Sunday 28 January 2018

Why, Why, Why?

Being in heaven is to spend eternity with God whereas the other place referred to as hell or hades is a place that does not have God there. I cannot think of anything worse than not having God present in my life…

Source: PInterest
How many of us as adults have cringed when young children go through the 'why stage’, where they seem to want to know everything and we often don’t always know how to answer? Well here are a few ‘why questions’ that we as adults may ask or even be asked about our Christian journey, together with my attempt at answers:

Why is it is important to be in heaven? - The bible tells us there are just two places we will spend eternity (this is not just a short time like 50, 60 or 70 years, eternity is forever - something that will never stop); Romans 2:6-8 ‘God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger’. Being in heaven is to spend eternity with God whereas the other place referred to as hell or hades is a place that does not have God there. I cannot think of anything worse than not having God present in my life and so for me heaven is my choice. What is yours?

Why should we choose the path that God tells us? - We often say that people are so good that they are bound to go to heaven, but that is not strictly true. Being good alone is not good enough. God says there is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ, the Son; John 14:6 ‘Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’. I believe that the bible is the Word of God, so I believe that is the only way, and the only option I have. What is your choice?

Source: PInterest
Why is it important that Jesus is coming again? - Jesus is coming back again, and when He gets here I want to be with Him. If I don’t pass from this earth before He comes, I want to be there on that resurrection morning, ready to meet him and my brothers and sisters in Jesus, in the air; 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ‘we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever’. Once Jesus returns there will be no more chances for us to accept this ‘free gift’ that He gives to us now. We have no way of knowing what tomorrow holds, so why risk putting it off? You could end up risking everything. Even at 6 years old I didn’t want to risk that and decided to give my life to Jesus. 

Why decide now? - Besides not knowing what the future holds I have lived daily with God at my side as part of everything I do/every decision I make and I want to continue to live with Him now. I want Him to continue to be part of my life now, not just when I get older and may appear to have lived life to the full (as people may see it). I want to live in His awesome presence all the time. Why would I want to deny myself knowing God right now? In fact, why would you?

I have shared with you some of my questions and I will leave you with a prayer that you can use if you want a relationship with Jesus for yourself. If you pray this or something similar please look for someone else that has been on this journey for a while so that they may come alongside you and help to answer some of the questions that you may have.

‘Dear God, thank you for making me and wanting me to be part of your family. I am sorry for the wrong things I have thought, said and done. Thank you that you sent Jesus as a baby, knowing He would die on the cross so that I could be forgiven and become part of your family. Please forgive me now’.

May you be blessed.

Author: Julie Roach

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 21 January 2018

I have set before you an open door that no man can shut

When God guides He provides! Don’t listen to the wrong voices! Start listening to the voice of God! Receive it by faith; step out and obey it, for the promise to us all is ‘I am with you’

Has God ever given you a vision for your future, and put that vision firmly in your heart only for you to be discouraged by friends, family or even brothers and sisters in Christ? I suspect that this has happened to most of us at some point in our lives, however if God gives us a vision we should keep praying and in addition, ask others to pray with us as well.  God will then begin to work in us and to prepare us for what he has called us to do; He will open the right doors at the right time. We can be encouraged by two great women; Gladys Aylward and Jacki Pullinger who were both rejected by the Missionary Societies of their day, but they refused to let go of their calling and God’s promises; Philippians 4:13 ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me’ and Romans 8:30 ‘And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified’.

Gladys Aylward (1902-1970) - was one of the most well-known missionaries of her time. A working-class girl with a strong calling from God for China. She was discouraged by the Missionary Society but undeterred she worked as a house maid and used her life savings on a train passage to Yuncheng in China where she assisted a missionary named Jennie Lawson, providing hospitality and sharing stories about Jesus. Later Gladys went on to assist the Chinese government as a ‘foot inspector’ which required travelling the countryside to enforce the new law against foot binding of young Chinese girls. She became a Chinese citizen in 1936 and she was loved by the local people, Gladys looked after orphaned children and took in several herself. In 1938 the region was invaded by Japanese forces and she led 100 orphans to safety over the mountains, it was a hard and dangerous journey. Gladys cared for the orphans personally and converted many to Christianity. She spent her last days in an orphanage in Taiwan, until the Lord called her home in 1970; 1 Peter 2:21 ‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps’.

Jackie Pullenger MBE -  Born in 1944 and at the age of 22 Jackie decided that she wanted to be a missionary and contacted various missionary organisations, but was unable to find support. Undeterred she brought a one-way ticket for a boat trip to go as far as she could. Jackie got off the boat in Hong Kong with just £10 in her pocket where she found work as a Primary School Teacher in Kowloon walled city. In the 1960’s Kowloon was not policed and so crime, opium and street gangs flourished. Jackie started a youth club in Kowloon where she began to win the trust of the local youths. One night while she was binding the wound of a triad gang member in a urine soaked alleyway she came to realise that saying; ‘Jesus loves you’ was not enough. She realised the people responded to Jesus in action and thought; ‘How can they understand that Jesus loves them when they have never been loved or shown any love’? At that moment Jackie decided to be Jesus to them in practical ways when she realised that words were not enough. In 1981 she started the St. Stevens Society, a charity that would provide rehabilitation for recovering drug addicts, prostitutes and gang members. The Hong Kong government of that day donated land for the Society’s work for which prayer and ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit was part of what they did. This resulted in miracles and changed lives which came about when they met Jesus Christ in a powerful way. Many decided to give their life to following Jesus Christ their saviour.

Jackie was awarded an MBE in 1988 and today she says; ‘I feel Blessed to have lived my life to do God’s work’. She also said; ‘churches tend to look after nice people but I do my work with the nasty ones like addicts and prostitutes who feel despised and excluded’. Jackie recognised that these people won’t go near churches, so she made it her job to go out and find them. The sad reality is that Jackie and Gladys were not seen as suitable for mission work, however, God had other plans for their lives. Amen.

In Jeremiah 1:5 God explains His calling to Jeremiah ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations’. God foresaw Jeremiah ministering to nations. Discernment (to recognise or find out) is so important because it is not us who decide our calling, we need to discern it! If you haven’t discerned your calling yet, then get into God’s presence and stay there until He reveals it to you. Jeremiah’s response to God in Jeremiah 1:6 was to doubt his calling; ‘Alas, Sovereign LORD, I said, I do not know how to speak; I am too young’. Are we all guilty of this sometimes? Saying ‘I cannot’, or ‘I’m too young’, ‘too poor’, ‘too old’, ‘not had the right training’, ‘the wrong nationality’ etc. God’s response was to change what was coming out of Jeremiah’s mouth; Jeremiah 1:7 ‘But the LORD said to me, Do not say, I am too young. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you’.

If we keep contradicting what God says to us we are effectively ‘pulling the plug’ on everything He wants to do for us. Listen again to God’s words in Jeremiah 1:8-9 ‘Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, I have put my words in your mouth’.

When God guides He provides! Don’t listen to the wrong voices! Start listening to the voice of God! Receive it by faith; step out and obey it, for the promise to us all is ‘I am with you’.

Author: Eileen Greaves

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 14 January 2018

God will make a way

By surrendering my situation over to God, it is just amazing what He did for me and what He can and will do for you

Source: Inspirational Bible Verse Images - Knowing Jesus
A few years ago, l felt my head really throbbing which I knew it was due to my blood pressure as I kept forgetting to take medication and to collect my prescription. This particular episode went on for several days. l tried by phone, but I could not get an urgent appointment with my doctor so I decided to go there. I arrived early the next morning at 7.30am where l was eventually seen by an emergency Doctor. She asked if I had driven there to which l replied ‘yes’. She told me that l had to go ‘immediately’ to hospital and that l should have been ‘blue lighted’ there. As you can imagine this really distressed me so l called a good friend and work colleague who drove me. My friend tried to keep me calm and repeatedly tried to help me stop crying. It is difficult to put into words how frightened I was and when I arrived at the hospital l think that I was given every test under the sun.

l was told that I was very lucky as l was on the verge of having a stroke!!!  As l lay there in the hospital bed I began to cry and l tried to muffle (hide) my tears. l entered a pity party and really started to feel sorry for myself. One of the nurses asked me if l was ok and even though I was crying I answered what most people would have answered and l said ‘yes’, which was the complete opposite of how I was really feeling. I remember thinking to myself that if l was to die that nobody would care and that everything in my life was falling apart and a complete mess. I then heard God’s Almighty voice say; ‘NO Jackie I LOVE YOU and I HAVE you HERE in the palm off MY HANDS’. The voice was so clear that I immediately looked around because l thought l was hearing things, or that somebody had a radio or TV on or was I maybe dreaming? Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known’. As I was feeling sorry for myself l remember being angry with God and repeatedly thinking ‘why me, why me?’ Then, again l heard God’s audible voice speaking to me. With my nurse training, it was natural to try to rationalize everything through medical models and theories and I remember thinking; ‘it must be the medication or over tiredness’. However, I soon accepted that this was the voice of God Almighty speaking directly to me! How amazing that God would love little old me, with all my troubles so much, that He would try to attract my attention with His audible voice, wow! Matthew 11:28-30 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light'.

Source: Zazzle
This whole incident resulted in me being off work for over a year! As you can imagine money was very tight at the time especially as I had to pay solicitor’s fees (I was going through a divorce at the time) and I was paying two mortgages as well as all other living expenses. Despite this and through this turmoil, God made a way when there appeared to be ‘no way’Isaiah 41:10 ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’. My daughter, Jade was expecting, so l had my first grandchild (Caleb) to look forward to. Then suddenly, out of nowhere I received a sum of money from a claim I was advised to make which l never orchestrated. A few months earlier I had visited my bank to enquire about a mortgage holiday, however, everything I applied for was declined, basically they said ‘no’ to everything. I couldn't change my mortgage due to having a poor credit rating and mortgage payments each month were very high (in the region of £2000). I could not sustain this from a financial point of view so I handed the whole situation over to Almighty God. From that point onwards things started to change. Psalm 55:22 ‘Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken’. l managed to rent out every spare bedroom I had. Firstly, to two French students for a period of three months and then to two Health Visitors from London. Each time a room was vacated I always found somebody else to rent the rooms too. I knew that this was the work of God Almighty. 

God also brought a Nigerian Health Visitor to my house who rented one of my rooms, who was a Christian. We would often pray together and this was really uplifting. By surrendering my situation over to God, it is just amazing what He did for me and what He can and will do for you. I must say that at the time l certainly didn't feel like there was a way out of my situation, however, just like Jessica Reedy sings in the song at the end of this article; ‘Put it on the altar’. Amen.

Author: Jackie Peacock

May God bless and enrich your life 

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Sunday 7 January 2018

Stay Pure to Stay Connected

It`s simple really, when we know what God thinks of us, the love He pours on us and the trust He puts in us by promising to share Himself with us, we no longer want to offend Him.

Source: Vision Church
It constantly amazes me the way the Lord speaks to us. I have been a Christian now for 41 years and sometimes it`s tempting to think that I have learned and experienced it all, but then God gives you a special revelation and you realise He has always got something to say to us. This happened recently during a Bible Study.  Actually, it was a night when we did not study the Bible but spent time waiting in the presence of the Lord for His Spirit to move in our lives. God gave me 1 John 3:1-3 ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure’. I was struck by the thought that we shall see Him as He really is, and we shall be like Him. Because He loves us enough to promise that we will be like Him, pure, clean, faithful, strong, loving, wise etc. this encourages us to cling to Him now and to keep ourselves pure knowing that God loves and trust us enough to reveal Himself to us. This is one of those concepts that we know is amazing but struggle to apply to our life.

Then the Lord brought to mind a situation from work that really illustrated what I think He meant; I worked for ten years in a Primary School as a Mentor, encouraging and supporting children that were finding school a bit difficult because often there was other ‘stuff’ going on in their lives. There was one particular young child who had experienced quite a lot of loss in their lives. Then over a holiday period something very traumatic happened to them and when they returned to school they went completely off the rails and became unstable and very angry with everyone around them. The child’s behaviour meant that they could no long be taught in the class as they didn’t listen, talked over the teacher, would run off round the school and eventually became quite violent towards the other children. We then decided to remove the child from the class and teach them on a one to one basis.  The child at first did not cope well with this and became very violent and belligerent towards me and the other staff trying to help them. We got things thrown at us, we were kicked, and school property got damaged so that we had to remove anything from the room that could be picked up and thrown or damaged. In the end there was nothing in the room but soft cushions. The child was only able to be in school for a greatly reduced time, during which learning was impossible as the child would simply not engage with anything. Little by little we encouraged and affirmed the child and after a few weeks some semblance of teaching was re-established, although I was always on a tightrope knowing they could ‘blow’ at any minute. Over the next few weeks the child began to slowly open up about how they felt about themselves and it was clear they felt very confused, rejected and unloved. We slowly developed a rapport and as time went on we were able to do more things together, however it was all a bit academic and the child struggled to stay engaged.

Source: YouTube
One day I asked the child what they would like to do, and they said, 'cooking'.  Well in my small room I couldn’t do any cooking, but I decided we could make a lunch together and share it together, so I took in sandwich making ingredients and ingredients to decorate a cake.  Of course, you cannot make a sandwich without using a knife, can you?  I thought very hard about this and whether I should take a knife into a room with such a volatile child and decided that if the child was going to improve his self-esteem he needed to see that someone trusted him.  So, I shared with a colleague what I was going to do and she agreed to listen out, just in case I needed some help. We did our activity after I had carefully explained when and how we were going to use the knife and the safety rules around it. The child understood and behaved wonderfully. We made our sandwich and cake and sat and ate them together. When time came for the child to go home they were glowing and was so excited to tell their relative about what they had been doing.  It was a bit of a watershed moment. Trust had been given and received and worth had been established. Something changed in us both. The child still struggled in lots of areas but was never again violent in school.

The verse in 1 John 3:1-3 reminded me of this incident.  Although we have not yet seen God we know that one day we will. If we have committed our lives to the Lord and the love of Jesus rules in our hearts, this will not be a time of condemnation and shame in fact the verse tells us that we will be like Him because we will see Him as He truly is. God trusts us enough to promise not only to provide for us here on Earth but that we will really get to know Him when we eventually go to be with Him. He won`t hold anything back and He won`t say ‘sorry you`re not good enough for me to share myself with’, He won`t reject us but will welcome us into His presence.

Which brings us to the crux of the reading: 1 John 3:3 ‘All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure’. It`s simple really, when we know what God thinks of us, the love He pours on us and the trust He puts in us by promising to share Himself with us, we no longer want to offend Him. In fact, it encourages us to try and live as godly a life as we can, knowing that God Himself has saved and affirmed us, changed us and believes in us. No matter what our past may have been, the minute we trust in His saving grace a change takes place and we become a child of God, an accepted child, a trusted child, a loved child and a responsible child. John 1:12 tells us ‘Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’. It`s this very revelation that make us want to live closer to Him, imitate His ways and desire His will in our lives. It`s not born out of fear but of love. In John 17:17-19 we get a glimpse of the depth of the love of Jesus for us in his prayer to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane; ‘Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified’.

It is this love for us and this trust placed in us that encourages us to stay pure to stay connected to the vine (Jesus) and to keep ourselves as clean as we can. However, even then, we have help because Jesus prayed that God would help us, which He does every day, every time we ask him to. See how much our Father loves us; Romans 8:38-39 ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord'.

Author: Jan Pearson 

May God bless and enrich your life

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