Sunday, 22 October 2017

Where your heart is, is where your treasure will be

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Author: Christina O’Neill

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Courage

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.

Source: WordPress.com
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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