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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