Tuesday, 22 March 2011

If God Is For Us, Who Can Stand Against Us?

Like a lot of us, I have a heavy exam period coming up, and I have been worrying a lot recently. Then when I was worshiping on the way to Christian Union last night, I suddenly thought ‘Why worry?’; We have this amazing God, who created the entire universe. If what we are doing at any given time is of him, and we involve him in it, then he is going to bless it! If whatever we are doing is not of him, then it really shouldn’t matter to us if it doesn’t work out.
Incidentally after praying on it, releasing it all to God, I felt so different; Rather than feeling worried, I felt confident. Rather than feeling down, I felt lifted. I felt so anointed for the task ahead. When I got back, I was suddenly able to do lots more. When you allow God in through prayer, it can change everything.
As Romans 8:31 says: ‘If God is for us, who can stand against us?’
“And if our God is with us, then who can stand against us?”

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Another Update…

This morning I went to the early service at Trinity, as I was going to a friends Baptism in Cheltenham in the evening. Today the talk was on confession – confessing our sins to both God, and fellow men, as well as confessing the good stuff from God.
One of the things talked about was confession in relation to reconciling with your ‘neighbour’. The idea of admitting to them you have sinned against them, and asking them for forgiveness. This then set off a spiral in my head; there was someone last week that I thought I might have sinned against, but wasn’t entirely sure. It was nothing major, and nothing that I had really done on purpose, but as soon as I had realised what I had done, I immediately felt bad about it, and apologised to God… But the problem was that actually admitting it to this in this situation would have undoubtedly done more harm than good, because it would have just unsettled them, and opened up a whole new can of worms. What do you do in this situation? This confession thing is hard than you might first think!!!!
When I spoke to God about it, he seemed to say to ‘move forward’, which I interpreted as meaning ‘move on’, and in this case, not to tell them. I decided whilst walking home, that next time I saw the person, I would ask him to speak into the situation.
As soon as I got back from Church, it was time to quickly have some lunch, and then straight back out to do some drama workshops. This was a workshop that four of us had developed as part of our business project for our personal development module at Uni. I was running late, so when I got there I had the perfect opportunity to try out what we had learnt this morning about saying to people we have done wrong to ‘I’m sorry, forgive me’.
I remember on the way to this workshop really feeling God suddenly anointing me for it. I was on my way, preparing myself and praying, whilst listening to ‘King of Wonders’ (I don’t know about you, but I personally find it helps allot to focus myself on God, and get into the ‘God-zone’, by listening to worship music).
The workshop ended up going pretty well in the end, and we got out of it everything that we needed to. God seemed to give me a calmness and confidence that sometimes I can be lacking, especially when I feel under-prepared (we had only decided on exercises last night, and this was our first experience as a ‘company’, running our own workshops). I am very positive about this project, as I think God has been blessing it from the start; The whole idea came out of a prayer just under a year ago… Still, this is for another blog! Maybe in two weeks time….
After the workshops, It was off to a friend’s baptism. Whilst i was on the bus, I decided to test what I felt God had told me in the morning, by talking to one of my Christian friends about it. I confessed to her what I had done, and talked about the situation. We agreed that – like it had seemed God had been telling me, I shouldn’t tell her, because it could open up massive cans of worms and cause hurt rather than it being for the right reasons. What we decided, was that I should instead correct the sin (just a case of correcting a bit of information I had given somebody, without going into too much detail).
The baptism service was great. It was wonderful that they were all young people getting baptised! Me and my friend both agreed that Kendal Road Church was very nicely ‘Youth Orientated’, and the the Vicar and his wife were really nice; it was a nice touch that even though we had both only visited there once before, they both remembered our names.
It’s amazing what humbling experiences baptisms can be. I remember going in there and feeling almost quite cocky – holyer than thou’. When you start hearing people’s testimonies thou, and seeing how God has effected them, it really puts you back in your place, but in a good way. I had a ‘word’ for one of the people who got baptised. I wasn’t sure whether it was any kind of prophesy, but I wanted to keep to a deal made during the week that if I felt like God was telling me to say something, then I would say it, as long as it was scriptural true, and encouraging. It was ‘If God is for you, then who can stand against you’? I quickly realised that in this case, it was probably because one of the songs earlier had used that verse, but nonetheless I was pleased that I had taken the step of faith. It also, btw, marked the first time that I had actually spoken out in a church in a service.
Ended the evening with a friend of mine talking about how someone they know has died today. I am very slowly learning to apply the art of listening to God in my conversations with others, and without going into the details of the conversation, I cannot express how much it helps as a Christian to be listening to God through these moments. He just changes how you deal with it, right down to the smallest subtlety. By listening to him, you allow him to use you to speak into the specific situation. I am trying to make it habit to listen to what God wants me doing NOW, as well as in the future
Just as a final note, one of the things that was mentioned in the service this morning, was something Barack Obama said at a prayer breakfast a few weeks ago…
“When I wake in the morning, I wait on the Lord, and I ask him to give me the strength to do right by our country and its people. And when I go to bed at night, I wait on the Lord, and I ask him to forgive me my sins and look after my family and the American people and make me an instrument of his will.”
This seems like a great prayer for all of us (maybe changing the ‘country and it’s people’ bit). And I’m wondering if it’s something that anyone reading this blog could attempt to do over at least the next week. We all know how powerful prayer can be!

.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Update…

Just wanted to give some testimony of some ways God has been helping me the last week…

On Friday, at Christian Union Small group, there were a few things that we prayed for for me. Firstly, that my performing arts course would be able to find the £900 that was suddenly needed by this coming Friday to make sure that we could still go – thankfully, a number of people on our course have been able to pay their money towards the trip early. It looks like this prayer has been answered, so thank you guys!

Secondly, we prayed that God would strengthen me to defend myself from attacks on my faith.

The next day, we had auditions for the performing arts course I am on. After the auditions, we were in the bar, and my voice teacher came up to me, and said ‘Oh, I have something for you… I was meant to give it to another student, but he hasn’t turned up. I think you’ll find it useful’. It was a book called ‘A Ready Defence – Over 60 Vital “Lines of Defence” for Christianity, Topically Arranged for Easy Reference”. He then briefly talked about his faith to us, and on the way home, was talking to me and Alex about how he knew there was something in Christianity, because he had literally seen friends get out of wheelchairs, snap out of strokes, seen babies literally cured of aids – all whilst being prayed for.

Interestingly another teacher on Monday suddenly started telling the class about how important their Christian faith was to them.

There are of course, many other ways, but maybe these are for another blog….Smile with tongue out

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Romans 12–Love In Action

 

Tonight at Christian Union, we looked at Romans 12. I just wanted to post it here, because judging from the many different reactions I have seen from different Christians over the recent events in Japan, and with an eye on how we should be responding to these events. I also think that this verse links well to my previous comments about how we can strengthen our church family, in my previous blog, Brothers of Christ, Sons of God.

But wherever we are, and whatever we are dealing with in our lives, I think this is relevant to all of us.

Romans 12 - Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

   “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
   if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

God and the Tsunami

I just want to start with Christian Aid's prayer for the victims of the Tsunami.
Please join me in praying this prayer:

‘O God, our refuge and strength,
our help in times of trouble.
Have mercy on the lands where the earth has given way.
Have mercy on the lands where the weather has destroyed livelihoods.
Prosper those who rebuild houses,
and strengthen those who rebuild hope
so that entire communities
may face the future without fear.
Amen’

It seems to me that you can argue all you want – is God to blame, isn’t he, but is this really the time to be having this argument? All the time we are arguing, we are not helping those who need it. While we are doing this, we are missing a chance to live out the commandment of loving our neighbours, and to defend our faith by showing God in action. Lets use this as a time to show and facilitate God’s love, rather than trying to argue for it or rationalise it.
In my last blog, I was talking about the power and strength of the Church Family. Lets be praying on how this Church Family can help victims of the events of the last few days.
Just pray, and listen to God – let him tell you how you can help. Let his love shine through the situation.
It is worth remembering that a lot of the time, God’s light shines brightest through struggle: I was talking to a teacher of mine, who had lived in Africa, and had been to a church with over 50,000 members. He said that one of the reasons he just can’t ‘let go’ of Christianity, is that through God’s response to their problems through prayer, he knows that God is definitely there. He talked to me and some other classmates about seeing children being prayed for and being completely cured of AIDS, he has seen people who have had strokes, leaving them paralysed down one side of the body be prayed for and literally completely snap out of it, and again, through prayer, he has seen friends in wheelchairs instantly get up and start walking.
Undoubtedly we are going to be tested in our faith over this issue, but we just need to hold strong and keep faith that God will show through. He has proven since the beginning of time that he shows up, so have faith that he will do the same this time! One of the things mentioned in the blog about steps of faith, is that God’s word stays true no matter how we are feeling. We need to keep faith, and keep encouraging each other as a family, as well as praying for strength and guidance. Once again, I would like to point people towards the documentary about George Muller, for inspiration.
Here is an article on how a number of Christian Organisations are aiding relief work already.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Brothers of Christ, Sons of God

 

 

Particularly the last week or so, as people I know have been going off on mission, and with my home group coming to a crossroads, I have found myself very much thinking about the family side of Church. I am realising more and more the importance and value of this family, and this is what I am going to talk about in this blog. This is how Jesus talks about the Christian family...

 

Mark 3:31-35 (New Living Translation)

The True Family of Jesus
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. 32 There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.”
33 Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 34 Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
As Christians we are all part of the family of Christ. We are all brothers and sisters. Statistics say that there are 2.8 Billion people on this planet who call themselves Christians. There are approximately 6-7 billion people on this planet. This makes almost half the population of the planet Christian. This is a massive family! This number of Christians is growing, by the way – not shrinking.
In Christ, we have family all over the word; I saw earlier this week on a friends Facebook status that although China has one of the worst records in the world for persecuting Christians, there is currently a bigger increase in people going to church THERE than in all of the western world put together! Not only that, but other members of the family around the world are risking their lives to get Bibles to their Brothers and Sisters in China! That is how strong and full of God’s love this family is!  This family that God has given us through his son, Jesus Christ, is so strong that it is able to not only survive persecution, but GROW through it! Forgetting about ‘spiritual gifts’, this is an amazing gift itself! THIS is a ‘miracle’ of God that we should be thankful for, and we should treat it as a gift which God wants us to hone, to grow, and to use for good, to further Glorify him. 
From an evangelical point of view, often one of the things which draws people towards Christianity is the community spirit that they see within it. I was talking to one of my teachers the other day about my experiences, and how the having that support network of church family had really helped me in the last year, and she said “I used to hang around with Cliff Richards and his wife, who were both Christians, and one of the things that I saw through them was that the Church was a real community – a family, a support network”.
One of the things that I take comfort in, when things are tough at Uni, or in any other area of my life, is that I always have my Church family there to support me, and that God will always support me through them.
I remember last week, when one of my friends, Will, went of to Rwhanda. When we were praying for him, it became very clear how much everyone in the family supported him, and what he was doing. It was the same with another friend, Hannah, who is leaving this week. f course, they are also blessed with the knowledge, that such is the extent of this Christian Family, that they will be able to go out to these countries, knowing that however tough things might get for them, they will have christian family out there as well, who will love and support them. As mentioned before, in Christ, we have family all over the world. That is one massive pile of love!
On another note, I remember leading up to my baptism, just the sheer power of having 25 cluster members singing worship songs whilst praying for me. Some of the most powerful connections between Christians happens during prayer. I also remember, at my baptism, the sheer levels of noise from screams of support from both my C.U Friends, and my Cluster friends. I am so greatfull for the relationships that god has given me within this family of his, and we are so truly blessed for having this family.
In my cluster, as mentioned previously, one of our leaders is leaving in a few days, and we have had two meetings this week, to discuss how we can move forward as a group. One of the fantastic things has been to see how we have developed as a group up to this point, since that first ever meeting last September, to now planning where we are going to take it in future. It is a group of people that is really starting to make that transition into a family. There are some really strong bonds growing.
As a slight dovetail, what was interesting was that there were only a few of us at the first meeting this week, and many more of us at the second meeting this week, and when we all prayed on the future of the cluster, the guys who weren’t there at the first one were getting pretty much the same answers to prayer that us who were there at the first meeting got. I guess God is shouting loud and clear, and this will further help us build a sense of purpose and unity.

How can we further strengthen our Church Family?

Unity
I have been writing this blog since last Sunday, because, as stated before, God has really put Christian Family on my heart this week. I think that it is no coincidence, what with God’s perfect timing, that our C.U small group leader, Lizzie, decided that we were going to talk about Unity in the Church this week. We did this through the study of Ephesians 4
Ephesians 4
Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
   “When he ascended on high,
   he took many captives
   and gave gifts to his people.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
There are of course, many things which come out of these passages, but without going into a complete biblical analysis, the first thing that stands out to me about what Paul is saying here, is that we build unity through love for each other, the father, and the holy spirit. 
There are things that get in the way of this…
Judgement
We Sometimes fall into the trap of becoming judgemental. One of the things we were talking about at this meeting, was how sometimes we, in different church denominations, and even Churches, can think that we are better than other churches – we become ‘holyer than thou’. But when we were reading, in Ephesians 4 “11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” it made me and a number of others in the group think that although it says ‘prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, maybe this applies to branches of church as well – that none are ‘better’, but rather each serves a different purpose in the church body.
We would all do well to remember that actually most churches have very little difficulty agreeing on the main teachings of the bible. Any differences tend to arise from the application of the teachings. Not many churches are going to have difficulty agreeing with basic teachings that God created man in his image, with free choice, man rebelled against God, which brought sin into the world. God became flesh in the form of his son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save us from our sin, and that any person can have his or her relationship restored with God by having faith in Jesus. We are all united by this faith in Jesus.
One of the great things about the Christian Union, is that it doesn’t belong to any particular church denomination, in the sense that it is a complete melting pot of many of them! Baptists, Evangelists, Orthodox, Anglican, etc. You would hardly notice that we are all coming from different churches. The great thing about this system, is that it is building a generation of Christians who are less likely to have these visions, and will be able to hopefully further remove these psychological, false boundries within the church.
When we were praying at the end of our C.U session, there was palpable movement from the spirit in the room. I got a strong sense of the Lord working on Uniting us as a small group, and wanting us to actively unite. He was telling me that we need to work on becoming more united at a small group level, and that this will help the international church to become more united, because as ground level Christians, we make up the foundations of the international Church, so the less cracks there are at local level, the more stable at international level. This is something we should all be thinking about. How do we do this, by loving our father with all of our hearts, minds and soul, and loving each other as ourselves.
We also have to watch that our accountability doesn’t become condemning judgement towards other Christians and none-Christians; It saddens me to see gay men and woman leaving the church, because they have been told that they are ‘going to hell’ for being gay. When Paul talks about homosexuality, it seems to me that it is usually in a context with other forms of adultery. Are we not all adulterers? Jesus tells us that you commit adultery by even looking and thinking about it. Did Jesus not die to save us from our sins? Why then single out one issue and make it different? Didn’t he teach us to ‘Judge not lest ye be judged?’
How do we achieve this? By loving our father with all of our hearts, minds and soul, and loving each other as ourselves.
We are truly blessed to have been given this amazing family by God, and it seems to me, that these two commandments that god has given us, are both the reason for the strength of the Church family, and also the roadmap for growing even stronger in future. As a friend of mine, Charlie, put it at the end of the second cluster meeting, to grow as a church family ‘we’ve got to keep loving each other’.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Tsunami– You Can Help




Google have released a version of Friend Finder to help with the current Tsunami Crisis, wich can be found on the right - hand side of this page.
The article below has been taken from http://www.christianaid.org.uk/. If you feel God is calling to do this, assist them in helping the people effected in any way you can – one such way is by donating money through their website.

Tsunami warning for the Pacific

11 March 2011
Christian Aid and partners are holding a watching brief as a tsunami warning is issued for the Pacific region after a devastating earthquake hit Japan. At this point in time our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan which has been devastated by an earthquake earlier today.
Christian Aid partners in the Philippines are already helping to evacuate the most vulnerable coastal communities as they brace themselves for a tsunami wave at least one metre high along the east coast.
We are also watching the tsunami as it heads towards central and south America where partners are on alert and ready to respond if needed.
Support those who are suffering and those who are working hard to save lives by joining with us in prayer.

 

Pray with us

O God, our refuge and strength,
our help in times of trouble.
Have mercy on the lands where the earth has given way.
Have mercy on the lands where the weather has destroyed livelihoods.
Prosper those who rebuild houses,
and strengthen those who rebuild hope
so that entire communities
may face the future without fear.
Amen
Can I just add that we take this moment to pray the above prayer, and also to pray for guidance on what we can do to help all those effected.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

For The Week Ahead…

Today when I was filming a Kid's programme, I had a fair amount of free time on set, so I decided to use it to read the Bible. For those of you who don't know, as a fairly 'new' Christian, I have decided to read through the gospels, because this is what God has told me he wants me to do. I am currently on John's gospel.
I wasn’t to share with you a bit of what I read, because I found that having this passage on my mind and in my heart, really added something to my worship that evening in church. I urge you to read it, meditate on it, keep it in your mind during prayer, and during worship over the next week. For all those who have ever been asked ‘Does Jesus actually claim to be the Son of God?’ This is Jesus himself leaving it in no uncertain terms who he is, and why we should be so thankful to him. This is the NLT Translation:

John 5: 16 - 47

Jesus Claims to Be the Son of God

16 So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. 17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” 18 So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.

19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. 21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. 22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 23 so that everyone will honour the Son, just as they honour the Father. Anyone who does not honour the Son is certainly not honouring the Father who sent him.

24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

25 “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26 The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. 27 And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man.[d] 28 Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, 29 and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. 30 I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

Witnesses to Jesus

31 “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. 32 But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. 33 In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. 34 Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. 35 John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. 36 But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, 38 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you.

39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

41 “Your approval means nothing to me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43 For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.[e]

45 “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. 46 If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 47 But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

Hope this helps!

P.S Just as a footnote, for anyone questioning whether Jesus is who he says he is, Click here to learn more

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Steps of Faith

Steps of Faith.

Ephesians 5:18.
'Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.'
I remember well one Cluster or 'Home Group' meeting last year, when we ended up talking about drinking, and the advantages of going out and staying sober. This is something that was – and is still somewhat a challenge to me – the idea that you can go out and have a great time without getting drunk. This was something that, if I'm being honest, had previously been quite difficult for me – especially seeing other people drinking. On previous experience there had been nothing more boring than being the sober man watching a load of people getting smashed – the only 'joy' had come at the end of the night, when you see all your friends feeling ill, and you start to think 'Now I'm glad I'm not drunk'.
I remember though after this talk, it just felt like the 'right thing to try'; All my previous experiences had been before I had found Christianity, and the friend who had been talking, had made some very compelling points and actually excited me about the idea. I didn't really know what to expect, but I was gonna go out there as a Christian and do it, because God was telling me to!!!
That Friday night I went with some friends to see another Friend in a show they were doing at the Everyman in Cheltenham. After the show, we went out, and I decided that I was only going to drink water. Rather than becoming any kind of 'social killer', while we were in the pub it actually became a fun talking point. We were making light hearted jokes about getting drunk on water, and it was actually a very fun time.
We then went to the club, and it just felt like the Holy Spirit took over me! It was like all of the right inhibitions disappeared at the door, and it genuinely felt like I was dancing with God for the night. Because I was looking around the room, and seeing men that had been there for a lot longer than me, with pints in their hands, looking like they were far more inhibited than me. Because I was sober as well it also meant I was able to look after my friends – even administering first aid to one of them. I remember her looking up at me at one point, smiling, and saying 'being the Good Samaritan yeah?'.
It was such an amazing feeling night, and it was after this that it dawned on me – I had taken a step of faith, and God rewards steps of faith! This has always stuck with me, and this is what I am going to talk about in this blog.

Luke 5:1-11 (New Living Translation)

Luke 5

The First Disciples
 1 One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. 2 He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.
 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
 5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” 6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 7 A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
 8 When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” 9 For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.
   Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.
Picture this, Simon and his friends have caught nothing. They are packing up for the day ready to go home because they know that BY ALL LOGIC, they are not going to catch anything. Then this man Jesus suddenly turns up – this man that they have never even met before, starts preaching on there boats, and then when he is finished tells these people who, at least before his talk, were probably very tired and demotivated from their lack of success previously, to go back out and do what they have been unsuccessful at just a short time before.
But what does Simon say? Does he say 'Hey man, that was a great talk you just gave there, but I'm not really feeling up to applying what you have said now, I'm too tired. Another time mate'? Does he say 'but we went out before and caught nothing. I don't believe you?'
When Jesus says to him “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
 5 “Master,” Simon says, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And when he takes this step of faith, he returns with nets so full of fish that they are bursting from the sides. All the other fishermen were awestruck. Our God rewards steps of faith!
Just in case you are thinking 'yeah, this is a story of biblical times', here is a link I posted a few days ago on a man named George Muller.


I would also like to give another example:

Ellie's Baptism
I very dear friend of mine, Ellie, was baptised the other week at Trinity Cheltenham (http://www.trinitycheltenham.com/). Ellie was very much in a battle beforehand as to whether it was the right thing for her to do. The question was never over her belief in Jesus – it was about wether she was 'ready' to be Baptised. In the end, she decided that although she was unsure, she was going to take a step of faith and quite literally 'take the plunge'. Here is the moment Ellie got baptised:
video
After her baptism I, along with a number of other friends, laid hands on her and prayed for her, and the Holy Spirit was so palpably emanating that it was completely overwhelming. I could literally see and feel the spirit working on her heart in such a powerful way. She later talked of how peaceful and happy she felt.
The next time I saw her, the power didn't seem to have shifted much, and you could see how happy she was – how alive she was, me and others were all commenting on how powerful her prayer was. One friend said that when Ellie prayed for her, that was the most she had ever felt the Holy Spirit. Of course, as she reminds me, there have been down moments as well, but this is how she sums it up – and I think that this sums up faith brilliantly: 'I now have the knowledge that God's truth and promises remain true regardless of how I feel!'
When she got the signs, she was very much like Peter; Rather than saying 'Hey man, that was a great talk you just gave there, but I'm not really feeling up to applying what you have said now, I'm too tired. Another time mate', or 'but we went out before and caught nothing. I don't believe you', she effectively said “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And because she has taken this step of faith, she has returned with nets so full of fish that they are bursting from the sides. All the other fishermen are awestruck. Ellie's story is Peter's in action today, our God lives yesterday, today, forever, and our god rewards steps of Faith!

I just wanted to finish by asking these questions:
What steps of faith have you taken, and how has he rewarded you?
What might be the next step of faith for you?


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Through sickness IN health

Just a quick blog to point out an observation I have made the past few days...
Since yesterday I have been feeling more and more ill - nothing serious, just a bad cold - nonetheless enough to leave me seriously flagging and looking like a crack-head.
Last night, I decided to go to C.U anyway, after some debating, and what I noticed was that during the worship and prayer, at least once I had got into it - far from feeling flagging and run down, I felt very much as alive and peaceful and happy as i would normally hope to feel in those circumstances. It was exactly the same during there prayer and worship tonight at my cluster meeting.
Out of this it dawned on me that God truly offers us respite from the flaws of our earthly bodies in his presence. It was like, during that time with him, he took me out of my imperfect, ill body, meaning that my spirit, in the presence of his, was able to be truly free. God truly offers us freedom!