Saturday, 25 December 2021

Bless the Lord, O my soul

We should have a conversation with our soul and determine to praise the Lord in spite of our emotions or our circumstances

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I pray you are all having a lovely Christmas. When you read this, Christmas day will be over and hopefully you will still have a few more days to relax. I don’t know about you but for me this time between Christmas and New Year is often a time of reflection. I think about next year and how I can do things better. I am not going to call this ‘making new year’s resolutions’ because I am notoriously bad at keeping them for more than a week or two!!  I am just going to call it reflection.

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a bible teaching and the speaker said something that I had never really thought of before. He said that David often gave himself a good talking to. He said that in his psalms, he spoke to his soul and told it to do certain things. So, I looked into this a bit more deeply and found he was, of course, completely correct. 

Psalm 103 begins and ends with David’s command to his own soul to bless the Lord, Verse 1 says "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!"

The commentator Matthew Henry wrote about this verse, “David is here communing with his own heart, and he is no fool that thus talks to himself and excites his own soul to that which is good. Observe how he stirs up himself to the duty of praise.” 

In verse 2 he tells his soul not to forget the good things the Lord does and is. It says: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

In this wonderful psalm David then goes on to list the amazing qualities of God that should always be brought to mind. He recalls that the Lord forgives, he heals, has mercy, redeems, crowns us with steadfast love and much more. David lifts his gaze up from his own circumstances and fixes he eyes upon the Lord’s acts of provision. David is moved. A heart that was struggling to cope is now soaring. An overwhelming gratitude, that he can’t keep in, wells up inside him, and at the end he ends with talking to his soul again. He says in verse 22 "Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!"

So, I ask myself, do I speak to my soul and tell it to bless the Lord? Am I reminding myself of what God has done for me in Christ Jesus? Or when I don’t feel like praising God, do I let my soul take command and persuade me not to bother? 

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Next, I want to turn to Psalm 42. There is some discrepancy about who wrote Psalm 42 Some say that David probably wrote these words when he was in exile after the betrayal of his son Absalom. Others disagree. But whoever wrote it, that person was obviously in a desperate situation. The writer says to himself: 5. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. He is asking himself the reason for the despair he feels in his soul. At the end of the psalm, in verse 11 he repeats the same words. He tells himself to put his hope in God with the result that his soul will give praise to God because He can always be counted on to help. He looks at his situation and makes an honest assessment. He doesn’t come to self-centred conclusions, and he doesn’t feel sorry for himself, he doesn’t get deeper into agitation and anguish and have a pity party. No, he asks his soul why he feels like that and then proceeds to change his outlook by talking to his soul for God’s glory. It seems clear that we should have a conversation with our soul and determine to praise the Lord in spite of our emotions or our circumstances. We need to talk to our souls, regardless of how we feel and bring ourselves into line with God and His will. 

Lastly, I turn to Psalm 131, a Psalm of David and only three verses long.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvellous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.

In this psalm David says that he does not rush at power and grandeur, or aim at that which is beyond his reach, as many men in his position might do. Instead, he calmed and quieted his soul. He has again spoken to his soul and brought it under control. He has a stillness of soul that is not rooted in circumstances but in the Lord. Our Lord never changes, and we can trust in His unfailing love for us. If we take this truth on board then we can tell our soul to be at rest in His presence and find a deep contentment in the Lord.

I was listening to someone speaking on this psalm the other day and he said that it was necessary to get our soul to be calm and quiet if we want to pray and worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. He said the soul is like a petulant child, constantly pulling on his mother’s skirt to get attention, when she was trying to talk seriously with someone else. That resonates with how I feel sometimes when I try to pray or worship the Lord. My soul has its own agenda. The soul wants its own way and if we want to live in harmony with God, we need to give our souls a good talking to at times. There are many other examples in the bible of people giving orders to their souls, so I am going to give it a try this coming year. If it’s good enough for the man after God’s own heart, it’s good enough for me!!



Author: Thelma Cameron

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Saturday, 18 December 2021

Where Jesus is.

Jesus is encouraging us to daily bring ourselves before God and seek His presence

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During my readings over the last few days The Holy Spirit highlighted a few words Jesus spoke to his disciples that are both simple and profound.  The sentence is found in John's Gospel chapter 12:26 and in the NLT it reads “Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am and the Father will honour anyone who serves me”.

Jesus was preparing His disciples for what to do after He had died and He was no longer with them, and explaining that those who loved their lives in this world would lose it, but those who do not put value on their lives by this world`s standards will keep it for all eternity. Because their values and perspective are different. Jesus was saying clearly you my servants must be `where I am!`

This got me thinking, how often am I where Jesus is? In this statement Jesus didn’t mean His servants needed to be physically where He was, as He was just about to be crucified, raised and ascend to Heaven. No, He meant spiritually `where He is`. We have heard a number of times recently how we are to not rely upon or own thoughts and wisdom but seek the Lord for His understanding in reverence and respect (fear). This is so true, in other words we need to be `where Jesus is`; aligned with Him, on the same wavelength, walking in step whatever you want to call it, and the Lord has continually been showing me that this comes from seeking His presence. Psalm 42:5 says in the NASB translation `Why are you in despair my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him. For the help of His presence.` Jesus is encouraging us to daily bring ourselves before God and seek His presence, for that is where we will be `where Jesus is` and be able to receive His guidance, comfort, instruction, strength, direction etc. for whatever we need, or for whatever He is asking us to do. He knows that we find it just too easy to go running off in the wrong direction by ourselves.

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I was struck by this while listening to some Christmas songs recently. I can only imagine the questions, doubts and fears that must have run through Mary`s mind while the Angel was telling her what was about to happen to her, what would her life be now, how would she cope, how could this actually happen to her to conceive a baby as a virgin. Would she lose Joseph, all her friends, family and would she become an outcast. But Mary didn’t allow herself to focus only on these things , in the midst of all the questions, fear and confusion she chose to `be where God was` to align herself with His plan and honour His will and replied `I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.' Luke 1:38 NLT. This thought was prompted by a song I was listening to by Steven Curtis Chapman (it’s the song at the end of the blog) which highlights Mary`s thoughts at the prospect facing her and how she submits to the presence of the Lord and how she receives strength from His presence and His perspective. 

`Oh what a precious promise Oh what a gift of love

The angel tells a virgin that she’s going to have a son

And though it’s a precious promise, she wonders how can this be

What will the people say, and what if Joseph can`t believe.

And her questions and her fears are met with an overwhelming joy

That God has chosen her!

Oh what a precious promise, Mary waits as heaven comes to Earth`

It makes me question how much of the plan and purpose of God in my life do I miss because I don’t choose to see God’s perspective for what is happening to me. I only see the problems, the difficulties, the inconvenience, the negatives. I sometimes only see the giants to be overcome and not the milk and honey of the promises of God. I think that is why the Lord is so insistent that at the moment that we make sure we get His wisdom, His understanding of whatever is happening to us. And the only way is to “be where Jesus is” to wait in His presence, to seek His understanding and perspective, and to ask the Holy Spirit to expand our tiny thinking so we can in some small way know the mind of Christ.  

The second part of the sentence Jesus speaks is so reassuring, `And the Father will honour anyone who serves me`. It is wonderful to know that Jesus wants us to be `where He is` so the Father can reward us with His presence, strengthen us with His presence, honour us not with great accolades, riches or status, but with the amazing knowledge that we are serving the Lord in the way He wants us to.

I often wonder what would have happened if Mary had only concentrated on all the negatives and had spent too much time trying to work it all out and look for the `reason` behind it all, rather than just align herself with God's will, lay down all the questions, fear, doubt and go on trust and dependency…  Or was it that she was already used to dwelling in the presence of the Lord in her daily living, so that when faced with the enormity of the task, she could simply answer `I am the Lord’s servant` Was that why she was chosen? 

Lord, today help me to always `be where you are` so I can dwell in the strength of your presence and be in the right place to be obedient to whatever you ask me to do, because my Spirit is aligned with yours. Amen.



Author: Jan Pearson

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Saturday, 11 December 2021

Inheritance

LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing

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We’ve just returned from a weekend in Wales visiting our welsh family. I have an amazing aunty, who well into her eighties, is still running a substantial hill farm with sheep and cattle.

We had a beautiful clear sunny day on Sunday. Aunty Mag was giving me a comprehensive tour of the farm. She roared up and down the hills on her powerful quad with me clutching onto the rear carrier. I was the gate boy, hopping off to open and close gates, then back to clinging onto my perch. It had been years since I had been around the farm, there was now more land, more stock, more machinery, more buildings and all well looked after. I was so pleased for her and her family, they have worked hard for many years. In fact, she has been a widow for 45 years, but that has not stopped her continuing the farm improvement and expansion. 

Here is Aunty Margaret at a high point on the farm:-


At that stunning viewpoint, I thanked our heavenly Father for all that He had given to them. In the words of Psalm 16:6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. But I thanked Him that He was my inheritance. What I could see and hear around me was wild and wonderful; and what a privilege to be able to pass this on as an inheritance to ones’ children and grandchildren. However, even considering all this, the Lord has become my chosen portion. Perhaps the words of Graham Kendrick’s song capture my thoughts best:

Knowing you Jesus, knowing you. 
There is no greater thing. 
You’re my all, you’re the best. 
You’re my joy, my righteousness. 
And I love you Lord.

So let’s read through more of that prophetic Psalm 16 (:5-11 NLT) penned by King David about 3000 years ago:

LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
You guard all that is mine.
The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
What a wonderful inheritance!
I will bless the LORD who guides me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.

I want to continue in a future blog to see how Peter (the apostle) used this prophetic psalm on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter 2.

Let’s finish with Peter’s exhortation: “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”


Author: Richard Windridge

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Saturday, 4 December 2021

Cornerstone.

The day that God made Jesus the ‘Cornerstone’ was certainly a day for rejoicing


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Christ alone, Cornerstone

Weak made strong

in the Saviour’s love,

Through the storm, He is Lord

Lord of all!

You may recognise this as the chorus of a well-known song called ‘Cornerstone’. This song has been a blessing to my husband and to me over the years, not least at the time when he was undergoing treatment for a serious illness. Recently I listened to a sermon on Psalm 118, in which the preacher commented that this Psalm is largely regarded as a Messianic prophecy of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. 

From verse 22-24 it says: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

This name ‘Cornerstone’ applied to Jesus does seem to be very significant as it is mentioned in Matthew, Mark and Luke, who all tell the parable of ‘The Wicked Tenants’. This is about a farmer who rents his vineyard to tenants. At harvest time, he sent servants on separate occasions to get some of his fruit and they wounded them or killed them. He then sent his son and they killed him too. 

This parable is an allegory of the ministry of Jesus. The vineyard is an Old Testament picture of God’s chosen people of Israel. The story of how the tenants refuse to give the owner some of the harvest even when the owner sends his own son is a picture of how the Jewish leaders treated God’s son, how they threw him out of the vineyard and even killed him. In each of the three gospel accounts Jesus ends the story with the quotation from Psalm 118 ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’ He is therefore applying this to himself.

It is not only mentioned in the gospels but in various other places too. I will just give two more examples.

In Ephesians 2:19-22 Paul says: So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. 

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And in Acts 4:11-12 Peter says, when he and John are brought before the Sanhedrin: This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

So, we know that Jesus is the cornerstone but what is a cornerstone? The cornerstone was the principal stone in any building. It was usually, the most solid, and the most carefully chiselled of any of the stones. The strength, the integrity and unity of the whole building depended on the cornerstone. If the cornerstone was not exactly right, the entire building would be out of line and likely to collapse. 

And who are the builders that rejected Him. At the time of Jesus, it was mainly the Jewish leaders, who wanted to carry on building their own religion the old way. Jesus was not conforming to their way of doing things and they didn’t like it. They argued He did miracles by the power of Beelzebub. They began to plot His death early on in His ministry. But it wasn't just the builders of leaders who rejected Jesus. 

Many of the people of Israel did as well. At the trial of Jesus, it was far too easy for ‘the builders’ to whip the entire crowd into demanding that Pilate crucify Jesus. Of course, Israel is not the only nation that has rejected Christ since then. There are political and religious leaders and ordinary people in all nations of the earth that have rejected and are still rejecting the moral and spiritual authority of Jesus Christ. 

So let me take you back to Psalm 118:23-24, where it says after talking about the cornerstone: This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Yes, The Lord has done this! He has made the rejected stone the cornerstone. It was part of His plan from the beginning, which He fulfilled through the actions of the builders, who rejected Him and who put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him to His right hand where He is King of kings and Lord of Lords. We often sing or say the words ‘This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it’ and this of course is entirely appropriate for any day, but the day that God made Jesus the ‘Cornerstone’ was certainly a day for rejoicing. 

So, in conclusion, as Christians we are to be part of what Christ is building and He is to be our Cornerstone. To those builders who reject the Cornerstone of salvation, He will be, as it says in 1 Peter 2:8: ‘A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ Salvation is found in no one else, there is no other name by which we can be saved.

In 1 Peter 2:5 it says: ‘you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’

Christ is the cornerstone of every part of our lives. Christ is the cornerstone of the church. He is our very rock and our salvation. In Him the building holds together, without Him it falls apart. No stone can be part of the church unless it is in alignment with Him. As we often quote in our fellowship, from Psalm 127:1: ‘Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labour in vain.’



Author: Thelma Cameron

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Saturday, 27 November 2021

A Love Relationship and oneness with GOD

He has brought us into a loving relationship with Himself, so let us give Him the reverence and honour He deserves

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Recently I’ve been encouraging people to realise that when we meet together whether in person or over multimedia, that as Christians we enter into the Throne room of GOD.

There are a number of reasons why this is important to grasp. Firstly, when we enter GOD’s Throne room we should do so with reverent fear and trembling, because of the awesomeness of who He is, secondly, there’s the fact that for Him to allow us to do this is an immense honour and privilege that has only been made possible through the shed blood of Jesus. An entrance fee we could never have paid. Then thirdly, there’s a sense of oneness and fellowship between us and GOD as we seek His face to honour and glorify Him and have a conversation with Him regarding the things on our hearts.

How important is this for us to grasp? Well, let me take each of these points individually. 

Firstly ‘The Reverent Fear of the LORD’. This is something that seems to be very much in short supply in the church at the moment, and we almost consider Jesus more of a mate than who He really is, ‘GOD ALMIGHTY’ our Saviour and King. I wonder how many people who have given their hearts to Jesus have ever been taught in their early years, if ever, about the ‘Fear of the LORD’. We teach them who Jesus is, what He’s done for us and that as Christians we’ll be with Him one day. We encourage them to read their bibles, to pray and explain the need for fellowship, all very important and relevant stuff, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything on the ‘Fear of the LORD’ in any of the discipleship books for new Christians.

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We ask GOD for wisdom when we pray or have to make decisions, especially difficult ones, and yet seem to ignore the fact that GOD has already told us how to get wisdom. Here’s just a couple of examples: Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Job 28:28 ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom'. Without the Fear of the LORD the church will never be as effective as it should be, and I don’t think will ever treat GOD with the reverence and respect He deserves.

Secondly, The fact that Jesus left His Majesty and came to earth in human form to stand in the gap for us, to be falsely accused, be wrongly convicted, be unjustly beaten, whipped and crucified so He could take on Himself all of our sins and pay the ultimate penalty that we deserved, which enables us to enter into the most holy place, is something we should never lose sight of and should always give thanks from the bottom of our hearts for, and never forget that it’s an immense honour and privilege that we’ve been afforded by GOD.

Thirdly, I would like to consider this idea of oneness and fellowship with GOD. You see it’s easy to think that GOD is up in Heaven and we’re down here on earth. A concept that we may have because of scriptures such as Matthew 6:9-10 Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. That may suggest that there’s a separation between heaven and earth and GOD and us, after all these are the words of Jesus. But I don’t think that’s what Jesus is suggesting in this scripture or any other scriptures that may give us the same impression.

Let me explain it this way. Let us consider that there are a number of levels of heaven known as the heavens, and let’s also consider that GOD being omnipresent is in fact present in all these stages of heaven. For example, the first heaven is the atmosphere that is all around us, the second heaven is the sky, the third is space etc, etc. This would then mean that whilst GOD is indeed up in Heaven, He is also in every level of the heavens so our prayers don’t have to travel trillions of light years to reach God’s ears, He can actually hear the quietest of whispers.

Now, if we then consider the way that Jesus told us how to pray and take into account the various stages of the heavens then it could look like this: Our Father in heaven all around us hallowed be Your Name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth (this level of heaven) as it is up in the highest Heaven. Thinking of it this way means we would understand that GOD is as close to us as we are to ourselves (in our body). In other words when GOD created mankind, He formed a shell for us to walk around in and then created us in His image when He breathed our spirit into that formed body. 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27

7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and (at that point) the man became a living being. Genesis2:7 (Comment in brackets added).

Note: In Genesis 2:7 LORD is spelt with all capital letter’s meaning we were created in the image of Father, Son and Holy Spirit – YAHWEH.

Therefore, when we give our lives to Jesus and become ‘Born Again’, the very moment that happens the Holy Spirit enters our body and becomes one with our human spirit and makes us like Jesus and one with Himself. 

We could now pray ‘Our Father who is heaven and in us, hollowed be Your Name’. God has brought us into complete fellowship with Himself, so to treat Him without reverent fear, to not give Him the respect He deserves or completely surrender to Him, is in my opinion to not understand who GOD really is and is in part the reason the church is currently without power and ignored by the world.

How can we possibly give GOD the spiritual praise and worship only He deserves, if we don’t firstly fully understand who He really is? I believe there urgently needs to be a mind shift and a spiritual awakening in the church for this to happen, because only then will we fully trust Him with our lives and have the relationship with Him that He wants with us.

Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5. Church, He has brought us into a loving relationship with Himself, so let us give Him the reverence and honour He deserves.

There are many other things that could be said about the three points above but listen to the words of the song attached to this blog, and I pray that in all aspects of your life, your words will be those of Jesus, ‘‘Father, not my will but Yours be done’’.

Be blessed.



Author: Kevin Hunt

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Saturday, 20 November 2021

Time - The seal of the Blessed Holy One

He knows best and all His ways are just. So wait on the Lord at all times.

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In coming to write this blog (which has been a long time coming) around the theme/word 'time' I thought where do I start. One of the things I do when I spell out a word is I re-arrange the letters to see what other word I can spell, as in this case of 'time' I reversed the letters which gave me 'emit' and on looking up the definition of 'emit' I found:-

1. To give or send out (matter or energy); isotopes that emit radioactive particles. 

2(a) To give out as sound, utter. (b) To voice, express. 

3. To issue with authority.

I also looked up the Hebrew definition which stated that the three letters, Aleph, Mem, Tav are the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew language. Also meaning "The seal of the Blessed Holy One".

Eureka, could you Adam and Eve it, I not only had my title, but my start, middle and last part of this blog.

So I don't know about you, but when I hear or use the word time it's often attached or referenced to many/various meanings or sayings, such as:-

"Wintertime", "Christmastime", "Springtime", "Summertime", "Autumntime", "Harvesttime", "Daytime", "Nighttime", "Breakfasttime", "Lunchtime", "Dinnertime", "Suppertime", Etc. Etc.

Yes time, time and time again as through the spirit and the Word from Genesis to Revelation. In the beginning, creation, life/death, fall, separation from God and all the time in between to eternity with God.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace".

Amongst many blessed times as when we first experienced and witnessed our daughter give birth to their first son in August 2017, and their second in January 2021. My baby sister celebrating her big 60th in March and our mother her big 90th in July. Then when we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary on 11th September 2021. Also we celebrated with our eldest granddaughter her 18th birthday on remembrance day, 11th November.

Yes what with climate change, (land, sea and sky disasters), health (sickness), wealth (poverty) and violence. Leaders of countries having conferences, summit meetings to try and address and correct these issues. Then you have pro and anti protestors. All of which Father God is fully aware and in control of.

Which brings me right up to the present time - The Eternal Word - John 1:1-5

vinebiblestudy.org
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it".  
And oh what a time to give praise and thanks to our faithful loving Father God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and ever present with us the Holy Spirit for such a time as this.

For as a hymn by John B. Vaughan says:

There's a blessed time that's coming soon

It may be evening, morning or at noon

The wedding of the bride, united with the groom

We shall see the King when He comes

We shall see the King

We shall see the King

We shall see the King, when He comes

He is coming in power, We'll hail the blessed hour

We shall see the King when He comes.

So my friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, whilst it may look like we are surrounded by uncertain, unprecedented times our God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the Alpha and Omega the Beginning and the End and has a perfect plan for each of our lives that requires certain things to happen at a certain time, so don't be impatient for the Lord to act out everything in His time, remember He knows best and all His ways are just. So wait on the Lord at all times.

Psalm 9:9 The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed. A refuge in times of trouble.

Psalm 31:14-15 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say "You are my God" My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.


Author: Inie Jean

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Saturday, 13 November 2021

Climate Change

Primarily we need to honour our Creator, the One who made and sustains every living biosphere

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‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?’ God questioned Job (Job 38:4). Yet man’s arrogance persists.

Climate change and its effects are currently high on the political agenda. Many organisations signed up to the Climate Coalition in an attempt to effectively lobby COP26 delegates. Amongst them are various Christian groups and church denominations. Apparently the generally accepted view by Christians seems to conform to that portrayed by the media; namely that human activity is causing global temperatures to rise, and that the planet is doomed unless we humans reduce our exploitation of natural resources. The assumption is that a global problem caused by humans can therefore be solved by human action. If you hold to humanist or animist philosophy then post COP26 you will be either depressed or frustrated. The oft mentioned ‘hope’ in this context is of the wishful and wistful order. Furthermore some of the solutions proposed, should they be carried through, could be more damaging to impoverished communities than the degree or so rise in temperature. Worse still the urgent measures called for could become yet another tool for wielding power and subjugating populations. However, let us turn from conspiracy theory and media hype to a more secure information source – the Bible.

Jesus warned of the increase in wars, famines, earthquakes, persecutions – ‘great distress upon the earth’ (Luke 21:23).  In the gospels (Matthew 24, Luke 21) and in Revelation (6-18) we are clearly told in the words of Jesus that there is cosmic trouble on the horizon.  Scripture is also explicit that the world as we know it will one day end, not by the hand of man but at the command of God himself (2 Peter 3).  According to Peter the end of the world is not a bad thing because we expect God to replace the old with new heavens and a new earth where everything will finally be made right (2 Peter 3:13).

Does this mean we don’t care if the earth becomes polluted? Of course not. From the beginning we were made stewards of God’s wonderful creation, ‘to work it and keep it’ (Genesis 2:15). And after all God ‘will destroy the destroyers of the earth.’ (Revelation 11:18) Genuine hope is fixed on Jesus’ return and His reign, while daily working out our responsibilities to care for and to nurture both people and planet.

Here is today’s question: what are the reasons for global warming, with its consequent carbon release, ice melt, floods, fires, famines and damage to ecosystems and life cycles? Activists would have us ‘follow the science’, deifying science along with ‘mother’ earth, idols which have proved as fickle as any other false gods worshipped through the ages. No, these unfolding disasters are just symptoms of a deeper driver. The monumental problem is intrinsically moral rather than material.  

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Isaiah 24 speaks of God’s judgement on the earth, and gives us the reason that ‘the world languishes and withers’ (v4). The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants because they have transgressed God’s laws, violated His statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant (v5). And so the earth is devoured by a curse and its inhabitants are suffering for our guilt. (v6).  So whilst it may be excellent and honourable to move towards renewable energy, to clean up our act on pollution, to protect our forests and to produce our food sustainably, primarily we need to honour our Creator, the One who made and sustains every living biosphere.  

In all of this it is we Christians who carry first responsibility. It is the believer who perceives God through the things that have been made (Romans 1:20) and can therefore pray for those misled into worshipping things created rather than the Creator himself. May we be led by the Word of God, not panicked by the world’s agenda, but seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.




Author: John Plumb

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Saturday, 6 November 2021

The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer

God is good all the timeLife is not very easy a lot of the time, but if we have a bit of hope, if we trust in God to be with us through it all then it seems possible again.

This blog is slightly different; two of us, Richard W and Becky, both from MCF Lifechurch, recount and reflect on our involvement with the Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer.

Richard W

In the autumn of 2019 MCF hosted a presentation for the people of Coleshill about the Wall of Prayer. Richard Gamble shared his vision that this would be a living national monument to declare the faithfulness of God our saviour. A living monument, because each brick within the uniquely designed wall, would virtually embody an answered prayer! The full detail and development of the project is illustrated clearly on their website at www.eternalwall.org.uk

Richard went on to explain that preparations for the planning application were underway; it was to be sited within the parish of Coleshill. I decided to actively support the project through the local planning process. He also hoped that many of us would submit answered prayers. I intended to do that, but 2 years later I haven’t followed it through. Why is that??  Recently, I talked about this with Becky, here are her comments:

Becky 

When I heard about the Eternal Wall of Answered Prayers I thought what an amazing idea and felt excited that something like this was being planned. Despite the UK being founded as a Christian country, you just wouldn't know it today. It feels as though it is acceptable to be anything or anyone so long as you don't have genuine Christian faith and values. I have been so shocked and disappointed recently to find that the Lord’s name is being used way more frequently than ever before, in films, on tv (even in programmes that you would imagine are aimed at kids) and everyday life, but as a form of cursing not for the praise and appreciation it deserves. 

It seems to me that there are less occurrences of sharing the amazing and incredible things that God does in our lives, perhaps because we are anxious of "offending" others, or are so used to the vacant expressions and eye rolling responses from those who don't believe that we just don't see the point of sharing with anyone, other than those who understand. Perhaps we are even out of the habit of sharing the wonders and working of God in our lives with anyone at all. It feels to me like this wall is an opportunity to display to the world that God very much exists in our world and he answers prayers. Need an example? There are at least a million! It provides hope to a nation, a world, where there seems to be a real need for even just a little. 

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God is good all the time. Life is not very easy a lot of the time, but if we have a bit of hope, if we trust in God to be with us through it all then it seems possible again. We need to not be afraid to share how amazing our God is and this building will be a great start and example to the world that God does hear us.

Richard W

Wow, didn’t that lift your faith! On an august day, I met with a group who were praying at the site of the wall, and there found out that Becky had joined the office team at eternal wall as a volunteer. I asked Becky how that came about:

Becky

I have volunteered to help out with the answered prayer database and while it plays into my skills as an admin role, I was very excited to be involved with this part of the project because it is such an awesome job to be able to read the ways in which God has moved in people’s lives. It is an incredible privilege to be a part of sharing in these experiences and be able to rejoice in the goodness of God.

Richard W

Both of us have said that we will now submit an answered prayer this week. In Luke 17, we read that Jesus healed 10 lepers when they cried out to him for mercy. But only one returned to give thanks: 

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan.  Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’

May we all be like that one!

Have you had an answer to prayer, why not consider sharing it at eternalwall.org.uk/testimony




Authors: Richard Windridge & Rebekah Cronk

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Saturday, 30 October 2021

Lessons from Luke chapter 10: Keeping the right focus

The warning is to make sure we do not lose sight of the source of our salvation and authority, the Lord God himself

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I am a list maker, from shopping lists, and what to pack for holiday right down to what jobs to do today.  I like lists, they order my thoughts and keep me on track especially as I can so often get distracted and end up spending time on things that are not important and miss doing the job that was vital. In short, they focus my attention!

There is a remarkable account in Luke chapter 10 of the Lord sending out 72 disciples into all the towns and places he intended to visit as advance teams to introduce Jesus to the people and prepare them for His visit and ministry.  He gives them a whole list of instructions to follow on how they should approach this task, what they should take or not take, and how they should behave while they are there. He also explains to them the importance of the task He has set for them, because He told them that anyone who accepts them accepts Him and anyone who rejects them rejects Him and also His Father, God.  So they are tasked with both carrying an important message and given the authority to represent Jesus as ambassadors for Him.

Luke records what happened when they had completed this mission and returned to Jesus. `When the 72 disciples returned they joyfully reported to him “Lord even the demons obey us when we use your name!” Luke 10:17 (NLT)` I'm sure they were expecting congratulations for a job well done, or praise for acting in faith and developing spiritual giftings.  But Jesus chose to warn and refocus them instead. “Yes” he told them “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them.  Nothing will injure you. But don`t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven” Luke 10:18-20 (NLT) Jesus was intent upon refocussing them from their excitement and sense of importance at seeing the power of God displayed through them; to their real source of joy and security namely that `their names are written in the journals of Heaven and that they belonged to Gods Kingdom. That is the true source of their authority` (the passion translation)

Jesus knows how easy it is for us to get carried away and distracted by success, acceptance and approval, and even that wonderful feeling that the Lord is ministering through us and using us to speak for, or represent Him. It's just so easy to lose sight of the source of our success, authority, inspiration, and drift into depending upon our own ability. God has given us so many wonderful gifts and promises and indeed the authority in His name to do many things, and that is wonderful and His intention for us. But the warning is to make sure we do not lose sight of the source of our salvation and authority, the Lord God himself. 

Satan lost sight of this and somehow got so full of himself and his perceived authority and importance that he fell from his place in Gods Kingdom in Heaven as we see in the verse above. Even after that fall, he assumed he still had the power and authority to offer Jesus (the King of Kings and Lord of Lords) all the Kingdoms of this world if he would bow down before him. He still tries to assert power and authority over people today, through lies and deceit. 

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Jesus loves us so much and desires to give us all we need in the way of power, authority, knowledge and experience to be His ambassador and do amazing things in His name.  He says to us in Luke 10:23-24 (NLT) "Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen. I tell you many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn`t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear and they didn`t hear it” We are such a privileged people, to have received salvation, redemption, forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit, who directs us every day and illuminates the scriptures to us. We have received authority to overcome the power of the enemy wherever we may find it, and the promise of protection as we do. We are truly blessed but we must in all this remain truly focussed on the source of all this blessing and rejoice only in the only thing worth anything.  That our names are registered in Heaven. 

Right at the end of the chapter there is a wonderful practical example of what Jesus is trying to teach us.  From verse 38 we read the account of Jesus visiting Mary and Martha's house.  We know the story so well.  Martha is racing round concentrating of the dinner she is preparing, on the service she is doing, on getting it right and doing a good job, relying on the skills she has developed over many years of preparing meals.  Mary is sitting listening and learning from Jesus himself.  When Martha challenges the Lord about this his reply is both gentle and powerful. "My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details.  There is only one thing worth being concerned about Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her" Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)

Lord thank you today that you have given us authority over all the power of the enemy, thank you that you have given us protection so we can walk amongst snakes and scorpions and crush them and that nothing will injure us. That you have entrusted us with fighting spiritual battles and overcoming in your name the forces of evil. But Lord please let us never lose sight that you are the source of our life, of all we do and help us to continually sit at your feet and recognise our need to keep you as the focus of all we do.  Amen


Author: Jan Pearson

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Saturday, 23 October 2021

Arise Shine

Many people in the world today are looking for celebrity or star status but the light that they seek is self-seeking and so far removed from the true light of God, the Bright and Morning Star.


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Arise shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.  For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness shall cover the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you and nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising.  Isaiah 60:1-3

After becoming a Christian, almost shy of 15 years old, I was asked by my Pastor at the time to speak at the Sunday morning communion service.  I thought this was rather strange, as I was only young in the faith and only knew a few bible stories.  I was just learning to read the Bible from the beginning.  I hadn’t been to Bible college and had no training on how to put a message together or speak in front of people.  To say how inadequate and nervous I felt at the time would have been an understatement.

However, undeterred by my fear, I prayed to the Lord and asked him to give me the right message to share with the church and the Lord didn’t disappoint.  I opened my Bible and it fell on Isaiah Chapter 60  ‘Arise, Shine, for thy Light is come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee’.   Suddenly, although my faith was very new, I was excited and humbled, as this particular verse jumped out at me.  Without any doubt, I personally knew that the Lord had shone his light into my broken and sad life and that He had brought me to a place of repentance, salvation and hope.  The Light of the World now lived in me and I could be a light in the darkest of places and so could everyone who was at that communion service, or even reading this blog today.   

Many people in the world today are looking for celebrity or star status but the light that they seek is self-seeking and so far removed from the true light of God, the Bright and Morning Star.

Matthew Chap 5:14, says ‘You are the Light of the World, a city on a hill that cannot be hid’.  You might be very young or old in the faith (or somewhere in between) but the Lord wants to shine His light through you today to help others to come to know His love and mercy or to just speak a kind word of encouragement.

It has been a few years since I gave that first little sermon, but I’ve since had many opportunities to allow God’s light to shine into lots of dark situations that have arisen in my personal life, my family, my neighbourhood and places of work.

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One instance of this was helping an old lady who was hesitant in crossing a very busy road.   When I saw her fear, I spoke softly to her and asked if I could help her get to the other side.  As we continued to walk together towards the shopping area about ½ mile away, she opened up to me that she was a Christian and that her son was a Pastor in another area, however, she had been ridiculed for her faith in the sheltered accommodation where she was living.  Vandals had recently smashed her windows which were now boarded up.  This had left her feeling vulnerable and afraid to leave her property.  That day was the first time she’d ventured out of her flat.   I was able to listen, give some kind words of encouragement and then pray for her.  We parted with my giving her some money to buy a box of tea bags and to treat herself to a special cake from the nearby cake shop.  I never saw that lady again, but knew that the light of Christ had shone through me into her dark situation. 

Other instances have been where I’ve had to pray about the right decisions being made in Government, in my locality, places of work, and dealing with all sorts of situations as they have arisen on a daily basis.

You might be going through a dark time right now in your own life or have been through a bad situation or even affected by all the issues associated with all the Covid lockdowns and restrictions, but be assured that the Lord is shaping you and that His light will break through the darkness.  He will then use your experience to help others in a similar situation to bring hope, comfort and light.

Be encouraged to make a difference in the place where you are based and let the Light of Christ shine through you wherever you go.


Author: Barbara Wilson

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Saturday, 16 October 2021

Under His wings

We cannot expect His comfort and protection unless we come out of our self-reliance and humble ourselves before Him and tell Him that we trust in Him and need His protection

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In our garden we have a lovely water feature which is visible from our living room window. It is a large rock with water bubbling gently out of a hole in the top and, as such, is a great attraction for the birds. They use it to drink from but what I find even more fascinating is when they use it as a shower. They spread one wing and then the other to wash underneath or to cool off in the summer. I am always amazed at the wing span of all the different varieties of birds, which always seems so large in proportion to the rest of the body.

It reminds me of the analogy that is used so often in the bible of being under or in the shadow of the wings of the Almighty. This metaphor of course comes from the very touching picture of chicks nestling under their mother’s wing for comfort and protection. I recently saw a short you tube video of a hen in a heavy storm. She was getting absolutely battered and soaked but she had her wings spread over her chicks on both sides of her, to protect them from the storm. What a perfect analogy!!

At the beginning of lockdown many of us read Psalm 91 as an uplifting reminder of God’s faithfulness to us. In Psalm 91:4 it says: He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge, his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. What a wonderful promise the Lord has given to us but first we must come to him to be protected. Chicks hurry to their mother when they have a need. They don’t just stand there and expect to be protected; they instinctively know they cannot do this on their own. We have to come to a recognition of our need of protection and seek to put ourselves under the wings of our creator.

David uses this analogy in his psalms. He recognised that God was his refuge and strength. Some translations of the bible give the heading of Psalm 63 as a ‘Psalm of David. When he was in the desert of Judah.’ It is obvious from this Psalm and others that David was a man, who trusted in God for his help and protection, wherever he was and whatever he was facing. In verse 7 it says: Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.  In Psalm 17 usually with the heading ‘A prayer of David’ it says in verses 8-9: Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. 

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In the wonderful story of Ruth we read that when Naomi’s husband and two sons die, while she is in Moab, a foreign country, she decides to go back home to Bethlehem. She tells her two daughters in law to go back to their families and find another husband. One goes back but the other, Ruth, insists on going with her. She says that Naomi’s people will be her people and Naomi’s God her God. She becomes a foreigner in a strange land but because she serves Naomi’s God, the one true God, everything works out for her. She is even part of the geneology of David and of course Jesus!! When she asks Boaz, who she eventually marries, why he is being so kind to her, his answer is this in Ruth 2:11-12: “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”  Ruth had to leave what was familiar to her, change her location and life-style completely to find refuge under the wings of the Lord. We can all find a place under His wings but we have to go to Him. We cannot expect His comfort and protection unless we come out of our self-reliance and humble ourselves before Him and tell Him that we trust in Him and need His protection. 

But we have to be willing. Our Lord Jesus himself laments over Jerusalem with these words in Luke 13:34: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. He says that He longed to gather them under His wings but they were not willing. It broke His heart but He would not force His protection on them. If they would not come voluntarily, He would not make them. The same applies to us. Let’s not take the Lord’s protection for granted. Let’s tell Him daily that we are trusting in Him for His covering and protection. This refuge was a privelege for Ruth, the Moabite foreigner and it is a privelege for us too. What a God we serve to allow us under His wings!!

In the words of Charles Spurgeon: ‘Oh tried ones, press closely to the loving heart of your Lord., hide yourself entirely beneath his wings. Here awe has disappeared, and rest itself is enhanced by the idea of loving trust. The little chicks are safe in their mother’s love, and we too are beyond measure secure and happy in the loving favour of the Lord.’




Author: Thelma Cameron

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