Saturday 28 January 2023

More of Jesus and less of me

When we get out of the way and let God do what He wants, then we can accomplish much through Him
Narcissism has been rife since the world began. The Bible tells us of Nebuchadnezzar, Saul and many others, who thought far more of themselves than they should. We have heard about numerous people in history, who let a leadership role go to their heads. Indeed, we have seen a few in our own lifetime, who have seen their own opinions, their abilities and their rights in an exaggerated light. Narcissism is not of God. It almost always ends in disaster.

Thank the Lord we also have people on the opposite side of the coin who devote their lives to a good cause no matter what the cost to themselves. The other day I was reading about Helen Keller’s two companions, Anne Sullivan and Polly Thompson, who devoted their adult lives to teaching her, accompanying her, caring for her, keeping house for her and yet most of us have only heard of Helen Keller. One of them is reported as saying that her legacy was not to put herself out there but Helen Keller and her amazing story.

On reading John 3 recently the words in verse 30 just jumped out at me, ‘He must become greater; I must become less.’ John was baptising people when some of his followers came to him and told him that people were going from John over to Jesus. This was his reply in John 3:27-31. “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him. The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less. The one who comes from above, is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.”

John understood that Jesus must increase and that he (John) must decrease. He knew who Christ was so he humbled himself and stepped out of the way. He did not get jealous and try to lure his followers back. No, he knew it was his mission to prepare the way for the Messiah, the straps of whose sandals he was not worthy to untie. (John 1:27) This is an incredible lesson and example of humility for us. God is against those who are the proud but gives grace to those who are humble (James 4:6). When we get out of the way and let God do what He wants, then we can accomplish much through Him. On the other hand, if we try to help God in the way we think it should be done, we may find ourselves working against His will.

Having come to the realisation that ‘He needs to increase and I need to decrease’ what must we do?
We have to realise that half Jesus and half me is just not good enough. We cannot serve two masters. God must be the only Deity in our lives. He wants all of us. In Matthew 16:24 it says: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” This is really hard to do in today’s society where everywhere we are told ‘We deserve it’; ‘we are worth it’; ‘do and be whatever seems right to you’. God knows that this attitude can only lead to disaster. He is telling us: ‘I must increase; you must decrease’.  

We need to be less worried about the way other people perceive us and more concerned for the lost. We need to be less concerned about what we can get and more concerned about what we can give. We must be prepared to give up anything for Him, who gave up everything for us. Paul said “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Philippians 3:8) and in Galatians he said: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.“ (Galatians 2:20). God says: 'I must increase; you must decrease'.

We must set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2) We have to control our thoughts and think about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8). Whatever we focus our mind on will determine how much of ourselves we have given to Jesus. Our Saviour says: ‘I must increase you must decrease’

We have to stop blaming our sins and mistakes on the fact that we are only human. If we have given our life to Him, we should have more potential to be like Him. So, we need to live as the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old is gone, the new is here. The Lord says: ‘I must increase; you must decrease

We have to believe in the power of the cross and the testimony of Jesus. Jesus was crucified on a cross. While He was on the cross, He took on the sin of all of the world. Jesus died and was buried in a borrowed tomb but was raised from the dead and is seated on the right hand of the Father. We have to believe that the power that raised Him from the dead is the same power that is living in us. If we believe this, we should find it easy to say: ‘He must increase, I must decrease’

John the Baptist’s life is an example to us how we should approach the Christian life. John lived his life to prepare others to receive Jesus and he told them how important it was to repent. He carried out the work God had given him to do. He was not afraid to speak the truth, even when it meant telling Herod and the Pharisees about the way they were living their lives. Even though John had a large following for a while and was baptizing and doing the great things that God had called Him to do, he knew that none of it was about him. It was all about Jesus. We, also, are ambassadors for Christ, paving the way for His return. Only if we humble ourselves, can God to do the great things through us, that he has prepared for us to do. Who would not want that? I know I do.

Lord I pray that I will allow You to have your way in my life and that You will increase and I will decrease. Amen.

Author: Thelma Cameron

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Saturday 21 January 2023

Do we give our all to God and does the world see it?

 It’s either the whole or nothing, we’re either all in or all out, there’s no sitting on the fence or grey areas when it comes to our Christian walk with Jesus.

Are we all in or all out for Jesus and can anyone tell the difference?


I recently attended a funeral and was left a little baffled as to what type of funeral it
was. There was no Christian content and by this I mean, the coffin was led in without comment, there were no prayers or hymns and the whole service was simply a two part tribute to the deceased read by the man at the front who was known as a 'Celebrant', as the deceased first and current wives were there with their respective families, and it seemed both wanted their say without them saying it. The committal was the celebrant simply saying ‘farewell and sleep peacefully on your onward journey’ (to who knows where, because he didn’t seem to know), over the coffin and then told everyone to say goodbye to him on the way out.

Having said all that, right in the middle of all this, and completely out of character with the rest of the service, the celebrant asked everyone who wanted to, to say the Lord’s Prayer. As we were saying it I wondered how many of them really understood what they were saying.

So let’s consider what was being said:

‘Our Father who art in Heaven’ I know there were a lot there who didn’t know God as their Father, as many of them were from my immediate and wider family.

‘Hallowed be Thy Name’. I wondered how many of the people saying that really knew what Hallowed even meant, as rather than exalting God, I’ve heard many of them take the Lord's Name in vain on many occasions?

‘Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. Did they really understand the consequences of what that would mean if God took them up on that?

‘Give us this day our daily bread’. I think if asked they would probably think this meant, give us whatever we want, when we want it.

And then the big one, ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’. Well, if you’d have heard some of the conversations at the wake you’d have realised they had no idea what that meant!

‘Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil’. They really don’t seem to care one way or the other over this statement, as they just don’t believe in God or the devil.

‘For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.' A statement that is true whoever says it.

It was almost as though they’d put this in the service as a token gesture for anyone who did believe. It did seem a little bizarre, and I have to say I’ve never been to a funeral quite like it, as it was almost emotionless.

Now having said that, I then wondered how many Christians also say the Lord’s prayer without even thinking about what they’re saying or understand the greater consequences for them compared to those who don’t know the Lord. For instance ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’. Now the rest of the Lord’s prayer for the Christian is easy to say and I have no doubt is heartfelt and meant.

Godly Woman Daily
But the question is, can we say with hand on heart we have no unforgiveness towards anyone? If the answer to that is ‘yes’ then great! But if the answer to that is ‘no’ or ‘I don’t think so’ then that can cause a block or possible separation between us and God. And we shouldn’t forget the words of Jesus that He speaks straight after teaching his disciples how to pray, ‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV). (underlines added). 

This is serious and we need to take it seriously, otherwise God might just look at us and wonder why, just like those at the funeral, we are simply paying lip service to something so important.

At a meeting myself and a number of others were asked a question by a pastor, which was, ‘What sin can keep you out of heaven?’ We all looked at him with no one giving an answer. Then he looked at us and said ‘The unforgiven sin’. Given the words of Jesus, this question and answer could be very poignant. This begs the questions, do we practise what we preach? and does the world see that in us? Because to be able to truly forgive, can set you free.

So when we’re told to ‘remember who we are’ and asked ‘do we believe in the cross of Jesus?’ There's a reason for this and we need to seek the face of the Lord to understand what it means for our lives and service to God. It’s either the whole or nothing, we’re either all in or all out, there’s no sitting on the fence or grey areas when it comes to our Christian walk with Jesus.

Jesus gave His all and so must we.

Author: Kevin Hunt

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Saturday 14 January 2023

How strong are your stakes?

Like the saints before us we must remind ourselves and witness to others of our personal experience with God
Psalm 105: 1-2 Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name: make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him, tell of all His wondrous works!

This whole Psalm is full of God’s good deeds, retelling His rescue and protection of the Hebrews as He brought them out of Egypt into the promised land. Psalm 106 follows on with more testimonies to God’s hand over His people. In fact, just turn the pages anywhere in the Book of Psalms and you won’t go far before reading a testimony to God’s glory, a stake in the ground. A reminder for generations to come of all He has done.

We too can join with the psalmist in giving testimony to what God has done for us. We each have a story to tell, stakes in the ground declaring God’s work in our lives no matter how long we’ve been a Christian. In fact, it is often the case that the newer we are in faith the more we are aware of what God has done for us and the more ready we are to share. As the years go by in our walk with God we can forget these times and we can feel that our journey with Him has lost its power. 

Joshua 2 gives account of how Rahab the prostitute helped the spies in Jericho because she had “heard” about the Lord and His awesome work (verses 9-11). A powerful example of a testimony passed on by word of mouth causing awe and fear to all who hear it. 

Isn’t this what we desire? To see lives changed by the hearing of God’s power at work? 

As in Revelation 12:11, like the saints before us we must remind ourselves and witness to others of our personal experience with God. Like falling in love, no one can take it away from you. They may and very often do disagree with you if they are challenged by hearing the truth but they cannot change what is in your heart.

These stakes are like God’s Word itself irrevocable. 

How often in the issues of everyday life do we say “I’m making a stand“ or “there’s a principle at stake here” or “I will not be moved on this one”. If we can be so determined in this way how much more should we make a stand for God Himself?   

We are simply saying “This is what God has done for me". It may seem something very small, so many of our daily blessings are, but we must continue with a thankful heart. What a powerful and yet simple way to witness. These are the times when we meet with God, we know His presence, His voice, His Peace. 

When the bigger testimonies come our way, when God has taken us through major illness, surgery, bereavement, debt and loss of any kind, then we have an even more powerful witness to share.
As the apostle Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 6:15 to always be ready to share the Gospel, Kevin challenged us last year to prepare our testimonies and rehearse them so we can tell it in around 5 minutes. We actually practiced this once in our Monday morning Bible group. It needs some refining! once we get going we discover we’ve all got lots to share.

To be effective stakes must be driven well into the ground, each time we share our “glory stories” we are reinforcing these stakes not only to others but just as importantly to ourselves. They are faith building and give us purpose. 

Stakes or markers are good to look back on especially when we feel lost in a wilderness or a dry desert time. When we are physically lost with no one to ask on a country walk or in a busy city centre the best thing to do is to retrace our steps to a familiar spot and start again. Likewise when our spiritual  landscape is flat, nothing is happening, it may seem that God is distant and we are just going through the motions of our faith. So we must return to the “stakes in the ground", remind ourselves of God’s mighty deeds and be refreshed and encouraged all over again.

The patriarchs of old, Noah, Genesis 8:20, Abraham, Genesis 12:7 and then Jacob, Genesis 28:10-12 built stone altars as reminders of where they had met with God each in a very powerful way. There they would worship and sacrifice to Him and like Jacob in Genesis 35:6-15 would return to these places on their journey as the importance of these “markers” were handed down through the generations to keep them alive. 

Isaiah 22:23 “And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honour to his father’s house"

As I come to sum up God has reminded me of the word He gave to MCF Life Church exactly a year ago at the beginning of 2022, Isaiah 54:2-3 

Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. 

What a promise!

As we look forward to all God has for us and continue to pray these verses into 2023 let’s have our glory stories ready, (practice them if you must), and make sure our stakes in the ground are strong.

Author: Margaret Riordan

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Saturday 7 January 2023

'Remember who you are'

Through our faith in Christ we have been given the right to become children of God
This was the word given to us last week. The first question that the instruction prompts is the old existential question, 'Who am I?'  After centuries of wise philosophers and religious gurus we are still no nearer to answering that question, unless of course we have found our identity in Christ, and therefore our place in God's creative order.

You may be either fascinated or bored by the many ancestral name lists in the Bible. Genealogy permeates the scriptures for a good reason, reminding the chosen people of God that belonging is important and ethnicity an advantage. Today's media also reveals a growing desire to discover personal pedigree and heritage, while we observe the ever increasing tragedy of people separated from their roots, through dysfunctional family, community breakdown or forced migration. It is probable that much of our modern obsession with mental health can be traced to a poor sense of belonging. Insecurity and instability lead to uncertainty and confusion, resulting in an identity crisis, the symptoms being anxiety, frustration, and altering character to suit circumstance.

The good news of the gospel means it doesn't have be be this way. Paul writes:
In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:5)

This was written in the time of the Roman empire under which adoption was a formal and legal process which gave full rights of succession and inheritance to the adoptee. A slave could become an emperor. The child gained new status, new rights and a new identity. Through Jesus Christ we have so much more - a glorious inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for us. (1 Peter 1:4) a Predestination means that even before God made the world he made it possible for us to become part of his family.

God began his adoption policy with one nation, the chosen people. Moses was told to tell Pharaoh ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me." (Exodus 4:22) 

But now in Christ Jesus it is possible for any one of us to be brought near, with access to the Father, that we may become 'fellow citizens', 'being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit'. (see Ephesians 2)

Through our faith in Christ we have been given the right to become children of God. (John 1:12). Now we have a future guaranteed, and with this prospect we can live a victorious life in the present. Anyone in Christ is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17). Now our identity is to be a citizen of the new heaven and the new earth that the Lord will one day create. And we already have that identity.

If you struggle with your identity and have not yet yielded to Jesus I invite you to give your life to Him. Then you can know that you are adopted into this great family of the Father, finding the identity and purpose of who you are because of Him who is the great 'I AM'.

And if you are already a believer... Remember who you are!

Author: John Plumb

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