Sunday 31 March 2019

Journey to the Promised Land

We should not underestimate the work that God wants to do with us on this part of ‘the journey’ and we should not be worried or concerned that He wants to humble us and test us, in fact we should be honoured!

Source: The Standard
Whilst recently reading the account of the Israelites exile to Egypt and their trials and tribulations, through forty years in the wilderness, before they finally enter into the Promised Land, it occurred to me that whilst we are on this earth we too are on a similar journey. Just like the Israelites our journey is in three primary stages; 1. Before we know Jesus; 2. When we give our hearts to the Lord; 3. When we entry the Promised Land. 

Stage 1 - Before we know Jesus – In Exodus 1 the Egyptians become increasingly concerned about how the Israelites were multiplying in their land so they decided to exert their authority by treating them harshly; Exodus 1:14 ‘They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly’. Through this oppression the Israelites were easily distracted in their struggles and rather than lean on God, they became influenced by their circumstances which led to corruption and idol worship; Exodus 32:7 ‘Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf’

Being influenced by the wrong people, impatience, chaos, corruption and worshiping idols are all symptomatic of a World that will never find what it is looking for, a World that will never be satisfied, a World where human selfish desire takes precedence and crucially, a World that lacks God. It could be argued that those who do not know Jesus are lost and right now are living in their own version of Egypt. But Praise God He has a plan and anyone who gives their heart to Jesus can pack their bags, leave Egypt and head for the Promised Land.

Stage 2 - When we give our hearts to the Lord – The moment we give our hearts to Jesus we enter the second stage of our journey, and what a journey this is!  At this stage we are heading for the Promised Land however we haven’t arrived yet. After leaving Egypt the Israelites wondered around in the wilderness for forty years before they entered the Promised Land. Throughout their time in the wilderness the Israelites were directed and protected by God; Exodus 13:21 ‘By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night’. They were never lost and neither are we if we listen to and are directed by the Holy Spirit.

Source: Christian Wisdom
This stage of the journey is a time of preparation for us and a time for God to prepare us to enter eternity with Him. God wants to humble us and test us at this stage in order to prepare our hearts for Him; Deuteronomy 8:1-2 ‘Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands’.

We should not underestimate the work that God wants to do with us on this part of the journey and we should not be worried or concerned that He wants to humble us and test us, in fact we should be honoured! If we carefully listen to what God is telling us in our lives and we are obedient to His Will then the Lord will welcome us into the Promised Land; Deuteronomy 10:12-13 ‘And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?’ God knows that we are imperfect by ourselves and it is only through the redeeming blood of Jesus that we will be able to enter the Promised Land. The key to the Promised Land is Jesus, we can’t get there on our own; Deuteronomy 9:6 ‘Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people’.

Stage 3 – When we enter the Promised Land – When the spies were sent to explore the land that the Lord was giving to the Israelites they came back with reports of a land flowing with milk and honey and in addition brought back some of the fruit from the land; Numbers 13:27 ‘We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit’. We too have an account of what awaits us when we go to be with the Lord and enter the Promised Land; Revelation 21:1-4 ‘Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’. Wow, this is the prize at the end of the journey, a destination that will allow us to spend all eternity with Jesus. The journey we are on may sometimes be challenging and there are going to be bumps along the way and we may sometimes reach crossroads however, God has equipped us with everything we need for our journey; 2 Peter 1:3 ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness’.

Let us rejoice on our journey and in the confidence of our arrival to the Promised Land. Whilst on our journey let us shine the light of Jesus so that those who are heading in the wrong direction will change their travel plans and join us as we travel to the Promised Land. 

God bless.

Author: Anonymous

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 24 March 2019

Choose Jesus

My advice to anyone would be to choose life, choose hope, choose joy, choose peace, choose contentment, choose to have a positive outlook, choose to be an overcomer…….Choose Jesus.

Source: Abide In Gods Word
I was sitting pondering the events of last year that had gone on in our lives. Some of them were good, some not so good and others were extremely difficult. Yet I couldn’t help but think that even the most difficult things when compared with other people’s situations, weren’t as bad as they might have seemed. How you look at a situation can determine if it’s good or bad and how it will affect you. For example, in America at the beginning of 2019 the President, Donald Trump, closed down the Government which resulted in Government employees having to work for no pay and eventually forcing them to use food banks as they were running out of money and food. This for them was considered to be a bad situation and caused discontentment and a lot of grumbling. However, if you’re in a part of the world where you constantly have little to no food, then being able to go to a food bank would seem like all your Christmas’s had come together and I’m sure there would be much rejoicing. Same situation but different outlooks.

Our attitude towards life and others can often determine how we see and feel about ourselves. If we’re constantly running others down or only see the negative things in people, then we’re eventually going to feel miserable with ourselves. If we keep looking at what others have and desire it for ourselves, then we become discontented and jealous and we will never find peace. Luke 12:15 tells us – ‘Then he (Jesus) said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions’. Desiring things we can’t have can lead us down a miserable and destructive path. The other side of the coin of course is also true. If we constantly try to build others up and do our best to see the good in people and are content with what we have, then we will generally have a positive outlook on life and can be happy and more content. That’s not to say we’ll never feel down at times, but if we look to help others with their problems, quite often our problems fade away or become less of an issue; Ephesians 4:29 (TPT) says: ‘And never let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them’. Whether we’re happy or not then it generally shows on our face; Proverbs 15:13 ‘A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit’ and Ecclesiastes 3:12 ‘I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live’. Whether you believe in the Bible or not these scriptures are true, and these feelings are experienced by both Christians and non-Christians alike.

Source: Designs By JuJu
Being a Christian doesn’t protect us from the pressures and stress of life, it doesn’t stop us becoming ill or from suffering, but it does give us hope and a knowledge of the One who is able to lift us up in the most desperate of situations. The Bible tells us that God has promised to provide all our needs, which my wife and I have experienced on many occasions in our lives. God is true to His promises. 2 Corinthians 1:20 ’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’. But more than this is the hope we have in our relationship with Jesus. As I said at the beginning of this article my wife and I went through some very difficult times last year, even life threatening in one instance. Yet it was our hope in Jesus and His Provision of Grace that got us through, when other people in our situation were falling apart, His Peace that passes all understanding flooded our hearts and kept us strong; Philippians 4:6-7 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’. It certainly did.

So my advice to anyone would be to choose life, choose hope, choose joy, choose peace, choose contentment, choose to have a positive outlook, choose to be an overcomer……. Choose Jesus. The only Saviour the Light of the world and the Hope for the Nations. As a Christian or not, what you choose could change your life: Romans 15:13 (TPT) ‘Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with un-containable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope’!

Let me leave you with one last piece of advice from scripture:

Hebrews 12:1-3 ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’.

May God bless you and give you wisdom.

Author: Pastor Kevin Hunt 

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 17 March 2019

Our God is Greater and higher than any other

I wonder how many opportunities we have missed in our lives for God to fulfil His Purpose in us. How many times have we doubted God’s ability to be greater than our circumstances….......

Source: GodTube
There are many stories or parts of the Bible that continually challenge me and as part of my daily bible reading I recently read the account of the spies in Numbers 13:26-33 who Moses had sent into the land that God was about to give to the Israelites. I’ve read this story many times before however, as always happens when reading God’s Word I was stopped I my tracks as the Holy Spirit started to minister to me. Please take the time to read the story for yourselves, in fact it is worth reading the whole of Numbers 13. To summarize; the Lord instructed Moses to send one of the leaders from each of the twelve tribes of Israel to go and explore the land of Canaan which God was giving to them. After forty days they returned with reports of an abundant land flowing with milk and honey and they even brought back some of the produce of the land as evidence; Numbers 13:27 ‘They gave Moses this account: ‘We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit’. At this point the assembled Israelite community must have been very pleased with the report and excited about the land that God was about to give them, however that was not the end of the report. They then went on to explain that the land was occupied by powerful people who lived in large fortified cities and that these people were descendants of Anak (who were giants); Numbers 13:28 ‘But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there’. This changed the mood considerably and raised doubts, even trepidation in the minds of the Israelites. God was so frustrated with the lack of faith shown by the Israelites that He felt that He was being treated with contempt;  Numbers 14:11 ‘The LORD said to Moses, ‘How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?

At the time of the report I can imagine there would have been a lot of shouting and arguing amongst the Israelites and the whole scene would have been rather chaotic, until one of the twelve spies boldly stood up and silenced the people; Numbers 13:30 ‘Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it’. This pleased God greatly. Somebody had stood up with faith and confidence knowing that it was God’s Will for the Israelites to conquer and to occupy the land and that if it was God’s will then nothing could stop it; Numbers 14:23-24 ‘not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it’. The response of the spies and the Israelites (except Caleb and Joshua) and their lack of faith in what God was about to do had a profound affect that rippled through the Israelite community: 

1. They saw the giants in their lives and lost focus on God, who is much bigger than any giant, opposition, barrier or obstacle.  
2. Their doubting distracted them and the Israelite community from God’s Plan for them.
3. They discouraged the Israelite people because of their own lack of faith/confidence in God.
4. God saw their response as contempt. 
5. The Israelites would have seen that those who were bold (Caleb and Joshua) were blessed by God.

Source: PInterest
As I read the account of the inspection of the land and the subsequent report I thought about how often I don’t allow God to fulfil what He has planned for me in my life. I also thought about how I can limit and doubt His Power because I can often care more about what people think than about God. Just like the spies who inspected the Promised Land I can only imagine how frustrated God must be with me every time I let human thoughts, emotions, fears, anxieties, worry, selfishness, greed, pride, vanity and other obstacles become barriers that prevent Him fulfilling His potential in me. 

As a Lecturer I often have conversations with students who are struggling with their various courses to try to find ways of giving them support and at the same time to offer pastoral care. In some cases there are genuine and often personal reasons that are impacting on a student’s ability to focus on their course and in these cases there are lots of ways in which I and the University can offer support. There are however those students who for one reason or another decide not to engage with their courses, they miss lectures, turn up late and generally expect to pass the course with minimum effort. This type of student frustrates the life out of me, particularly when I can see the potential in some of them. I would normally take these students aside individually and try to motivate them by telling them the potential I see in them and how they could be wasting a massive opportunity to graduate with a good degree and to secure their futures unless they start to engage.  I wonder if God sees us in the same way. God sees the potential in all of us but if we fail to engage with His Plan and Purpose in our lives then we too are wasting a massive opportunity. The difference however is that the opportunities that God has for us are not just for the here and now but also for the future and not just for our earthly future but for our eternal future! It would be pure folly to waste such an amazing opportunity.

A final thought; I also wonder how many opportunities we may have missed in our lives for God to fulfil His Purpose in us. How many times have we doubted God’s ability to be greater than our circumstances (our giants) through lack of faith, just like the spies who inspected the land? I wonder what God had planned for me and what He could be using me for today, but can’t because I have prevented Him from doing so? It saddens me greatly to think that I may be preventing God from fulfilling His Purpose in my life if I act in exactly the same way as the spies who returned from the Promised Land full of doubt. From this moment on may God bless me to be bold and to fully submit to His Will for my life only and may He use me to do mighty things in His Name, but all to His Glory!

Author: Anonymous

May God bless and enrich your life 

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Sunday 10 March 2019

Nearing Home

Take heart, whatever age you are or whatever stage of life you may be in, God certainly has a plan and purpose for your life

Source: PInterest
I can remember my Father always telling me; ‘as you get older the years will fly by’. Oh boy, that is so true. How fast time seems to fly these days and how times have changed; young children I worked with at my local school have now grown up and now have children of their own! Letter writing and post cards are fast becoming a thing of the past with social media and networking now becoming the main source of communication. It seems that the world we once knew has changed overnight.

I sincerely hope this blog will encourage not just those of mature years but also people of all ages who have a heart for the things of God including those who might find themselves tied down with work commitments and a young family to nurture. Take heart, whatever age you are or whatever stage of life you may be in, God certainly has a plan and purpose for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.  If you have children then they are a blessing from God, they are your mission field, to nurture them in the ways of the Lord. For us older ones I say this ------ ‘We have arrived at the top of a mountain where we can breathe the rare atmosphere of experience, knowledge and honour’; Job 12:12 ‘Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding’? and Deuteronomy 32:7 ‘Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you’.

Scripture is filled with examples of men and women who God used in their later years, often with great impact; Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elizabeth, Anna and Simeon to name but a few. These are all examples of ordinary men and women who discovered that the latter years of life would prove to be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling. For them, growing older wasn't something to be denied or dreaded, it was something to be embraced as part of God’s plan for their lives. Anna was a Prophetess of great age who dwelt in the temple serving God with fasting and prayers night and day (Luke 2:36-38), Simeon was also a great age and dwelt in the temple and the Holy Spirit was upon him. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he would not see death before he had seen the Christ, the Messiah; the day then came when he was guided by the Spirit to the temple courts where the parents brought in the child Jesus; Luke 2:27-32 ‘Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel’.

Source: Knowing Jesus
God’s Word tells us in Psalm 92:14 ‘They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green’ and even though we may experience the limitations and difficulties associated with getting older in our human bodies, the Power of God can still be revealed in a powerful way, as we grow older; 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 ‘But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are’ and Philippians 3:20-21 ‘But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body’.

Florence Robertson (1917-2010) was a British Evangelist and Missionary and a most remarkable lady. Shortly after Albania opened its borders in 1991 Florence rode a donkey up its mountains carrying medicine and Bibles to minister to people in the remote villages. At the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer Norway she braved the snow to preach and in Guinea, West Africa she endured tropical heat to show the movie ‘Jesus’ to muslim villagers. You could say that none of this is unusual activity for a missionary, however what is unique about this missionary is Florence’s age, she was in her mid-seventies! She didn't start her missionary work until she was in her 60s. Age and adventure went hand in hand for this Grandmother. In the last fourteen years of her life she preached in forty different countries and on five different continents. Florence claimed that age was no barrier with the Lord and made reference to Abraham and Moses.

Florence wasn't converted to Christ until the age of 50 and eleven years later at the age of 61 she heard the call of God.  She said; ‘I asked the Lord about my age, about money and about health and God gave me some wonderful promises from His Word, promises of provision and protection. I've been running on those scriptures ever since’. Ulcers, a serious back injury and a diagnosis of Osteoarthritis didn't stop her. She said; ‘today I can eat what I like, touch my toes and dance to the Lord. It’s never too late to do something for the Lord, age is no obstacle. God does not ask us to go where He has not provided the means to help us. Trust God to supply courage and resources at the right moment’

We have a duty to look after our bodies to ensure our latter years will be more fruitful for God. The Bible tells us; 1 Corinthians 6:19 ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?’ Those who have received the most precious gift of Christ’s Redeeming Blood have reason to look forward to the Glories of Heaven, for you will be perfected, you will be joyful, you will once again be active and right now you can be certain that you are nearing home.

May our Lord bless you all.

Author: Eileen Greaves

May God bless and enrich your life 

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Sunday 3 March 2019

Set Apart for God

God wants us to be Holy in this world and happy in the next, but our own selfishness wants to be happy in this world and Holy later

Source: ConexionChurch
As a Fellowship we read three chapters of the Bible each day and we recently completed reading the Book of Leviticus which looks at the Holiness of God (If you would like to join in reading the three chapters a day you can find them on our MCF Website (link). God’s Holy Love is so great that He hates sin which is an abomination before Him. The sinfulness of man not only pollutes clean things, but it also profanes Holy things.

Leviticus 20:26 tells us ‘you must be Holy because I, the Lord am Holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own’. When I read this I paused and spent some time praying to God. I asked God; ‘is it possible for humans to be Holy when living in this sinful, carnal flesh?’ This was a sincere question given that In John 2:24 it tells us that even Jesus did not trust human nature. The scripture that came to mind following my time of prayer was Zechariah 4:6 ‘………but not by power nor by might, but by my Spirit’. As I studied some more it become very clear that God expects His Children, the people He has liberated by the Power of the Holy Spirit to be like Him and not like those of the world. In 1 John 2:15-16 it says ‘do not love the world or the things of it……’ and then in James 4:4 ‘you adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God’.

Leviticus points towards the fullness of Christ and His Sacrifice, once and for all. Through Jesus, God provided a way of cleansing the sin from mankind. However, Hebrews 10:26-31 warns us to stop deliberately sinning. Hebrews 10:29 states; ‘just to think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God……..’. Deliberate, disobedient sin for those who have claimed Jesus as their Lord and Saviour is a very serious matter. When Jesus caught the woman in adultery He said to her ‘…..go  and sin NO more!’ (John 8-11). As God’s Holy vessels here on earth we come against deliberate disobedient sins such as; selfishness (we are to die to self), same sex marriages, sex outside of marriage, masturbation, looking at pornography, unforgiveness, jealousy, arrogance….. and so on.

Jude 1:22-23 tells us that we must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering but we must hate the sins that contaminate their lives. The Christian walk is a life of sacrifice, we live in this world but we are not of it (John 15:19) in fact 2 Corinthians 4:4 reminds us that satan is the God of this world. In Genesis 4:7 God warns Cain ‘….. you will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse then watch out! Sin is crouching at your door eager to control you but you must subdue it and be its master’. The world’s pleasure must not be our goal in life, our goal is to worship God and to live our lives as light. We are Ambassadors of Christ’s Kingdom, we are Princes and Princesses.

God wants us to be Holy in this world and happy in the next, but our own selfishness wants to be happy in this world and Holy later. A Godly life has to be through and through or it is not Godly at all. This life is a preparation for our life in heaven, this world is not our permanent home ….(Hebrews 13:14).

Father God in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and through the Holy Spirit we ask you to help us to understand that being good is not good enough, we are to be holy and set apart, for your Kingdom, for your Glory and for your honour, help us in freedom to choose not to sin this day we pray, Amen.

Author: Anonymous

May God bless and enrich your life

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