)’ the conclusion is; ‘but You know just what we need before we say a word’. This is the comfort; He is a ‘good, good Father’ who knows just what we need. The seeking that God asks for is not a penance from a vindictive father, not a purgatory of frustration but rather it is for our sakes from a loving Father. It is so that we might divest ourselves of layers of ‘stuff’ that hinders us and find God meeting us for a deeper walk and the transformation of knowing Him; John 17:3 ‘Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’. In John 14:23 Jesus says; ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’. We need to find Jesus for ourselves we need to see Him with ‘new eyes’.

Author: Chris Pearson

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