Sunday, 29 May 2016

‘The Attic’ – A Vision from God

‘I am waiting to take you out of the attic; you do not need to stay there anymore. Will you let me lead you out?  Will you?'

It was a sunny afternoon and while I was reading in my bedroom a lovely breeze came through my window, a peace came upon me that seemed to fill the whole room. I had a vision of a boy sitting in an attic, his head was bowed in between his hands, there was a deep sadness upon his face and he seemed lost and alone.

In the attic were all kinds of objects that seemed to belong to another time, like an old chair with springs sticking out, an old iron (not electric), just like the one my mother used to have. She would put the iron onto the flames of a gas cooker then when the iron was hot she would place a cloth around the hot handle then proceed to iron with great pressure. Also, there was an old metal frame, washing mangle, which had two wooden rollers which were located very close together. The wet washing would be placed between the two rollers, which would be turned by a large handle on the side to squeeze out all of the water. All of the items I could see in the attic belong in the past, as they are not needed anymore.

I asked God whom this vision was for.  God said ‘the child in the attic represents all of my hurting children. They are trapped in the past, afraid to come into a world where they see only pain, a lost childhood gone forever, left only with a thought of what might have been if life had been different for them. These are my children who I love so much. This Word is for them. I am the Lord your God who brings the light of the dawn from the darkest night’. Isaiah 9:2 ‘the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they who dwell in the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined’.

God continued; ‘The devil wants you to remain in bondage, however, I will heal you and set you free from the chains that once bound you. When I was hung on the cross, I took your pain and shame for the wrongs that have been done by you and the wrongs that have been done to you. Now, lay them there on the cross with me’ Joel 2:25 ‘I will restore the years the locusts have stolen’. ‘If you turn from that which is distracting you from me I will use you to be a blessing in the world to glorify your saviour. I will give you the power to do this. Be holy as your Father in Heaven is holy.  It’s not going to be easy but I am always with you’. Isaiah 43:2-3 ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior’.

God then concluded; ‘I am waiting to take you out of the attic; you do not need to stay there anymore. Will you let me lead you out? Will you?Isaiah 60:19 ‘The sun will no longer be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory’. 'Do this and your days of sorrow will end'.

Author: Eileen Greaves

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Sunday, 22 May 2016

No turning back

If we are jealous, without God, we become the epitome of jealousy and so it is with money, relationships etc. Whatever we worship we become, because it controls us

A minister of the gospel read the following verse to me many years ago and since that day I have not looked back; Luke 9:62 ‘No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’

I was brought up in a Congregational church (now United Reformed) and although I believed in God I had no knowledge of Jesus as a living saviour. I was very surprised when one day the Minister asked those who were saved in the congregation to put up their hands. When a few of the ‘loud’ types put their hands up I wondered how they could possibly know and in any event what did ‘saved’ mean? A few years later when I was at college other students witnessed to me and I was stunned when I was told by one of them that I was ‘certainly on the road to hell’. I couldn’t understand what I had done. I had been a Sunday school teacher and I had been part of the Christian Union at school since I was 9.  Later however I did hand my life over to Jesus, but continued to walk with one foot in the world because I thought Christians were ‘boring’.

After a number of years and through a series of events, I found myself at ‘The Hyde’, which was a Christian community run by Colin Urquhart. I experienced an overwhelming sense of God’s presence while visiting the Hyde and found myself broken and in tears, but I did not understanding why. I was given the opportunity to speak to a very mature and knowledgeable Christian lady called Ginny. She spent hours with me, answering my questions and explaining the Christian faith. I still resisted, but I just didn’t want to surrender ‘me’. One day while walking in the extensive grounds of the Hyde I became hopelessly lost. I was supposed to be meeting with Ginny at the house within half an hour. No matter how hard I tried I could not seem to find my way back. As I stumbled along, panicking, I clearly heard God say, ‘If you don’t follow me you will spend the rest of your life like this, lost and unable to find the way’. I was stunned and asked God to get me back to the house and miraculously, somehow I instantly found my way back which seemed to be obvious and easy!

I met with Ginny and said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it’ and I surrendered. Later another Christian leader came into the room and together they prayed for me. They received words from God which I have never forgotten. One was, ‘You were like a fish out of water, I caught you wriggling’. (Once a fish finishes wriggling, out of water, it dies). The significance of this did not escape me. Then the Minister read Luke 9:62, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’. I knew this was serious and that I could no longer mess with the world or I would be lost forever. I knew I had to return to my home and sort things out and live for God.

As I get older I realise how serious our decisions are. When we pass from this earth we will face God alone; Job 1:21 ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return’, there will be no one to hold our hand. In ‘The Great Divorce’ C.S. Lewis shows us how hard it is to escape from our entrenched attitudes. If we are jealous, without God, we become the epitome of jealousy and so it is with money, relationships etc. Whatever we worship we become, because it controls us. When we put our hand to the plough we must not turn back – if we do, we may be lost forever. I want to be the one C.S. Lewis talks about when he says; ‘A thousand fail to solve the problem, ten thousand choose the wrong turning: but she passes safely through.’

Lord, help us to be those who ‘Pass safely through’, Amen.

Author: Gill Watson

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Sunday, 15 May 2016

All that glitters……….

Let us fear God and give glory to Him and to not allow ourselves to be led astray, neither to the left nor right.
Matthew 24:4 ‘Take heed that no one deceives you’ is a powerful warning given by our Saviour which is reinforced in Matthew 24:11 and Matthew 24:24 and given extra weight by the ‘watch and be ready’ stated in Matthew 24:42 & Matthew 24:44, and the expectation of obedience in Matthew 24:46. A clue to the dynamic of deception can be found in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables’. Here both sides of the coin are highlighted. We want to hear what appeals to us, and such is the nature of the marketplace, there are a selection of Isaiah 30:10 teachers and prophets on hand, happy to oblige.

In the media we often come across financial scams that can trap the unwary. Health is another battleground rarely out of the news. Despite the advice, initiatives and statistics many pursue eating habits which compromise their health. The food sector seems to offer products that are tempting, convenient and almost thrust under our noses, which makes a wise choice all the more difficult. Our spiritual walk would appear to be no less hazardous. There are roaring lions; 1 Peter 5:8, savage wolves Acts 20:29; false prophets 1 John 4:1; and a dragon; Revelation 12:17, to say nothing of the broad road leading to destruction in Matthew 7:13. Can’t I just enjoy my Christian life without all this hassle, listen to my favourite teachers and sing along to the lively praise, keep eating the cakes and investing in that nice Nigerian boiler room scheme that found me on-line, offering to double my investment in two years?

There is an interesting little verse in Exodus 20:20 in which God seems to hint that He will test His people; ‘And Moses said to the people, Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin’. This is further supported in Psalm 11:4 ‘The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men’. A look at Revelation 13:14 provides us with further illumination, showing us that the wild beast, in misleading or deceiving, is undertaking work given or granted to it, (inferred – by God). My simple take on this keeps intact the absolute sovereignty of God who is not thwarted by the working of evil, but rather uses it to judge, test and refine. Other verses such as Amos 5:6 ‘seek Me and live’; Luke 13:24 ‘strive to enter through the narrow gate’ and Revelation 22:14 ‘Blessed are those who ‘do’ His commandments’ would seem to imply that our Christian life is neither a cakewalk nor a blab and grab prosperity scheme.

God has created us hoping that we would enter into a relationship with Him based on our walking before Him in fear, and giving to Him, glory (Revelation 14:7), thanksgiving (Psalm 50:14), praise (Psalm 148:1), obedience (Deuteronomy 4:30), and trusting in Him (Psalm 37:3). Furthermore, holding to sound doctrine (2 John 9), enduring to the end (Matthew 10:22) and walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), that we might avoid falling away (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Am I trying to make the reader feel uncomfortable? Absolutely! The Bible is full of typology, the exile of the nation of Israel for idolatry and syncretism being one such example. If they were so punished perhaps we should give due heed, less we have to endure the mother of all exiles. In fact, 24 out of 27 New Testament books carry some form of warning against deception. The Greek word ‘prosecho’ translated to ‘beware’ or ‘take heed’, found for example in Matthew 7:15, carries the weight not only of warning, but also command. C. H. Spurgeon warned of a time coming when, instead of shepherds feeding sheep there would be clowns entertaining goats. He also said deception is not a matter of right from wrong, but of right from nearly right. In other words, it wouldn’t be deception if it was obvious. This is a time to wake up and pray, to seek wisdom by the Holy Spirit so that in the midst of our abundance of conferences, worship concerts, prophetic workshops, teaching series, TV ministries and the like, we would not find ourselves wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked (Revelation 3:18).

The Biblical imperative to the righteous has always been to come out from that which is corrupted and so escape destruction (Genesis 19:17, Jeremiah 51:45 and Revelation 18:4). Today I see the modern western church happily following the pied piper down a broad road. The average Christian happy to accept any teaching that takes their fancy, and without question. Often defending it without any sound Scriptural basis.

Two further Scriptures need prayerful consideration in this admittedly superficial introduction to the working of deception within the professing church. Matthew 13:33 gives us a picture of a woman, here a symbol of false religion, concealing leaven, (always a symbol of sin in the Bible - Exodus 12:8, Exodus 15:20 & Luke 16:5), into the measured meal, representing our fellowship with God (Genesis 18:6-7). The second is Revelation 17:1-6 which I will pass without comment save to say, that if somebody is after our blood and aiming to destroy our precious salvation, then we really ought to do our best to find out who they are, and stay well out of their way. As Matthew 24:24 points out, even the chosen ones might be misled. Interestingly, in the Complutensian edition as well as two of Stephen’s editions, Revelation 13:14 says ‘and he misleads the ones of mine dwelling…’.

Read and study the Bible often and with an open heart to the Holy Spirit and with a true hunger for God’s righteousness, willing to abandon prejudices collected along the way and questioning everything. Truth can stand honest scrutiny. We are called to test the spirits in 1 John 4:1, but cannot do that successfully if we are Biblically illiterate and rely mainly on the teachings of man for our standard or plumb line.

Psalm 37:5 ‘Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him’

Picture 1: Ezekiel 33:6                    Picture 2: Luke 13:34

Author: Rick Watson

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Sunday, 8 May 2016

God’s Word of Encouragement

…..the Lord calls me to live this life and challenges me to change my way of looking at things and His promise to me is that He will not leave me struggling to do this on my own; He will do it in me!

Have you ever needed a simple word of encouragement, ever sat looking at the phone waiting for someone to ring and say something to lift you up and spur you on.  If you have then you will know how important and timely a word of encouragement can be. One Sunday morning recently I got a word of encouragement which I was not expecting and it arrived in a way that totally surprised me. I was up early praying (not because I`m deeply spiritual but because I couldn’t sleep!), and I was talking to the Lord about all the things that were bothering me, actually the truth was I was moaning, when I felt the Lord direct me to 1 Thessalonians 5. ‘But Lord’ I said, ‘isn’t that chapter just about the second coming and frankly I need an uplifted word, not a study on the second coming right now’. But I thought it best to read the chapter and I was glad I did. Yes it does talk a little about the second coming but then the Holy Spirit highlighted (as only He can) some truths that really touched my heart.

He reminded me in 1 Thessalonians 5:5 ‘You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness’. I am a child of the light and a child of the day and as such I belonged to the day (the light where He lives) and because of that I should be self-controlled – in other words to get a grip of myself and not allow myself to indulge in negative thinking and having my own little pity party.  ‘Oh dear’ I thought, not the encouraging word I’d hoped for! however as I carried on reading I found the rest of the verse encouraging me to put on faith and love as a breastplate (to protect my heart) and the hope of salvation as a helmet (to protect my mind), because the Lord had always intended me to receive salvation (freedom) and relationship with Him, through what Jesus had done for me. Well now that felt better!

Then The Lord challenged me some more; to be joyful, 1 Thessalonians 5:16 ‘Rejoice always’, which is not always easy to do, to pray continually, again not so easy sometimes and hardest of all, to give thanks in every situation; 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’. ‘OK Lord I thought, you were going to encourage me, this is far too challenging!’ But you know the Holy Spirit is a great teacher and He led me further on into the verse to; ‘for this is God`s will for you’. So it is God’s will for me to give thanks in every situation and to talk (pray) to Him about everything. So I thought; ‘if this is God’s will for me then what He intended for me from the first day I met Him, then this is what I should do’. But we all know how hard and challenging this can be and how often I am aware that I fail which is followed by guilt that I have let Him down again.

So again I said, ‘I thought this was supposed to be encouraging’. Then the Lord revealed the power behind the challenge in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ‘May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify (The word ‘sanctify’ is so precious and affirming that I really recommend you Google it for the full impact for your life) you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’; and then came the critical verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:24 ‘The one who calls you is faithful (will never fail), and he will do it’. So the Lord calls me to live this life and challenges me to change my way of looking at things and His promise to me is that He will not leave me struggling to do this on my own, He will do it in me! ‘Thank you Lord; now that really is a word of encouragement’.

I was really blessed and uplifted as I hope you have been. There is however a further thing the Lord asks us to do though, which is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing’ Now this may be achieved by saying something as simple as ‘you look nice today!’, or as profound as passing on a Word or a challenge that God has given you. We all need to encourage each other it’s a continual chain, God encourages us, Jesus is faithful and helps us, and we are to pass it on to others to encourage them through the difficult times.   Praise God.

Author: Jan Pearson

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Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Three Crosses

Ask yourself this question: Am I like the criminal who hurled insults at Jesus, or am I like the one who acknowledged Christ and who He was? The answer to that question could just determine your final destination.

The Bible is a treasure chest, however we have to look carefully at it to find the treasure. Proverbs 2:1-5 tells us: 'My son, if you accept My words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding – indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God'. I pray this article blesses you.

When we think of the crucifixion we often only think of the cross of Jesus, and with good reason, for it was on that cross that our Saviour bled and died, and through His shed blood our sins can be washed away. It was on that cross that Christ cried out with His final breath; John 19:30 ‘When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished’, with that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit’ It was on that cross that salvation was sealed for all who believe on His Name and repent and receive Christ as their Saviour; John 1:12 ‘Yet to all who receive Him, to those who believe in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God’, and it was on that cross that satan's destiny was also sealed. 

One night in late 2015, the Lord woke me up at around 3 o'clock in the morning and reminded me that there were two other crosses, with a criminal on each one, and that they are mentioned in the scriptures for a reason. As pointed out above the main focus (and rightly so) is on the cross of Jesus however in the crucifixion story there are 'three crosses'. The Lord showed me that the three crosses represents a picture of the world and how the crosses on either side of Jesus were an example of how people would respond to Christ, His love demonstrated on the cross and the gift that resulted from it, from that moment on.

On one side of Jesus there was a criminal who just like the crowds hurled insults at Him, and the Lord showed me that this was how people of the world would respond when they are in trouble, that they would question God's authority and even blame Him for the mess they had caused and got themselves into and would want Him to get them out of it. Not because they acknowledged Him as Lord but so they could get on with their sinful lives and have no more to do with Him until the next mess they would get themselves into. Luke 23:39 One of the criminals hurled insults at Him. 'Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!' If Jesus had taken this criminal off the cross then the criminal would more than likely have gone back to his old life of crime as there was no repentance in his heart.

On the other side of Jesus was the other criminal which the Lord indicated to me was also a picture of the world, but this criminal depicted how people would respond who recognised and came to a realisation of who Jesus is, and understand their need for the forgiveness of their sins. The criminal on this cross rebuked the other criminal, Luke 23:40-41 'Don't you fear God,' he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong’. Unlike the first criminal this one accepted he was a sinner and needed forgiveness, so he looked at Jesus and said; Luke 23:42-43 'Jesus, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom’. Jesus answered him, 'Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise’

Both criminals deserved their punishment, they were both found guilty of their crime and justly sentenced to death by crucifixion. But in their last moments on earth one criminal refused to acknowledge his guilt and sin and rejected Christ, whilst the other accepted his guilt and punishment and acknowledged he was a sinner and that Jesus was the Saviour, the sinless Lamb of God, repented and asked Jesus to remember him when He comes into His Kingdom. The result was that one criminal went to hell while the other went with Jesus to paradise.

Today the decision for us is exactly the same.  Ask yourself this question: Am I like the criminal who hurled insults at Jesus, or am I like the one who acknowledged Christ and who He was? The answer to that question could just determine your final destination.

John 1:10-13 ‘He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognise Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God’. 

Luke 24:6 '…..HE IS RISEN…….'. Amen.

Author: Kevin Hunt

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