Sunday 26 July 2015

Is apathy preventing God from fulfilling His purpose in your life? – Part 1

God deserves the very best of us. Let us pray that we are not lukewarm as this is a key symptom of apathy

If a person is passionate about something you will notice that when they talk they are enthusiastic, excitable and really alive. An analogy I have heard a number of times in Church is the passion shown by people for their team at a football match.  I had the privilege of attending a (Football) Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in 2001 which was attended by over 70,000 fans.  The atmosphere, even before kick-off was electric.  Men, Women and Children of all ages were singing their hearts out to support their team and due to their enthusiasm they clearly did not give a thought for what people thought of them. Just imagine what could happen if we could transfer that passion to supporting Jesus! 

Jesus laid down His life for us; 1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, so surely He deserves everything from us?  Should we not be singing His praises and giving Him thanks with at least the same passion as the football fans described above? Psalm 66:1-4 Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious. Say to God, 'How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name'. This scripture has really challenged me to ask myself if I really am giving my Father everything I have or am I possibly taking everything that God has done and continues to do for me in my life for granted and if so have I become apathetic? 

There are a number of different dictionary definitions for apathy which all follow the same theme, 'a lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting' or an 'absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement'. It is so sad when Churches, congregations and individuals display these types of characteristics because by being apathetic we are denying God the glory and praise that He so rightfully deserves and in fact we are displaying the characteristics of the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-16; I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. God deserves the very best of us. Let us pray that we are not lukewarm as this is a key symptom of apathy.   Let us always be reminded of the love and mercy that has been shown to us through the suffering, crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  

Having written the above part of this article at the end of a day I intended to complete the remainder during the course of the following day.  In the meantime God gave me Romans 11:13 where the Apostle Paul is preaching in Rome and emphasising that the day of salvation is near; And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. If we are apathetic in any way we are in slumber and if we are in slumber we risk suffering the same fate as the five virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 who did not have oil ready for their lamps and missed the arrival of the Bridegroom. We need to be vigilant at all times and even though life will undoubtedly continue to throw challenges at us we need to be ready because just like the ten virgins in Matthew 25 we do not know when Jesus will return for us!  Mark 13:32-33 But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.

In life it is so easy to slip into a routine lifestyle and it is sometimes human nature to take things for granted.  We then, often without realising, start to become apathetic, which is true in our personal lives and in our relationship with our Father.  We need to be aware of when we are becoming apathetic and God is challenging us today to think about all aspects of our lives and in particular our relationship with Him. Have we started to slumber?  Have we become lukewarm? Have we started to take our relationship with our Father for granted?  Are we holding back from allowing God to fulfil His purpose in our lives? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we have become apathetic and we need to give praise to God, to glorify and worship Him and to thank Him for his incredible grace and mercy in our lives.  We need to make Christ first in our lives and by doing this we are collecting oil for our lamps so when the Bridegroom returns for us we will be ready. Praise God!

The second part of this article will consider some practical ways which can help us to identify and to deal with apathy in our lives.

Author: Gary O’Neill 

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 19 July 2015

Are you on the right path?

The good news is that for directions to our heavenly Father we do not need to go and buy an expensive Sat Nav, because the best road map you will find is the Word of God!
We often hear people use expressions such as ‘life is full of twists and turns’ or ‘I’ve reached a crossroads in my life’ or ‘I’m back on track’ etc. to describe either how they are feeling or where they feel they are at that particular point in their lives. Also, reformed prisoners often use the term 'being back on the straight and narrow' to demonstrate that they have changed their ways.   All of these terms relate in one way or another to a journey or the direction in we which are travelling.  During our lives we are all on a very important journey, which will lead to us spending our eternity with our heavenly Father, or will it?  Well in fact the choice is ours.  

The good news is that for directions to our heavenly Father we do not need to go and buy an expensive Sat Nav, because the best road map you will find is the Word of God! Jesus himself tells us how to get onto the right path, but he also warns us that there is an alternative path that leads to destruction; Matthew 7: 13-14 ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it’

It is fair to say that life can sometimes be difficult and challenging and there are roads, paths and gates that lead us to places we really do not want to be, resulting in captivity and despair.  In all situations whether we think so or not at the time, it is us that has free will to choose which road we take.  To help us to stay on the right path or to get us back on the right path if we have become distracted or lost, we must keep our eyes focused on Jesus who tells us; John 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep’.  What a wonderful thought that when we are on the right path we can look up and see Jesus with his arms open wide beckoning us to come to him so that we can enter heaven through Him.  Why would we want to be on any other path?

If however we are currently experiencing difficulties, challenges or hardships in our life and feel that we are on the wrong path, then we should ask Jesus for guidance, he will not let us  down; Psalms 31:3-4 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Jesus is our shepherd and if we ask him for guidance and direction he will help to get us back onto the right path; John 10:3-4 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.  

As stated above in Matthew 7: 13-14 there are only two paths, however each one leads to a very different destination.  So back to the original question, are you on the right path? If you feel that you are on the wrong path and therefore travelling in the wrong direction then maybe it is time to change your travel plans!  If you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior then invite Him into your life right now.  If you do know Jesus but have stumbled off the path then go to Jesus and pray to Him. If you have sinned then repent, ask Him for forgiveness and then re-join the narrow path. You may feel that you are so far off the right path at present that there is no way back, but do not be deceived by the evil one into thinking this because; Ephesians 1:7 tells us that In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.  

Whilst preparing His disciples just before He was arrested and taken into glory, Jesus tells us that we will experience difficulties and troubles during our lives; John 16:33 ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ The big difference for those who believe is that we can be confident that He will help us in every circumstance, in every situation and in every part of our lives because He has overcome!  Praise God!  If you have taken a wrong turn in your life or your journey is taking you somewhere you really do not want to go then turn around!  The Gatekeeper is waiting for you right now to help to get you back on track and to help to give you the right direction in your life.  All you have to do is ask.  

Author: Gary O’Neill 

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 12 July 2015

How Is REAL wealth measured?

Faith in Jesus Christ means that we are wealthy beyond our wildest dreams because we have everything we want, everything we need and our success is guaranteed! Not because of any of our own actions or deeds but because of the spirit of Christ that dwells in all of those who believe.

Source: PInterest
For many the World would have us believe that success is measured by how much we have (our material wealth), but the problem with this is that there is no defined boundary that tells anyone when they have maximised or achieved the wealth they desire.  There appears to be a human desire to constantly want more and sadly many people never seem to be satisfied by what they have.  The Word of God tells us however in 1 Corinthians 4:8 ‘Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich!’  Those who are struggling in the World who do not see an answer sometimes contemplate taking their own lives and sadly some act on this and end their lives on earth.  If only these people would have taken the gift given to them by God and that is the gift of Jesus Christ.  Yes, Jesus declares in John 6:35 ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’. Faith in Jesus Christ means that we are wealthy beyond our wildest dreams because we have everything we want, everything we need and our success is guaranteed! Not because of any of our own actions or deeds but because of the spirit of Christ that dwells in all of those who believe; 1 John 4:15 ‘If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.

As a Christian I wake up each morning knowing that I have the living spirit of Jesus Christ in me and what a joy that is!  No matter what I have planned for the day or whatever the World will throw at me during the day, I have the spirit of the living God in me so I know with confidence that I do not need to worry, everything will be ok. 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’.  Becoming a Christian does not mean that we become immune to the same hardships as non-Christians.  We still live in the World, have jobs, bills, families, and suffer hardship, loss and grief just like everyone else. 

When Jesus came to earth he felt the same emotions and pains as we do. In fact whilst in the garden of Gethsemane just before He was arrested Jesus asked his Father to take away the suffering that He was about to endure; Mark 14:36 ‘Abba Father,’ he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ Whilst on earth Jesus was God but he was also human at the same time. In his humanness, just like us’ Jesus did not want to suffer, however Jesus was also prepared to let his Father’s will be done.  By having faith in Christ this is what we can do everyday of our lives too.  Handing our life over to God everyday allows us to deepen our relationship with Him and allows our Father to work in us so that people will see that we are children of God.  Handing our life over to God also gives us peace.  I work in a very busy environment, as I am sure many others do.  I see many people in my workplace becoming increasingly stressed and frustrated by workload issues, personality conflicts and other things, however I do not seem to be affected in the same way when things get tough.  This is because trusting in God provides an inner peace that is hard to describe but is priceless! 

So let’s go back to the original question of success or wealth. Personally, I want for nothing, I have everything. Yes, materially I have a lot. I have a great family, a nice home and a good job, and I thank God every day for every thing He has provided in my life, however I do not see these things as a measure of personal wealth or success as ultimately these things were given by God and belong to him anyway. God tells us in his Word; Ecclesiastes 5:10 ‘Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless’. Money and material things will not make a person happy for very long.  This is why we see wealthy people including celebrities who appear on the surface to have everything a person could desire, but on the inside this clearly is not enough as some become depressed and extremely unhappy. The only answer to true happiness and peace is to trust in God: 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’.

Therefore wealth is not a measure of how much money I have or how many material things I have, it is a measure of my relationship with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  I am excited about the plans that God has for my life and I pray everyday that His will is done in my life.  Money cannot buy the peace and confidence provided by faith in Christ and in fact money is not needed, this is a gift given by God to all who believe; John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ Jesus died for me and He died for you and all you need to do to accept this gift is to allow Jesus into your heart and into your life. Do this and you will have wealth beyond you wildest expectations.

Author: Gary O’Neill

May God bless and enrich your life

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Tuesday 7 July 2015

New MCF Blog to be launched this Sunday!

We will be posting our first article on our brand new MCF Life Church Blog this Sunday 12th July 2015. 

Our blog will provide Testimonies, Words from God, Prayer, Encouragement and Stories about how God is working in the lives of His people.  Be sure to bookmark the blog and pass on the link to your family, friends and colleagues.

'Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples' - Psalm 96:3