Christianity, Christmas, Devotional, Faith

Life lessons from the Christmas story

Life lessons from the Christmas story

I have been thinking this week about the story of Mary.

Mary, the mother of Jesus was given an extraordinary assignment and if you have a dream and a vision for the future, her life story is a great encouragement.

Your past doesn’t matter

God gave Mary a special job, despite the fact that by human standards she was too poor, too young and from the wrong part of town.  God could have gone to the palaces to find a ‘suitable’ mother for the Messiah, but instead he chose an unknown girl from a poor village.  To me this is a reminder that our past, our background or our culture is not a problem for God.  When I arrived in the UK, I was young foreigner but God took hold of me and changed my life in unexpected ways.  We are all born with a God-given purpose and God loves to take insignificant people (in the world’s eyes) and birth significance into their lives.

A vision for the future can make you feel hopeless

This might seem like a strange thing to say, but often when God gives us a dream, we can feel hopeless.  How will God accomplish such a thing? Is it possible?  Have I imagined this?  And yet, just like Mary, when God speaks to us and gives us a vision, His Holy Spirit can empower us, take us further than we could ever imagine and make the impossible, possible in our lives.

His Holy Spirit is bigger than our intellect, our talent and our ability.  His Holy Spirit is bigger than our past, our culture and our logic.   But like Mary, we have to stop arguing with our reason and thinking and instead say, ‘God, if you said it, I will align my will to your will’.

You have to step up

With any vision, talking about it, thinking about it, won’t make it happen. When Gabriel visited Mary, after the initial shock, she got up and went to visit Elisabeth. That was her response.  And likewise with us, we have to make a response and to begin to move forward into what God has called us to do.  We might not immediately see results but it is important to live in a culture which cultivates it.  Surround yourself with people who will speak life into your vision, and like Mary, rub shoulders with people who will make that dream ‘leap’ within your spirit.

Be patient

Mary had to wait 9 months to see the fulfillment of the vision God had given her.  You and I may have to wait much longer.  The process of waiting for the dream to come true can be a time of real preparation.

Here at UCB, we believe God has given us a vision for an unprecedented move of God which will sweep the UK and beyond.  We haven’t yet seen this (although we believe we are seeing small signs) so instead we are preparing ourselves, our infrastructure and our organisation to be ready for when it happens and to be able to support the Church 24/7, 365 days a year.  Mary had to prayerfully get ready for the arrival of Jesus.  She knew what was promised would come true and so she began to prepare for what she knew was to come.

Don’t despise small beginnings

The arrival of Jesus was a low-key affair. There was no room at the inn for the newborn king, there was no fanfare from the palaces, there was no state announcement.  In fact, if it were not for the angels who sang and the light of a star, His birth may have gone unnoticed for a long time.  Jesus himself was placed in a feeding manger, in rags, the most unassuming, ‘small’ beginning for the saviour of the world.  And yet, those small, humble beginnings, led to the plan of salvation for all of mankind.

It’s important to remember that great things (just like oak trees) can have the smallest and most humble of beginnings.

Can I encourage you today, that if you are waiting for God to fulfil your own vision and dream, to be faithful to what you believe God has shown you.  Use the time positively, to prepare spiritually (and physically) and to surround yourself with people who will help to keep you accountable.

If God has said it, it will come to pass.

IMG_0316

Christianity

Expecting God to do great things (For with God nothing will be impossible – Luke 2:37)

I recently returned from France, where I helped to lead a mission at my brother Daniel’s church in Angers.

It is over 3 years since we started these yearly events and we have seen some incredible answers to prayer.  Some have asked me, why is there such a tangible sense of the presence of God in these meetings?  Why are people getting healed and set free, yet in other parts of the world, this is not being seen?

I believe that in the beginning, God placed man and woman in the garden of Eden, so that they could live in God’s presence, day in and day out.  Satan’s plan then (as it is now) was to expel people from the powerful presence of God because he knows that if he can get us out of the presence of God, he can make us weak and ineffective.  Thanks to God for his redemption plan, which has restored that relationship and leads us to a place of expectancy.  When we are expectant and live in the manifested presence of God, we start to see incredible things happen.   When I go to France, I sense a real hunger in the people and that is a fertile ground for God to move.  That is the place where breakthrough begins to happen.

Over the years, we have seen God move in remarkable ways and I wanted to share some of those stories with you.  This is taken from a report compiled by my brother Daniel and where possible, the stories of healing have been verified by doctors.

—————————

A woman from a church in another town was suffering with severe pain in her stomach and was in hospital undergoing tests.  One day during the mission, she discharged herself from hospital for a few hours to come to the service. After the service she went back to the hospital and the doctors declared her completely healed.  A week later she came back to Church to testify what God had done in her life.

A young 14 year old girl suffered terrible pain in her knees due to a bone problem.  She was getting worse, her knees were swollen and she could walk less and less.  Her rheumatologist told her that no surgery could heal her and she would suffer more and one day she might not be able to walk at all and her only treatment was to wear braces which would keep her legs straight.  In May 2014, she went for prayer (her dad who was deaf had just been healed) but wasn’t healed instantly and in the following weeks and months she had more pain, no sign of healing but she kept asking God in faith with her parents.  In the summer of 2015 (over a year after the first prayer) she was completely healed. That summer she went on holidays in the Alps and she went hiking almost every day in the mountains with no pain.   She has since committed her life to the Lord and was baptised last May.

In June, a lady who is a radiologist, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, stage 4.  Her ex-husband is an oncologist and confirmed that the cancer was too developed to try any treatment or surgery and she had only 2 or 3 months to live. A Christian lady from the Church has an IT business and the radiologist is one of her customers. Just before the mission in June, she was called to her office to fix some computers. The radiologist spoke to her about her cancer and Aurélie told her about the Church and the many miracles God has done these past few months.  On Sunday morning,  we felt that the Church should pray for people not present in the meeting and asked the believers who knew someone sick to stand up for them. Aurélie stood up for this  radiologist and 4 weeks later she went back to her office and as soon as they met, the radiologist threw herself in her arms jumping with joy telling her that she was in the process of healing. Since the prayer, the cancer had so decreased, they could do surgery. In August she went to Paris for surgery and we are waiting for her to testify of her miracle.

————————–

These are just a few of the amazing miracles we are seeing and we know that Angers is not an example on its own.  All over the world, where God’s people are hungry and expectant, God is doing something new.  We know this is just the beginning of what God wants to do through his church, all across the world.

(Jesus Christ is The Same yesterday, today and forever – Heb. 13:8)

IMG_0141

 

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Healing, Hope, Miracles, Prophecy, Spiritual healing

When God’s spirit moves

This week on UCB 1 and UCB 2, it has been our national appeal.  We have been talking on air about 1 Kings 18, and the ‘sound of a mighty rainstorm’. All around us, are small clouds and green shoots of the beginnings of revival and we are expectant and excited to see what God is going to do.

What you won’t have heard on air, is the move of God which has been happening in our own buildings here at UCB.

Last week, we invited Fergus Mcintyre, an itinerant pastor who has a prophetic ministry, to spend time with our staff, praying with each of them and speaking into their lives.

There is nothing like experiencing that refreshing ‘rain’ when the spirit of God touches and refreshes our lives!

As a result of these meetings, I have heard from so many of our team, who have been blessed by what God said to them.  I truly believe this is where revival begins.

There is a famous saying, ‘Lord, send revival and let it start with me’.

When we each develop and grow our intimacy with God, he begins to pour his spirit out. In Joel, it says, ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’

I believe these ‘last days’ are now and can I encourage you, to seek God for your own personal revival? When we have received it, we are then able to pass it on to others.

Here are a few stories from our team, of what has happened to them in the past week.

Amy’s story (UCB digital designer)

In my life, I have struggled and felt a lot of pain, but I can always sense when others need help.  When Fergus prayed for me, he told me I am a good listener and God trusts me. I can walk past someone and squeeze their hand and say, ‘I’m with you’ and they will feel God’s presence. This became really apparent during the appeal when I was able to listen and engage with our supporters on the phone. I was able to help a listener with a severe stammer, through the donation process and I was able to listen and let him know I was there to help. This confirmed many of the things Fergus said to me about listening and being trusted to help others through difficult situations.

Carl’s story (Prayerline Liaison Officer)

Over the past few years, I have been able to pray for many of the staff at UCB and have felt I could often feel other people’s pain.  At first, I thought I was just imagining it but when Fergus spoke to me, he said God wanted me to step up and tell people what I felt and then pray for them.  Fergus told me that I was a ‘Barnabas’ and encouraged me to step out in faith, but at the same time, use discernment and speak wisely.  A man I did not know at all, was used to speak encouragement and blessing into my life.

Anonymous

Fergus spoke to me about how I’m very particular about all the jobs I do, I dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s as he put it.  Whilst this is true, the thing is however hard I try and whatever I do, I always feel like I’m not good enough – so I decided that I’d stay behind and ask Fergus if he’d pray with me about it.

We chatted and very quickly Fergus uncovered the root of the problem.  You see the thing is, I grew up with a violent and overbearing, perfectionist father, everything had to be ‘just right’ all the time.  Me and my siblings grew up constantly walking on eggshells, afraid to upset him and whatever I achieved, it was never enough.  The effect that growing up in this kind of environment has on you as a person is huge.  And whilst I do feel that I have forgiven my Dad for all this already, somehow I’ve just never been able to break free of the hold that it has over me.  So, Fergus then prayed with me and asked me to speak out all the things, all the un-truths that have ever been spoken over me and that I’ve believed.  Then the presence of God came over me in the most powerful way, the chains that have kept me bound since my childhood were broken and I felt the most amazing sense of peace like I have never felt before.  What I have to do now is to walk in the freedom and peace that God has graciously given me.

Paula’s story 

The last few months have been really difficult for me and I’ve been fighting lots of battles.  I knew that I needed to spend more time with God and rest but I’ll admit, instead, I just made myself really busy. I was exhausted.  I didn’t know what Fergus was going to say, but he started laughing and said I was the ’90-mile-an-hour lady, always on the go…and that God wanted me to slow down.  He also said I’d been dealing with the weight of other people’s expectations and God wanted to set me free from that. I honestly felt like a huge weight was lifted almost instantly, as soon as he prayed and this week has been truly incredible.  There’s a tangible sense of God’s presence in the building, spontaneous prayer groups are breaking out and I’ve been diving out of bed in the morning, excited to read my Bible and see what God has to say today.   It’s amazing to see what God is doing.   It’s not what God has done but what he is doing….this is just the beginning.

—————-

Can I encourage you, to spend time seeking God in your own life.  When his spirit touches our lives, everything changes.  We are able to see with clarity and we are able to pass this incredible presence of God on to others too.  This is where revival starts.  As I said at the beginning, ‘Lord, send revival and let it start with me’. 

IMG_9593

Christianity

My story and how I came to UCB

Next week on UCB 1 and UCB 2, it is our national appeal. Earlier this week Paul Hammond asked if I would share my thoughts on why Christian media is so important and how it all began for my wife Jackie and I. 

Here is the video of that interview and below is a transcript. 

I hope you are blessed and encouraged to hear about all that God is doing through Christian broadcasting in this country.

Interview
Paul Hammond: We thought that today, ahead of next week’s special programmes, we would take the opportunity to let our CEO share his heart about UCB, about Christian radio and about the Christian message that we have, for a world which is very broken. He is David L’Herroux. His voice is very familiar to us and it’s always a pleasure to have him in the studio. David, welcome today.

David: Morning. Glad to see you

Paul: Can we start with you? Because people will be aware of UCB, the journey, the history of UCB. But what about you? You have a heartfelt passion that in a broken world, Christian broadcasting has a message and a hope to bring. Where does that come from?

David: Well Paul. It comes back to brokenness itself. At the end of the day, we live in a world where we have many experiences individually. And many years ago, back in 1988 when my world was going well and everything was going very positively, one morning in my office, I received the news that I needed to go back home straight away.
And as I arrived home, I discovered that my little boy Jamie, who was the youngest of our children, was actually laid on the floor, dead. And that shook my core. And I heard the scream of my wife and saw the devastation in our family. And in the middle of that brokenness, I had to test my faith and go to God and make sure that God had the pre-eminence in that situation.

Paul: How old was Jamie at the time?

David: Jamie was about 13 or 14 months old. He’d had a check-up a few months before. And on that night, there were no issues physically but he sadly passed away, which we later were told was cot death.

Paul: That must have been a devastating shock for you and in that moment it would have been understandable if you have just thrown your hands up and said, ‘This has to be the focus for us at the moment’. And yet as you say, you turned to God in that moment, and found what?

David: I found an answer to my questions. I was asking, ‘Why, why, why God? Why do I feel so broken? Why us?’ And I felt God respond to me and say, ‘Stop asking why. Swop the question to, ‘what can I (God) do in this situation?’
And then as I started to think about what God could do, suddenly something was being worked in my heart, a compassion was rising up, that I had never felt before. Now that did not take away the pain, it didn’t take away the hurt, but it took my focus from the pain and put into my heart, a feeling, a passion for the younger generation, for the people around me, that I have never experienced before.
And I think it was a bit of what we call the compassion of Christ that was starting to wrap me up, in a way that I have never felt before.

Paul: That in wrapping you in compassion, it was also then giving you compassion to see the world around you, as broken as it is and the heartache that so many people are having to deal with?

David: Absolutely. And I started to see and feel for the people around me like I have never done before. I had tried to counsel people, before this experience in their time of grief. But I had no clue and therefore things started to change in my own being. I started to identify what was happening in me, that I wasn’t alone and there were many people around me who actually experienced similar things and even more tragic things. And suddenly you start to feel for people.

Compassion to me is a compelling desire not to just feel you want to do something for people, but you actually want to move your feelings into action. And that led me to speak with people and try to help them in their hurt. And then to help them realise that even in ministry, we too were being tested and we too were being hurt at that time.

Paul: It’s really interesting hearing you talk like that because I remember hearing you say, some years ago now, that one of your passions, one of your convictions that God woke you up in the middle of the night with, was that the church needed to be available to people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And tragedy comes and questions come at any time of the day, don’t they? And that led you into this conviction about Christian radio?

David: Absolutely. In fact it’s a funny story the way that God actually spoke to me. It was around Christmas and Jackie got up…

Paul: Jackie is your wife

David: That’s my wife, that’s right. She got up about 1am, 1.30. She was all dressed, about to leave the room. And I said, ‘Hey honey, you woke me up, where are you going?’
And she said, ‘Dave, Christmas is around the corner. We’ve been so busy. You’ve been so busy, that we’ve got nothing for the kids, nothing for our guests. And you know what, there is 24/7 shopping. I’m going to go for it’.
So I’m left now awake and in that time, God started to speak to me and said, ‘Dave if Jackie was actually bursting to go to a church right now,  to find someone to speak into her life because of brokenness, where would she go?’
I started to scan all the churches that I knew, not just in this country but in Europe and abroad and I could not think of a church which would be open at that time. And suddenly God said to me, ‘I have entrusted you with Christian media. Don’t mess it up’.

Paul: And the response that you get from people, of them availing themselves of that opportunity, is phenomenal isn’t it? And our world has changed a lot over the last few years, with concerns about terrorism and finance and so many issues that are impacting people and raising questions for people. What sort of stories confirm for you, that what you’re doing is part of God’s plan for the UK?

David: To me we have the privilege to live in the 21st century with technology which can reach hearts at any time of the day, wherever they are and whoever they are. And to me there are people who will never go to a church, they might never even go to a person they know is a Christian, but that doesn’t mean they’re not seeking for something.
They’re trying to find answers and suddenly they can find that they switch the radio on and they can hear a word of hope, a word of challenge, a word that is edifying or inspiring and that could be at 3am just as much as it could be 3pm.
And that to me is the most exciting part, that at any time of the day wherever they are, they can actually connect with positive content which can affect their life forever. And that has to be good news to be involved in Christian media.

Paul: Could you unpack for us why 1 Kings 18 is burning for you at the moment?

David: God, over the last couple of years has been sharpening my spiritual senses, starting to sharpen my vision and my hearing. And I started to hear in my own spirit through that chapter, 1 Kings 18. And God is a God of his word.
In that story he came to Elijah with a word and he said, after the dryness of three and a half years, the rain is about to come. That leader, that prophet took God’s word very passionately and he actually said, ‘If God said it, it will happen.’
Therefore through that story, every action from the prophet is him believing the word of God. He goes into action so positively, that at end of the chapter, his faith has risen to such a level, they experienced not just rain, but abundant rain.
And God has really stirred me up and said, ‘Dave, when I speak a word to you, it’s up to you to either believe it or reject it.’
And of late, I am hearing, from the vision that God has entrusted to us, that through the power of media, through the power of radio, God had a purpose in birthing UCB over 30 years ago. That he loves the UK and that he has a desire to bring an unprecedented revival in this country and beyond.
And God has blessed us with much, the fact that we have not just 1 channel but 2 channels. God is actually saying, ‘I am preparing you. And are you going to allow me to prepare you for the time where my word will be fulfilled and this nation will be hit with something which is unprecedented?’

Paul: So is that how you see 1 Kings 18 speaking to us at the moment? There have been 3 and a half years of drought and of course there’s Mount Carmel in that chapter as well and fire from heaven consuming the sacrifice, all of that. But when the rain finally came, it ended the drought and the spiritual dryness that people felt in their lives also. Do you feel that we are on the brink of a spiritual rain like that?

David: I do and I’ll tell you why, because I have never seen dryness like it in this country. And I have been here 40+ years and I have seen the hardness of the ground in the heart of people getting harder, drier, broken and I am saying, ‘If I follow God’s word in that story, they were in the middle of that brokenness, not just in terms of the ground, there was no growth, no water, the lives of people were in disarray. They were wavering from one side to another because they were looking for an answer. And if you apply that to our country, that’s exactly what’s happening in our country. One minute they are trying to follow a certain way, and the next minute they feel that’s not working so they are looking for another answer and they’re turning to the other side.
And I believe, if I talk about the church for a minute, we need to rise up and be counted in this broken world in which we live. And I strongly believe we are seeing some green shoots, where people are starting to realise the world has nothing to offer. There is no hope, there is no living water, except in God and in Christ Jesus. And therefore we have that opportunity to proclaim that living hope. And in the middle of the dryness and this country’s brokenness, there is a dam about to be broken, where God wants to lavish this land with blessing and life, so that people will turn to him in a way we have never seen before.

Paul: And of course it is the case, that in a natural sense when you have places of incredible dryness and drought, when the rain finally comes, it springs to life very quickly and the green shoots grow up very quickly to take the water they have been thirsting for.

David: When you are thirsty, you want to have that thirst quenched. And when I find myself in churches or in the community, I am finding there is an increase of thirst for the real thing, for the real hope, for the real answers.
And people are thinking about what affects them. And they are saying, ‘in my desperation, in my hopelessness, who do I turn to?’ And I believe through the power of Christian media, we are able to proclaim hope like we have never been able to before, for God to stir up the hearts of people, to actually believe that the dryness we have around us, is going to change, because God has spoken. And when God speaks, He always answers.

Paul: So what about the responsibility of the ordinary people to make this happen? To see this happen? There’s a thought around the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel that it was through the support of the people, that as they started to turn their attention back to God, that he was able to call down the fire to stir the faith that eventually saw the rains come. Do you believe that we all have a responsibility? That it’s not just for you to proclaim but we all have a responsibility to proclaim and support this?

David: Absolutely. We are just one piece in the jigsaw and I really believe it is the coming together of the people who really believe that God is the answer, to say ‘what is my responsibility in making sure that we are well prepared for that abundance of rain to come upon our country?’
And here is one of the things that I strongly believe. Yes the Gospel is free, but the distribution of the Gospel, like it was in Jesus’ day, like it is today, is also costly. And by coming together, us doing what God has called us to do…the people joining with a desire in their heart, wanting the members of their family to experience that freshness, that living water, for their workmates, for their own commun…experiencing a turnaround in their own life and experiencing that God is able to change lives for good. 
Then by us coming together, and people saying, ‘Yes I believe that God will change this country, and yes UCB we are behind you and we realise there is no grant given to you, you don’t depend on advertising. We realise that you depend on our effort and on our contribution. So not only do we want to pray for you, not only do we want to promote that UCB brings a message of hope to man, but we also want to financially support you.’ 
And it is because of the goodness of our listeners, the goodness of our readers, that we can stand today after 30 years, continuing to proclaim the Gospel not just on one channel but on 2 channels so that people can connect at any time of the day with a message of hope.

Paul: Day after day we get testimonies that come in, that tell us of how this has already been worked out in many people lives. I wonder if we might finish off with one that has spoken to you really specifically and which really sums up this passion that you have, that a broken world, a dry world might be healed and refreshed by God’s grace and by Christian media.

David: I read a story of a man called Russell and his life had become totally broken and he decided to end his life. And he went on top of a bridge and he took only 2 things with him. He took a small Bible and a DAB radio. And his desire was to end the painful period that was going through his life, his own brokenness. He couldn’t take any more. But suddenly he heard the voice of God and God said to him, ‘I have a plan for you. Don’t do it’. 
And he turned to the radio and switched to UCB and started to hear some inspiring words. He then decided to not take his life on that day. And he went and slept on the streets. One day he was led by the spirit of God to go into a church. He didn’t even dare to go among the people, so he stayed at the back. And he heard the message and his life was put back together. And in the very café that was providing food for him when he was homeless, he was offered a job. His life was turned around because he heard a message of hope in his brokenness. He wanted to end his life but he heard a message of hope stirred up and he felt that suddenly there was a plan for him.
And instead of wanting to end his life, he started to ask God to help him find that plan.
Those stories Paul, that land on our desks and desktops on a daily basis are what I live for, because our vision is to change lives for good, with no other word but the word of God. Not your word, not my word. Because everything we want to put on the platforms has to come from the original word of God, which is a hope message for those who feel totally hopeless like Russell

Paul: And it’s because of people like Russell and the fact that UCB (and there are a whole host of ministries who are there for people like Russell) but the fact that God was able to take UCB and to help and support Russell in that moment, was because you (our listeners) have supported UCB over the years. 
Next week we’re going to be carrying forward this thought of a cloud bringing the rain that our land might be refreshed, and share with you loads of stories like that of Russell’s, of people’s lives that have been impacted by God’s word of hope through what we do here at UCB.
It’s incredibly humbling what we do, an incredible opportunity that God gives us and it’s an incredible thing that so many of you are willing to stand with us in support of it. 
We’d like to invite you to think and to pray next week about how you might support UCB and catch some of the vision and passion that God has put into David L’Herroux’s heart that our dry and broken world may be healed and refreshed with the hope, the compassion and the word of God. David thank you for joining us today.

David: Thank you Paul

 

Christianity

How to handle pressure

At different points in our lives, we all face pressure.  Like everyone else, I experience times of strain and in fact, recently, I have been going through some very ‘stretching’ experiences.

In time of pressure, it can be easy to be overwhelmed and to ‘react’ from that negative place, but is there a better way to handle the stresses and burdens of life?

Through my own experiences, I’ve learnt that it is not what happens to us that will make or break us, but the way we choose to react or respond to the situations.

I am learning that although we cannot always control the things which come against us, with God’s help, we can control how we respond.

Watch what you say

Words are important and can have a big impact on how we view and respond to a situation.  In times of pressure, I think it is very important to watch our words, watch what we say.  Are you speaking negatively into the situation?  Going over and over it with friends and family, always speaking ‘death’ by your words?  Our own words can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, so if we are going to speak words, let’s speak the Word of God.  We know the enemy comes only to steal, kill and destroy, so let’s be sure that when we speak, we do not do the devil’s work for him.

Check your attitude

In times of pressure, your real attitude comes out in your response to the situation.  I am learning (almost every day) about the importance of reactions.  I have to remind myself that I cannot do anything by myself and even though I am being challenged, I want my attitude to be aligned with what God has spoken to me.  When we align our attitude with what God says in his Word, our reactions will be measured and will demonstrate the heart of God.

Resist temptation

Temptation comes to us in lots of different ways but let’s also not be tempted to give up in tough times, to resist the temptation to become bitter and to make sure that we guard our hearts against temptation in all its forms. God’s desire is for us to be fruitful, to go to higher places, to be successful but giving way to temptation can destroy all that God has done (and plans to do) in our lives.

Demonstrate character

When you squeeze a lemon, what do you get? You get lemon juice!  But if you were to be squeezed by pressures today, what would come out?  Would it be Christ?  Or would it be self?  It is often only in times of pressure that we see who we really are, because difficulties tend to bring our true character to the surface.  In times of being squeezed, I want my character and my response to reflect all that God has done in my life.

Watch out for your loved ones

In times of stress, it’s easy to take it home and to vent it all on our families.  But we also need to remember that we have to protect our households.  We shouldn’t allow the pressures we face, cause us to react and change the atmosphere of our homes.  We all need support and we all sometimes need to talk through our issues and problems with the people we love, but we should always be mindful of protecting them too.

If you’re facing your own difficulties at the moment, can I encourage you to spend time in God’s Word and God’s presence. In his presence, our problems and trials will melt away like wax (Psalm 97:5) and it is in that place, that we can hear God speak to us most clearly.

IMG_8395

 

 

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith

Don’t live in bitterness

I have been thinking this week about the subject of bitterness and how much it can impact lives (yes, even the lives of Christians).

In Exodus 15, the Israelites (led by Moses) had seen a tremendous victory and they were celebrating and thanking God for their deliverance. They were singing, ‘I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted…the Lord reigns for ever and ever’.

But just three days later, they were in the desert and their water supplies had run out. They came to the waters of Marah but they couldn’t drink from it, as the water was so bitter. The same people who had been praising God just a short time ago were now grumbling and complaining. Moses cried out to God and the Lord showed him a piece of wood, which he was able to throw into the water and verse 23 says, ‘the water became fit to drink’. Later, God led the people to Elim, which had ‘12 springs and 70 palm trees’ and they camped there near the water.

In our lives, many of us face difficulties, which could leave us feeling bitter. When faced with tragedy or hard times, we have a choice to walk through the situation (with God’s help) and get better, or we can stay in that situation and camp out in our bitterness. The story in Exodus paints a clear picture of how I believe God wants us to respond, when faced with life’s hardships.

Don’t camp at Marah

The word ‘Marah’ (the place of the bitter springs) actually means ‘bitter’ and it is interesting that in the Exodus story, although Moses led the people there, God did not command them to camp and stay there. It was just a passing through on their journey.

Later when they arrived at Elim (which means ‘roots’ and also means ‘a place of refreshing’) they were able to stop and set up camp. We all go through times of feeling bitter but I believe it is important to not camp in that place and instead view it as an experience, a place we have to walk through, with God’s help.

We already have the answer

When Moses cried out to God for an answer, the Lord provided him with a tree branch which would make the water drinkable. Trees take decades to grow and long before Moses and the people encountered this problem, God had already provided a way out, a growing tree which would be used to solve the problem.

We see this again later in the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19. Zaccheus was the chief tax collector and was not well-liked. Luke says he was a man of small stature and because of the great crowds (and his height) he was not able to get through the crowds to see Jesus. Zaccheus climbed a nearby sycamore tree in order to see Jesus and later, met with Jesus personally. We do not know how long it took, but it is likely that tree had been growing there for a long time. I like to imagine that maybe God even sent an angel to protect that tree, knowing that one day it would be used as an important tool in allowing a man to hear the life-changing words of Jesus. It reminds us though, whatever we are going through, God has already provided the answer.

Believe the promise

In our world today (maybe you are going through this yourself), many people have become stuck in a place of bitterness. Bitterness can be like a spiritual cancer and if we allow it to, it can overtake our thinking and lives.

If you are experiencing that today and wondering how you can break free, can I encourage you to go back to the promises of God. Whatever you are going through, I believe that God has already provided the answer (even if you cannot see it) and that if you walk diligently, God will eventually lead you to ‘Elim’, to a place of rest and security.

The tree in the stories of Moses and Zacheus are also a symbol of the cross. If you look to the cross and look to the promises of God, he will lead you through.

It may not be easy, but living a life free of bitterness, is living life to the full. And this is how I believe God wants us to live.

DLH-BlogAugust2017 (002)

 

 

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Devotional, Faith, Hope, Miracles

Pick your team wisely

This week, UCB’s Board of Trustees met together to review UCB’s activities and accounts for the year so far. It has been a busy few days with our Board travelling in from different areas of the UK, but I am so thankful for each of our Trustees, for their wisdom and ability. 

In any leadership position, it is important to have a GOOD team around you. We are blessed at UCB to have a Board and Executive Team made up of Godly, skilled men and women who have the right balance of professional skills and a heart for ministry. When we look to appoint new people to our team, we are above all, looking for people of integrity with a heart for UCB’s vision, who can help and support UCB to stay focused on the big picture and keep us accountable in all things.

Our Board meetings are a mixture of time spent together with God (this is a non-negotiable) and time spent going over the business and operational side of UCB. 

This meeting was no exception and we began by looking to God’s Word. Although we are governed by a great Board, ultimately God is our chairman and we always start with worship and devotions. This time, one particular area of scripture stood out for me; 1 Samuel 15.  

The prophet Samuel gave Saul an assignment from God. He was to destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions, because they were a people who had dishonoured God. Saul accepted the challenge and defeated the Amalekites but he preserved the life of king Agag and saved the best of the cattle. Knowing that Saul had been disobedient, Samuel went to confront him. Saul declared that he had ‘carried out the command of the Lord’ but (perhaps with a hint of humour), the prophet Samuel said, ‘what then is the bleating of sheep I can hear?’  

Saul had been disobedient but he argued that all these fine lambs would make an even bigger and better sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel reminded him, ‘to obey is better than sacrifice’.

This story reminded us all of the need to be obedient. It is easy sometimes to be focused on matters of business and governance but it is important, first and foremost to fear God. This is not a kind of terrified fear, but a reverent fear which ensures we stay close to Him and when He tells us to do something, we do it!  

That is why, for me, it is important to be surrounded by Godly, discerning people such as our Board, as they bring an ‘outside’ perspective and help to keep us on track. In all areas of life, we each need a ‘team’, a team of people who will support us in the good and bad times and also, if needed, provide a voice of correction. Do not be tempted to surround yourself with ‘yes men’. Find a Samuel.

Our trustees have now gone home but we will be meeting again soon for prayer and updates. 

Can I ask you to join us in prayer for a few issues? For wisdom and discernment for our Board and Executive team? And also for a breakthrough in UCB’s finances. We continue to experience many challenges with UCB’s income stream, but we are looking to the future with faith (not fear). 

Please could you stand with us and believe for a breakthrough?