Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional

2017 – the year of ‘the SUDDENLY’!

First, let me wish you a Happy New Year!  For many, 2016 will be remembered as the year of surprises!  We had Brexit, a new Prime Minister, Theresa May, a new President elected, Donald Trump and we also saw many acts of terror and a growing refugee crisis.   For UCB, it was a year of distractions on many fronts, but I sense that as we enter 2017, it will be a year of God’s ‘suddenly moments’.

The verses which keep coming to me are:

“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.”  Psalm 65:11

“I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” Isaiah 48:3

However, as we each begin this new year, I believe we need to be expectant and ask ourselves, what are we hoping for?  What are we waiting for?

Much of life is waiting for something to happen. Minutes turn into hours, hours into days, days into months and months into years.  Sometimes it feels as though the clock on our lives is standing still, and we are waiting for whatever will come next.  If you are in that place at the moment, waiting to see a word fulfilled or for God to move in your circumstances, you are not alone.   It can feel as though things will never change, but the Word of God is full of people who had ‘suddenly’ experiences.   Here are just a few examples:

  • Abraham was a very old man when he was ‘suddenly’ told that he would be given a much-longed-for son
  • Joseph went from being in jail to standing before Pharaoh. One minute, no one would listen to him. The next minute, the most powerful man in the country was asking his opinion.
  • Moses had raised a family and was content to stay hidden in the desert when God ‘suddenly ‘called him to the greatest of adventures.
  • Elizabeth and Zacharias! The Bible says they were well advanced in years and she was barren, when ‘suddenly’ an angel appeared and announced that they would have a son – John the Baptist.

God has been in the ‘suddenly business’ for years.

So, you might be asking, what about my ‘suddenly moment’?

Maybe you know and believe that God can do anything, anytime, anywhere and that there are no limitations to God’s ability, but you’re frustrated as to why it’s not happening now? We may become frustrated in the waiting, but God’s timing is perfect.  He is never too late and certainly never too early, but it surely comes! And I know that His timing and will are much better than mine!

How to pray as we wait.

Be specific

I really believe God wants us to be specific as we pray.  Sometimes we can feel as though we don’t need to tell Him the detail, but in any relationship, you share the detail, your thoughts, your hopes.  It is the same with God – when we pray, let’s be specific about what we see and about what we are asking God to do.

Dream big!

We need to be specific when we pray, but we also need to be open to God doing something different.   It can be easy to use our prayer to ‘shape’ what we want God to do, rather than be open to whatever it is He wants to give us.

The shape, size, colour and features of our destination may not be in the package that we have been describing to God… or to ourselves!   I often wonder if we have spent so much time focused on ‘telling God what to do’, that we might have missed a suddenly moment, or something unusual He wanted to bless us with?  God’s answers don’t always come in the way we expect and it can be easy to overlook His blessings, because the answer, he, she or it did not fit into our formula? It is something to ponder on!

Trust His timing

Allow God to set the timeline.  And instead of clock-watching,  let’s count every sorrow, every joy, every longing, every heartache as a precious gift that God is allowing to come our way to prepare us for the joy He passionately wants to share with us.   Be confident that He does have a ‘suddenly’ for you too!  The question is whether or not you will be ready to see and experience it.

For UCB, I believe our ‘suddenly’ moment is rooted in a Word I felt God gave us last year, which I wrote about in a blog post, Look to the future – what do you see? 

I continue to wait, believe and pray expectantly for a great move of God which will change the landscape of the world!

Therefore as we launch into this new year, let’s not forget the words of Jesus to His disciples (John 4:35), “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’?  Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”

Time is of the essence – can you join me in believing that 2017 will be the year of ‘the suddenly?’

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#EUReferendum, Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Hope

Trusting God in the middle of turbulence

This week’s blog is a guest post, written by a good friend Alan Scotland, Chairman of UCB’s Board and Global Horizons.  Among many other responsibilities Alan is also a well respected Pastor to Pastors. 

I remember being on a plane to the US some years ago, when the pilot announced that we were about to enter a ‘corridor of turbulence’. I will never forget his words, ‘It is just a corridor of turbulence, it will pass. Don’t panic’.

The shaking of the plane lasted for about 25 minutes, although it felt much longer. At one point I thought I should try to contact my wife, to leave a message and say my goodbyes. But eventually, the turbulence passed and the plane landed safely.

Turbulence in any area of our lives is deeply uncomfortable. We think it will never end, we may even think that we won’t make it. But for the believer, our confidence is not in systems or technology or even politics, our confidence must be in the Lord and in His faithfulness. It’s not trite to say this, it’s the truth.

However, when we are facing uncertainty in the world, how can we respond?

Be certain of your certainties.

The world is shaking at the moment. From North to South, nearly every area of the world is affected by turmoil of one kind or another. For believers, this is a pressure test and we need to ask ourselves, what is our faith placed in? Is it our finances? Our health? The Prime Minister? All of those things, as we are seeing, can be taken away but God promises us that He will be faithful to every generation. This is a time for believers to be certain of what we believe in and to stand firm on those certainties.

Don’t join the symphony of soundbites

I am saddened by the turmoil around us, but I also feel grief at the many negative attitudes and soundbites which are getting coverage. As Christians, we need to bring stability with our words and we have to be careful that we don’t join the symphony of negativity around us.

We need to declare truth, hope in the middle of despair and model what it is to be human, but humans who have divine guidance. We might not like what is happening, but there is no doubt in my mind that God is moving and challenging us as people and as the church. In a time of despair, believers need to be saying boldly, ‘Yes the ship is at sea, but we have an anchor that is firm and secure’.

Learn to let go

My wife once took me on a big dipper. My response was to cling tightly to the bar and wait for it to be over. My wife said to me, ‘Let go Alan, stop gripping so tightly.’ In times of difficulty, it is very easy to ‘cling to the bar’, to cling to what we see and know. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding. One of our absolute certainties needs to be our unshakeable trust in God. He will not fail us or let us down.

Have a vision for the future

We need a vision for the future. We need to be able to see what God is doing, and what God is wanting to do next. Why don’t you take a moment and ask yourself, ‘what do I see?’ What is your dream for the future of this nation?

When I look to the future, I see a massive, unprecedented move of God. Not a move of God which is restricted to a continent or a nation, but a universal move of the Spirit, a move of God that is so big, that no one will be able to put their name on it. It will be God at work, increasing His Kingdom in a way that we could not even imagine.

My theology in days like these is shaped by hope. Even in the middle of turbulence, I see God shaping and preparing us for a universal, multi-national move of His presence. With that knowledge, we have nothing to fear. We have hope and those who trust and put their hope in the Lord, will never be put to shame.

Trusting God In The Middle Of Turbulence

#EUReferendum, Christianity

Looking ahead to God’s future…

I woke up this morning, like many others, to surprising news about the #EUReferendum.  What a night!

The political campaigns have dominated our headlines for many months and today, both inside and outside of the church, some will be rejoicing and some will be very disappointed.

As a nation, we need time to evaluate the choice that has been made and when we have processed the decision, we need to look forward to the future.

When we are reading the newspapers or looking at bad reports on Social Media, it can be easy to be fearful and feel concerned about the future.    However, even  in the middle of turmoil, we can experience God’s rest and have His peace guard our hearts and minds.

In uncertain times like these, we need to remain focused on who we are in God.  As believers, we are in this world but we are really citizens of the Kingdom of God.  God’s Word says that we are ambassadors to this world, and it is our job as believers and as the Church to be salt and light to the world around us.

I believe that in the days to come, the Church is being presented with a wonderful opportunity. If we stand together, united and work hard to preserve the bond of unity, we could see an unprecedented change in our country.

I believe there is a much bigger picture and God often does not reveal the whole plan to us immediately. He shows us step by step and as the saying goes, ‘the opportunity of a lifetime has to be taken in the lifetime of the opportunity’.

What if we were to dream and begin to see a field of opportunity?  What if we could see a Church which rises up in unity to bring truth and salt and light to our world?  God could be positioning and appointing His people for a far greater plan than anything we could have ever imagined.

Despite how we each might be feeling today, whether we are disappointed or rejoicing, let us still keep our focus on God and what He is doing.  With the prospect of a new Government being formed, let us also pray ‘in the gap’ for Godly leaders to be raised up.  Let’s pray that God’s man or woman will be appointed for the job ahead.

If you are unsure of how to pray, then why don’t we join together and pray as Jesus said we should;  Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

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