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, 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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Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Evangelism, Hope, Miracles

God is still working around the world.

I was in Florida a few weeks ago to attend the Hope Celebration with our long-time friends and ministry partners OneHope.   OneHope is a wonderful organisation which is reaching millions of children and youth around the world, with the Good News of Jesus.  They produce a lot of resources, including Book of Hope and the Bible App for Kids which has been downloaded over 10 million times.

The Hope Celebration was a time for leaders to gather, pray, fellowship and hear what God is doing through the ministry.    One of the speakers was Pastor Andrew who works in the Sahel region of Northern Africa.    The team there is working in a very difficult context where the practice of Voodoo is very common and the terrorist group Boko Haram also has a lot of power.   Boko Haram is the group which kidnapped over 270 young girls in 2014 and is regularly involved in horrific violence across the region.  Despite these many challenges, God is working powerfully and the Good News is still being shared in many creative ways.

Pastor Andrew shared a story about a day he came face to face with some terrorists deep in a forest while he was travelling.   Ahead of him, he could see a group of heavily armed men advancing toward his car and so he started to pray.   Eventually the group surrounded him and then demanded that he drive them to the nearest town. As some of the men got in the car with him, Pastor Andrew  said he felt the presence of God come and (very boldly) he decided to give each man a Book of Hope.      There was silence but Pastor Andrew could see that each man was reading the book.  After about 10 minutes, he asked the men if they understood what they were reading and they said they did.  He then asked if they would like to give their lives to Jesus!  The men agreed and they stopped the car right then and each prayed to receive Jesus as their Saviour.

When the group arrived at the nearest town, Pastor Andrew was able to show them a nearby church – and today (over a year later), those men are baptised and part of a church.

Stories like these fill me with such hope, as I hear how God is moving around the world in extraordinary ways.

As I wrote recently, it can be easy to look at the world’s headlines and think that God is silent.  But I am reminded of the words of Jesus in John 16 where He says;

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Praise God that no matter what our newspapers say, we still believe and know that through His death, Jesus has indeed overcome the world.

Please do pray for the vital work of OneHope, in reaching children around the world.

DLH BLOG - APR 16
Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity

Trusting God in the middle of the storm

It has been a busy week.  I am just back from a short but inspirational trip overseas where I spent some time with Bob and Debby Gass, before attending the Hope Celebration and then travelling to meet UCB’s global partners in Brisbane.   I’ll share some encouraging news from this trip in another blog soon, but it is a great blessing to see and hear the amazing work God is doing around the world.

Back at home, our family was remembering an important two year anniversary.    In March 2014, our son and daughter-in law were expecting their third child, when our daughter-in-law Debbie was taken very ill.   To this day, the doctors cannot confirm for sure what happened, but an infection caused her body and organs to shut down.   Very sadly, at eight months pregnant, Debbie lost their baby and was soon in a fight for her life as she slipped into a coma.  It was a desperate time for our family and I felt personally that we were in a very intense spiritual battle and that we had to fight.   The team at UCB and so many dear friends gathered around us and prayed for Debbie’s full restoration.   We did not know in human terms what would happen, but we held on to God’s promises.   I felt God was saying to us repeatedly, ‘I am with you…I will not leave you…this storm  will pass’.  His Word was a rock we were depending on, our anchor in an uncertain time.

Debbie

The breakthrough came about seven days later. We visited Debbie one evening when she was still in a coma, attached to machines.  The following day we went to see her and she was sitting up in a chair and eating a meal.  Praise God for His faithfulness and His goodness! We know that our miracle-working God was with us during this terrible trial and that even in the middle of a fierce storm, He would not leave us.  Today, Debbie is fit and healthy.


About 6 weeks after Debbie was very ill, I went to France to join my brother Daniel, for a crusade at his church.  As a family, we had been through loss and heartache, but had still seen God’s faithfulness in the middle of the storm.  Those next few weeks in France were very powerful – we saw God work in a mighty way, through many people being healed, restored and saved.  God was bringing testimonies out of the many tests we had faced.

Experiences like these remind me of this verse, ‘The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree.’ (Psalm 92:12 (NIV). Palm trees are designed to withstand severe tropical storms. When the storm comes, they bend with the wind and rain. It looks as though they are breaking, but they are actually just bending. When the storm passes, the area where the Palm tree has almost been torn in two, is actually stronger than it was before the storm. During this difficult time I felt God saying, “You are like a palm tree in the storms of life, but when it passes you are going to come right back up stronger and will flourish more than ever before”.

As believers, the Prince of Peace lives within us.  We can look at the storm and feel as though we will break.   We can easily forget that He who is in us, is greater than the circumstances that we face.   If you are facing your own storm or tragedy at the moment, I want to encourage you to trust in His Word.  He promises to never leave or forsake us and is our Rock even in the middle of the fiercest storms.

Have a blessed week.

David