Thursday, January 23, 2020

"We've got stuff to do!"




"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Isaiah 53:6 NIV.

God recently said no to something that I wanted, and boy did I throw my toys out the pram! It's a little embarrassing if I'm honest, but I'm sure we've all been there.

You pray for something, you feel 100% sure that it's going to happen...and then He says "no". 

Even though we KNOW that God knows what is best for us, we KNOW that He has plans to prosper and not to harm us...we still sometimes think that WE know best, don't we? 

When a door is closed in our face, it's easy to blame the person who closed that door. We get hurt, we get defensive and we can find it reeeeally hard to trust that it's part of His plan when it clashes with our own.
The enemy is quick to jump into those moments with little whisperings of "you're not good enough!".

I'm totally preaching to myself in this post...it took me a while to remember that nobody would be able to close a door that He had opened.

I had a dream a long time ago of walking down a long straight road, and right in the distance at the top of the road I could just about make out a figure standing and waiting. The figure was Jesus. As I was walking down the road I could see lots of different things happening off the side of the road...a bonfire with people huddled around, a group of people playing sports, people having a picnic, people having a fight...and it's just like me to get distracted by shiney things along the way. Instead of keeping my focus on heading towards Jesus along the straight road, I'm wondering "ooh what's that over there?". 

Being a Christian is so, so simple...in theory. God has carved out a straight and narrow road, and we know where we are headed. We know how to get there and what waits for us when we arrive at the top of that road...but we get distracted along the way. 
We can wander off of the path, but no matter how far off we stray, the path is always there to jump back on and continue on our way. 

During my....let's call it "wobble"...I was mad. It was a time where alot was going wrong, I felt like what I was asking for wasn't something I wanted, but something that I really needed. I lost my fire for God, though I didn't lose my Faith in Him. But I did lose my motivation for a while. At one point I asked "Where have you gone? You were so present in my life! You were right THERE. Where did you go?" I felt Him say "I haven't gone anywhere. YOU have." 
I had been distracted by a shiney thing!

I had this image of Jesus standing next to me tapping His foot and looking at His watch, saying "C'mon! Are you done tantrumming yet? We've got stuff to do!". 
"But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away." Jeremiah 5:23. 

When I finally got back on the path I noticed that God had been busy. The road had been re-tarmaced... so to speak. While I was busy focussing on being mad, He had been putting my life in order for me and was quick to show me that His plans were definitely better than my own. 

God is Faithful like that, isn't He? He never leaves us, He doesn't hold our tantrums against us and He is always quick to welcome us back when we are ready.

We can make our own plans in life, but God has much bigger and better plans for us. He let's us make our mistakes, and we learn to trust Him when things go wrong. We learn to remember that He knows what He's doing. 

Not that it's easy...I already know that I will have plenty more "wobbles", and so will you...but thankfully He is patient and loves us regardless of our tantrums. 






Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Turning Things Around




"He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.  Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord ."  Isaiah 2:4‭-‬5 NIV

It has been a couple of months since I have felt inspired to write a post, and I have been praying in the last few days for God to give me something to write about...well, since I am now writing this post, you can probably tell that God answered that prayer! 

I was approached this morning by a man who I see most Wednesday mornings at our Communion service, but who I hadn't really spoken to before, and he told me an amazing story which I want to share with you all. 

In 1939, St Martin's Church in Liskeard was appointed a Vicar called John Henry Parsons. Before becoming a Vicar, John would test drive and race Humber cars in Warickshire and he played Cricket for England. John was called away into the military quite soon after becoming Vicar of St Martin's, bringing back with him shell cases that he had made into Communion cups (these were more recently used as flower vases I believe, and have unfortunately disappeared).

During his time serving in the Great War, before joining St Martin's, John won a Military Cross for Gallantry for taking a Turkish Gun Emplacement (an armoured structure for holding weapons) following a Calvary charge and so winning the Turkish Officer's sword to whom he took captive. 

Back in Liskeard, John took his 2 military swords to a local blacksmith (James Harry Pryn) and had them beaten into Ploughshares, which was a common concept in which military weapons were converted for peaceful civilian purposes. 

The man I spoke to this morning remembers the field near the church where John had actually used his ploughshares to harvest wheat, which he then made into bread for Communion.

I found it so cool that this man who had seen such horrific things whilst serving in two wars would come home and use shells and swords from the war for the wine and bread of Communion. 

It's such a wonderful example of using our situations and experiences, however bad, for God's Glory. Using things that were made for such a different purpose, for God's purpose. 

I wonder how many people came to hear John preach at St Martin's, how many were saved through his sermons and work that he did here in the 1950's, and how many of those lifted those same shells to their lips to recieve Christ's blood that was shed for them, through a vessel that also had quite possibly shed blood in such different circumstances. 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 

God can work through the bad things in our lives to accomplish His purposes. He is always in control. He allows the good AND bad things to happen, and we can trust Him to work all things together for good in the lives of those who love Him. Like turning a weapon of war into a symbol of peace, He can (and will!) turn our lives and situations around, even when we are in our darkest and most helpless moments. 

I hope that you find this story as encouraging as I have. I hope that you remember that God is faithful, and He will always turn your weaknesses into strength, your failures into wins, and he will turn your darkest times into light. 

You can find out more about John Henry Parsons (though mostly about his cricket career) by clicking the link https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Parsons_(cricketer)



Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Thy Will Be Done




https://youtu.be/xk0XPT2UyT0

Have a click on the link above and listen to the song "Bury the Workman" by Unspoken.

This is such a clever song, about the power of God's will.
"When the Spirits moving His Will will be done". I find it such a comfort to know that nothing and nobody can come between God and His Will. When God wants something to happen He makes it happen!

God has an amazing plan for each of us. We can put our lives in God's hands and go where He leads...trusting completely that everything that happens is meant to be. "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11.

The problem we have is free will. Now, free will is super important. God doesn't come before us in person and say "this is what I want you to do" and forces us to do things His way. We wouldn't force our children to live as we would like them to (as much as we would like to!)...we don't plan out their entire lives and ensure that they don't stray from the straight path that we set out for them. It would be so great if we could! But we want our children to grow, to learn, to make mistakes and to come to us for love and advice, not because they have to...but because they want to. Our children need to make their mistakes and experience pain in order to learn and to grow.
God, as our father, wants us to follow His plans for us, but we can choose to do our own thing.
Of course if God appeared in front of you right now and told you "do this", you would do it without question and without hesitation...and He knows that. When He really wants something done He can make it pretty obvious, but still in a way that when the excitement wears off and time has past, doubt can creep in and tarnish the memory. Eventually you will forget, or think "was that from God?". And it's on purpose. God wants you to come to Him by Faith, not by force. Because you want to, not because you have to. God is subtle and He wants us to be faithful to Him as He is to us.

However, you can say "no". Sometimes God wants us to do things that we aren't ready for. He might want us to let go of something that we are stubbornly clinging on to. He might want us to go somewhere or do something new. We might not understand why God puts us in certain situations, we might not trust that it's what is best for us. We are stubborn creatures and just like children, we think we know best!
We have the freedom to say no, even though our freedom actually comes from saying yes. It takes time to learn this.
I know this, but I am terrible at being faithful under pressure! When things get rough or don't go how I expect them to I am quick to blame others, or mostly myself, before I remember that if it was GODS will then He would have made it happen.

Take a look at Jonah...God needed him to do something for Him and Jonah said "no". "But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord .  Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up." Jonah 1:3‭-‬4.
He ran, he made himself miserable and made others around him miserable. But God used Jonah's disobedience to His Glory by showing His power to the others on the boat, and Jonah ended up doing what God had asked, but suffered on the way.
Saying yes to God isn't always the easy option, it takes faith, it takes boldness. But saying no can be worse. The good news is that God can be quick to turn our mistakes around and straighten our path.
Do you really think that your plans for your life are greater than God's plans?

I'll bet you can think of many instances in your life where everything seemed to be going wrong, but God has very clearly pre-planned and coordinated things in a way  that is almost undeniable...lots of coincidences culminating in something awesome happening...but it's often in hindsight that we realise "aaah yes, there you were Lord!".

Lord, help us to remember that you are ALWAYS there, in EVERY situation. Give us the strength to trust in you especially when the situation seems too difficult and impossible for us to handle alone. Help us to remember that you have a plan for each of us and that whilst the journey to get there might be tough, your plans for us are far better than the plans we have for ourselves. Help us to have the faith to let your will be done in our lives! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Busy Bees




https://youtu.be/9ePic3dtykk

I'm starting this blog with a video instead of scripture...let's mix things up a bit!

Hopefully you have clicked the link and have had a look at the video, but for those of you who haven't...it's all about bees! Specifically how each bee naturally falls into the role/s that it was born for. I feel that the same is true for us as a Christian community.

Recently I've been thinking about "calling" and what God's purpose is for my life. It's probably something we have all thought about at some point. 
I have discovered that I am already doing what God wants me to do...I am already living out His plans for me. And so are you!
We have one purpose (to love in the name of Jesus) but we live out this purpose in more than one role in our lifetime. Where we are right now is just as important as where we are headed.

God made us the way that we are for His purpose. We are all different. He gave each of us a unique combination of gifts, talents, abilities and passions to ensure that we don't all live the same life. He gave us different opportunities and experiences to shape us in order for us to carry out His plans.
If every person were passionate about teaching, who would be a doctor? If everyone were talented singers, we wouldn't have musicians or record producers...or artists to design the art on an album cover.
Imagine a world without inventors, chefs, teachers, customer service advisors, builders, hairdressers, bankers, cleaners, police, firefighters...I could go on, but you probably get the gist of what I am saying.

We all want to be important, significant and respected. From a young age we strive to be something special! If you asked a classroom of children what they want to be when they grow up, I'll bet you that not one of them would say "I want to be an administrator!" But yet administrators are so important for the effective running of an company! No child would strive to be a security guard, and yet we need security guards at airports, business premises and prisons etc for the safety of the general public.  

We are all important and significant in God's eyes. God equipped us all with all of the tools that we need to carry out His plans for us. Our talents, our interests and even our circumstances are pre-planned and laid out for us by God, even before we were born. "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

These plans might not be as glamorous as we would have wanted. We might not be rich, we might never be well-known and respected in our careers ...we might not even have a career...but we must not forget the whole point of God having a purpose for each of us in the first place. 

We are here to do God's will. We are here to help His Kingdom Come on Earth as it is in Heaven. We are called first to Him, gifted with His spirit, and sent out to preach, teach and care for His creation. Our purpose is to be an example of His love and His light in whichever circumstance and role He puts us in. 

How would people know us and know God through us if we were all called to be in the same role? 
If we were all glamorous movie stars who would relate to us? 
It's not just in a career sense either! If we were all confident extroverts, who would relate to the humble introverts? If we were all rich then who would relate to the poor? Jesus could have been anything he wanted and He chose to be a mere carpenter's son and He bonded with the disciples who were fishermen and craftsmen. He related to the sinners, not the pharisees.

God can do anything, He literally breathed the world into existence...but He needs us to be His hands on this Earth. He has planted us into all different places, jobs, communities and situations...just where He needs us to be.

If you look at 2 honeybees they look the same on the outside, but they were born to carry out different roles in the hive. Each one is as important as the other, not one bee looks down on the other based on role or class. They all work together for the sake of their community. The same principle is true of the Church. 

We are branches of the same vine. As Jesus tells us in John 15: 5- 8 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

I've often found myself amazed at how the Church functions. It is pretty similar to a bee hive! 
First of all, we need people to come in to the Church in the first place in order for it to be worth opening the doors. These people would have needed to be invited in. 
We then need people who are called to lead and teach the congregation, and people who are called to care for the congregations spiritual needs. We need people to lead Worship, people to reach out to the children and families, people to organise the mountains of paperwork, the bills, the registers etc. We need people to welcome others at the door, people to clean the church, people to organise events, people to work the sound desks....and each one of these people have different interests and skills, but what they all have in common is their motivation. 
Each person is just as important as the other. Have you ever stopped and thought how amazing it is that each church has the specific people that they need to function? 
What would it be like if noone in the church wanted to help with the children's work and outreach? Or if noone wanted to clean or serve the coffee? What if noone had a clue about how to look after the Chuches finances or organise the fetes?

It's pretty evident that God has called together the perfect mix of people in a certain place in order to carry out His plans. 

So if you find yourself confused about your calling, take a look around you...you are already doing what you are supposed to be doing. You are exactly where you should be. Every experience (good and bad) shapes us and equips us to do God's work and prepares us to do more...whatever, whenever and wherever that may be. 



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Digital Christianity




The internet is a wonderful thing, isn't it? We can do our weekly shop online, we can learn online, go to university online, watch videos and movies whenever we want to, listen to whatever music we choose, buy gifts, chat to friends and family, connect with people from all over the world, work from home...we barely have to leave the house anymore!

In our modern world, access to information has never been easier.
If we want to know something, we can "google it" in seconds; in fact, the average person "googles" 3-4 times per day...I can relate to that! I can never seem to remember how to soft boil an egg, so I am constantly googling "how to boil an egg" when I fancy some egg and soilders! Google has also settled many debates in my home...such as "where do butterflies live?", and "how do giraffes clean their ears?".

Google have released their own stats to show that they get over 63,000 searches per second! These searches can lead to any of the 1.94 billion websites. With free WiFi available in so many public places, information is literally at our fingertips!

If you go onto Google, you can search for any bible verse related to absolutely anything! You can type "bible verse on parenting" and up comes loads of results to choose from - I've tried this search myself on many occasions!
As well as finding a bible verse, you can also click on "images" in your google search and find awesome pictures of scripture to print out or share through your social media accounts.

The most searched for bible verse, according to the Bible app YouVersion is Isaiah 41:10, "so do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God." If you aren't one of the 268 million people who have downloaded YouVersion, I highly recommend having a look. Not only can you access 1492 versions of the bible and in 1074 languages, you can download and read over 900 bible reading plans relating to specific topics, bible verses and books. You can even complete reading plans with friends! It is an amazing app! Sorry if I sound like I'm advertising it, I just think it's great!

As well as being able to read the bible for free on thousands of websites and apps, you can also watch sermons and worship sessions on YouTube. One of the top Christian YouTube channels is Elevation Church who have 1.21 million subscribers tuning in to watch their services!

There are podcasts and sermon archives where people can search for sermons on specific topics and listen whenever and wherever they want to. My church has a sermon archive on our website, which is very handy when you have missed a service! (Check it out on www.smartchurchliskeard.co.uk click resourses, then sermon archive).

Facebook is a great platform for Christian's to gather together. There are countless bible study groups to join for fellowship, support and discussions. Many churches have their own Facebook pages where they communicate with their local communities. It is a really great way of giving people a window into who we are and what we do. One local church that I know of even broadcasts their evening worship services for anyone to see and comment on. What a brilliant way of letting people experience a church service from the comfort of their own home!

My church is currently running The Prayer Course in our house groups, which is also available for free online...as are many other similar courses. You can find the prayer course by clicking the following link https://prayercourse.org/ .

Worship music is another aspect of Christianty that benefits from the digital age...through spotify, iTunes, youtube and other music apps, you can find and listen to pretty much any of your favourite pieces. I personally like to search for "rocked-up" versions of my favourite worship songs and youtube does not usually disappoint! Worship leaders can also find tutorials and sheet music to download.

All of these platforms are brilliant for finding quick answers to our questions, for learning more about Christianity and for mission.
Sharing scripture images, worship songs and bible readings on social media is an awesome way of sharing our Faith with people who would otherwise not encounter it.

The Bible Lover blog has had over 1200 views since March, with pretty much all of these views coming from Facebook! There are also countless other blogs that have far more reach than mine. It's amazing to see so much information on Christianity online. I think the best part about this is that people who are curious about Christianity but who don't want to walk into a church just yet, can explore the Faith anonymously and take things at their own pace. Though if you are reading this and have any questions, please feel free to send me a message, I am always happy to have a chat about Jesus!

People spend roughly  6 hours and 42 minutes online each day, and are bombarded with information, so it's great to know that some of this information is God's word! It's a wonderful thought that God's call for us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15) has become so easy for us to do.

So with such a big audience online, there is a great amount of responsibility as a Christian. We must be aware that we are representing Jesus when we are posting online.

The internet poses many challenges, especially as we are putting ourselves out there for the world to see and scrutinise. The anonymity that the internet provides makes it a minefield as a Christian. One wrong move and we can be descended upon by atheists, who, from my experience, can be ruthless.
1 Peter 3:15 says "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect". As tempting as it is to defend our Faith in the "comment section" of many a Christian- related news story on social media, we must remember that we are representing Jesus, and losing our cool online can do far more damage than good.

The Church of England recently released some guidelines for how we should conduct ourselves on social media, and they are guidelines that I feel EVERYONE should be adhering to online.

The Church of England's social media guidelines are:

Truth - we should hold ourselves to high ideals of checking that what we post online is fair and factual.

Kindness - we are all different and that makes the world an interesting place – and at times a challenging one. Think the best of people, whether they share our views or are speaking against them and aim to be constructive in the way we engage.

Welcome - in the language we use and the way we interact. It’s easy for Christians to speak in another language using words that those outside the Church might not relate to.

Inspiration - we are called to be witnesses of our faith and to use social media in a way that genuinely engages others.

Togetherness - we are one Church and other members of this Church are our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is crucial we treat those around us in this way.

Safeguarding - if you have any concerns about the wellbeing of children, young people and vulnerable adults, please contact the relevant diocesan safeguarding adviser.

Agree - to the Church’s and Archbishops’ social media guidelines.

You can find more information on this at https://www.churchofengland.org/terms-and-conditions/our-digital-charter .

I challenge you, dear readers, to "google search" your favourite bible verse this week and find a scripture image to share on your social media account.
Pray that at least one of your non-Christian friends will see it, and that God will work in them to bring them to Him. Let us go and make disciples of all the nations!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Listening out for God




"My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God." Proverbs 2:1-5

When I was a new Christian listening to people talking about God speaking to them, I imagined that they heard a loud booming voice, undeniably from God. Some people do, but generally he speaks through us, through our surroundings, and through others.


While I was waiting to hear that audible voice, I was missing the other ways that God was trying to speak to me. He will do anything to get His message across to us when He wants us to hear Him.

God's voice is familiar to us, it sounds like our own thoughts. It sounds like our friends and our families. He will use a friend to tell us exactly what we need to hear. He will use the lyrics of a song to talk to us. He will inspire a sermon that resonates within us so profoundly that we can't deny that it was meant for us.
It is a familiar voice...but also not quite...which is why we can recognise it if we are really listening.

I prayed a few weeks ago that God will give me an undeniable sign so that I will know that the plans I have for my future are from Him and not from myself. I feel that He had been planting little seeds in my mind about where He wants me to be and what He wants me to do, but when He speaks through our own thoughts it can be difficult to discern whether it is from Him or from ourselves, and I needed confirmation.

He first answered this prayer through a friend who had sent me an encouraging message about where she feels God is leading me. Then He spoke to me through my Chinese Takeaway...my fortune cookie said "new and rewarding opportunities will soon develop for you". I did laugh when I saw that message...He will use any means necessary to get His point across! It's always important to listen to fellow Christians, because sometimes they can confirm or debunk what you feel that God is saying.

God speaks primarily through His written word. There is a piece of scripture for literally everything. The bible offers us comfort, advice, instruction, encouragement, I love that one person can read a bible passage and get one message from it, while another person can get a different message from the same passage. God intended the Bible to be like that...so that we have to come together as a community to get the whole picture of what He is saying. The same goes for hearing God speaking to us in external ways; we get pieces of the puzzle from various people and places that come together to show us the whole picture.

God can also speak to us through our dreams, as He did to Joseph in the Old Testament and others throughout the bible. "he said, "Listen to my words: "when there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams."

Our minds use the stillness of our sleep to process the information that we have gained throughout the day, and God can plant little seeds in our day that come together during this process of dreaming. God made us that way and gave Himself that tool to speak to us.

Have you ever had your mind wander off during a sermon or during prayer? You are definitely not the only one! You may have felt guilty for not paying attention and you bring your focus back...but sometimes your mind isn't wandering as aimlessly as it might appear to be, God can guide our thoughts.

However, sometimes it's hard to hear His voice because our lives are so busy that we don't take the time to be still and listen. I'm guilty of sitting down to a bible study hour and then being distracted by a "ding" from my phone. It's almost a knee-jerk reaction nowadays to grab my phone and get sucked into my Facebook new feed, or my emails, or texts from friends. My house is pretty loud too, having 4 children, a husband and a Dog who all need attention. I also have a cat who likes to sit right on my bible! While writing this post I have actually had to grab endless things from the fridge for the kids, answer questions from the Husband, stop to put a load of washing on...I have a daughter opposite me who is watching videos on youtube, and other next to me who is listening to music. Daily distractions are inevitable, so I completely understand Jesus' need to go to a solitary place to pray and spend time with God.

Of course, God could speak to us audibly, clearly and directly (and he can when he needs to!), but he makes it so that we can ignore His words if we want to. He makes it so that we have to show our faith when listening to Him.
If Jesus appeared before you and said "I want you to do this..." you would do it without question; but the fact that He talks in such subtle ways, ways that we can easily push aside and ignore, means that He is giving us a choice. He is giving us free will to decide whether to listen to Him or not. When He speaks through our friends and through our circumstances, His voice gets a little louder, but still we can brush it off if we choose to.

God wants us to choose to listen to Him. He wants us to search for His voice and obey Him.
If we choose not to listen, He won't give up trying to speak to us, but the more time we spend searching for Him and listening for His responses to our prayers, the easier it becomes to recognise when He speaks.

On the flipside, the enemy uses the very same ways to feed us lies and nurture our insecurities.
For instance, he may use one friend to tell you that you aren't good enough, yet God, being stronger, will send 3 more friends to tell you that you are.

Unfortunatley, we will usually dwell on the one friend who feeds us negativity and makes us question ourselves and question God's voice.

The best way to discern the voice of God from the enemy is to remember that God will never contradict scripture. The enemy will make you think "I can't do this!", whereas God's Word says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". The voice of God is calming, reassuring and full of love, whereas the enemy will bring anxiety, worry and doubt. If the message we hear is not helpful or from a place of love and guidance, we can assume that it is not from God.

We must also make sure that we aren't being  that one friend who the enemy is using to discourage and weaken the faith of our friends and those around us. We must build each other up with love, and not knock each other down.

I actually had a friend (or two) when I gave my life to Jesus react really badly. I was called "stupid" and "easily led". I was made to feel like a crazy person, I was called a "bible basher" and it hurt to have so much hate directed at me. My faith got me through those difficult conversations, and I recognised that the enemy was using these people to wear me down and put doubts in my mind. We will unfortunatly encounter people like this over and over again.

As 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing", and also Ephesians 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." We are called to be a community of people who love, encourage and trust one another, so when we find ourselves as that one who the enemy is using, we should put on the armour of God and remember His word.

When we are getting closer to God, the enemy works harder to pull you away, which is why it is SO important that we can discern what is from God and what is not. If we are not "loving our neighbour" and are holding ourselves above others then that's a pretty good sign that we are being used by the enemy and we could be muffling the voice of God to the person we find ourselves (intentionally or unintentionally) putting down. We also find ourselves becoming further from God by opening up our hearts and minds to hate and selfishness.

We are all called as Christians into a ministry that welcomes people into our family; encouraging, nurturing and leading them to Jesus. Listening to God on this one is easy, because it is written in black and white in the Bible. Any message we seem to get which goes against this is not from God.

In Pastoral Ministry, we are trained in "good listening", which means that we must put our focus entirely on the person speaking. We must be prepared to sit in silence and just "be" with the person who needs us. I feel that we must do the same when listening out for God...we must be patient and attentive, putting our focus on Him and noticing where He is speaking to us externally, as well as internally.

What are the ways that YOU have noticed God speaking to you? Let me know! It's always encouraging to others to hear how God is working in other people's lives, and quite often this can help us to discern God's voice in our own lives!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Prayer - strength in numbers?




I heard a discussion yesterday about the verse "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20.

The question was "so is Jesus not with us when we pray alone?".

I was at our Church's midweek service and the Vicar was talking about this.
He reminded us that Jesus also prayed alone, but there is power in corporate prayer. 
He also said that praying together is especially important when someone is going through a tough time and they can't pray themselves, so we pray for them. I love that.

I had a bit of a revelation while we were praying, and I wanted to share this with you all.

These two verses came to mind. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6, and "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love" 1 John 4:8.

So Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, and He is love. 

When we pray with others, there is truth, there is life and there is love.

We pray differently with others. We pray for what THEY need, as well as what WE need, so there is love.

We pray together because that is what Jesus wants us to do, and coming to other Christian's in prayer is His way.

When we pray with others they hear our prayers, and so they hear our problems, our needs and our fears, as well as what we are thankful to God for...and so there is truth.

The fact that we gather in prayer as Christians at all means that we believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and then rose again...and so there is life for us all.

Praying alone is just as important, it is vital to have a relationship with Him and to open up your heart to Him through your requests and your praise, putting your trust in Him for all things.

However, God also uses our prayers as a way to show others His love and His Grace when He answers us. He will answer prayers regardless, but "it is right to give thanks and praise" to God. It is important to share what God reveals to you and what He does for you with others, so that they might see how great, how loving and how amazing our God is.

During our service this morning, God put the lyrics to a song in a lady's mind. The song was about God being present. He also put the words to a prayer in another lady's mind...words about being before God. 
Through these two revelations, the whole congregation was encouraged and knew that God was there with us. It just shows that sharing what God says to you is so important in strengthening others.

So when we pray alone, God hears us and answers us, but when we pray with others, we pray with love, truth and life, as is His way.