Sunday 27 January 2019

The Eldest Son

When we realize that our value is nothing to do with who we are but all to do with how God sees us, we can stop fighting for our own worth and recognition

Recently during a prayer meeting one of the members shared a reading from Luke 15:11 onward, about the prodigal son. The parable is well known, two boys grow up in a household and then one day the younger one gets itchy feet and wants his independence. So, he asks his father for his inheritance early so he can do the things that he wanted to do. The father gives him half of all he has and then the younger son goes off. The parable tells us that he spends all the money on the wrong things and eventually returns home in disgrace thinking his father will only accept him if he becomes like one of the servants. Whilst explaining the parable, Jesus tells us that the father’s heart is so overjoyed at seeing him return that he runs out to meet him and showers him with gifts and throws a party, so great is his joy of having the boy home again.

During the prayer meeting the Lord drew me to the actions of the eldest son in the story. I am an eldest child and I’m sure most eldest children can relate to this story. Somehow you can develop a sense of responsibility to do the right thing to look after the younger to always try and give a good example. Somehow, sub-consciously, it feels like more is expected of you and you are often held responsible for the things that go wrong because ‘you should have known better than to do that’! However, in the Parable the eldest son had watched the younger receive a load of money from his father, leave home to do his own thing, leaving all the work around the home/farm firmly on the shoulders of the eldest son. The eldest son had watched the distress of the father over the time that the youngest was away and seen the effect of the worry and concern on him. There had been plenty of time and opportunity for unhealthy feelings and thoughts to spring up, take root and grow towards his younger brother while he had been working every day to support the family, to do the right thing, to be the consistent one, to shoulder the responsibility in other words to be the reliable good son. So, you can only imagine his feelings when one day he returns home after another hard day’s work and there is a party going on. A party he knows nothing about and certainly does not feel invited to, a party to celebrate the return of the very person he has come to despise and feel such resentment for. He is undoubtedly hurt beyond words, hurt so much that he would not even go into the house and join the party, instead he stayed outside nurturing his hurt and justifying his feelings.

Source: Tell the Lord Thank You
This is where the Lord really started to speak to me, showing me how easy it is to develop unhelpful and unhealthy thoughts and feelings, not only towards others in the church/world but also about how we see how God loves us. We can see new people come in and rejoice that God is blessing them but have a tinge of thought; `what about me?’ Or we see people rise to a position and secretly think; ‘I wish someone would notice me’, or the most destructive one of all is if someone has hurt you or done something against you and they act as though they are not effected and in some cases, they even prospering or grow. Then the hurt and resentment really kicks in and all the feelings about; ‘hey I`ve been faithful, I’ve done the right thing, why are they doing ok and I`m having to deal with all these horrible upsetting feelings’? ‘Why are they being celebrated and not punished’. If left un-dealt with these thoughts and feelings consume us and we can become just like the eldest son in the Parable. We are left standing on the outside of the house refusing to go in even though we are being pleaded with to join the family in the celebration, and benefit from the feast. The Lord showed me that if we choose to stay there and not deal with these things then in the end we will be so consumed it will affect everything. Even the eldest son’s relationship with his father was affected. He made it personal; Luke 15:29 ‘you never gave me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends’ in other words ‘you never noticed me, I worked hard and you never recognized me I remained faithful to you but where is my reward’. It brought to mind times in my life when I had thought these types of things, where I had felt un-valued and not seen. I remembered how destructive these thoughts had been and how they had affected my walk with the Lord and I thought how easily it would be to go down that path again.

So, I asked the Lord; ‘how can I avoid and resist these thoughts and feelings when they arise’? He showed me the heart of the Father in the Parable. When the Father learned how upset the eldest son was he didn’t demand that he come to him, the father went to where the son was and he pleaded, yes pleaded, with him to come into the party. The father could have demanded the son come to him, he could have thought ‘actually, if he is going to behave so childishly and arrogantly, he can stay where he is, who does he think he is behaving like this?’ Instead, the father didn’t do that he went to where the son was and reasoned with him. I pondered on how often the Lord has graciously come to where I am and pleaded with me to come to him to come to the party to join in the blessing and abandon my selfish and resentful thoughts. However, even then the eldest son still railed against the father `you never did this for me you never did that for me, but this son who had done so much wrong and disrespected you is welcomed and celebrated, What about that!’ Boy, could I relate to some of these thoughts and feelings.

But then the Lord quietened me with just a few words which was the response of the Father; Luke 15:31 ‘My son you are always with me and everything I have is yours’. We need to stop and think what that really means. When we realize that our value is nothing to do with who we are but all to do with how God sees us, we can stop fighting for our own worth and recognition. The love of the father is demonstrated so wonderfully in those words; ‘my son you will never be separated from me I want you with me always, I value your presence that much and all I have; my love, my salvation, my protection, my plan and my purpose, my provision, my joy, my forgiveness, my blessing, my grace, my care and my compassion, is yours….. is yours already! It does not have to be earned or bargained for but its yours already just because you are my son’.

The eldest son reacted the way he did because in a moment of time he felt completely insecure and un-valued, the value he had placed in what he had been doing for the Father seemed to diminish in a second when he saw how the youngest son was being treated. If my self-value is only based on what I can do for God or achieve for Him or what standing I appear to have in the church etc. then it can be diminished in a moment. However, if my security/value lies in the way God values me; which he has shown to me by sending His only beloved son to die for me, then nothing can diminish that. Therefore, resentment and all the other unhealthy thoughts, feelings and often actions cannot find a place to grow because I know that the Father has said; ‘my son/daughter you are always with me and all that I have is yours’, this enables us to celebrate in all circumstances and enjoy the many parties God wants to throw for us and for others and we need never feel we have to stand outside again.

Author: Jan Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 20 January 2019

God is about to do a new thing!

Church WAKE UP! God is going into that which He is doing new with those who will follow, and those who won’t will get left behind

Source: PInterest
The first Sunday Service of 2019 one of the members of our Church brought a scripture which I believe was straight from the Throne Room of God, and which I claimed as the scripture of the year for our Fellowship. The scripture was Isaiah 43:18-19 ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’. The first Sunday Service of each year is always a ‘Thanksgiving Service’ in which we give glory to God for getting us through the previous year and for all the blessings we have received throughout the previous year. We then offer back to Him all the responsibilities/jobs/ministries etc., He has entrusted to us, and we ask Him to bless us as we seek to carry out these responsibilities in the way He would have us do them, all to the Glory of His Name. During the Thanksgiving Service God led us to get a box and place it at the foot of the cross and each person symbolically went to the box and put all of their baggage into it, to leave it there and then walk away. I felt this was significant because so many of us collect baggage on our way through life, with all the hurts, traditions, misunderstandings etc. not just from our upbringing but sometimes from the Church, being affected by other people carrying their own baggage, and this so often gets in the way of us being free to hear what God is telling us to do. Once we’d all done this I put the top back on the box and after the meeting I disposed of it. 

The problem is that we often pick up some of the baggage again that we’d previously put down. We need to constantly ask the Holy Spirit to convict us when we do this and repent of it and give it back to God. The Israelites were good at picking up their old baggage, and we’re no better. An example of this was when God brought them out of their slavery to Pharaoh and Egypt, and instead of praising God for freeing them they just moaned to Moses. Exodus 17:1-3 ‘The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, travelling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarrelled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?’ But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?’ Having just witnessed all of the plagues God had put on the Egyptians and experienced the way in which He had taken them out of the misery of slavery, blessing them with all the Egyptians gold, silver and clothing, you’d have thought they’d have realised that God would supply all their needs. Instead, they pick up their old baggage and want to go back in to slavery (their comfort zone). Oh, how often we want to go back there, it’s so much easier staying in our comfort zone instead of stepping out in faith into something new that God has for us.

Source: Christian Faith Art Journaling and Bible Study
Our trouble is that we often don’t want to forget the former things, we want to dwell on the past, especially if they were good times, but God is about to do a new thing. It’s about to spring up and He is making a way in the wilderness and streams in wasteland. The question is ‘Do we perceive it and are we ready for it?’ Do we want to go into the Promised Land with God in 2019 or are we desperate to go back into the familiarity of the bondage and baggage of self-pity? Do we think; ‘woe is me and it was so much better when I was in my comfort zone, let me go back there?’ Church, WAKE UP! God is going into that which He is doing new with those who will follow, and those who won’t will get left behind. The choice is simple, surrender to God and His will or you could be one of those who in the last days will fall away from the faith and be led astray and deceived by false prophets. You will eventually find that your love for God and others has grown cold. Scary thought, but look at what Jesus said about those in the last days, (a time which I believe we’re now in). Matthew 24:10-14 ‘At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’. Also; Matthew 24:23-25 ‘at that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.  For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you in advance’. I would encourage you to read the whole of Matthew 24.

I believe God is calling men and women of faith to stand up and be counted, those who are prepared to put off self and put on the garments of righteousness, faith and obedience and stand firm on the Gospel of truth, not willing to water it down or bow to the pressures of this demonic self-indulgent world that we live in. Is that you? If it is, then may the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; and may He turn His face towards you and give you peace.

Let me leave you with a final scripture which I hope will encourage you; 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 ‘ For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come’.

Child of God, be blessed.

Author: Pastor Kevin Hunt

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 13 January 2019


Sometimes unforgiveness lies buried deep in our hearts and we are not aware that it's there

Source: YouTube
As Christians, one of the things that sets us apart is that Jesus commands us to forgive. This is an on-going part of our lives because there will always be times when we have to forgive those who have hurt us. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, He forgives us for all our sins and if He forgives us then how can we not do the same to others?  In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus tell us; ‘For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins’. This is a command – we are to do it! Also, in Luke 11:4 the Lord's Prayer says, ‘and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. This is the pattern for our lives. When we are aware that we need to forgive someone, we should do it. If it is very difficult and painful to do, we should cry out to God to help us and we choose to forgive by an act of our will. If we need to keep on forgiving that person, then that's what we do. The moment will eventually come when we are able to forgive from our hearts.

If we are unable to forgive, bitterness enters our hearts and the fruit of it is not good. It harms us and keeps us captive to the person who hurt us. People can misunderstand what forgiveness is, it is NOT saying that the harm done to us is okay and it is NOT condoning what has been done to us.  However, when we are able to forgive, it sets us free! Ephesians 4:31-32 ‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you’. In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter asks Jesus; ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ And Jesus answers, ‘I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times’.

Sometimes unforgiveness lies buried deep in our hearts and we are not aware that it's there. I had been a Christian for a couple of years when I went on a healing retreat. On the first evening we were told to ask God if we needed to forgive anyone. I thought I was fine but as I closed my eyes, the Minister of the church that my family went to when I was young came straight into my mind. I hadn't even thought about him for many years and I didn't know that I had been harbouring such feelings about him for so long. I had been angry with him because of his lack of care and concern towards my Father who became ill when I was a teenager and particularly because he never visited my Father when he was in hospital when he was in a coma (my father miraculously survived). I was amazed that I had harboured this anger in my heart for so many years. We need the Holy Spirit to bring these things to our minds. It's about being open to allow God to show us what we need to deal with in our lives and it is good to wait on God in order for Him to reveal anything that is wrong. It is all too easy for us humans to have unforgiveness in our hearts and to bear a grudge against someone, however He always gives us the grace we need in order to forgive – He loves us, we are His children!

God bless.

Author: Muriel Allen

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 6 January 2019

Guarding the Power of God’s Authority over our lives

The minute we move from God’s will to our own we will lose the Power of God’s Authority over our lives.

Source: PInterest
In Philippians 1 the Apostle Paul starts by encouraging the people of Philippi in their faith but at the same time recognizes that for some, their motivation for preaching the Gospel of Christ is self-indulgent. Philippians 1:15-16 ‘It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel'.  Paul then goes on to explain that regardless of personal motives the important thing is that the Gospel is being preached; Philippians 1:17-18 ‘The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice’.

As I read the scripture from Philippians 1:15-18 during my daily Bible reading I reflected on my own motives in relation to certain ministries that I contribute to at my local fellowship. I thought very carefully about my own motives and whether they came from genuine goodwill or in fact whether I had started to become self-indulgent on occasions. As I pondered this a little longer, I realized that there have been times where I had been selfish and prideful. The Holy Spirit made me realize that we can get so wrapped up in what we see as ‘our ministries’ that we lose track of the fact that they were never ‘ours’ in the first place and the minute we move from God’s will to our own we will lose the Power of God’s Authority over our lives. This was quite a revelation for me and something that I need to be mindful of in the future. Praise God that He is a God of love and He shows us correction when we need it; 2 Timothy 3:16 ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness’

In Matthew 7:15 the church is warned to watch out for false prophets who may subtlety infiltrate the Church in order to disrupt and destroy; ’Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves’. Whilst it is easy to imagine false prophets as ‘real’ people who appear as ferocious wolves the reality is that self-indulgence, pride and other things, from people who belong to the body of Christ can be equally, if not even more damaging to the Church. We could man the watch towers 24hrs a day to guard against the forces outside of the Church however we should be equally mindful and vigilant on what is going on inside the Church as well. 

Source: Bible Verses To Go
God provides all of our needs and there is nothing wrong with God blessing worldly things into our lives as long as; and this is crucial, we don’t put anything before God; Luke 16:13 ‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money’ and 1 Timothy 6:10 ‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs’. Another example of preaching the Gospel of Christ with alternative motives can be found by many of those who preach the Prosperity Gospel. As the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 1:18 ‘whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached’. So, even behind the smoke and mirrors of the lights and the glitzy stage managed shows the Gospel is still being preached however it must be asked if preaching Christ is secondary to the main motivation of making money. How can anyone justify charging an entrance fee of £100 to £150 for a Christian Worship ‘Conference’? No matter how much razzmatazz (which is nothing to do with the Gospel) this would buy, it only serves to exclude and marginalize those who cannot afford it. The poor, the lonely, the vulnerable, the lost are the very people who need to hear the Gospel of Christ, yet they are excluded. What would Jesus think? I do not recall anywhere in any of the Gospels where Jesus charged an entrance fee for people to hear Him! The Gospel is a free gift from God Almighty; 1 Corinthians 9:18 ‘that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel’ and Ephesians 2:8 ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God’. It is important to ensure that we don’t get distracted by bright lights and ‘great music’ which should only serve to help bring us closer to Jesus and not divert our attention away from Him.

The message I received from reading the scripture in Philippians 1 gave me the opportunity to examine my own motives and to ask myself whether I am allowing Christ to work through me or am I blocking this through self-indulgence?  It is always good to reflect and re-focus in order to ensure that we are not starting to get distracted and to keep our minds focused on Jesus. May we always test and approve what is God’s Will before we start to do our own will; Romans 12:2 ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will’.

May God’s blessings be in your life.

Author: Anonymous

May God bless and enrich your life   

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