The Parable of the Great Banquet

When one of those at the table with Jesus heard him say this, he said to Him; ‘blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God. ‘

Jesus replied:” A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field and I must go and see it. Please excuse me’. Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Still, another said, ‘I have just got married, so I can’t come.’

The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you have ordered has been done, but there is still room. ‘ Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and the country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ (Luke 14: 7-11)

Planning a special occasion

As a mother of three daughters two of whom are already married and the third soon to be married I have experienced being part of planning and organising a special event and understand some of the stresses involved! One of the first things to consider is who to invite. This can cause considerable heartache as, with a certain number of places available, difficult decisions have to be made and not everyone in our wider circle of family and friends can be included.

Inviting the guests

Once guests have been invited, we then have to wait for their replies. Some guests reply very quickly and with a definite answer. This helps enormously in the rest of the planning as we know where we stand and if others can now be included. It is wonderful when someone gladly accepts the invitation and this adds to the excitement and anticipation of the big day. When an invitation is declined, however, it can bring a touch of sadness, though often there are valid reasons why the person cannot come. The most frustrating responses are the ‘maybes’ and those who do not reply at all until asked again, sometimes right up to the deadline.

They made excuses…

In this parable, the first group of invited guests make excuses why they can’t come. These include business, property and relationships.  We know that the master is angry and disappointed at their refusal and he sends his servants out to ask others who were not on his initial list. In fact, he is desperate for people to come, as he orders his servants to go everywhere they can to find people and ‘compel’ them to come. Of course, the master represents Jesus, the Son of God, inviting people to accept His invitation to salvation and eternal life made possible by His sacrifice on the cross. The invitation first went out to the Jews, God’s chosen people, but they failed to recognise Jesus as their Messiah, so the invitation was extended to include everyone else – that means us too! God longs with a passion that everyone should respond to Jesus’ invitation of salvation. He does not want anyone to decline. He is desperately calling to those who do not know Him to make that choice, accept His free invitation to be present at the Banquet and be with Him for eternity. Who would want to say no to such an invitation? It carries a promise of forgiveness from sin, eternal life after death and abundant life here on earth if lived in close relationship with Jesus. Why then, do so many not respond to this amazing invitation from the King of Kings? After all, anyone who receives an invitation from Queen Elizabeth is deeply honoured, proud and delighted to accept.

Make a relationship with Jesus your greatest priority

I think that clues may be found when we look at the excuses given in the parable. How easy it is to allow our work, possessions and relationships to become so all-consuming that they become all that matters to us and occupy our minds to the extent that we cannot see beyond them. Yet Jesus tells us to ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you’. (Matthew 6:33) I believe this means that as we surrender our lives to Jesus and get to know and love Him more, we will find that our relationship with Him becomes more important. Our perspective shifts, so things which were important to us become less so as we devote our lives to pleasing Him. In the process we discover that He takes care of every detail of our lives so we do not have to stress about them.

A personal example…

Although I am definitely a ‘work in progress’ and still have areas of my life where I am not fully surrendered to God I will try to give an example of a personal challenge I faced when I knew I had to make a choice over a particular issue.  I love my job, yet found that working full time was becoming all – consuming of my time and mental energy, leaving little room for prayer, Bible study or developing gifts God had given me. I had been writing my own songs for a few years but never had time to devote to working on these in more depth or to find ways of using them to bless others. Friends of mine of a similar age had reduced their working hours and I found the thought of this attractive, believing it would lighten the load and allow more space for me to devote myself to growing the Kingdom of God. After praying about this I felt that God was confirming to me that it was the right way forward.  There was a problem, however. Reducing my hours would mean less pay. I had always relied on a regular income for security and although I knew in my head that God would provide I had never had the faith or courage to take Him at His word. The time came when I knew I had to make a decision soon because of the cut- off date for change of contracts. After prayer and seeking agreement from my husband I knew that the right choice was to step out in faith and reduce my hours. I know that others have given up far more than this, but for me at the time it was the step God was encouraging me to take. Decision made, I approached my boss and received approval that my request could be granted. I thus reduced my hours to four days a week, then two years later to three days, and finally to two days. Never once did I look back. The Lord was faithful and provided for us in every way. Indeed, I really felt that the kingdom of God was ‘added to me’ after seeking to put God first in this matter.

Do not refuse the invitation from the King of Kings

If you have not yet accepted Jesus’ invitation to the Great Banquet, take time today to consider what you have to gain…and lose if you reject it. Making the choice to receive Jesus as your Saviour and Lord is the most important decision you will ever make. My heartfelt prayer is that you will accept it and enter into a new life with the King of Kings. Do not delay!

God’s Garden

‘In that day- “Sing about a fruitful vineyard; I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no-one may harm it.” ‘ (Isaiah 27:2,3)

I love the idea that God tends His vineyard and cares for it scrupulously and continually. Although few of us will own a vineyard, it is likely that we will have a garden or have enjoyed a garden at some time and it is from the perspective of tending a garden that I would like to explore this theme.

Although I grew up with a large garden and spent many happy hours playing there as a child, and had parents who enjoyed growing their own fruit and vegetables, my own family have never been keen gardeners. In fact I am sorry to have to admit that for years the best we could manage was to mow the lawn when it got too unsightly and maybe pull out a few weeds here and there. We did buy and plant a few items such as rose bushes and an apple tree, but generally any natural beauty that existed happened by chance rather than planning or good maintenance! Being a full- time teacher and having four children also meant that time and energy for gardening was limited. I would often admire other peoples’ gardens and sometimes felt ashamed of my own, wishing that I had the creative gift of designing and making it well laid-out and attractive.

When I became semi-retired two years ago, with the encouragement and help of one of my daughters I started to work on different areas in the house to de-clutter and re-organise space and get some much – needed decorating and home improvement done. This was satisfying and the next task to consider was the garden, although I did not really have much idea of what I wanted or where to start. It was a very pleasant surprise, therefore, when my son, who had just finished his university course, began to show an interest in developing the garden. He and I visited garden centres together and little by little the garden began to take shape as he created attractive areas using wooden edging, planters and rocks to accommodate a variety of plants of assorted colours and shades.   Although there is still more to be done it looks so much better than previously and reflects the love, care and hard work that he has put into it.

God works in our lives to bring something beautiful from us

As I look around at the different aspects of our garden I often see analogies to illustrate how God works in our lives to bring something beautiful from us, in the same way that we work hard to create a place of beauty which will bring us pleasure. Indeed, a keen gardener will know exactly where they have planted each one and will have carefully considered the best place for it, whether it should be in the sun or the shade, the type of soil needed for it to thrive, the size of pot or planter that is best suited to it, the amount of space it will need and where it will look best in relation to other features of the garden. If we can show love and care for our plants how much more will God, the master gardener, care for us and ensure that we too are in the best environment to grow and thrive so that we will bear fruit and give pleasure and delight to Him.

He ‘plants’ us in the right soil

He ‘plants ‘ us in the right soil, where we will have the best opportunity to reach our potential by bringing people, opportunities and situations into our lives who will bless and encourage us and sometimes stretch and challenge us.

In my own experience I can look back over the years and see how He has brought others alongside me at different times whose friendship, experience and gentle encouragement have helped to build my faith or develop my giftings. One such example is at a time when I was not attending church and did not have any Christian friends to support me. My mother had been praying specifically that I would find a church to go to. Then one day, when returning home on the bus from a shopping trip, my husband and I met a couple  whom my husband had known many years previously at school. They told us about a small Christian fellowship that they attended and how a pianist was needed to lead the worship. I told them that I could play the piano and they invited us to go the following Sunday. We accepted the invitation and were very quickly welcomed into the fellowship where we attended for a number of years and made some good friends who were a blessing and encouragement at a time when we needed it. It also developed my skills in providing a lead in worship and made a way for me to grow closer to the Lord through song and music, things which He wanted to use.

In more recent years I can see how He has blessed me with many good friends and close relationships which have provided amazing support as we have prayed together and spoken into each other’s lives often through times of great challenge and difficulty. One of these ladies had experienced many difficulties and disappointments in her life and a few years ago moved house to live in the same cul-de-sac as me, on the opposite side of the road! God used this for the benefit of both of us, as we began to share in Christian ministries together, specifically a prayer ministry called Healing Rooms held in a local café.

He values us as individuals

Poppies are here today, gone tomorrow, but their beauty, though for a brief time, has an impact.

Each individual plant has a unique character with its own shape, height, colour and leaf design, bringing its own qualities and interest to the overall effect. Some flower year after year while others have a much shorter existence. We have a large number of poppies in our garden, all of which just appeared- we did not plant them. They look beautiful while they are in flower but fade very quickly, literally here today and gone tomorrow.   Nevertheless, they have an effect of their own which adds to the character of the garden, even if only for a brief time. I feel the same is true of every human life. God has plans and purposes for every individual ever born and each one has a unique part to play and contribution to make to the world and God’s kingdom. Sadly many lives are overlooked and considered of little worth, but our loving Father treasures each one.

” For we are God’s workmanship, created  in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God created in advance for us to do.” ( Ephesians 2: 10)

He maintains the soil and keeps it clear

Regular weeding is needed to keep the soil clear to prevent plants being choked. Sometimes certain plants have to be removed because they obscure and crowd out smaller plants. How often does God, unbeknown to us, remove ‘weeds’ from our soil.. situations or people who would have a detrimental effect on us? However, we too have the responsibility to examine our own lives to see if there are weeds which need pulling out, maybe bad habits or wrong thoughts, or even relationships which are not healthy and which distract us from our relationship with our Father. On this same theme, sometimes a tree or shrub needs to removed completely, the roots dug up and the tree destroyed. We had a tree in the corner of our garden whose roots were spreading out across the whole area and were in danger of encroaching on the house foundations. The tree had to be uprooted and removed to prevent damage to our home. In the same way, drastic action sometimes has to be taken in our own lives; roots of bitterness or unforgiveness may need to be pulled up and thrown away before our relationships with God and others are poisoned. 

He prunes us for greater fruitfulness

I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. “ (John15:1,2)

A year later leaves and branches were growing again, with the promise of fruit to be produced.

 By our back wall is an apple tree that we planted when we first moved to our house in the ‘90s. It produced fruit, but many of the apples would fall off into the road on the other side, because the branches had extended so far out. There were so many apples on the ground outside, many becoming squashed and rotten, that a neighbour complained and we had no choice but to cut the tree down. It was cut almost down to its stump, much to our sadness because we loved the tree, and we really did not expect it to grow again. But grow it did, and a year later branches and leaves were sprouting in profusion with the promise that fruit would once again be produced. God may have to take drastic action in our lives in order to produce greater fruitfulness. This is hard to understand and I cannot give answers but we are told that ‘God disciplines those He loves’ (Hebrews 12:6) Although we cannot always see the reason why we have to go through times of testing we have to believe that it is for our good and comes from the hand of a loving Father.

The purpose of a garden is for enjoyment, rest, peace, beauty and fruitfulness. Our purpose as the body of Christ is to work with our Father, the gardener, and accept His planting and pruning to grow in our faith and in His likeness, in order that we may produce good, healthy and delicious fruit. This will bring joy and fulfilment to us and delight and glory to Him. How wonderful that God is the master gardener. He is not too busy, too tired or too unimaginative to create a beautiful garden in the lives of His children or the collective lives that comprise His Church, the Bride of Christ.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

  Let’s remain in Him, the true Vine, responding to His loving care and discipline as He perfects us for His glory.

A Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and tender care. Thank you that you value me highly and that you personally work in my life to develop something beautiful. Help me to stay close to you and respond to your loving care and discipline. May I enjoy a close relationship with you and bear good, lasting fruit for your kingdom.

Amen

 

Friends of God

John 15:15: ‘I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from the Father I have made known to you.’

What does it mean to be a ‘friend’ of God?

Jesus said, ‘You are my friends if you do what I command. This is my command: love each other’. I have often puzzled over the first part of this statement- ‘’You are my friends if you do what I command’because we don’t like being ordered around and being told what to do, and we resent it even more if it comes from our friends. In fact, it is hard to love someone who behaves in this way and if we choose to obey them it is more likely to be through fear rather than love.  After all, it is actually considered rude and offensive to issue orders unless you are a Sergeant Major or someone in a position of authority and even then we prefer it if orders come across more in the manner of polite requests.

Jesus’ command is to love each other

However, we find a clue in the next part of the statement- ‘this is my command: love each other.‘  It is difficult, if not impossible, to love others if we are not truly loved ourselves. Jesus loved us before we loved Him.  His sacrifice for us on the cross was an act of love and obedience to His Father, and when we accept Him as Saviour and Lord we do so as a response to His love. As we grow in our relationship with Him we experience His love more and more and we love Him in return. When we love someone we don’t want to hurt them – we want to do what pleases them, not out of fear but out of love.

How is it possible to do this?

John 15: 15 says: ‘Remain in my love’. But how?

It has to come from a place of intimacy

In part, I believe it is through spending time with God in prayer and allowing Him to speak to us through His Word, the Bible, allowing His words of truth and love to speak to us and change us as we absorb them and apply them to our lives, becoming more like Him so we obey Him from a place of love rather than duty. It has to come from a place of intimacy.

I remember when I was attending a particular church in the ‘90s, one of the leaders’ children belonged to a local football team who required him to play matches on Sundays, which would mean him missing church. Although his parents did not forbid him from playing, he came to his own decision and chose not to play in Sunday matches, even though that could have meant that he was dropped from the team. He said to his parents, ‘ I just can’t do it.. I want to be at church.’ His love for God led him to choose what would please God because he did not want anything to come between him and God. He wanted to preserve a precious relationship.

What is friendship?

One definition of friendship is this: ‘A state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy and trust between two people’. (Britannica)

You may define friendship in your own way, but certainly, characteristics of friendship include having things in common, being like-minded and like-spirited, accepting each other’s shortcomings and valuing a person for who they are, being loyal and faithful. With a friend you can relax and be yourself without fear of harsh criticism or rejection. You can share what is on your heart without fear of being mocked. You can share your inmost thoughts and feelings, support each other, pray for and speak the truth to each other. You can have fun, laugh and cry together.  It is a joy to spend time with a true friend!

Those who have received Jesus as Saviour and Lord and who seek to walk closely with Him will experience such delight and discover that it is this precious relationship which feeds our souls and enables us to live life to the full. It is the peace and trust we have in Him and the joy of being in His presence that gets us through the darkest of times and gives us comfort and strength.

God confides in those who fear Him

‘The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.’ (Psalm 25: 14).

I find it amazing and heart- warming to think that God actually likes to spend time with us, that He looks forward to the times when He knows we will sit in His presence and seek His face in prayer and that He confides in us. The Creator of the universe delights in us and longs for us to draw close to Him so that He can share what is on His heart. What an incredible privilege!  It is for this that we were created, and it was to restore this relationship, broken by sin, that Jesus died for us.

Sharing His confidences is conditional upon our respect and submission to Him

But what about ‘if you do as I command’? Our human nature resists commands, but we must not forget that we have committed our lives to Him and therefore must submit to Him. He is God, all- holy and all-powerful and we must not lose that sense of awe and reverence. If we look more closely we see that ‘The Lord confides in those who fear Him..’ (Psalm 25:14), so sharing His confidences is conditional upon our respect and submission to Him, which is a choice we make.

Reverence comes from intimacy

We must obey His commands, but if we enjoy that close, intimate relationship with Him we will obey because we desire to please Him and work with Him to fulfil His plans and purposes for us and for the kingdom. His desires will become our desires too.  Also, our trust in Him and complete confidence that his ways are perfect will fuel our desire and give us courage to obey. I believe this is a lifelong process, but He is gracious and patient with us and gives us his Holy Spirit to help us. Praise God.

Isaiah 35: 5-7 puts it beautifully:

‘The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge. The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.’ ( Isaiah 35:5-7)

It is indeed a storehouse of treasure that is available to us. How blessed we are.

This is my prayer for all who read this.

‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you. This is to my Fathers’ glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.’ (John 15:)

Food for Thought

How do we remain in Him and let His words remain in us? At what point do we move from the status of servant to that of a friend?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Don’t Be A Fool!

The Parable of the Rich Fool     (Luke 12: 13-21)

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 1And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

The fragility of life

This parable highlights to me the fragility of life. It describes a rich man who lived entirely for himself and the pleasures of this world, giving no thought to eternity. One night God challenged him as to how he was living and said that his soul would be required of him that very night. The man passed from life to death and an eternity without God. He had stored up riches and many possessions but had nothing for eternity.

We have a tendency to think we are invincible, yet none of us know how long we have on this earth.

Our life can be taken when we least expect it, as we are currently seeing with the alarming spread of the Coronavirus which has no respect for age, position or status.

Invest our lives in God’s Kingdom

We also have a tendency not to see beyond this present life but to spend time pleasing ourselves and accumulating things which will only satisfy us for now. How easy it is to look back over the passage of time and wonder where it has gone, and what we have done in our busy lives that is of lasting value. 

Live as though Jesus were coming back tomorrow

My prayer is God will give us a different perspective- an eternal perspective- so I see into the spiritual realm. What we invest in the kingdom of God now will bring us heavenly reward later. Let us live each day as though Jesus were coming back tomorrow.

How can we do this?

I have asked this question many times but I believe the answer is to make our relationship with Jesus our top priority in life. If you are not yet a follower of Jesus Christ and would like to be, then you can pray this simple prayer:

Receive Jesus into your life

Dear God,

I admit that I am a sinner, living independently of you, and I need your forgiveness.  I believe that Jesus Christ died in my place paying the penalty for my wrongdoing. I choose right now to turn from my sin and accept Jesus as my personal saviour and Lord. I commit my life to you and ask you to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to fill me and to help me become the person you want me to be. Thank you, Father God, for loving me.

In Jesus’ name

Amen

Grow in your relationship with Him

Next, by spending time in prayer and reading His word, the Bible, you will develop your relationship with Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you truth from what you have read.  Every day, ask Him to fill you with His love and peace. As your relationship grows you will find that He puts thoughts and ideas into your heart and mind, maybe a clear understanding of something that wasn’t clear before, or ways you could share His love with others. As you learn to do this in small ways you will grow more confident. Finding a church where you can meet and worship with others who will help and encourage you in your faith is a good and valuable step to take and will help you grow in your faith.

May God bless you as you grow in your relationship with Him.

The Power of blessing

‘Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.’ (Proverbs 11:11)

Many people have been stirred by The Blessing song by Kari Jobe, particularly when it was sung by people from churches across the UK to create The UK Blessing during the lockdown period during the Coronavirus in April 2020. In this incredible performance people of all ages, races, backgrounds and denominations united to sing the Aaronic Blessing over our nation, the United Kingdom, with passion, power and conviction in a way that touched millions. As I watched it I sensed in my spirit that this was anointed by the Holy Spirit and was doing something deep and powerful in the spiritual realm as words of truth and blessing were declared through song into the atmosphere. It truly felt like an army rising up and advancing on the enemy who has no choice but to flee.

The UK Blessing

‘The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

The Lord turn his face towards you

And give you peace.

Amen, amen, amen; amen, amen, amen;

May his favour be upon you

And a thousand generations

Your family and your children and their children and their children.’

Amen, amen, amen. (based on Numbers 6: 22-27)

The principle of blessing

The principle of blessing was first made known to me when I visited Ffald-y-brenin, a Christian retreat centre in Pembrokeshire, Wales. At this time the centre was run by Roy and Daphne Godwin and was known for the atmosphere of peace and the presence of God that filled it and the surrounding area. In the centre the day was built upon a ‘rhythm of prayer’ and during these times prayers and blessings were spoken over the local area to bring health, prosperity, peace, faith and wellbeing to all who lived and worked there and to those who passed through. As a result there were numerous reports of physical and emotional healings, restored relationships in marriages and families, prosperity for local businesses, abundance of crops for farmers and multiple births among livestock. Many people had experiences where they were overcome with a sense of the presence of God, with feelings of intense peace, joy and an overwhelming need and desire to worship.

I would like to use one or two examples of material from Ffald-y-brenin to demonstrate the principle of blessing prayer:

  1. Safe streets

Proclamation: We proclaim that God is the mighty shield over our communities:

Scripture: I am your shield, your very great reward (Genesis 15.1)

Declaration: We declare that God is the protector and shield over our communities.

Blessing: We bless our streets with the peace of Jesus and with being safe places to live

2. Knowing the love of God

Proclamation: We proclaim that God is love

Scripture: He who does not love does not know God, for God is love, (1 John 4:8) … because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us (Romans5:5)

Declaration: We declare that the love of God will be known and felt in our communities, being shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, as out of our innermost being flows rivers of living water (love).

Blessing: We bless our communities with the love and peace of God which passes all understanding. We bless our communities with being rooted and grounded in the love of God.

(Taken from “Keep on praying and bless”, compiled by Jill Gower and Robbie Bain- Call to Prayer –www.call2prayer.co.uk and Caroline Anderson- The Well-www.houseofglorynetwork.com

Declarations and Blessings for real life situations)

Let us rise up and bless our families, communities, workplaces and entire nation with a mighty and united song of worship and praise to Almighty God, speaking out and declaring His presence over us. May many believe and turn to Him at this time of fear, confusion and turmoil in the world and may many come to know His wonderful love and receive Jesus as their Saviour.

How can we do this?

There are many ways, I believe, but I will just list a few which I have experienced and which I have found to be effective:

  • Speaking and declaring Scriptures over your home, family, children, neighbourhood, such as the Blessing shown above or the examples quoted from the Ffald-y-brenin materials.  The Psalms also provide a wealth of verses which can be read and turned into a prayer of blessing.
  • Speaking out the names and attributes of God; He is great, mighty, holy, righteous, all-knowing, all- powerful, our Deliverer, Provider, Creator, Father, our Rock, Fortress, Hiding place, Shelter.
  • Singing or playing worship songs cause words of truth and life to be expressed into the spiritual atmosphere.
  • Praising and thanking God for who He is and what He has done in your life.
  • Prayer walking around our home, street, local area, workplace. This might be praying the Lord’s Prayer or the Blessing, or blessing the people in these places by praying for them.

Evidence of effective prayer

To illustrate this, two years ago during the summer holiday season there was some trouble and disruption caused by groups of teenagers on the local streets where we lived, including a fire being started and motorists being blocked from driving along certain streets, causing serious inconvenience and public nuisance, as well as generating an atmosphere of fear to local residents. My friend and I felt a prompt from the Holy Spirit to pray over the area using the principle of blessing, so we walked to the local park and spoke blessings over the neighbourhood, blessing it with the peace and presence of God. We also prayed against a spirit of rebellion and lawlessness and blessed the teenagers with having wholesome and constructive interests and activities to pursue during the holiday, and with healthy friendships and positive role models to influence them for good.  We repeated these blessings over the following days and, praise God, there was no more trouble at all for the rest of the holiday period. 

Praise and worship, prayer and blessing are truly powerful weapons against the enemy! Praying and worshipping together with other Christians gives the added dimension of unity and builds faith, as there is great power in agreement.

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”  (Matthew 18: 19-20)

How wonderful it is that through our prayers and blessings, both individual and collective, we can bring the blessing of God, like a blanket over those in our communities! As we unite in love and agreement we form a covering of love and protection over and around them, sealed by the blood of Jesus, against which the enemy has no defence. So let us rise up, pray and bless, and see God move powerfully in our nation.

You can share…

If you would like to share any ways in which you have used blessings effectively it would be good to hear them.

Fill up the heavenly bowls!

This morning I had to go to the local Co-op to buy some potatoes and, due to the coronavirus, had to queue for some time outside the shop. The queue had about twenty people in it and I was about 6th in line. Whenever someone came out another was allowed in.  As slowly the queue started to move forward a few steps at a time a song came into my mind- ‘We wanna see Jesus lifted high’ by Doug Horley, particularly the line

 ‘Step by step we’re moving forward,

little by little taking ground.

I though it a bit humourous, to relieve the boredom of waiting, but then the next line came to mind…

Every prayer a powerful weapon

Strongholds come tumbling down and down and down and down.’

Through these words the Lord reminded me of the need to keep praying for family and friends who do not know Him yet. Is there someone for whom you have been praying for a long time and seen no apparent progress?  Maybe you think it is pointless and nothing is happening. I know I think this way at times. But take heart! Every prayer is a powerful weapon, each prayer counts and gradually the enemy’s hold is being weakened. Remember, the prayers of the saints are filling those bowls in heaven and are a sweet- smelling fragrance to the Lord:

Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.  The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:3-5)

 He is working even though we can’t see or feel it, and much activity is taking place in the spiritual realm because of your prayers. Don’t give up!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6: 9 )

Lost and Found

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

The Parable of the Lost Coin

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15: 4-10)

Have you lost anything of great value, or something very precious to you? The sense of relief you feel when you find it again is immense. But worse, have you ever lost a child? I recall one occasion when my son was about fifteen years of age he was lost, after a football match. I couldn’t find him anywhere and no one had seen him leave. I made phone calls, and drove all around the area to look in different places where he could be. I still remember the panic I felt when after an hour I still hadn’t found him. When I did eventually find him standing in an alleyway just outside the field, my relief cannot be described.

God gave me a picture of a father searching for His children in a thick forest. He would not give up searching until each one was found. Then I saw a river flowing in all directions, through streets, alleyways, buildings, fields, valleys, towns. Over it all stood the cross. The river represented the love of God flowing full and free, compelling, irresistible and overwhelming.  If you are already a believer, then pray that you would be able to do your part in spreading the message of His love. Let us all ask God to show us what our unique assignment is to bring His love and truth to our hurting world.

If you do not yet know God then let the river of His love carry you along. Don’t try to resist it; be caught up in His love and embrace it.

Father God is longing to find you, His precious child. He is desperate for all His lost children to come to Him, not remain separated. He is searching constantly and calling your name, to come to Him and be safe with Him. The Bible is really one long story about how God our Father is searching for His lost children. Won’t you respond to His call today and run into His loving arms? How amazing it is to be totally overwhelmed by His love as He welcomes and accepts us as we are, unconditionally. We can accept and receive this amazing love through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross.

There will be a huge celebration in heaven when you are found!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

The Moving Walkway

You may have heard the old hymn ‘O God, our help in ages past’. Verse 5 says:

Time, like an everlasting stream

Bears all its sons away.

They fly forgotten as a dream

Dies at the opening day

(Isaac Watts)

While I was praying, I had a ‘picture’ in my mind.   It was a moving walkway in an airport, with many people moving along it, all day. People stepping on, moving to the end, then stepping off before disappearing as they go on their way. Thousands of people travel along this short track every day but no one knows or cares about the individuals who walk along it, or where they are headed. It is just a continuous flow of people.

Yet God sees and knows each one. So it is with life. Throughout time, billions are born, live and die, yet each life has purpose and value; each one is unique and precious to God. It grieves Him to see so many reach the end of their life and not having met Him- a precious life passed into eternity without Him.

If you are reading this and do not yet know Jesus, why not receive Him now as your Saviour?

Or, if you already know Him, ask God to help you share the message of His love and salvation with others, as He leads you

Oh, Lord, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him?  Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.”  

(Psalm 144.4)

A Message of Hope

Is there a God and does He know or care?

I have been a Christian for many years and throughout my life God has given me hope, strength and peace, whether my circumstances have been easy or hard.

Chaos all around

At this time the world is in a state of crisis caused by the Coronavirus and fear is rampant. Many people are worried about the uncertainty and insecurity we face as all we depend on is being shaken. What will happen if our human resources run out? Is there a God and does He know or care? Will this end and is there hope for us?

There is hope!

I believe YES! There is a God who loves and cares for us.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

(John 3: 16)

We can experience peace and security

It is possible to experience God’s peace even when we are facing difficulties and uncertainties. If we choose to acknowledge Him, accept His Son Jesus Christ who died for us, and receive forgiveness, then we will enter into a personal relationship with Him. This will enable us to live in a place of peace, love and security.

No fear of death

Of course, we hope and pray that the present crisis will end, but whatever happens, the only truly safe place to be, I believe, is in a place of trust and hope in God. We need not be afraid of death because He has promised that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.

Be ready!

I believe that we are getting close to the time of Jesus’ return and what we are seeing are signs that this event is near. Let’s make sure that we are ready by turning to Him.

Jesus said, “In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

(John 16:33)