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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Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity

How to be a good leader

As the UK welcomes Theresa May into the top job at Number 10 (and she assembles her new team) I have been thinking this week about what makes a good leader.

We are all leaders of one kind or another. You do not have to run a country or a big organisation to be a leader.  You might lead a group at church, you might be the leader in your home.  Nearly all of us have the capacity to lead and there are some good principles about leadership qualities in Psalm 15. However, I think the way Jesus lived His life, gives us the best model of how to be a good leader.

Jesus wasn’t self-promoting

As leaders we can sometimes fall in to the trap of thinking we are better than others. Sadly some leaders have achieved their position, by self-promotion and by dishonouring others on their way to the top.  But Jesus never promoted Himself.  He did not have to.  His good works were so obvious, that others talked about him and news about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. (Mark 1:28).  

Jesus was all about relationships

Jesus knew how to assemble a good team, but unlike selecting a new Cabinet, He did not always pick people with experience and the right skills.  The disciples were a mixed group of individuals from very different backgrounds.  Jesus was more concerned about relationships and about releasing people into their full potential.  True leadership should be relational, not transactional.  In other words, leadership is not about what I can get from other people, but about the relationships and the people I can develop.    I believe a strong leader builds a good team, in order to eventually release them to go into all the world (Mark 16:15)

Jesus knew who He was

Jesus knew who He was. He wasn’t threatened by others or insecure.  We have to get our ultimate security from who we are in Christ, not in our job, in leadership or our position in life.

Jesus wasn’t afraid of confrontation

Jesus wasn’t afraid to deal with issues as they came up.  He confronted the Pharisees and in one very famous scene, overthrew the merchants’ tables in the temple.  As leaders, we should not be afraid to confront issues, but at the same time, we have to be discerning about the issues we do confront.  It is easy to confront the wrong thing, so we need to know when to speak and when to remain silent.

Jesus knew when to stop talking.  

When facing the toughest test of His life, standing before Pilate, Jesus did not speak.  He was being confronted with vile, untrue allegations and was being mocked, but He chose to remain silent.  Sometimes we feel the need to defend ourselves and it is true, that sometimes we do need to speak up and stand for what is right, but we must also learn when to speak, and when to remain silent.  Sometimes saying nothing at all, is the best thing we can do.

Jesus was compassionate

Jesus met many sick and dying and distressed people and His heart was always filled with compassion for them.  I think compassion has to ‘possess’ us.  We need to feel compassion for those around us, dream it, live it and experience compassion in all areas of our lives.  It is easy to become hardened to the things we see around us, but Jesus’ life was all about compassion, about seeing the needs of people and releasing them into freedom.

The UK is in a time of unprecedented change and with a new Prime Minister and Government in charge, we need to keep the leaders of our country in prayer.     My personal prayer for Theresa May is that God would bless her and that He would enlarge her capacity for peace, compassion, care, love and mercy.

I pray that as the Government leads our country into an unknown future, that God would give our leaders wisdom so that together, we can stand united once again.

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