Sunday, 10 November 2019

GOD is Faithful

When the medical profession have drawn the curtains on your life but you have that inner peace and know that God is in control of your life story.

I pray that as you read this you will be encouraged that God is in control of all things – the good and the bad.

Two years ago I found a lump in my breast and it was discovered that I had a very rare type of cancer which is basically incurable. As the physician was telling me what procedures they were intending to carry out I felt an audible voice say ‘’This isn’t the road I want you to go down’’.
The physician asked me if I had heard what he said as I hadn’t given a reaction. They were setting up 5 procedures for the next week but I said I wanted to go away for a couple of weeks and read up on this particular strain of cancer. What I read was pretty awful but I had the peace of God in my heart. They initially wanted me to have 2 years of the most toxic chemo and radiotherapy, which I declined.

The next year was full of tests, results, hospital visits and an operation. Not a day went past where I was not encouraged by a scripture, love of a friend or a hug from my favourite person in all the world, my lovely husband. This last year we have celebrated both our 60th birthdays our Ruby wedding anniversary and the birth of 2 new grandchildren, (one of them being an extra special miracle from God).

One really important lesson I learned was to tell and show the people around us that we love them. My dear childhood friend got in touch with me just before my 60th birthday and took me to a spa retreat as a gift. She isn’t a Christian but when she found out about the cancer she threw her arms around me, kissed me over my face and told me how much she loved me and was there anything she could do to make things easier for me. Another blessing was that there was a drawing closer of my two sisters and myself that through sheer busyness and time constraints had become distant.

All my Christian life I had believed others should know we are Christians by the way we conduct our lives, but since I received the news they expected me to be dead by the end of 2018 it has made me more bold to proclaim the goodness of God. In the past few weeks as I have sat having a coffee two people just started telling me their life story (both very sad), and I asked if they would like me to pray for them, and they both said ‘yes’. Something I know I wouldn’t have done previously.

When I say now that every day is a gift it has so much more meaning. When the medical profession have drawn the curtains on your life but you have that inner peace and know that God is in control of your life story.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you be not dismayed, for I am your God I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

When the doctors and nurses asked why I refused all the treatment I just replied that God has me in the palm of His hands and only He knows my first and last day and whether He heals me or takes me home that’s up to Him. I am not saying this route is right for others, I always thought I would just follow the doctor’s advice until this illness came knocking at my door and that was all turned on its head. I rarely tell people about this illness because, often others don’t know how to deal with it and feel awkward as to whether to mention it or ignore it.

I can honestly say that I have loved and served God in many ways over nearly 40 years, but I have never felt as close to Him as I have whilst dealing with this storm in life. I realise He really is the Author and Perfecter of my faith. That I am the apple of His eye. That no weapon formed against me will prosper. So for anyone reading this blog today, if you are struggling mentally, physically or spiritually, know that God is just a breath away. He knows what you need, He’s just waiting for you to ask.

I pray that if you are one of the people who have walked away from your faith because something or someone has cut in on you, make the decision today to go back to your first love and give Him the honour He deserves. I promise if we look to Him and not to others, we will NEVER be disappointed.

Author: Lyn Hunt

Saturday, 2 November 2019

The one in the Shadows

Many 'modern Christians' do not believe in a real figure called 'Satan' at all, others have constructs that reduce His significance to the same level as a Halloween party.

Recently I saw the film 'War Room' (also a book – writers Stephen and Alex Kendrick) it was recommended to us by Christian friends who had been blessed by it. I watched it with tears in my eyes as I saw the story unfold. For those who have not seen it, the ‘War Room' is a room for prayer. In the story the people creating 'war rooms' create a place in their homes free of distractions to get down to real prayer. I was challenged by the film in a number of ways.

My reason for mentioning it here is that in one scene one of the key characters is speaking to a woman whose husband is wayward and says to her something like "your husband is not your enemy - our real enemy is in the shadows". This and other recent happenings got me thinking. Our real enemy is 'in the shadows'! I thought of all of the things that the world blames God for: everything from our daily troubles to the lack of world peace and global hunger. People blame God for everything that goes wrong but our real enemy gets off scot free!

Let me be clear that I have no wish to give Satan any extra publicity or credence with this blog. I want to point out though, that the spiritual war going on around us and with us is just as real as our morning breakfast. The Bible clearly tells us that we have any enemy who Jesus says was a murderer and liar from the beginning (John 8:44) and who wants us all in hell if he can manage it. Despite this for so many people he is 'in the shadows'. He doesn't mind being there, and finds great advantage in being hidden or hiding His true nature 'in sheep's clothing'. Many 'modern Christians' do not believe in a real figure called 'Satan' at all, others have constructs that reduce His significance to the same level as a Halloween party.

This is not what Jesus had to say on the subject. His already quoted direct warning was that the Devil was a liar and murderer from the beginning and scripture warns moreover to be careful of those who follow his ways. To one group Jesus says: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44). They protest as if unwitting accomplices but He says 'and the works of your father you want to do'. Peter warns us to be aware of our adversary who 'roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Peter 5:8).

Revelation paints a picture of an angry Satan (‘the Dragon’) who knows that His time is short (Revelation 12:17). Full of wrath this 'accuser of the brethren' (Revelation 12:10) seeks to destroy men and women by every means possible - either by frontal attack on our families and lives or by subtle means such as temptation and the deceitfulness of riches and materialism. The parable of the sower spells it out - the seed (God’s Word) on the footpath was taken directly by the birds - meaning Satan and His acolytes snatched it away before it had impact. The seed choked by thorns represented those overtaken by the deceitfulness of the world and the world system. 1 John 2:15-16:” Do not love the world (Greek Kosmon or ‘world system’) or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world”. The seductive world system and its present ambitions, pursuits and pleasures are designed by the ‘Prince of the power of the air’ (Satan) to draw us away from Godliness and consume us with distraction and confusion.

In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul comments on the danger of allowing Satan have something to manipulate us with: “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices”. In my own experience and walk it is at that very moment when all is going well that we should be most wary. I remember well times with a young family when my wife and I would get together on Sunday night and agree to press forward with something that the Lord had laid on our heart or challenged us with. As surely as night follows day by Wednesday of that week, we would be sitting in shock wondering where all the problems had come from. Problems at work, with the children, with each other they seemed to pour in like a flood as soon as we determined to walk more closely with the Lord.

So unfashionable as it is, we must be aware of our adversary and his intentions and warn men and women, boys and girls that there is a thoroughly ruthless enemy of our souls who we ignore at our peril. Having said all of this what are we to know and to do? Well Satan is the one who Jesus outwitted and defeated at the cross. Despite every attempt of Satan to destroy Jesus, deter Him from His mission and corrupt His offering, before the cross Jesus said "the prince of this world is coming and he has no hold over me"(John 14:29).

To say again our Lord Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, overcame Satan for us on the cross and by His mighty resurrection from the dead: Colossians 2:13-15 says: “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it”. And Hebrews 2:14: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

When he returns Jesus will vanquish Satan’s representatives on earth: 2 Thessalonians 2 v 8: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” and finally consign Satan and death to Hell when He makes all things new: Revelation 19:10 “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever”.

Because of what Jesus has done for us, we read in James 4:7 ‘submit yourselves to God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you'. Clearly both parts of this scripture are important – submitting to the Lord and His rule being established in our lives is crucial if we are to resist the Devil and see him flee from us. If Jesus is King of our life then we are entitled to wear the King’s armour.

It is because our warfare is spiritual and not against flesh and blood that we are urged to 'put on the whole armour of God' (Ephesians 6 v 10 – 20). Here we are urged not only to use the Shield of Faith to quench the fiery darts of the evil one but also to get on the offensive using the Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. We are urged by scripture and many who have fought a good fight of faith to use scripture in our spiritual warfare, prayers and praying. (The ‘War Room’ film mentioned at the start presents this beautifully). In a message on Spiritual Warfare back in 1995 Suzette Hatting urged us to use the Sword of the Spirit in our spiritual battles. In practice this meant seeking the Lord for a scripture for any given situation and then praying that / those verse(s) over it until it was resolved.

We are urged not to underestimate our adversary - he is like a fierce lion and in Jude we are told not to speak flippantly about spiritual powers. We are told that even Michael the archangel did not dare raise an accusation against Satan when He was contending with him but said "The Lord rebuke you". (Jude v 9). In Daniel we have a picture of a mighty angel being resisted when he tries to break through in response to Daniel's prayers. The picture is one of a spiritual struggle in which we are all involved - for real. It’s important to be on the winning side (see the outcome in Revelation chapter 19 and 20:7-10 if in doubt) and we are urged to save those who we can 'as brands from the burning'.

Satan was exposed and expelled from heaven and one day his judgement will be public before the universe and before God the righteous judge. Jesus whose offering was determined and agreed before the foundation of the world will stand and own all who belong to him before the father. Before then we must stand for Him in every possible way and refute and enforce the victory of Jesus over the evil one and his hold on people: ‘Submit yourselves to God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you'. (James 4:7)

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Author: Chris Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday, 27 October 2019

Lord I need you

Sometimes a situation will bring us to a point when we just fall to our knees and cry out ‘Lord I confess I need You’.

One of my favourite worship songs is ‘Lord I need You’ by Chris Tomlin. I feel this song sums me up as a person and in particular my relationship with Christ, a personal relationship in which God is my only help. A relationship that starts with confession and one in which I continue to rely on God's grace and mercy.

The song starts with the lyrics ‘Lord, I come I confess, bowing here I find my rest. And without You I fall apart, You’re the one that guides my heart.’ How true this is. When we first acknowledge that we need God in our lives it is often at the point when we are at our lowest. Sometimes a situation will bring us to a point when we just fall to our knees and cry out ‘Lord I confess I need You’. In our own strength we are imperfect and are always prone to fail and we mess up time and time again and as the song says ‘without God we fall apart’.

The chorus goes on to say; ‘Lord I need You, oh I need You, every hour I need You, my one defence, my righteousness, oh God how I need You’. The Bible says in Psalm 18:2 ‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold’. These are strong words that tell us clearly of God's protection for His people and how he will deliver us out of troubles.

The song continues ‘Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more, where grace is found is where You are. And where You are Lord I am free, holiness is Christ in me’. The deeper the sin, the more of God's grace is poured out. For you see when we accept God's grace we are totally forgiven, not just a bit forgiven but totally, and for some of us, as the song says we really need more of God's grace because the sin runs deep. There is a freedom from this sin only because of God's mercy and grace. 

Further lyrics of the song are ‘So teach my song to rise to You, when temptation comes my way, and when I cannot stand I'll fall on You, Jesus you my hope and stay’. These lyrics say a lot about our journey and show that as Christians we WILL face temptation as the enemy of our souls tries to lure us away with all manner of things. When we cannot stand any longer we should fall on Christ and He will lift us up. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says ‘He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness’. Amen

Author: Anonymous 

May God bless and enrich your life

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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Are we only a handful of dust?

The dirt will return to dirt, but the spirit lives on forever in either the agony of hell or the glory of heaven.

Are we only a handful of dust, which is dirt?  As unflattering as that sounds, we are only dirt.  Well, maybe a special kind of dirt.  We are made from the elements of the ground, suspended in a molecular state, held together by gases, such as oxygen and hydrogen, which are also in a molecular state, formed by the magnetic fields of atoms, which they, themselves, are a magnetic field.  What a miracle!  To prove that is true, consider cremation of an animal.  A two-hundred pound animal that is cremated will be reduced to a handful of dust, which is dirt.  The rest of the body returns to gases.  Wait a minute!  There is something even more special than the dirt that we are made of - a soul.  A soul was also created, along with the dirt. So, the soul and dirt act as one unit. 

Here is another thought  - the most awesome aspect of a created human being is that man’s body was made from existing dirt that God formed and breathed life into; Genesis 2:7 ‘The time came when the Lord God formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life.  And man became a living person’; and someday the body will return to dirt; Genesis 3:19 ‘All your life you will sweat to master it (the soil), until your dying day. Then you will return to the ground from which you came. For you were made from the ground, and to the ground you will return.’  But, the soul that was created to occupy the body was created by a spirit that did not exist prior to the creation of the body.  While the dirt will return to dirt, the spirit comes from nothing that has physical properties and will never die. 
Okay, so what is the point of what has been discussed?  Well, no matter how important we think we are, no matter how rich or poor we are, no matter how much civil power we have, no matter about anything else, we were made from dirt; we are now dirt, and we will return to dirt. The bible refers to it as ‘dust’, which is dirt. The thing that separates one special piece of dirt from another special piece of dirt is the unique spirit that occupies each special peace of dirt.  The dirt will return to dirt, but the spirit lives on forever in either the agony of hell or the glory of heaven.  Do you know Jesus as your Savior so that your eternal spirit can live in heaven, or will your eternal spirit burn in hell?

Just as a note from one piece of dirt to another piece of dirt.  Do not evaluate yourself over someone else.  They may be a piece of dirt, but so are you.  God breathed life into your special piece of dirt, so that you can find, joy, peace and fulfilment by serving Him. Psalm 103:13-14 ‘As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him for he knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust’.

Yes, He loves you – the dirt and the spirit – ALL of you.

Author: David Leatherman 

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday, 13 October 2019

Finding lasting peace and contentment in our lives.

If we could come to a place in our lives where we want what we have rather than have what we want, then we are much more likely to be content. 

As part of my prayers each morning I always pray for people who have not yet been saved including those close to me.  As I was in the process of doing this recently, God spoke to me through a thought He put into my mind about which made me think about life and how many unhappy people there are who never appear to be fulfilled.  This then made me think about my own life and about what makes me feel happy even though like everyone else I am subject to the ups and downs of life.  I sometimes get sad and frustrated and occasionally experience those days which we would rather not have, however on the whole I am happy and fulfilled and I would not swap my life for anyone else.  God provides all of my needs and each morning I hand my life over to Him and I ask Him to use me as a vessel for His heavenly kingdom, to His glory and not mine. I am sure this is the reason that I feel fulfilled, because God fills that need in my soul that wants to be valued and loved, every single day. Praise God. Philippians 4:12-13 ‘I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength’

Modern society is hectic particularly in the developed World and there is no doubt that we live in a very materialistic age.  People and especially the young are continually fed with commercial advertising that tells them that they must have the latest of everything, houses, computers, phones, cars, clothes, jobs etc. etc. etc. When the desired item is obtained it is not long before something bigger and ‘better’ or a new updated version comes along and this becomes the new ‘need’.  This is a continuous cycle that will never fulfil the needs of the human soul because any fulfilment or happiness is only short lived.  The problem is that these types of needs, and there is no other way of saying this, are selfish desires.  God does not mind us having possessions or being successful in life as long we do not put them above Him. 
Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’. 

He is almighty and everything we have in our lives and in our world have been provided and given by Him.  It is all His, everything, and we should give thanks and praise to Him every single day for what He has provided in our lives, rather than spending our time desiring or being concerned about the things that we haven’t got. If we could come to a place in our lives where we want what we have rather than have what we want, then we are much more likely to be content.  We should also remind ourselves that this life is a journey and our true reward will be found not on earth but in heaven; Matthew 6:19-21 ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’

During my prayers God also spoke to me about how ‘giving’ makes me feel happy and fulfilled. Giving is not just about spending money and giving gifts but can equally as effective and rewarding by spending nothing. Just taking the time to help somebody is something that any of us can do and the only cost to us in many situations will be our time. Spending time with someone who is lonely or taking the time to show somebody some compassion are simple examples of how God can use us to demonstrate His love, using us as His vessel. These are the types of thing that will help to fill the void within the soul and the reason why is that they are from God not from ‘the self’. Therefore real happiness and fulfilment can be attained by giving with a willing heart, with no agenda for recognition or for our own earthly rewards, but a real desire to provide compassion and love, all of which are attributes of the heavenly kingdom. Matthew 6:1-4 ‘Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you’.

When life is not going the way we would want or if we are in a particularly low place in our lives then why not try giving, for which will then receive the blessings of God; Deuteronomy 15:10 ‘Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to’. As stated above we do not need money or possessions to be able to give, simply time will suffice, but when we do, the blessings of God will come into our lives and changes will start to happen.  Why not give it a try and remember that our Father gave everything for us. John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ Praise God.

Author: Gary O’Neill 

May God bless and enrich your life

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