Sunday 28 February 2016

Revelations from a Deer Stand

Idols are those things that separate us from the mission of Jesus Christ. Things such as exalting oneself through the acquisition of assets for the purpose of self-elevation and power and control 

As I sat in the deer stand (deer stands or tree stands are open or enclosed platforms used by hunters), I read what God led me to read: which was; Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah.  God spoke to these men about how the people of God strayed from His will, even to the extent of worshipping idols and doing evil deeds. This grieved and angered God.  God revealed to these men of the wrath that would come to them because of their sin (the sin of God’s people). As I read and listened to God, I was given to contemplate the meaning of idols. At the time of the Old Covenant (before the time of grace), everything was driven by works and deeds. God’s laws governed men’s actions through work, deeds, disciplines and gestures of obedience. In my words, His relationship to man was exercised from a not-so-personal relationship from the outside.  God related to man from the physical, rather than from the interpersonal. Because of this, man’s identity was also in the realm of the physical. Idols, therefore, were made of a physical nature, such as golden images like the golden calf in Exodus 32.

Man related to God in the tangible and physical. Since that did not work, God incarnated Himself through His Son Jesus and a new dispensation was born – the dispensation of grace. Under this new dispensation, what is an idol?  Idols are the same as in the Old Covenant, but a new and additional form of idol worship was born. Because of Jesus, and then the Holy Spirit, God entered into men and dwelt within man. Now, even our thoughts, intentions and motives can come under the control of God if we are willing.

Now we must consider the mission of Jesus. The mission of Jesus (among other things) was to provide salvation to mankind.  He came to show us how to give and forgive. His ideal was to form a brotherhood of believers who would know and desire His heart and have a passion for His mission. He wanted a brotherhood that would deny self for the sake of His name, giving freely for the joy of seeing others benefit – forgiving for the sake of His name.

With that said, what are our idols now?  Idols are those things that separate us from the mission of Jesus Christ. Things such as exalting oneself through acquisition of assets for the purpose of self elevation and power and control.  A prideful attitude that seeks the envy of others is an idol. This pride can be driven by power through knowledge in general, or even scriptural knowledge, or even self elevation through acquisition of assets. Check out God’s attitudes and feelings about these things – Amos 5:21-27 I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel? You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god—which you made for yourselves. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus, says the LORD, whose name is God Almighty’.  Also read Amos 6, in its entirety.

If we have surrendered to these idols, then Hosea 14 tells us what to do.

Author: David Leatherman 

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 21 February 2016

Living Fearlessly

God understands that fear is not only our biggest enemy, but it is also our constant companion, and God wants to help us overcome it. 

The word fear appears many times throughout the bible from Genesis to Revelation. Have you ever wondered why fear is mentioned so many times in the bible?  Well, it is because God understands that fear is not only our biggest enemy, but it is also our constant companion, and God wants to help us overcome it.  If we think of our comfort zone, as a largely self-created prison which consists of a collection of cant’s, must’s, must not’s and other informed beliefs which are formed from all of the negative thoughts and decisions we have accumulated, and continue to reinforce during our life time.  Every fear is like a bar in that prison, but the good news is, because fears are feelings, the faulty ones can be removed by faith in God, and we can become free from them. Praise God.  Does this however mean that we can live totally free from fear? No, of course it doesn’t because living fearlessly is not the same as never being afraid.

Sometimes it is good to be afraid because fear is a great teacher. What is not good and is always counter-productive is living in fear and allowing it to dictate our choices. If we allow fear to dominate and dictate our lives we are effectively allowing fear to define who we are. To live fearlessly, means to stand up to fear, to take its measure, refusing to let it shape and define our life, just like Caleb, who showed no fear in taking possession of God’s land; Numbers 13:30 ‘Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it’
Living fearlessly means taking risks and not playing it safe. It means refusing to take no for an answer especially when you are sure that the answer should be yes.  Saying no to fear, means that we are refusing to settle for less than we deserve, taking what is ours by right and let’s add – what God has promised and planned for us.  The truth is that fear can steal our dreams, but only if we allow it to.  If the Israelites had lived in fear then this would have compromised the task of reclaiming the Promised Land from what appeared to be an undefeatable opposition (The Anakites were a formidable race of giant, warlike people Deuteronomy 2:10). Joshua 14:9-12; ‘So on that day Moses swore to me, the land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.  Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.’

Are we being obedient to God’s word or are we allowing fear to compromise God’s plan and purpose for our lives? Matthew: 25:24-25 ‘Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. Master, he said, I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you. His master replied, You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest’.

Those who know Jesus Christ need not fear. If we are allowing fear into our lives then there is an answer;

Psalm: 34:4 ‘I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears’. Praise God.

Romans 8:15 ‘The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father’. Amen.

Revelation 1:17 ‘When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last’. Amen.

We need to trust God and take risks in faith and ask God what is His will and plan for our lives. We can be sure of this; Matthew 28:20 ‘For I am with you always even to the end of the age’. Today God wants to break the fear that may have been holding you back for years. He wants you to be free and to not walk in fear anymore. He wants you to trust Him in His words, His love and grace. The solution to overcoming your fears is freely available today. Read God’s words, practice being in His presence, pray to Him and get to know God better.

Jesus lives in those who know Him and the words to the well-known song below really emphasise how we can deal with fear in our lives. Praise God.

                       ‘Because He lives I can face tomorrow
                        Because He lives all FEAR is gone
                        And now I know I know
                        He holds the future
                        And life is worth the living
                        Just because He lives’

Author: Herbert Jean

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 14 February 2016

This is the Great Adventure

.... because God has forgiven me time and time again, His amazing Grace has taught me how to understand and forgive others. My heart now overflows with love and compassion for others.

I was born into a family of practising Roman Catholics where we went to church every Sunday, confessions every Saturday and attended a Roman Catholic School. As a child I loved God with all my heart. God was my best friend and I always felt His love for me. I went on to marry and have two children whom I also raised up into the Roman Catholic faith.

When I was 39 years old I started running a weekly meeting to help support some of the vulnerable people in the local community. One week God sent this man along, everyone in the group called him ‘The Holy Man of God’. He would turn up each week with the biggest Bible I had ever seen and he would always be talking about ‘giving your life to the Lord’. At that time I thought he was ‘crazy’ however after several coffees together and lots of arguments around Mary the mother of Jesus I started to investigate some of the things he was claiming. To cut a very long story short I gave my life to the Lord and was baptised on the 9th July 2006. I purchased my first ever Bible and began the most exciting journey of my life. I knew of the Gospels but that was the extent of my knowledge of the Bible. Years of study lay ahead and I loved and still love every single second of studying the Word of God. For me it is the most amazing book ever, Amen. My extended family were, and are still are very upset with my choice to ‘give my life to the Lord’. They often tell me I am ‘brain washed’ for which I say Praise God my brain has been washed. Mediating on the Word of God keeps me safe, Praise God for His amazing provision.

After my baptism I prayed to God for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, I had hands laid upon me by the elders of the church and I was anointed with oil but there did not appear to be any change. In my carnal mind I thought I was going to feel a great heat come over me with a gushing wind all around and I would run out into the streets prophesying, but there was none of that. In actual fact the very opposite happened I began to find myself committing more sin than I had ever done in my life previously and I found myself constantly praying for God’s mercy. A couple of months after my baptism I was lying in bed and I called to my husband really excited and said ‘this is it’! I felt a warmth come over me from head to toe ‘the Holy Spirit has come upon me’ I said to him, but much to my disappointment my husband pointed out that he had switched the electric blanket on before he went downstairs.

What I am trying to share is that when I was baptised I had a lot to learn.  I was a baby on milk; 1 Corinthians 3:2 ‘I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready’, spiritually speaking I was unable to digest the protein at this early stage.

There are many reasons for the increase in sin in my life after I got baptised and to discuss them all would take a great deal of time. I therefore offer the 3 most important lessons I learned by God’s Grace:

1. God loves me even when I sin Romans 5:8 ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’. I am no longer bound in chains of the Law. God wanted my heart and my love for Him in freedom and not in fear of Him.

2. God said in his word He will turn all things for Good Romans 8:28 ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ and because God has forgiven me time and time again, His amazing Grace has taught me how to understand and forgive others. My heart now overflows with love and compassion for others.

3. The Holy Spirit did come upon me after my baptism but because of religion I could not acknowledge the Holy Spirit. However, when I learned to put away religion by faith then I entered into the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  I had to learn that Christianity is not a religion but a way of life, the way of ‘Eternal Life’ Philippians 1:21 ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain’ Amen. I came to understand the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the blood of Jesus by studying God’s word and meditating on it every single day Matthew 4:4 ‘Jesus answered, It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’. By the Grace of God I have learned many of the scriptures off by heart and this equips me In times of trouble or temptation to be fully prepared for the battle. We know we must stay alert because the devil roams around like a roaring lion waiting to devour us 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’.

In summary I always wear the full armour of God Ephesians 6:10-18. My mind has been created by God for His Glory however God does not control what I think, in freedom I have choices. Sin enters in through the mind first, then the thought creates a desire, then the desire creates behaviour, and that’s when trouble often begins. We see this so often in the Bible, a few of examples are Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:6 and David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11. I have learned by God’s Grace to watch my mind and what I allow into it. I guard my mind as though my life depends on it and I have a guard on duty 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Outside of Christ Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit my carnal mind is crazy. Therefore let’s Praise God with everything we have for Christ Jesus and the Power of the Mighty Holy Spirit, Amen.

Author: Christina O’Neill

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Sunday 7 February 2016

Lord I Need You

The deeper the sin, the more of God's grace is poured out. For you see when we accept God's grace we are totally forgiven, not just a bit forgiven but totally…..

One of my favourite worship songs is ‘Lord I need you’ by Chris Tomlin. I feel this song sums me up as a person and in particular my relationship with Christ, a personal relationship in which God is my only help. A relationship that starts with confession and one in which I continue to rely on God's grace and mercy.

The song starts with the lyrics ‘Lord, I come I confess, bowing here I find my rest. And without you I fall apart, you’re the one that guides my heart.’ How true this is. When we first acknowledge that we need God in our lives it is often at the point when we are at our lowest. Sometimes a situation will bring us to a point when we just fall to our knees and cry out ‘Lord I confess I need you’. In our own strength we are imperfect and are always prone to fail and we mess up time and time again and as the song says; ‘without God we fall apart’.

The chorus goes on to say; ‘Lord I need you, oh I need you, every hour I need you, my one defence, my righteousness, oh God how I need you’. The Bible says in Psalm 18:2 ‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold’. These are strong words that tell us clearly of God's protection for His people and how he will deliver us out of troubles.

The song continues ‘Where sin runs deep, your grace is more, where grace is found is where you are. And where you are Lord I am free, holiness is Christ in me’. The deeper the sin, the more of God's grace is poured out. For you see when we accept God's grace we are totally forgiven, not just a bit forgiven but totally, and for some of us, as the song says we really need more of God's grace because the sin runs deep. There is a freedom from this sin only because of God's mercy and grace.

Further lyrics of the song are ‘So teach my song to rise to you, when temptation comes my way, and when I cannot stand I'll fall on you, Jesus you my hope and stay’. These lyrics say a lot about our journey and show that as Christians we WILL face temptation as the enemy of our souls tries to lure us away with all manner of things. When we cannot stand any longer we should fall on Christ and He will lift us up. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says ‘He said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Amen

Author: Anonymous

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