Sunday 29 December 2019

New beginnings

When we submit to His ownership the Devil comes knocking and finds a sign “under new management – take it up with the new owner”!

As we think about leaving 2019 and entering 2020 the start of the New Year helps us to think about “new beginnings”. The Bible talks about “new beginnings” and of course the aim of the gospel (Good News) is to give us a new life where God is in charge – a fundamental “new beginning”. Paul says that if anyone belongs to Jesus, he is a “new creation” that old things have passed away and “all things become new”.

We all know that things which sound easy, can often be difficult in practice. Anyone who has made a new year’s resolution or watched people that do, knows that after a week they are often easily abandoned and good intentions come to nothing. That is why the gospel doesn’t start with a new beginning but a death. Imagine that 2019 and 2020 were people and 2019 didn’t want to leave. Well 2020 could not really start until 2019 was finished so there would be confusion and fights every day about what year it was. 2019 has to “die” for 2020 to take over.

That is also what the gospel teaches. We have to say goodbye to our old life to allow God’s new life to take over. There is no faking this – God knows where and what we are and whether we are still secretly living a lie – pretending to be “good” when actually we do not know God at all. Like new year’s resolutions a pretence can only be kept up for so long – as the saying goes, we can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but we can’t fool all of the people all of the time! And here’s the rub – we can’t fool God at all. This is why Jesus says “By their fruits you will know them”can a good tree produce bad fruit – no, only a bad tree produces bad fruit. Good trees produce good fruit. How much do we want to be good trees?

There’s a story in John about a man named Lazarus. He was a friend of Jesus and he got sick and died. Jesus went to his tomb and this is what the Bible tells us: John 11: 41,43-44. Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes… and cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” 

Jesus took two actions here. Firstly, He raised His friend from the dead and then commanded for him to be released from his grave clothes so that he could be free. Once we realise what a dead and useless life we have lived without God and truly want to turn from it, Jesus can do something – He can make us truly alive. But if we are mucking about on the edges of Christianity and taking what we can out of it without wanting to change at all, God cannot change us. We (all of us – even the “best of us”) need to know that our past lives were corrupt, and we lived them selfishly and sinfully and the Lord had no pleasure in them. The Bible says that even 'all our righteousness is like filthy rags'.

Once we get to a point where we want desperately to abandon our past ways of thinking and doing, we can call on God’s mercy, grace and loving-kindness. Such a heart immediately demands the Lord’s attention, and as we ask for His help, He comes to give it. Like Lazarus we can be brought back from being dead – only not physical death but spiritual death – and we can actually start to live a life where Jesus is in charge. The result of this is to have choices that we didn’t have before – choices to please Him, care for others and fulfil the purposes that God has for us.

For us to be able to live to please God in this new way was purchased at a great, awesome price. We are able to have a new life because Jesus paid for it with His own agonising death. So, when we get this gift we have to look after it and follow the instructions that the Bible has about living it. If you buy a young plant and stick it in a cupboard and never let it see light and never water it then it will not thrive and it will die. Beware to follow the maker’s instructions about the gift He has given!

A final thing – When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead He commanded “Loose him and let him go”! There are those that find it difficult to shake off habits, sins, addictions from the past because their physical bodies have been used to doing them. Now if Jesus had left Lazarus alive but tied up in his grave clothes that wouldn’t have been much of a new beginning would it?  He didn’t do that and He won’t leave us in that state. His command over us is the same as for Lazarus – “Loose him and let him go”! No matter what we have been bound with in the past, the lies that tell us that we will never be free of them are just that – lies. It's time to believe a new message – in John 8:36 Jesus tells us that if He “sets you free you shall indeed be free”. Let’s stop believing lies and instead trust Jesus, spend time with Him and look after the new beginning He offers us.

So, time for a real “new beginning” in 2020. Let’s have a real conversation with the Lord about our old life and be willing to let it go – Jesus paid the price for a new life – a real new beginning – on the cross. He died so that we don’t have to die – instead we “die” by giving our lives to Him so that we lose our life but start to live under His ownership. When we submit to His ownership the Devil comes knocking and finds a sign “under new management – take it up with the new owner”! It doesn’t solve all of our problems and difficulties but we are now in the hands of Jesus and He will keep us until we meet Him.

Equally don’t go reaching back for those old grave clothes – there is no freedom there no matter how comforting those old ways of living look. If we see it through God’s eyes all that stuff from the past is just a heap of dirty, smelly, filthy, stinking rags. He’s offering us not the freedom to do anything we want but the power to live a righteous life before men and a holy life before God. He is calling us that way because He wants us to be with Him where He is. He’s calling us that way because He loves us with an everlasting love. He’s calling us that way because in Jesus He paid the highest price and took the biggest risk to offer us all a new life – a new beginning – in Jesus.

Author: Chris Pearson

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Sunday 22 December 2019


Because it will all start on CHRISTMAS DAY.

This question has a big bearing on what we celebrate as Christmas. The Scriptures say Jesus was with God in the beginning (John 1:2). Putting that in perspective, God the Father may have asked Jesus, “Are You ready for this?” Why would God the Father have asked that question? God the Father provided a way for man to live with man and God the Father in total harmony, but man disobeyed and perverted God’s plan of a harmonious co-existence. 

Because of man’s sin toward God the Father and His plan, God the Father provided a way for man to re-acquire a harmonious relationship with Himself. The price tag of that relationship was the shedding of BLOOD. (By the way, God set the standard of shedding blood for man’s sin in the Garden of Eden). God the Father decided to provide the redeeming blood through His son Jesus. After the decision was made to send Jesus to earth, my mind’s imagination can see God the Father asking Jesus, “ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?”

Are You ready to leave a perfect heaven to go to an imperfect world of selfish human beings?

Are You ready for your flesh to feel the pains of the flesh?

Are You ready for man to celebrate Your birth (at Christmas) and then celebrate Your death on the cross (at Easter)?

Are You ready to set the standards of righteousness as I, God the Father define them?

Are You ready to show by example how men can live in total harmony through unconditional giving and forgiving?

Are You ready to destroy religiosity used for power, pride and prestige?

 Are You ready to challenge the institution of the church – the church of that day which had evolved and manipulated and re-construed God’s perfect plan in order to serve their own organisation and personal interests? (By the way, Jesus is here to challenge the churches of today for doing the same).

Are You ready for Palm Sunday when You will be greatly praised and shortly after will be mocked and shamed by false accusations and lies?

Are You ready to be abandoned by Your disciples when you need them most?

Are You ready to stand trial and be sentenced to death for what You did not do?

Are You ready to be struck with whips, beaten with rods until Your flesh is so mutilated that You cannot be recognised as who You once were?

And are You ready to wear a crown of thorns?

Are You ready to be hung on the cross with nails through your hands and feet until you die?

Are You, THE KING OF ALL KINGS, ready to be mocked throughout the whole process?

It will start with Christmas day. Are You ready for that?

Are You ready for me to forsake You before You die because of the sin that will cast upon You?

Are You ready for the spear to be thrust into Your ribs so that the blood price will be paid forever to cover all of man’s past sins, present sins and future sins.

Are You ready to be buried in a tomb and in three days rise again?

Are You ready to destroy Satan’s power over man?

Are You ready to come back to me, God the Father, and prepare a place for those who believe in Me through You and are willing to live by the standards of righteousness that You established while You were on earth?

Are You ready to live with those who are in heaven?

“Jesus, are You ready for this”? 

Because it will all start on CHRISTMAS DAY

Christmas day is the day when man will celebrate Your birth. After that, all of these other events will follow. 
“Once again, Jesus, are You ready for this”?


Thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord Jesus for saying YES!!!!

Author: David Leatherman

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Sunday 15 December 2019

'Hark the Herald Angels sing, glory to the new born King'.

There can only be peace if we set aside our differences and start to respect, love and have mercy on one another.

'Hark the Herald Angels sing, glory to the new born King'.
This carol starts with the proclamation of the Saviour King being born, and that's exactly what Christmas is all about. Jesus Christ the Saviour, the greatest gift ever given and one that can never be equalled.

Amongst all the glitter, the hustle and bustle, the over spending on often unnecessary gifts that are received with some joy and then quickly set aside, broken or simply taken for granted are people who are too often forgotten. Those for whom Christmas brings sadness not joy as they look on at all the festivities and laughter, the over eating and over spending while they sit on the streets in sleeping bags, blankets and cardboard boxes and watch people pass by and not even notice them.

Then there are people who are all alone or have lost loved ones at this time of year and for them Christmas brings a painful reminder of that loneliness or loss, and they just want this season to come and go as quickly as possible. These and other groups of people can often feel as though they're forgotten and no one cares.

The problem is, Christmas was never meant to be about lots of expensive presents, food and parties, it was and is meant to be a time when what we celebrate is the birth of a Saviour who came for the lonely, the homeless the broken hearted and all the forgotten people in society.

He was born to die for a lost world and did so when He gave Himself to be crucified on a cross that would come to symbolise hope for many. And for those who have received Him as their Saviour the baton, as it were, and the responsibility has been passed on to us to come together and take care of the widows, the orphans and those in society that are hurting and less well off than the rest. That's the gift that we should be giving out at Christmas, because that's the commission we've been given by Him to do, and to share with them the love of Christ and bring to them the message of hope and salvation that can only be found in Christ Jesus.

The carol goes on 'Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled'. There can only be peace if set aside our differences and start to respect, love and have mercy on one another. God has given us a chance to be reconciled to Him through the blood of Jesus. This is the only way our hearts can be changed enough to make us more like Him and less like the selfish, uncaring, me, me, me, attitude of this broken world.

So this Christmas spare a thought for those less fortunate than yourself and go and do something that will make a difference to someone's life, who can't for whatever reason, give back to you. Go Share the love of Jesus Christ the new born King, and remember the only reason you have what you have, is because He allows you to have it.

I hope and pray that this Christmas and New Year brings you peace and joy, but my greatest hope and prayer is that this Christmas and New Year brings you to Jesus either for the first time or in a way that you've never experienced Him before. He is the CHRISTMAS GIFT.

Isaiah 9:6 
For to us a Child is born,
    to us a Son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
    and His Name shall be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

'Glory to the new born King'.

God bless you.

Author: Kevin Hunt

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Sunday 8 December 2019


"We cannot understand the value of our salvation until we understand the cost of our salvation".

Life is a continuation of experiences that range from good to not so good. Said another way - the "life experience" is always changing. On 15th October 2009, I had a new experience. To say the least, it was a painfully new experience. On that day I had surgery on my right shoulder. The doctor removed bone spurs from the bone in my shoulder and repaired an extremely long tear in my rotator cuff. After seven days, I could still barely tolerate the pain. Pain pills did not even daunt the pain. The pain was relentless. It was there 24 hours, day and night. I had been spending the night hours without much sleep, sitting upright in a chair to help control the severity of the pain. Hopefully, there would be a day that I could say it was worth it.

I asked the Lord how I could turn this new experience of pain into something positive. What could I learn from this, and how could I grow from this experience? THEN IT CAME TO ME. Pastor Danny Riley once said, "We cannot understand the value of our salvation until we understand the cost of our salvation"I could learn something from this pain and also gain a greater appreciation for my salvation. My pain was confined to my right shoulder and I could barely stand it. 

Jesus knew in the Garden of Gethsemane what His pain would be. He knew that He would be whipped, beaten, and humiliated. He knew that His flesh would be torn from His body. He knew that He would be nailed to the cross. He knew that He was sinless and yet He would take on all sins of the past, present and future. He knew of pain that we do not know about. He knew all of this. He knew it and after agonising to the point of death and even sweating drops of blood, He said to the Father, "Not my will but Yours be done". He willingly agreed to take on the PRICE OF PAIN to provide His blood to cover our sin debt. How can I begin to say thank you, Jesus, for what you chose to do because of your love for us?

Did the pain persist for months? Yes. But it is worth it to be a little closer to Jesus. This pain and understanding the pain that Jesus took on adds value to an appreciation for the cost of my salvation.

Thank you Jesus!!!

Author: David Leatherman

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Sunday 1 December 2019

American Adventure

Are we willing to be moulded and shaped and changed by the Wind of the Spirit, are we willing to be honed, sharpened and made into what God would have us be by drinking deeply of His Word?

In September 2019 myself and my husband Dave set off on a five week adventure visiting several American National Parks. Little did we realise that not only would this be an exciting, exhilarating experience but also a complete reinforcement of the ‘Spiritual journey’ too. We learnt from the wildlife we encountered, from the flora and fauna we admired and also from the natural forces of nature, the forces of wind and water erosion.

From the wildlife…we captured on camera a chipmunk busy foraging for seeds, prickly cactus fruits and then hiding its hoard in preparation for winter. 
On the other hand, we encountered a rather plump ground squirrel who came almost begging for food. Signs were visible everywhere warning people not to feed the wildlife. We later learned the reason why. Tourists were killing with their kindness! The small animals fattened up with crisps and other titbits of human food, were absorbing the wrong kinds of fats which would not sustain them through the hibernation period and many consequently perish in the depths of winter. They run out of the naturally stored energy much sooner than their counterparts.

This made us wonder, do we feed off Spiritual scraps and titbits that others throw our way, or do we forage more deeply, searching sustaining ‘food’, for ourselves, so when the tough times come, as surely they will, we too will have something in reserve, just like the hard working chipmunk? 

Hebrews 5: 13-14
“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Even though we were in the desert areas for most of our trip, we were pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the flora and fauna.  Some plants were literally clinging to the bare rocks in a death-defying way. One tree we photographed was actually standing proud of the rocks with the roots clearly visible above ground level. We saw flowers such as aquilegia, Michaelmas daisies, golden rod and sunflowers growing in profusion, giving us a riot of blazing colour – how have they managed to flourish in such a harsh landscape? The answer is by adaptation. They grow in miniature to conserve energy, but are still true to their form.

This made us question ourselves.  Have we grown soft or are we capable and willing to cling to our true selves even when circumstances seem harsh? Do we dig deeper and adapt or do we give up and shrivel away?

Luke 8:14-15
The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

We also learnt a huge lesson from the tree management we observed in various parks. For years the Park Rangers immediately rushed out to douse any bush fires but latterly it has been discovered that once every 20 years or so, a good scorching clears out weaker and diseased shrubs, bushes and spindly trees and allows for new growth and rejuvenation. Indeed, the bark toughens up and protects the softer interior. The toughened bark also helps protect from severe drought. The Rangers gather up all the dead debris, place it in heaps and have controlled fires to get rid of it.

Once again, we turned to the Lord and asked, “What are You teaching us here Lord?”  We are reminded to regularly look through our daily lives, what is there that we need to sort, clear out, banish? It is the getting rid of this sin on a regular basis, that allows us, just like the trees, to grow stronger and to flourish.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Finally, we came to good old-fashioned lumps of rock and we saw plenty of that! But here again we were amazed by the variety of colours, shapes and sizes. The effects of erosion, wind and rain, has chiseled, dissolved, washed away and exposed lower layers. It has shaped and moulded in a way that creates even greater diversity, beauty and left us awestruck.

A huge crevice of hundreds of miles, the Grand Canyon, has been shaped by one river, the Colorado. What struck us also was that with each season the scenery changes everything little by little. Are we willing to be moulded and shaped and changed by the Wind of the Spirit, are we willing to be honed, sharpened and made into what God would have us be by drinking deeply of His Word?

1 Corinthians 2:5
So that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

These five weeks have shown us afresh and made us appreciate God’s wonderful, diverse creation and we pray for His Spirit and His unchanging Word to deepen our dependence on Him and to daily thank Him for the wonders He performs. We further pray that we would be willing to allow Him to change us season by season, to indeed seek for Him to shape us and to adapt to His intended purposes for our lives. Remember our burdens can make us stronger and develop qualities in us that will prepare us for the future but only if we are willing to allow our awesome God to do His will in our lives.  Make us willing Lord Jesus to go Your way not ours! 

So, to sum up:

Seek God with all your heart, seek solid food, don’t be content with milk.

Dig deep, adapt, don’t give up but persevere.

Get rid of all that hinders us in our lives, confess, receive forgiveness and be purified by our God.

Finally, be willing to be shaped and moulded, go God’s Way not our own way.

Author: Linda Allitt

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Sunday 24 November 2019

A Tree and its fruits

The standards that determine eternal judegment are not a person’s standards, not a church’s standard, not a preacher’s standard, but only God’s standards set forth in His Bible.

Matthew 7:15-23 ‘Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruits you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.  Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

In the course of my college education, I ran across an inscription posted at the top of the college library entrance that read, ‘Read not to believe or take for granted, nor to refute or contradict, but to weigh and consider’.  That inscription has had a huge impact on my life.  I try to embrace that attitude when I read, listen and observe.  A similar attitude shows up in the book of Thessalonians.  A directive was issued to the Christians in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians when he admonishes them to test all things to the scriptures so that you will not be led astray.

Again, Matthew 7:15 says ‘Watch out for false prophets.  They will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.’  Verse 16 says, ‘By their fruits you will recognize them.’  Scripture says that the wolves will come in sheep’s clothing.  The wolves can be ever so clever.  They will wear the sheep’s clothing of doing good deeds and intentions for the cause of something good or for the cause of Christ, but beneath it all, their true intentions or desires are to do something that will serve their own best interests.  And that is the deal killer for Jesus.  The false prophet can wear the cloak of religiosity and represent itself in the form of a person, preacher, teacher, church, missionary, evangelist, and many other ways.

Here is the rule that will test a false prophet in my judgement.  If a person or entity is acting on behalf of God and only God’s standards of righteousness and serves to glorify God, then he/she is a true prophet for the purpose of God.  If, on the other hand, he/she has any self-serving motive, like pride, prestige, power or possessions, then he/she becomes a false prophet that dilutes God’s purpose and leads many astray.  The scripture says cursed are those who lead one astray.

Matthew 7:16 says, ‘By the fruits you will recognize them’.  All fruit comes from a nourishing source like a tree, vine, etc.  Matthew 7:17-18 tells us that good fruit comes from good nourishment (like God’s truth), but bad fruit comes from deception, which is anything other than God’s truth.  Bad fruit leads to bad things. Matthew 7:19 says, ‘Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire’.  Jesus is telling us to get out into the world and bear good fruit, fruit that will truly represent His plan and purpose.  If the tree does not get out into the world and does not bear good fruit, it will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 7:21-23 says ‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?  Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers’.  These scriptures are self-evident.  If you were a false prophet and stood before Jesus He would say, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me you evildoer’.  Jesus is the only way into heaven.  Not knowing Jesus is the only way into hell which is eternal damnation of suffering and pain.

Remember, the standards that determine eternal judgement are not a person’s standards, not a church’s standard, not a preacher’s standard, but only God’s standards set forth in His Bible. We are responsible for our own choices.

Author: David Leatherman

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Sunday 17 November 2019

Faith in Action

It has been during this last two years that I’ve come to realise that I’m married to one of the most faith filled people I have ever had the privilege to know.

Two years ago, my wife found a lump in her breast which turned out to be a very rare form of cancer, for which there was no cure. As you can imagine this was a shock to both of us, but focused us on trusting God through this stormy period of our lives.

When the surgeon at the hospital told my wife what it was and that they intended to give her the most powerful form of chemo and radiotherapy for the next two years, and had a number of procedures booked for the following week to try to deal with it, she just stayed silent. The doctor then asked her if she had understood what he had just told her and she said yes, but wanted to go away for a couple of weeks and look into this type of cancer.

I found out as we left the hospital that her silence was because while the doctor was telling her what procedures they were intending to do, God was telling her that this was not the route He wanted her to go down. So, her decision was to obey God not the doctor.

I have to say I could have fell down and wept at the news. At this moment in time all I could think of was, that this was the love of my life, my soul mate, the woman I had met at 16, married at 20 and spent my whole life loving, and now I’m being told she is going to die and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Nevertheless, I knew I had to stay strong for her and be there every step of the way and let her know that no matter what we were in this together.

One of the hardest things I had to do was to tell our three children and then the rest of our family. This was one of those moments that I prayed earnestly to God for His strength and to help me keep it together as I called each one of them in turn and felt my heart breaking as I gave them the news.

There have been moments over the past two years when I’ve found it hard to keep it together especially when I’ve been on my own, and my wife couldn’t see me, but I have known the hand of God continually holding me up and giving me the strength to keep going. In fact, there’s one thing that both my wife and myself have known through all of this, and that’s the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, and for that I am eternally grateful to Him. Philippians 4:6-7 ‘do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

 We also know that for us death has lost its sting, and when we leave this earth we don’t die, we simply change addresses. My pain therefore, is at the thought of the absence of my wife until I see her again in glory.

It has been during this last two years that I’ve come to realise that I’m married to one of the most faith filled people I have ever had the privilege to know. She has complete trust in God and has never wavered once to my knowledge, in knowing that He has her right in the palm of His hand, and she has taken every opportunity to let people know this, including the doctors and nurses when they asked her why she had refused all the treatment offered. In fact, if you didn’t know she has cancer you would never know, because she never tells people unless they ask, as her focus daily, is not on her illness but on serving God. I truly believe my wife lives Galatians 2:20 which says:  'I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.'

One of the instances of her faith in action was when the oncologist told her shortly after her diagnosis, that if she didn’t have treatment immediately (chemo therapy) she would be dead by the end of the year (2018). To which my wife’s response was to look her straight in the eye and say, ‘that’s okay I’m not afraid of death, I know where I’m going’, and by the look on the oncologists face, it was obviously a response she had never had from anyone before and was suddenly lost for words.

At the beginning of this diagnosis my wife asked God how she could now pray for other people who were sick to be healed when she had this disease. His response was simply to say to her ‘those who honour Me I will honour’. Two years on from my wife finding the lump her faith is still as strong as ever and she has had the privilege of praying for people and seeing them healed, including two people from cancer. God is always true to His word. 

None of us know when our final day will be, but one thing we can be sure of, God knows, and nothing or no one can take us before the date and time that He has set. So for those of you reading this blog, if you know Jesus as your Saviour, then until the day He calls us home let’s serve Him with surrendered hearts, knowing that He has called us, predestined us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come, and look forward to the time we share with each other and Him at the wedding feast of the Lamb. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 ‘Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.’

For those of you reading this blog who don’t know Him or have walked away from Him, you are missing out on the adventure of your lives and are in danger of an eternity for which none of you would want and is described in Revelation 20:11-15. Read it and answer this question: Where is your name written? Know this, God loves you, and demonstrated His love for you on the cross. But you have a choice to make before your last day on earth draws to a close. Both His love and the choice you have to make can be found in the Bible in the gospel of John chapter 3.

To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 24-25)

Author: Kevin Hunt

Sunday 10 November 2019

GOD is Faithful

When the medical profession have drawn the curtains on your life but you have that inner peace and know that God is in control of your life story.

I pray that as you read this you will be encouraged that God is in control of all things – the good and the bad.

Two years ago I found a lump in my breast and it was discovered that I had a very rare type of cancer which is basically incurable. As the physician was telling me what procedures they were intending to carry out I felt an audible voice say ‘’This isn’t the road I want you to go down’’.
The physician asked me if I had heard what he said as I hadn’t given a reaction. They were setting up 5 procedures for the next week but I said I wanted to go away for a couple of weeks and read up on this particular strain of cancer. What I read was pretty awful but I had the peace of God in my heart. They initially wanted me to have 2 years of the most toxic chemo and radiotherapy, which I declined.

The next year was full of tests, results, hospital visits and an operation. Not a day went past where I was not encouraged by a scripture, love of a friend or a hug from my favourite person in all the world, my lovely husband. This last year we have celebrated both our 60th birthdays our Ruby wedding anniversary and the birth of 2 new grandchildren, (one of them being an extra special miracle from God).

One really important lesson I learned was to tell and show the people around us that we love them. My dear childhood friend got in touch with me just before my 60th birthday and took me to a spa retreat as a gift. She isn’t a Christian but when she found out about the cancer she threw her arms around me, kissed me over my face and told me how much she loved me and was there anything she could do to make things easier for me. Another blessing was that there was a drawing closer of my two sisters and myself that through sheer busyness and time constraints had become distant.

All my Christian life I had believed others should know we are Christians by the way we conduct our lives, but since I received the news they expected me to be dead by the end of 2018 it has made me more bold to proclaim the goodness of God. In the past few weeks as I have sat having a coffee two people just started telling me their life story (both very sad), and I asked if they would like me to pray for them, and they both said ‘yes’. Something I know I wouldn’t have done previously.

When I say now that every day is a gift it has so much more meaning. When the medical profession have drawn the curtains on your life but you have that inner peace and know that God is in control of your life story.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you be not dismayed, for I am your God I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

When the doctors and nurses asked why I refused all the treatment I just replied that God has me in the palm of His hands and only He knows my first and last day and whether He heals me or takes me home that’s up to Him. I am not saying this route is right for others, I always thought I would just follow the doctor’s advice until this illness came knocking at my door and that was all turned on its head. I rarely tell people about this illness because, often others don’t know how to deal with it and feel awkward as to whether to mention it or ignore it.

I can honestly say that I have loved and served God in many ways over nearly 40 years, but I have never felt as close to Him as I have whilst dealing with this storm in life. I realise He really is the Author and Perfecter of my faith. That I am the apple of His eye. That no weapon formed against me will prosper. So for anyone reading this blog today, if you are struggling mentally, physically or spiritually, know that God is just a breath away. He knows what you need, He’s just waiting for you to ask.

I pray that if you are one of the people who have walked away from your faith because something or someone has cut in on you, make the decision today to go back to your first love and give Him the honour He deserves. I promise if we look to Him and not to others, we will NEVER be disappointed.

Author: Lyn Hunt

Saturday 2 November 2019

The one in the Shadows

Many 'modern Christians' do not believe in a real figure called 'Satan' at all, others have constructs that reduce His significance to the same level as a Halloween party.

Recently I saw the film 'War Room' (also a book – writers Stephen and Alex Kendrick) it was recommended to us by Christian friends who had been blessed by it. I watched it with tears in my eyes as I saw the story unfold. For those who have not seen it, the ‘War Room' is a room for prayer. In the story the people creating 'war rooms' create a place in their homes free of distractions to get down to real prayer. I was challenged by the film in a number of ways.

My reason for mentioning it here is that in one scene one of the key characters is speaking to a woman whose husband is wayward and says to her something like "your husband is not your enemy - our real enemy is in the shadows". This and other recent happenings got me thinking. Our real enemy is 'in the shadows'! I thought of all of the things that the world blames God for: everything from our daily troubles to the lack of world peace and global hunger. People blame God for everything that goes wrong but our real enemy gets off scot free!

Let me be clear that I have no wish to give Satan any extra publicity or credence with this blog. I want to point out though, that the spiritual war going on around us and with us is just as real as our morning breakfast. The Bible clearly tells us that we have any enemy who Jesus says was a murderer and liar from the beginning (John 8:44) and who wants us all in hell if he can manage it. Despite this for so many people he is 'in the shadows'. He doesn't mind being there, and finds great advantage in being hidden or hiding His true nature 'in sheep's clothing'. Many 'modern Christians' do not believe in a real figure called 'Satan' at all, others have constructs that reduce His significance to the same level as a Halloween party.

This is not what Jesus had to say on the subject. His already quoted direct warning was that the Devil was a liar and murderer from the beginning and scripture warns moreover to be careful of those who follow his ways. To one group Jesus says: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44). They protest as if unwitting accomplices but He says 'and the works of your father you want to do'. Peter warns us to be aware of our adversary who 'roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Peter 5:8).

Revelation paints a picture of an angry Satan (‘the Dragon’) who knows that His time is short (Revelation 12:17). Full of wrath this 'accuser of the brethren' (Revelation 12:10) seeks to destroy men and women by every means possible - either by frontal attack on our families and lives or by subtle means such as temptation and the deceitfulness of riches and materialism. The parable of the sower spells it out - the seed (God’s Word) on the footpath was taken directly by the birds - meaning Satan and His acolytes snatched it away before it had impact. The seed choked by thorns represented those overtaken by the deceitfulness of the world and the world system. 1 John 2:15-16:” Do not love the world (Greek Kosmon or ‘world system’) or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world”. The seductive world system and its present ambitions, pursuits and pleasures are designed by the ‘Prince of the power of the air’ (Satan) to draw us away from Godliness and consume us with distraction and confusion.

In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul comments on the danger of allowing Satan have something to manipulate us with: “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices”. In my own experience and walk it is at that very moment when all is going well that we should be most wary. I remember well times with a young family when my wife and I would get together on Sunday night and agree to press forward with something that the Lord had laid on our heart or challenged us with. As surely as night follows day by Wednesday of that week, we would be sitting in shock wondering where all the problems had come from. Problems at work, with the children, with each other they seemed to pour in like a flood as soon as we determined to walk more closely with the Lord.

So unfashionable as it is, we must be aware of our adversary and his intentions and warn men and women, boys and girls that there is a thoroughly ruthless enemy of our souls who we ignore at our peril. Having said all of this what are we to know and to do? Well Satan is the one who Jesus outwitted and defeated at the cross. Despite every attempt of Satan to destroy Jesus, deter Him from His mission and corrupt His offering, before the cross Jesus said "the prince of this world is coming and he has no hold over me"(John 14:29).

To say again our Lord Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, overcame Satan for us on the cross and by His mighty resurrection from the dead: Colossians 2:13-15 says: “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it”. And Hebrews 2:14: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

When he returns Jesus will vanquish Satan’s representatives on earth: 2 Thessalonians 2 v 8: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” and finally consign Satan and death to Hell when He makes all things new: Revelation 19:10 “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever”.

Because of what Jesus has done for us, we read in James 4:7 ‘submit yourselves to God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you'. Clearly both parts of this scripture are important – submitting to the Lord and His rule being established in our lives is crucial if we are to resist the Devil and see him flee from us. If Jesus is King of our life then we are entitled to wear the King’s armour.

It is because our warfare is spiritual and not against flesh and blood that we are urged to 'put on the whole armour of God' (Ephesians 6 v 10 – 20). Here we are urged not only to use the Shield of Faith to quench the fiery darts of the evil one but also to get on the offensive using the Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. We are urged by scripture and many who have fought a good fight of faith to use scripture in our spiritual warfare, prayers and praying. (The ‘War Room’ film mentioned at the start presents this beautifully). In a message on Spiritual Warfare back in 1995 Suzette Hatting urged us to use the Sword of the Spirit in our spiritual battles. In practice this meant seeking the Lord for a scripture for any given situation and then praying that / those verse(s) over it until it was resolved.

We are urged not to underestimate our adversary - he is like a fierce lion and in Jude we are told not to speak flippantly about spiritual powers. We are told that even Michael the archangel did not dare raise an accusation against Satan when He was contending with him but said "The Lord rebuke you". (Jude v 9). In Daniel we have a picture of a mighty angel being resisted when he tries to break through in response to Daniel's prayers. The picture is one of a spiritual struggle in which we are all involved - for real. It’s important to be on the winning side (see the outcome in Revelation chapter 19 and 20:7-10 if in doubt) and we are urged to save those who we can 'as brands from the burning'.

Satan was exposed and expelled from heaven and one day his judgement will be public before the universe and before God the righteous judge. Jesus whose offering was determined and agreed before the foundation of the world will stand and own all who belong to him before the father. Before then we must stand for Him in every possible way and refute and enforce the victory of Jesus over the evil one and his hold on people: ‘Submit yourselves to God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you'. (James 4:7)

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Author: Chris Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

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