Sunday, 26 February 2017

There is Power in the Name of Jesus

If we could fully comprehend the amazing power we have in Jesus it would transform our minds, our thinking, our relationships. He is the Lord God Almighty, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end.

Source: Sharefaith
I am sure at some point in life I am not the only person to have witnessed non-Christians and sometimes even people who are actively against any faith, turn to prayer/God in times of great difficulty, whether it be praying themselves or asking someone to pray for them. These people may be in a state of total desperation but non-the less, I have witnessed non-believing people turn to God. Yet often, even as believers we can be quick to forget the power we possess, the miracles that can happen and the chains that can be broken in the name of Jesus. As the word tells us in John 14:14 ‘if you ask anything in my name, I will do it’.

I was speaking with my Pastor recently and whilst at a prayer meeting earlier in the week he explained that had been told about a lady who before giving her life to the Lord was a witch and practiced witchcraft. She told the Pastor that she could walk into a room and know straight away who was a Christian. She went onto say that she never felt intimidated or threatened because everywhere she went Christians that she met never actually understood the power they had in Jesus. Wow; even the demonic know the power we possess as children of God yet so often we doubt or don’t claim it! Believers (followers of Jesus of the cross) MUST know and operate in authority. Jesus gave his disciples power and authority over all devils. Matthew 10:1 ‘Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness'.

Source: Egos & Buffaloes
If we could fully comprehend the amazing power we have in Jesus it would transform our minds, our thinking, our relationships. He is the Lord God Almighty, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end; Romans 8:31 ‘If God is for us, who can be against us’. So often as humans, with all our frailties and weaknesses, we fall short and in life we try to handle things our own way because we want to fix things a certain way. Despite this we should never forget that we are living with a God who is the Lion of Judah, fighting our battles, we should constantly remind ourselves that God is in control, we have power in Him, we need to trust and know that no matter how tough life gets, rest assured that God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us; Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.

In a worldly sense, we appear to be powerless but how amazing that, more importantly, in the spiritual sense we are so powerful and that in His Name we can overcome anything; Romans 8:37 ‘we are more than conquerors through him who loved us’. The worship song I have chosen for this blog is so powerful. Try worshiping and praying the words ‘there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain’, and allow the power of Jesus into your situations and watch the chains fall.

Remember dear brothers or sisters, God loves you with an unending, unfailing, agape love. He formed you in your mother’s womb and you are the apple of His eye. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is the Lion of Judah who is with you fighting your battles. Trust in him wholly and stand firm, claim and trust the power you possess in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Author: Joleana O’Neill

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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Do we miss the chance to love?

The consequences of doing the right thing for Jesus, against the odds, or against worldly thoughts, attitudes or actions can have eternal value and can impact and change lives forever.
Two believers in Christ were discussing an issue for which both had different opinions. The older of the two seemed smug as he wielded scriptures like a weapon, chopping away at the things he saw as wrong in the other's life. The younger believer just seemed to be weary of the lecture, weary of the other person and discouraged. As the exchange drew to a close the older man commented on the other's dis-interest; 'you used to be so eager', then he abruptly stopped and said 'I don't know what it is you want'. The younger man replied; 'you missed the chance to love me. In all of the time you have known me, what has seemed to matter the most to you is pointing out what you think is wrong about me!' He went onto to say 'You asked what it is I want, well, I want to see Jesus in you and through you'. Have there been people that we have missed the chance to show love to? Can people see Jesus in us? These are good questions to challenge ourselves with because showing love is much more effective that giving a lecture; John 13:34 'A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another' and 1 Corinthians 13:1 'If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal'.

I can remember one occasion where I witnessed the love of Christ in action. It was a cold wet Saturday afternoon on a muddy football pitch. My son was the manager of a Christian football team, however most of the young men in the team were not Christians but it was a good outreach activity. The team were doing very well and were about to play an important quarter final cup game, which they had all been talking about for weeks. On the side of the pitch there was a young man named John, who was going through a broken relationship which he was really struggling with. He had a very difficult and problematic childhood, most of which had been spent in children's homes. He had recently attempted suicide and had just been released from hospital. I can remember how broken he looked as he stood there with a vacant, lost expression on his face. John was part of the team but not one of the regular players, however all of the other players, even the 'tougher' ones were sad to see him in such a bad place.

Source: The Royal Parks
At half time the team were losing 1-0 and my son (the manager) made the decision to bring John on as a substitute at the expense of one of the better players.  Even though the decision would have reduced the chance of the team winning the other players were so compassionate about John's situation, not a single one of them complained. Even though the team were arguably a collection of 'rough diamonds', helping John was all that mattered to them; Proverbs 3:27 'Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act'. The players would pass the ball to John at every opportunity, the game itself no longer seemed to have any importance however a miracle was about to happen. The ball was passed to John near the half way line who subsequently, with all his might kicked the ball toward the goal. Everyone watched in amazement as the ball flew past the goalkeeper and right into the back of the net. It was one of the most amazing goals I had ever seen. It seemed as if the angels had guided the ball into the net. John was elated with joy and the players made such a fuss of him, not just during the game but for many weeks and months after.

John had walked onto the pitch that day as a broken man and walked off the pitch at the end of the match as a completely different person. The love and compassion shown by his team-mates was exactly what he needed to re-focus and to snap himself out of his depression. Following this life changing event in his life John started to turn his life around, worked hard and has been happily married for a few years to a lovely young woman who gives him the love he has always needed. John and his wife recently celebrated the birth of their first child, a beautiful baby boy.  Significantly, they are both seeking to know more about Jesus Christ and have been attending church. Praise God.

John’s life turned around as a result of a football match on a muddy football pitch on a cold wet Saturday afternoon, where the real winner wasn’t the team who scored the most goals, or who won the 'man of the match' award, no, the real winner here was love; Galatians 6:10 'Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers' and Philippians 2:3-4 'Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The consequences of doing the right thing for Jesus, against the odds, or against worldly thoughts, attitudes or actions can have eternal value and as we have seen, can impact and change lives forever. On the other hand we can easily miss opportunities to put love (God's love) into action and never know what might have been.  

Prayer – Father God in the name of Jesus and through the Holy Sprit we give you all the Glory, all the Honour, all the Worship and all the Praise.  We thank you that through your unconditional love for us you gave us your Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sins so that we may be reconciled with you in eternity.  Father we pray for an overflowing of love and compassion for those who you put into our lives and those who cross our paths every single day. We pray that you use us as a vessel of your love so that people will see and feel your love in us. May lives be changed forever as we walk in obedience and aspire to follow the ultimate example of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Author: Eileen Greaves

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Choices, Choices, Choices!!

What is God asking me to do today? Am I going to choose to follow Him, even if it gets uncomfortable and the future is not so clear?  Will I abandon my own thoughts and plans and follow His?

Source: Biblical Proof
Sometimes making the right choice is extremely difficult because so many things influence the choices we make. I mean how hard is it to choose the right clothes to wear for an occasion? I dither in front of the wardrobe; should I go formal, or informal, low key or bright and breezy? Should I wear what I like or what the occasion commands; oh dear choices, choices!  If choosing the right clothes to wear can be difficult and perplexing then how much more difficult is it making the right choice about what we do with our lives?  I hate making choices, the bigger and weightier the decision the harder I find it. Do I go with my instincts or use logic (what will achieve the best outcome in a situation)? So as a good Christian I decided to pray about it, however the real tough choice comes when the Lord seems to be directing me towards something that is actually not what I want to do, or something that makes sense to me. What do I do then? Oh dear choices, choices!! I was thinking about a primary school assembly story I was doing this week about Ruth and it led me to read the story in the Bible. As God does, He used this to challenge me, so I thought  I would pass on my thoughts.

Source: YouTube
In the Bible there was a young woman from Moab called Ruth, who had married an Israelite who was living in her country. After a while her husband died, and not only did her husband die but her sister in law`s husband died and her mother in law’s husband died. So three women were left alone to fend for themselves; what would they do? How would they cope? Making the right decision at this time would be crucial. The mother in law (Naomi) decided to go home to Israel and take her chances with her own people and in Ruth 1:8 she advises the two girls to return to their own country and re-marry which seemed to be the most obvious choice, the logical choice, surely the right choice. One of the girls (Orpah) decided to follow that advice but the other girl (Ruth) felt such a commitment to her mother in law that she begged her to let her go back to Israel with her, even to the point of abandoning her own culture and beliefs and embracing Naomi`s culture and belief. Ruth 1:16-17 `But Ruth replied, ‘Don`t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried’.  

Her commitment to her mother in law drove Ruth to cling to her and follow her no matter what. This decision then set Ruth on a continuing journey of commitment, trust and faith. At her mother in law’s direction, it took her into the field of a strange and powerful man (Boaz) to gather grain to keep her and Naomi alive. It took her to the threshing floor in the dead of night and lying down next to this powerful man, to a place of vulnerability, trusting that he would not harm her or take advantage of her but would take care of her. All this because she had chosen to stay committed to both Naomi and to her God and choosing to make some very difficult choices, and not to take the easy path. Ruth continued to trust and believe even when things appeared to get complicated and difficult and obstacles appeared to block the way. But the outcome of Ruth`s trust and commitment resulted in her marriage to Boaz and a child (Obed) that would set on course the most earth changing event in History, the birth of the Messiah! Ruth 4:17 ‘The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son!’ And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David’. Read the book of Ruth in the bible, it`s only short but such a wonderful story of love, faith trust and commitment.

So, ok, great story, happy ending, but how does that help me in making the choices I have to make every single day? Well, the principles of the story are the same as many of the choices we have to make in our lives:

1. Who am I going to follow?  Ruth chose to follow Naomi`s God whatever that meant. It led her to do some very difficult and challenging things and took her right out of her comfort zone and set her on a course of action that was not clear at first. Regardless of this uncertainty and challenges Ruth chose to follow God’s instruction via Naomi`s direction. What is God asking me to do today? Am I going to choose to follow Him, even if it gets uncomfortable and the future is not so clear? Will I abandon my own thoughts and plans and follow His?

2. Who am I going to trust?  Ruth trusted Naomi and therefore Naomi`s God. It put her in some vulnerable places among people she did not know, and she had to do things she was not familiar with. Regardless of this she did not flinch, she did exactly what God was telling her to do. What is God telling me to do today that may make me feel vulnerable and put me in a place of unfamiliarity? The question I ask myself is; ‘will I flinch, will I pull back, will I choose to take the more sensible, logical path or will I follow what God is telling me?’

3. How committed am I? Ruth was completely committed to both Naomi and to her God. From the moment she left her old country behind she set her face to her new path and never turned back. I`m sure if I had experienced some of the difficulties Ruth had then I would have sat and thought ‘what if I had stayed at home, what if I had made a different choice, what if I tried doing things my way’? But Ruth was committed and only when she had done all that God had told her to do did the final glorious outcome reveal itself. This did not happen until Ruth had made the right choices, stayed committed, and completed the whole journey. Now this is a massive challenge to me, someone who can`t even keep committed to what outfit I`ve chosen to go out in, let alone to follow the Lord’s direction when the path gets difficult.

I am involved with prison ministry and go into a local young offender’s prison to take part in services on a Sunday. Recently I was talking to a couple of the guys about some of the things they had done recently that had landed them in disciplinary situations. I talked with them about what they had done and asked if it is worth the loss of privileges they had received and then went onto talk about making right choices. It was so obvious to me where they were going wrong and so easy for me to point this out to them however the Lord always likes to challenge me when I choose to speak into people`s lives. He likes to get me to look at my own life and see how well I do at making the right choices.

Frankly this week, like so many other weeks, I’ve not done as well as I would have liked. Some things have been good and I feel I have listened and made some good choices, but sadly at other times in haste, or following my own feelings and desires I have made bad choices. The piece of cake I could have managed without, the words said in haste I wish I could take back, the harsh response when gentleness would have been the Lord’s way instead.  Oh, Lord please help me to follow Ruth`s example and choose who I am going to follow and who I am going to trust and help me to be committed to serving you every day and not just my own wants or needs.

Choices! Choices! Choices!  My prayer is Lord please help me to make the right choices.  

Author: Jan Pearson

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Sunday, 5 February 2017

Seek first the Kingdom of God at all times

If, by acquiring our own agenda we take God out of the equation we are just another person doing a good deed, completely of our own accord

Source: Tell the Lord Thank You
There are times when God puts something on our heart to do something for Him. Big or small, it doesn’t matter – it’s a task from God. Personally, I get a little bit passionate about the things God asks me to do, it’s hard not to when our Mighty Father has chosen us to do something for Him! I have found, however, that this passion can sometimes lead me off on a crazy path where I eventually realise that I have wondered off all on my own and managed to acquire an agenda of my own.

It’s great to be passionate about what God has put on our heart but it is also incredibly important to keep God at the centre of it all. With God’s leadership, who knows what could happen with the task at hand? If, however, by acquiring our own agenda we take God out of the equation we are just another person doing a good deed, completely of our own accord. If we keep God in the picture there will be miracles, God-appointments and God-incidences! Amen.

Source: Redeeming God
A simple example of God giving us direction to be more than just Gentiles is provided in Luke 6:27-36: ‘But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful’.

I suppose what I’m really trying to say here is whatever you do, keep God at the centre. Ask Him ‘what next?’ and ‘which way?’ In all things we do, let’s do it with God! Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’

Prayer – Father we thank you that each and every day you shower us with your amazing agape love and we thank you for the amazing gift of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We pray for discerning hearts and minds to hear your voice and to be obedient to your direction.  We pray almighty Father that we are not distracted by the things of this World so that when you put something on our hearts we do not start to travel down our own path; because our hearts and minds are completely focused on you. We pray almighty Father that we seek Your Kingdom first, above everything else. Amen

Author: Samantha Tarplin 

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