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.

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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?

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

Faith is like a muscle – it has to be exercised.

Last week, I shared some stories of the incredible miracles which have been happening at my brother’s church in France.   We felt that God started to move in the church about two years ago during our first missions week. A lady came asking for prayer for pain in her hips, which was caused by deformed bones.  She was completely healed and this opened up a door for God to do more.

Over the last two years we have heard many more incredible testimonies;  a man healed of complete deafness, a woman healed of paralysis in her leg, another lady who had severe pain and even discharged herself from hospital for an hour to come to the service. She was completely set free and later declared free of disease.   Others have been restored from tumours, depression, restless leg syndrome, chronic insomnia and addictions.   There are so many stories I could share and in the future, I hope that some of these people will write guest blogs and tell you their stories themselves.  There is so much to thank God for!

I have been asked a question which is close to many people’s hearts – why are some people healed and others not?  I do not have all the answers but I can share from my own experience what I believe is true.  I wrote last week about the need for expectancy and how we should approach God believing that He will do something.

To give you an illustration; if one of us was sick, we would go to the doctors for a check-up. Often, we will not know the doctor, but we will take their advice and when they give us a prescription for medication, we will then take that to a chemist.  At every stage, we usually trust the doctor we do not know, we trust the chemist we do not know, and we trust the pills, even when we do not understand how they work.   But when it comes to trusting God, we often struggle and we question if He is capable of giving us what we ask.   We have no trouble believing that He could die for us, save us and give us eternal life, but we do struggle to believe that He could do the miraculous.

I believe that faith is a muscle and just like any other muscle in our bodies, if we do not use it, it will eventually become  weak and useless.  As believers, we are children of God’s kingdom and just like being a citizen of the United Kingdom, we have certain citizenship rights.  If something was wrong in our country, we would have the right to take a petition to 10 Downing Street and in the same way, we can take our petitions to God.

As citizens of God’s kingdom, we have a constitution (God’s Word) and we can stand on that and petition God to do what no one else can do. Just as with politics,  we don’t always see answers right away, but we should keep standing on God’s word, believing His promises and asking Him to bring about a miracle.  God’s Word is the instruction manual for life.   If you or I bought a new mobile phone, we would go home and start reading the instructions, to make sure that we got the best use from the phone.  If we pay that much care and attention to our phones, how much more attention should we give to our lives. God’s Word is the instruction manual – without understanding it, our lives do not work properly.

Now it is true to say that not everyone does get healed but I believe that God is sovereign and we are not here to dictate to him, how He should do things, but just be obedient to His Word.  However, I have also seen great things happen when a person didn’t get healed.

Last year, a lady came to a meeting during the mission in France. That very day she gave her life to Christ and asked us to pray she would be healed from terminal cancer.   We prayed for her but sadly just five days later she died.   When the church went to visit her family (they were not Christians), her husband said that in the days before she passed away, he had never seen his wife so happy and peaceful since he had known her.

He said;  She spent her final days praising her Jesus and she left this world in total peace, knowing that she would soon see him face to face.   So although she did not see physical healing in this life, she was healed when she stood before Jesus and was given a new body, free of disease.   There is no sickness or ill-health or cancer in Heaven.  Praise God!

If you are trusting God to heal or set you free, can I encourage you to persevere?  Stand on His word, trust Him and practice exercising your faith muscle.  Whatever happens, you can be sure of one thing, your life will be changed for the better.  I have never met a person who wasn’t changed by spending time with God.  Follow God’s instructions and wait to see what He can do in your life.

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