Sunday 24 February 2019

One Night, One Moment and Everything Changed

We have no idea of knowing the precise moment that Jesus will come back for us, but in that ‘one moment’, our eternal destiny will be decided

Source: SlideShare
During my Bible reading and prayer time recently, something that came to mind was how the birth of Jesus and the Crucifixion and Resurrection were significant moments in history that changed everything. They could easily be described as ‘turning points’ or ‘life changers’ because everything changed after each of these events. The birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of the numerous prophesies from the Old Testament where God became flesh by sending His one and only beloved Son, Jesus, to reconcile sinful man back to Himself. The moment Jesus was born, things would never be the same again. Throughout His earthly life, Jesus was a Teacher and a Healer and so much more, who changed people’s lives on earth.  Also, the moment Jesus spoke His final words, died on the cross and then rose again three days later, everything changed; Luke 24:6 ‘He is not here; He has risen!’ This is the very moment when for all those who believe and have given their hearts to Jesus, that death was defeated. Jesus didn’t just change lives on earth but crucially secured their eternity with Him. In this one moment everything changed, things would never be the same again. Satan was defeated and the gates of heaven opened, all because of one moment. Praise God for loving us so much and Praise Jesus for the sacrifice and suffering He endured for us and for rising again.

In Acts 3:3-6 Saul must have got the shock of His life when on the road to Damascus a light flashed from Heaven and blinded him, and then Jesus spoke to him; ‘As Saul drew near to Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? ’Who are You, Lord?’ Saul asked. I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ He replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do’. From this moment, onwards Saul’s life was changed forever. As we can read from a large percentage of the New Testament, Saul changed from a Persecutor of Jews to become the Apostle Paul who, for the remainder of his life, preached the Gospel throughout the World bringing Jesus and with it Salvation to the Gentiles. One moment where everything changed. There are many other examples in the Bible of one moment that changed things forever; Eve eating the apple in the Garden of Eden, Noah’s obedience in building the ark, Abraham’s obedience in sacrificing Isaac, Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, David defeating Goliath and so on……., all examples where after one moment things would never be the same again.

Source: The Living...
This made me reflect on my own life and where the turning points had been and where ‘one moment’ had changed everything. I can think of a few but the key example that came to mind was when my daughter was born. My wife was 19 years old and I was 20 so we were young parents, but I always remember how I felt when I first set eyes on my daughter. I saw this small bundle of dark hair in my wife’s arms and I immediately felt a sense of love and responsibility and I knew from that very moment that my life had changed forever. I knew things would never be the same again as I was now responsible for another life that God had entrusted to my wife and I, the same feelings and thoughts also came a few years later when God added to our family with the birth of our son.

We also need to be mindful that the choices we make in ‘one moment’ can have two effects, they can either impact on our lives and the lives of others in a positive way or they can impact in a negative way. When my children were younger we used to walk them to school each day and we were often joined by another family of two boys and a girl and their mother.  We lived very close to this family and our kids used to be in and out of each other’s houses playing as they were of a similar age. The children were all happy and cheeky kids and they were always very polite. Several years later when the eldest boy was about 17 or 18 years old he made a choice and in 'one moment' changed his life and that of many others forever. He had driven some of his friends to a football match between two rival teams and an altercation occurred where he ended up running over another young man who sadly died. In this one moment everything changed, not just for him and his family or for the family and friends of the young man who died but the lives of many other people were changed forever. I suspect that in hindsight the young man would have wished that he had made a different choice in that moment however the consequences could not be changed, the moment had gone. We should always seek the Council of God before making any decisions and even more so in those moments when we need to make a decision quickly; Isaiah 30:21 ‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’.

The ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 had a choice to make of whether to keep their lamps topped up with oil or not. The outcome of their choice was crucial because it related to the ‘one moment’ when the Bridegroom would return. Five of the virgins kept their lamps topped up with oil and were invited by the Bridegroom into the wedding banquet, while the other five did not have sufficient oil in their lamps and the door to the banquet was closed. This represents the same choice for those who know Jesus; because another ‘one moment’ is going to occur when Jesus returns for His Bride; Revelation 22:12 ‘Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done’. If I make the right choices by living my life for Jesus then I can be confident that I will be invited into the wedding banquet and I will hear the words; ‘well done, good and faithful servant’, however, the alternative of making the wrong choices is unthinkable, I do not want to hear the words; away from me, I never knew you’. We have no idea of knowing the precise moment that Jesus will come back for us, but in that ‘one moment’, our eternal destiny will be decided, one moment that will change our eternal life forever!  I pray that I am vigilant and make the right choices in Jesus, throughout my life.

Those who currently do not know Jesus still have an opportunity to make a choice to give their hearts to Him. The choice is time limited because it can only be made while we are still alive! None of us know how long we have left or when Jesus will return, so the clock is ticking before the door to the banquet is closed, ‘One choice, one moment and everything can change’. We all have 'one moment' right now, but what do we choose to do with it?

The video below is a short scene from my favorite Christmas film; ‘Nativity!’ The scene shows how the birth of Jesus was one night, one moment when everything changed. May God speak into our hearts as we understand the significance and consequences of our choices so that when our ‘one moments’ occur in the future that they are from God and make a positive impact for His Glory. May all those who do not know Jesus experience that ‘one moment’ when they choose to give their lives to Him and change their earthly and eternal lives forever.

May God bless everyone who reads this message.

Author: Anonymous

May God bless and enrich your life
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Sunday 17 February 2019

God’s timing is always perfect!

God knows exactly what he is doing and His timing is perfect. Even in the midst of challenges, hardships and difficult time’s He is right there working it all out. We just need to have faith and trust

Source: Redbubble
At the time of writing this article I am currently in India half way through my three months voluntary work at Prema Vasam Orphange in Chennai. It would be so easy to write about the enormous challenges and terrible conditions here and how God’s amazing strength and blessing has saw me and my friend through, and how we grew to absolutely love it here. Or, about the terrible circumstances that these children have come from yet they still have amazing happiness and love.... However, there is something else I feel that God wants me to share; a true God moment (one of many) here in India.  A testimony to not only the Power and Provision of our Wonderful Father but His unfailing love and most importantly His Perfect Timing!

About four weeks into our stay here at Prema Vasam a lady called Stella arrived. After spending a little time with Stella she explained that back in Sheffield she works with the daughter of Jaya a lady who along with Selvyn (the Director of the Orphange) took little Prem (a little boy) off the streets and started Prema Vasam Orphange. She continued to explain that her visit to India was in Kerella (a flight away from here) and she was not planning to visit Prema Vasam during this particular trip. However, the day before Jaya had got in touch and after the phone call a flight was booked and that was how she came to meet us at Prema Vasam.

(Left to Right) Myself, Stella, Anton and Maneesha
After feeding and lifting the children that day Stella called me to the office to meet 'Anto'.  Anto was an Indian man who was born healthy, however tragically when he was younger he was abused and had his eyes taken out and was then used to beg on the streets. Jaya (mentioned previously) had taken Anto off the streets, looked after him and gave him an education. Now many years later he is a teacher in India.  Jaya had arranged for Anto to meet Stella as he desperately wanted advice on how to teach English to the children at his school, however Stella was a charity worker and had no teaching background. But you see God always knew and planned that Stella would 'spontaneously’ visit for only 24 hours at the same time that I was there which meant that I could help him with teaching ideas/advice (I am a qualified Primary School Teacher). In addition I was also blessed to go and visit a school in India, something I would never have been able to do through Prema Vasam.  Furthermore we were able to bless the school with £600 to buy this very deprived school a laptop and projector to help teach the children. The photographs below show us presenting the laptop and projector to the school.

The moment the Laptop and Projector were handed over
God knows exactly what he is doing and His timing is perfect. Even in the midst of challenges, hardships and difficult time’s He is right there working it all out. We just need to have faith and trust; Proverbs 3:5-6 ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight’. Stella was continually amazed at the 'coincidence and timing' as she called it but as we know there are no coincidences with God.

Be blessed everyone.

Author: Joleana O’Neill

May God bless and enrich your life   

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Here are some further pictures from Prema Vasam Orphange in Chennai

Sunday 10 February 2019

One thing

‘one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her’ (Luke 10:42)

Source: Dr. Rick Hanson
There is a saying that goes ‘when you are up to your neck in alligators it's easy to forget that your original intention was to drain the swamp!’ The intended message is of course that when we encounter difficulties it’s easy to be side-tracked into trying to deal with them rather than pursuing what we set out to do. Problems and fear can distract us from our core purpose, shifting our attention from one place to another and causing us to forget the one thing that we intended to do or promised God that we would do. It may not necessarily be problems though, when things are going well the distractions can be just as strong. In a Parable about the Kingdom of Heaven the invited guests all pointed to really positive reasons why they were distracted and therefore not coming to the wedding banquet (Luke 14:16-24). In the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-9, Jesus picks up this theme in the language of His day. He talks about seeds falling on stones and into thorn bushes. He explains that they represented distractions arising from shallowness, and the successes and riches or cares and hardships of life, warning that these can cause God's Word in us to be unfruitful. In that Parable the seed (the Word of God) was good seed – the same seed was used on each different type of ground but only in the well-prepared, good ground was the seed fruitful.

Source: YouTube
When Jesus met a rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-23, they had a conversation about what the young man must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said ‘keep the commandments’ and the ruler replied that he had kept them from when he was a boy. Jesus then identifies the real issue One thing you lack’, he said (Mark 10:21). ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’. Scripture records that the young man went away sorrowful because he had great possessions. In his case his distraction was in the thorn bush of the love of riches (in the Parable of the sower terms; if he had obeyed Jesus it would have cleared his ground of thorns and allowed the seed to thrive). The young man's approach to salvation and God had encountered a singular blockage.

As usual Jesus puts His finger on the issue straight away. Apparently, the young man was able to keep the commandments at least outwardly as required by the law in those days but he was hiding away the real problem that was preventing him drawing near to God. The Bible tells us at the beginning of Mark 10:21 that; ‘Jesus looked at him and loved him’ – however He went on to tell the young man what he needed to know – ‘You are lacking one thing’ (ESV) He said. Jesus knew that ignoring such a significant blockage at this point would result in big problems later on. He also knew that the Holy Spirit would not compete for the young man’s affections with an idol (the love of money) ruling his heart. The young man went away sorrowful but apparently not with Godly sorrow leading to repentance. He went away grieving that he would have to give up his riches to enter the Kingdom and in Mark 10:24-25 Jesus comments to His disciples about how difficult it was for those with riches to enter the Kingdom.

In a recent group meeting a young man asked a question about his approach to life. We replied; why are you asking that question? He said ‘I want to find out if there is anything I lack?’ I think that if we are honest all of us has an area where we know that we are vulnerable to temptation. Sometimes this is a Godly ‘deal-breaker’ – it has to be dealt with or we cannot progress any longer with our walk with God. Testimonies that I have heard from people about these issues have had a variety of outcomes. With some repentance and Godly sorrow led to deliverance and release; with others failure to obey the Lord led to a time of frustrated battling between themselves and the Lord until they were ready to go His way; with still others, lack of obedience in a key area caused them not to see fulfillment of the purposes of God in their life for some time (years in some cases). I guess that many of us have felt sorry for Moses at one time or another who instead of speaking to a rock as God commanded decided to hit it with his staff as he had done before. Water came out but the consequence of these actions meant that Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land with the Children of Israel even after all he had led them through and endured (Numbers 20:7-12).  

Sometimes our ‘one thing weakness can work out for the Glory of God. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 Paul tells us that he was given a messenger of Satan to buffet him and he begged the Lord to remove it three times but God said ‘My grace is sufficient for you; my strength is made perfect in weakness’. Clearly this will be a different conversation with the Lord for each of us. Scripture says that as we draw near to the Lord, he draws near to us and when we are close enough, He begins to speak to us. These are not words of harsh judgement but those of a loving Father - although their purpose is to remove obstacles in our lives that will in the end do us harm. It may be that the Lord will say that He is not at this time going to remove a temptation or testing from us. We may have to live with our ‘one thing’ and learn to overcome through His Grace.

In the movie 'City Slickers' Jack Polance's character (Curly) tells the intrepid would-be cowboys on the dude ranch that life is about 'one thing'. ‘Find that’, he says ‘and everything else won't count for much!’ (Using slightly more colourful language). I thought about this when I considered the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Martha invited Jesus into her house and set about serving her guests. She was clearly busy and frustrated that Mary, rather than helping, was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to what He had got to say. Martha asked Jesus if it didn’t bother Him that Mary had left her to serve alone. In Luke 10:41-42 Jesus replied ‘Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her’. Jesus supplements this in other parables about the Kingdom of Heaven where He explains that it is like someone selling all they have to be able to buy one priceless pearl. As Mary realized, the offer of walking with the Lord was worth more than all of the other things that we might own or do – even if they are good things to do.

Of course, personality influences this issue of focus quite a lot – in everyday life some of us are more easily distracted than others. For introverts the distractions are internal – all of those compartments to visit and maintain containing our ideas, thoughts, theories, pet projects, dreams and plans. For extroverts it’s the external that is fascinating - all those people to talk to and check things out with. Then there is our occupation with busyness – never mind the theory let’s just do it – or experiment a little. Maybe our thing is the theory – so many new things to explore, think and reflect on… The potential distractions are endless, aren’t they, regardless of the type of person we are? At a ‘New Wine’ workshop a couple of years ago someone was talking about this and stressing the need for introverts to add a temple to the different rooms in their lives – and go there frequently so that everything else can be influenced by it. The urging for extroverts was for them to build an internal temple as it might not come naturally to them. The thing is that as we see these distractions as rooms in our lives there is a test that we can apply as to whether time spent in that room is likely to be fruitful. Metaphorically the suggestion is to take some anointing oil from the temple and use it to anoint and ‘sanctify’ the room. If it is something that aligns with God’s purpose and He can bless then well and good, but if our attempts to bring it into subjection to the Holy Spirit’s control fail then we must ask whether the activity is helping or hindering our walk with Jesus?

So, what might we say in conclusion to these thoughts? Like Mary we must be convinced in our minds that a life with Jesus is the ‘one thing’ to be valued more than anything – even if it gets us into hot water because others do not understand what’s at stake. We must allow that ‘one thing’ – our walk with the Lord - to govern all of the other compartments of our lives and get rid of baggage and rubbish that trips us up and clutters our rooms. Where we have other legitimate interests and passions, let’s not allow even our dearest pursuit to distract us from the pursuit of the Kingdom of God and the promise of a daily walk with Jesus. God does not promise to remove our ‘one thing’ distractions, temptations or tests – as Paul did, through His Grace, we may need to use the Lord’s strength to live with them and grow stronger through it, remembering that ‘His Grace is sufficient. His strength is made perfect in our weakness’.

Author: Chris Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 3 February 2019

Across the Great Divide

No matter how bad you think your life has been, no matter how badly you have sinned and no matter how far you think you are away from God, the pure blood of Jesus can wash it all away

Source: stand in the rain
We often hear the phrase ‘hindsight is a wonderful thing’, which is usually quoted by someone who is reflecting on something that they would do differently if they had the opportunity go back and experience the same circumstances again. The problem is that at the point of reflection, whatever has happened has happened and although there may be an opportunity to do things differently in the future it is not possible for things to be undone. But what happens if there is ‘no future’? Hindsight can be ‘not such a wonderful thing’ if we do not have the opportunity to make different decisions, to right our wrongs, or to learn from our mistakes because we are no longer here, we are gone. This then raises the question of; where have we gone to? The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 provides a good example of where the benefit of hindsight was too late, as well as some other good talking points:

Luke 16:19-31 ‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So, he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us’. He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them. ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent. He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’.

In Luke 16:26 most versions of the Bible refer to the ‘great chasm’ that cannot be crossed however the King James Version refers to this as the ‘great gulf’. This provides us with an answer to the question of ‘where do we go?’ when we pass from this earth as the ‘great chasm’ or ‘great gulf’ is talking about the un-crossable divide between heaven and hell. It can be assumed that the Rich Man in using hindsight realized that if he had the opportunity to go back to his life then he would do things differently, he would warn his nearest and dearest of the consequences that faced them of going to hell and try to convince them to make choices that would lead them to heaven. The problem was; the rich man realized too late, his hindsight had no value whatsoever and despite pleading with Abraham he was reminded that Moses and other prophets had already been sent to warn people but many had chosen to ignore them.

We too will not have the luxury of hindsight when we look back at our lives from the ‘spirit’ (after our earthly life has ended), which is why it is so important that we make the right choices while we still have the chance. Unlike the Rich Man, anyone who is reading this article still has the opportunity to act on hindsight and to make a conscious choice that will lead them to an eternal life in heaven rather than in hell.  The answer as always comes from God Himself in John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’. This is the simple choice that anyone needs to make in order to ensure that they are on the right side of the ‘great divide’, to give their heart to Jesus. No matter how bad you think your life has been, no matter how badly you have sinned and no matter how far you think you are away from God, the pure blood of Jesus can wash it all away. Jesus’s blood will wash away your old self and make you a new creation in Christ and guarantee your place with Him in eternity; 2 Corinthians 5:17 ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’

We have no way of knowing whether this will be our last day or indeed our last few moments, therefore the time we have is precious. If we already know Jesus as our Lord and Saviour then let us do what the rich man in the scripture can’t; let us share the love of Jesus while we still can so that as many others as possible, including our loved ones, will spend their eternity in heaven rather than hell. If you have not received Jesus into your heart then now is the time to act. Do not risk your eternal life in heaven because tomorrow is not guaranteed. Do not risk standing alongside the Rich Man and looking across the great divide for eternity wishing you had made different choices. Remember when we pass from this earth we will go to one of two destinations and there is no crossing from one to the other.  It’s either heaven or hell, which one will you choose? The choice is important because eternity is a very long time.

Author: Anonymous

May God bless and enrich your life

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