Sunday, 10 December 2017

Jesus - The true gift of Christmas

MCF Life Church - Christmas Message 2017

It is a sad reflection of how society has made celebrating Christmas, anything other that what it really is. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, the greatest gift you could ever receive and it's absolutely free to every one of us.

Source: Freedomborn's Christmas Blessings
As Christmas draws ever closer it reminds me of when I was a child and how excited I would get at the thought of Santa leaving me presents to open on Christmas morning. As with most children once 4am came along my siblings and I were up and out of bed, tearing through our stockings which were hanging on the end of our beds. I always used to wonder how Santa did that without me hearing him? The other thing I could never work out was why every year he would put a piece of coal at the bottom of my stocking and what on earth he expected me to do with it! I didn't mind the shiny sixpence though! (Just under 3p for those born after decimalisation). Then at 4.01am we would try to sneak past our parents room to get to the Christmas tree and all the presents without waking them up, something that we never managed to do however quiet we were. It wasn't until we had our own children, that we realised that our parents had only just gone to bed and hadn't actually managed to go to sleep, before we emerged trying to stealthily shoot past their bedroom door. It certainly explained why they would quickly fall asleep while we were watching the re-run of either 'Mary Poppins' or 'Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang', shortly after eating our Christmas dinner. These days it is films such as 'Home Alone' 1, 2 and 3 instead.

It now gives me as much excitement and pleasure to watch our grandchildren going through exactly the same anticipation and excitement (minus the piece of coal and shiny sixpence of course), at this time of year, as I did when I was a child. I also have the immense privilege of being able to contrast all the glitter and commercialism that bombards the youth of today, by telling my grandchildren the truth about Christmas and why it's so special. Each year my wife and I take part in 'Journey to the stable' which is the nativity story brought to life at the beginning of December at 'Southfields Farm' in Coleshill where local schools bring classrooms of children to see the story acted out by real people and real animals. This is an absolute joy as I get to see the look of amazement and wonder on the faces of the children when they not only see the people and animals but a real baby in the arms of Mary. (We've been blessed over the last few years with a child being born just before Christmas and the mom agreeing to play Mary in the stable with her child). We've heard a lot of the children when they see the baby say in amazement, ‘Look it's a real baby'!

Source: Google Plus
What do you look forward to at this time of year? So many people get caught up with wondering what to buy people for Christmas and hate the thought of pushing through the crowds at the shops as it all becomes so stressful and completely unenjoyable that they can't wait for Christmas to be over. It is a sad reflection of how society has made celebrating Christmas, anything other that what it really is. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, the greatest gift you could ever receive and it's absolutely free to every one of us. Jesus has already paid the price for you to receive this gift which is Eternal Life, and along with it, to know His peace in your hearts, even through the greatest trials and tribulations in your life. So why not let the stress that society would put on you go, and accept and celebrate Jesus this Christmas. The clue is in the Name...CHRISTmas.

This is the truth of Christmas: 

Isaiah 9:6 ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ 

Luke 2:21 ‘On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived’

Have a blessed Christmas and New Year.


Author: Kevin Hunt 

May God bless and enrich your life      
   
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Sunday, 3 December 2017

God’s plans are always better than our own

If you are seeking direction, particularly regarding a work situation, be assured that it's not that you're not capable, it is that God has something else in mind for you. His plans are always so much better than our own!!

Source: Biblia.com
I remember a situation
where I was asked if I would consider applying for a position which was about to be re-advertised for a one to one helper with a child with very specific learning difficulties. I was also told that, to date, no-one who had previously applied was suitable for the position. The person added that because I had worked in lots of different capacities and environments that I had an excellent skill-set and my multi-discipline experience would be invaluable. I explained that I was really happy in my current job and had no desire to swap roles and to work with just one child. During the next few days both the person who had contacted me and one of her colleagues, badgered, coerced and pleaded with me to apply. Eventually I gave in and agreed to apply. I went to the interview and all seemed to go well. The Deputy Head (the person who encouraged me to apply), his colleague and a trustee were conducting the interview and at the end of I was told by the Deputy Head that he would let me know the outcome by two o’clock that day as they had one further person to interview. However, three o'clock came and went and by four o'clock I realised that it was highly likely that I hadn't got the job. At 4.30pm the phone rang and surprisingly it wasn't the Deputy Head’s voice that I heard but the voice of the person who asked me to go for the interview in the first place. After the pleasantry greeting of ‘hello’ there was such a long awkward pause that I put her out of her misery and said; ‘it’s okay I know I haven't got the job, don't feel awkward’. She was so grateful I'd let her off the hook and went onto explain that the parents of the child had taken legal action against the education department, for a place for their child and that this was being covered heavily by the press. Someone else had applied on the very last day who had years of experience dealing with this particular type of need, so they had no choice but to give her the position.

Source: Sweet Blessings
The next morning, I had lots of photo-copying to do before school began and practically every teacher that passed by told me very loudly that they were really upset for me and how I must be really upset and angry as I was more than capable of doing the job. My reply to everyone was the same; 'if it had been in God’s will I would have got the job, but He obviously had different plans for me'. I was located near enough to the Deputy Head Teacher’s office for him to hear all the conversations in my office. His door was open and eventually he beckoned me into his office. He looked really embarrassed and asked if I would like to have any feedback from the interview. I replied that I was more than capable of doing the job and that I had no problem that they had chosen someone else. I didn't want to waste his time, or mine by expounding on my interview and told him that I needed to get back to my job, and turning swiftly I exited his office.

The interesting part is that just as this child was about to start school I was off work with pleurisy (in 30 years of working history I had hardly taken a day off work prior to this), and I was absent for three weeks. I am so thankful that God knew what was going to happen because if I had been successfully in getting the job, I would have been devastated at being off sick and unable to fulfil my commitment at this really important bonding time. I was perfectly capable of doing the job, but God had other plans for me, plans to prosper me and not harm me; 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’.

So, if you are seeking direction, particularly regarding a work situation, be assured that it's not that you're not capable, it is that God has something else in mind for you. His plans are always so much better than our own!! Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’

May God bless you.


Author: Lyn Hunt

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday, 26 November 2017

Don’t let your past define your future

We all make mistakes and go through dark times in our lives, but I pray that we don't let our past define our future. It is God who is at work in us.

Source: PInterest
I used to work as an Operations Manager for a telecommunications company, which at times was very stressful, however it was during my time working there that I fully understood God's amazing grace; 2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’, and the true meaning of Psalm 23. I had a team of people working for me, covering a number of different disciplines and I was responsible for business customers all over the UK outside of the M25. As time went on certain people within the team had ambitions to progress into more senior positions and sought any form of advancement they could to achieve this. Advancement in itself is not a problem as it is natural for people to want to progress within a workplace. However as time went on it became clear that a number of people became very competitive, which started to effect working relationships in ways that were becoming detrimental to the team. In such situations it is very easy for people to allow themselves to be manipulated by Satan, especially those whose desire is to climb the corporate ladder, even at the expense of others. This was the case with at least two of my team as I found out to my detriment; 1 Peter 5:8 ‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’

One of the two people came to me one day to complain about one of the Engineers saying that he was becoming aggressive and that he and other Engineers were fed up with his attitude. I decided to address this by speaking to the Engineer (the one being complained about), shortly afterwards in an appraisal meeting, to find out his thoughts and to see if he agreed with the comments being made about him. During the meeting he became very angry and stormed out of the office and even made an official complaint about me which was then investigated at some length by my Manager and the company Human Resources Department. The Investigation should have been concluded within four to eight weeks but in this instance it took sixteen weeks and during this time he became more and more difficult to manage.

Source: Flickr
After the investigation was over I discovered that the person who originally instigated the complaint had denied approaching me. My team Supervisor then tried to use the situation to try to make sure I was sacked so he could take my job (he even spoke to my Manager behind my back, suggesting this) and at the same time the person who had originally instigated the complaint was positioning himself for the team Supervisors job. The situation became so stressful that I made up my mind to resign as I had no one I could go to within the company for advice and I was at my wits end. Even though through all of this I had been seeking God's help and strength, I felt completely abandoned and so in a prayer meeting at Church I asked the Elders to pray for me as I had decided to leave the company and I wanted to know where God wanted me to go next. God spoke through the Elders and told me ‘I had to stand firm’, which was not something I wanted to hear. I received confirmation of this Word the next morning when God spoke to me through His Word from Isaiah 7:9 'If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all’. This completely floored me when it dawned on me that I couldn't run away. So I surrendered to God's will and went back to work, trusting Him for a righteous outcome. Not long after this incident God miraculously turned the whole situation on its head. All the accusations that had been made about me were proved to be false and the people who had jumped on the proverbial band wagon to advance their careers had to eat humble pie. I was completely exonerated on all counts. Shortly after this the Engineer who had brought the false accusations against me left the company, also leaving a great deal of animosity between us. When I looked back and reflected on the whole situation I realised that I was not without blame in the way that I had originally handled the situation.

I never saw the Engineer again but I always felt bad about the way it had ended. About six months later. Mine and all of the other Installation Managers jobs were made redundant, and I was led by God to run a charity shop and care centre with my wife. It was whilst we were there that I asked God to bring me into contact with this Engineer again as I wanted to apologise for some of my actions and attitudes towards him when he left the company and to let him know that I had no animosity towards him and that I had forgiven him for his actions. This would have to be a miracle as he lived many miles away and there was no way I could contact him. Then one day he was sent on a job just a few miles from where our shop was and he decided to come and see me, as he walked into the charity shop I immediately greeted him and was able to reconcile with him. We both forgave each other and parted at peace with one another, I've not seen or heard from him from that day to this, but at the very moment we forgave each other a great weight was lifted from me. God's grace is even more amazing when you realise that this engineer was not a Christian.

We all make mistakes and go through dark times in our lives, but I pray that we don't let our past define our future. It is God who is at work in us. Ephesians 3:20-21‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen’.

Psalm 23:3 tells us; 'He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake’.

God bless you.



Author:Kevin Hunt

May God bless and enrich your life


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Sunday, 19 November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Author:Rebekah Cronk

May God bless and enrich your life

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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

May God bless and enrich your life

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