Saturday 25 May 2024

Be Audacious

We need to be audacious in our witness and willing to go to battle
In English the noun ‘audacity’ and the adjective of that noun ‘audacious’ can have both a positive and a negative meaning. In the dictionary audacious is said to be 1) being bold or daring 2) having rude or disrespectful behaviour. Audacity is said to be 1) A willingness to take bold risks 2) disrespect or impudence. I have, in my lifetime, heard the words used mainly in a negative way. As a teacher I have heard ‘audacity’ used many times and may have used it on occasions myself in such expressions as ‘How can you have the audacity to speak while I am speaking?’ or ‘He had the audacity to answer me back.’  Recently, however, I have heard it used a couple of times in the positive way when it comes to our walk with the Lord and our witness to other people. Someone said to me ‘We need to be more audacious in our witness.’ My immediate reaction was ‘How true that is’.

Charles Spurgeon, once said, "To be a Christian is to be a warrior." A warrior is not a passive bystander but someone who has active engagement. We need to be audacious in our witness and willing to go to battle. We say we believe Jesus is the Messiah and is the only way to spend eternity with God but are we willing to assert this belief in the face of opposition? We are often able to talk enthusiastically to people about a new car, a hobby, a film we’ve seen or a bargain we have bought but do we have the same enthusiasm when we talk about our faith?  Satan knows he has lost us when we become Christians but he still wants to shut us up. He wants us to stay in our holy huddle and never come out. Do we want the world’s approval or God’s?

In 1 Thessalonians 2:4 it says: But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester once preached before King Henry VIII. The king was very upset by the boldness in the sermon and ordered Latimer to preach again on the following Sunday and therefore have the opportunity to apologize for the previous Sunday’s content. Latimer began his sermon on this Sunday by saying: “Hugh Latimer, do you know before whom you are to speak this day? To the high and mighty monarch, the king’s most excellent majesty, who can take away your life, if you offend him. Therefore, take heed that you do not speak a word that may displease. But then, consider well, Hugh, do you not know from whence you came—upon whose message you are sent? Even by the great and mighty God. Who is all-present and Who beholds all your ways and Who is able to cast your soul into hell! Therefore, take care that you deliver your message faithfully.” He then preached the same sermon he had preached the preceding Sunday, and with considerably more energy. People awaited this man’s punishment. The King asked him how he dared to speak the same audacious words again and was told by Latimer that he had no choice but to speak the words of truth God wanted him to say. The King went away saying he was blessed to have such an honest servant.

There are many examples of people who have been audacious in their witness to the truth. Some have ended well like the above example but some not so well but the bible tells us in no uncertain term that we have to speak out the truth with audacity.

In the bible Peter is a great example to us. He began, at the arrest of Jesus, by denying, three times that he knew Jesus. He was worried about his own safety and what men could do to him. Skipping forward to just a few weeks later, after he had been filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, he stood in front of a crowd of people and proclaimed the gospel to them with gusto. What a difference!

Later in Acts we hear that he and John started teaching the people openly and had previously healed a man through the Holy Spirit. The Sadducees and the Temple guard were disturbed by their teaching about the resurrection of Jesus and put them in prison until the next day. They were brought before the rulers and elders and teachers of the law and still they didn’t stop preaching. 

Acts 4:8-13 says: Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ’the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

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Wow! Such boldness, such audacity. I read in someone’s sermon recently: ”You don’t have to be dynamic to be used, you simply have to be available and you don’t have to do magnificent things, we have to do common things with magnificence!” Now I know many people in our fellowship who are audacious witnesses but if only that were true of me. I have to admit to writing this blog mainly for myself. I am really bad at witnessing. I am often tongue – tied, worried about upsetting someone, frightened of rejection. All the things that this blog is telling us not to be. I hope and pray that having to think deeply about this subject to bring this blog it will help spur me into action to do what I am exhorting others to do. Scripture tells us not to be fearful of what to say, because as it says in Luke 12:12: For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.

Let us also remember this from Matthew 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.”

I am going to finish as I started with some wise words from Charles Spurgeon. He said: “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay.”

Father, help us to carry out our calling with boldness. Help us to stand firm in our belief in Jesus as the Messiah. Let us assert the truth of the Gospel with confidence and live it out with integrity. Help us bear witness to it with courage and boldness for in doing so, we become true warriors for Christ, living out our faith with audacious conviction. Amen.

Author: Thelma Cameron

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Saturday 18 May 2024

Who's Forming The Clay?

God formed each one of us exactly how He wanted us to be, to do the things He wanted us to do, the way He wanted us to do them

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I recently watched a message online which really made me think of how we like to take control of our lives, instead of letting God be completely in control. They were talking about the potter and the piece of clay he would use and likened it to God taking a piece of clay and forming man.

Imagine if whilst the potter was forming a beautiful plant pot the lump of clay suddenly said ‘’STOP!! I don’t want to be a plant pot, I want to be a plate, so I’ll take it from here thanks.’’ As ridiculous as that sounds it’s exactly what many, if not all of us, sometimes do.

Psalm 139:13-16 says ‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’

God formed each one of us exactly how He wanted us to be, to do the things He wanted us to do, the way He wanted us to do them, and if we let Him then whilst we would still go through trials and tribulations, just as Jesus did, we would never be without the peace and joy of the Lord.

The problem is we often look at others and what they’re doing and decide that’s what we want to do, forgetting that just like the piece of clay the potter wanted to make into a beautiful plant pot we can’t decide we want to be a plate instead. 

What I mean is, we’re all made and wired differently to do different things and when we choose to do something we’re not wired for it all goes horribly wrong. For instance there would be no point in sitting in an armchair in the middle of the road and trying to drive it to the shops, not only would you look ridiculous but you wouldn’t get anywhere. An armchair is simply not designed to be driven in the same way a car isn’t designed to be put in your living room so you can watch the TV.

We all have different gifts and different callings, the trick is to learn what ours is by allowing God full control of our lives to mould us into what He wants us to be and then live in harmony with one another interlinking our giftings and working out how a body should work, all for the glory of God our creator. We are in a new covenant relationship with Jesus our Saviour, the old way has gone, our old life has gone, we are all new creations called to serve our master as bond servants of Christ. 

If we have come in to repentance then we are New Testament followers of Christ, His burden is light and His yoke is easy but we sometimes make it heavier by trying to go back in to Old Testament ways or do things our way instead of God’s, thus going back in to legalism instead living by grace and saying He’s got it wrong and we’ll take it from here thanks, and by the way I don’t want to be part of this body anymore because I want to be a hand not a foot.

Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 12:12-19 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?

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The late Pastor Connor, an American preacher often said ‘whoever informs you is the one who will form you.’ In other words if you watch the news 90% of your time it will form your opinions and your actions. So who are you allowing to inform you? God, His Word or the world? Because I’ll repeat; ‘Whoever informs you is the one who will form you.’

So, we need to be content with what and who we are and not try to remould ourselves or indeed let others try to mould us. God has moulded you into the person you are so let Him use you to be the person He wants you to be. Remember ‘you are fearfully and wonderfully made’ so use who you are to glorify who He is.

May your life reflect the glory of Jesus as you allow Him to use you for the purpose He created you.

Be blessed.

Author: Kevin Hunt

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Saturday 11 May 2024

Jesus at the Centre of it All

I find that it is in my darkest times that God really reveals himself to me, through his amazing compassion, forgiveness and unfailing love, Amen.
I have always thought of myself as a work in progress in my walk with Jesus but if I am honest I believed I had a strong, intimate, relationship with Him and by that I mean I prayed every day, I read my bible, I went to bible study groups and I even fasted. That is until I met this awesome guy, we started dating and shortly after became a couple. I wholeheartedly know that God put him in my life as a blessing but in my human form I started to put him and our relationship before my relationship with God. I wanted to be with him all the time and without even realizing it, I was letting my prayer life slip, my bible readings became less and less and I stopped attending my mid-week meetings. Before I knew it I had fallen in love with him however in all of this and with hindsight I had to ask myself, where was Jesus?  Before meeting this man Jesus was my first love before anyone else. I loved no one more than Jesus but I realised sadly that this was no longer evident in my actions or my behaviour. The scripture that comes to mind as I write this is Revelation 2:4 ‘Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first’.

God had blessed me with this great guy so surely one would expect me to be praying and praising even more. Sadly, through my ignorance, I gave the devil a foothold and became disobedient to God. I very sadly admit that I put God on the back burner and put my love for this man ahead of my love for God. Through my sin the relationship was short lived and came to a very abrupt end.

I find that it is in my darkest times that God really reveals himself to me, through his amazing compassion, forgiveness and unfailing love, Amen. I now understand that all relationships must overcome obstacles and the only way for the relationships to be successful and blessed is to have God at the centre ALWAYS. This will help to ensure that the relationship will be covered and protected under God’s anointing when the two people have their hearts sold out for God, first and foremost.

God is SO amazing that as I surrendered myself to him and poured out my heart He CLEARLY spoke to me not once, not twice but FOUR times about the same thing and even sent a Godly counsel with a word confirming everything I had read, prayed and asked about. Then to top it off the next day at service four people gave words all confirming everything. What a blessing, how amazing is the Lord!  One of those blessings was the following prophetic Word given in service; ‘I want a people who are surrendered to me. My heart jumps for joy when I see my children obeying me in spirit and in truth. There is nothing I will withhold from you when you breakthrough in the areas that bind you and make you captives’ AMEN.

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The amazing thing is that through my loss I have gained so much. Jesus loves me and He forgives me of all of my sins even after I pushed him aside and put other priorities and people in front of him. Thanks to the mercy and grace of God’s love and teaching I know that any relationship with Jesus at the centre with two people equalled, yoked and focused on the most important thing (Jesus) will be wholly blessed. I am not saying that there will be no hard times but with two people having one focus there is nothing they can’t overcome.

Once I repented and surrendered to Jesus there was a huge transformation in my life and I experienced a peace that I never knew was possible.  Jesus NEVER lets me down.  In fact through surrendering and changing my focus I can have all the things I had and wanted but instead they will now be blessed. I must remain vigilant at all times and keep focused on Jesus; 2 Corinthians 2:11 ‘in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes’. In all things I hold onto the truth and no matter what I do God always loves me and He will never leave me even when I leave him. One of my favourite Scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6 ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, remember the Lord in all you do and he will make your paths straight’  Amen.

A life without Jesus at the centre is a life not worth living and not a life I chose to live. Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for your AMAZING love, forgiveness and understanding. I love you ALWAYS.

The beautiful words of the song I have chosen are ‘From my heart to the heavens Jesus be the centre, it's all about you’ Amen.

Author: Anonymous

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Saturday 4 May 2024

God's promised blessing to Abram and to all who believe in Him

The good news is no matter how dark things look on the outside, today God can give you a fresh vision and a new future

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Genesis 12:1-3: Now the Lord had said to Abram "Get out of your country from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, I will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you, and in you all families of the earth shall be blessed."

When God gives us a promise and vision He also adds blessing to them.  

Hebrews 11:8 Abraham did not know where he was going it simply was enough for him to know he went with God. He did not lean as much on the promises as he did on the promiser, and he did not look at the difficulties of his circumstances but looked to his king - the eternal, limitless, invisible, wise and only God who had reached down from His throne to direct his path and who would certainly prove himself.

Genesis 15:1-6 God given vision is the ability to see the invisible, without it people stumble all over themselves (Proverbs 29:18 where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint...) When God told Abram he would be the father of many nations he and Sarai were old and childless. Naturally speaking it looked impossible so God took Abram outside and said to him, look up into the sky and count the stars if you can, that's how many descendants you will have. It wasn't enough to hear what God said, Abram needed to see it in his mind's eye, and that goes for us as well. Although the promise wasn't fulfilled for twenty plus years, every night when Abram looked up at the heavens the stars were a constant reminder of God's faithfulness. American president Woodrow Wilson once said "No man that does not see visions will ever realise to accomplish any high hope or undertake any high enterprise". To give birth to something, you must first conceive it by seeing it through the eye of faith and burning the image on the canvas of your mind. Jesus said "If your eye is good your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad your whole body will be full of darkness". Matthew 6:22-23.

Legend has it when Michelangelo looked at a chunk of marble the owner told him it was worthless, but Michelangelo, said, it's priceless to me. There is an angel locked inside and I must set it free. What you see will change the direction of your life. Like a thermostat it dictates how high you rise or how low you fall. The good news is no matter how dark things look on the outside, today God can give you a fresh vision and a new future.

In Isaiah 43:19 (NKJ) Behold I will do a new thing now it shall spring forth shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

1 Corinthians 2:16 Our life will manifest what we continually keep in front of us.  Paul says we have the mind of Christ and creativity and vison are part of the package.

Let the image of victory take hold and remind us of these scriptures truth.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Romans 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquers through Christ who loved us.

2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

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Matthew 9:17 In bible times wine was stored in leather wine skins, but as they aged, they lost their flexibility. New wine always required new wineskins and just like you can't pour new wine into old wineskins God won't give us a new vision until we change the old images and attitudes we are carrying in our head/heart. God says I am doing a new thing now it springs up, do you not perceive it? He is ready to do something new/special in your life today if you are willing. Are you ready to change and seek His will, and His vision for your life?

Hebrews 6:15 Abraham was tested for a very long time, but he was richly rewarded the Lord tested him by delaying the fulfilment of His promise. Satan tested him through temptation, people tested him through their jealousy, distrust and opposition to him. Sarah tested him through worrisome, yet he patiently endured not questioning God's truthfulness and power or doubting God's faithfulness and love. Instead Abraham submitted to God's divine sovereignty and infinite wisdom.

Romans 4:20-24: He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was able to perform and therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him but also for us it shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.

Author: Herbie Jean

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