The Thought for the Week this week is written by Eric Wylie

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Acts 28:30-31  "For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!"

The fact that Paul was able to welcome all who visited him suggests that they did not come in their thousands.

Could you imagine it? If the apostle Paul lived in our city, I am sure we would all be crowding around his house, wanting to hear his stories, or a word from God, or perhaps to receive healing from this man of God. Maybe the more mature in Christ would be there to serve and support him. But in Rome, it would appear that the crowds stayed away. Perhaps they didn't appreciate the opportunity that they had.

I wonder if we don't make full use of the opportunities that we have. There are wonderful men and women of God that live among us; Those that have perhaps found God more fully than we have. It is good to be among them in the church services but, are we missing opportunities to receive from them? I know that I can find quite difficult to open conversations with people, and that it holds me back more than it should but, remember that Paul towards the end felt isolated and forsaken. It's not just about receiving, sometimes even the greatest men and women of God could do with company and encouragement. I will be very upset if, by the end, I haven't been able to express the esteem, appreciation and affection that I have for them.

I remember how I loved to sit with Mr Black in the bookshop, and hear things that were never said from the pulpit: Sometimes great stories and personal experiences from his life, sometimes a word of advice or encouragement specifically for me. They were great moments but, the best moments were the times when he needed me to run an errand, or give him a lift. He blessed me deeply but, I got to bless him a little too.

There are those in our midst who would welcome all who come to see them.

 

 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Mandy Stinglehammer

by Susie Jean Sharkey


"but if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."  (1 John,1:9) 

I do not have a very logical mind, as my husband often reminds me!  But sometimes I start with a thought and others seem to build themselves round it, and it ends up making sense – to me anyway.  I hope it will to you too!

I had been thinking recently about the fact that we were created in God’s image.  I don’t know how the angels came about, but they were obviously at some point able to be corrupted (Isaiah, 14:12: Luke, 10:18)

Perhaps God wanted to test us to see if we also could be corrupted.  If we had passed the test we would have remained in His image.   He gave us free will, but we made the wrong choice.  It was a very real choice as He allowed the ensuing consequences of our failure, that  in our physical form corruption took hold and Satan is now the ruler of this world (althoughonly as long as God allows it). 

But God had a backup plan all along! 

When we are born again we receive His incorruptible nature.  It becomes part of us.  But in this life we also still have the corruptible part.  So when, despite our good intentions, we sin (1 John,1:8 . If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.), He knows our nature (Hebrews,4:15 . This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.), and if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  (1 John,1:9) 

We should not allow ourselves to enter into condemnation, but Instead rejoice that we have within us by the new birth that incorruptible nature of Christ (Romans,6:14), who overcame sin in His body on the cross.

And as redeemed hearts pour out praise and worship to Him, and Spirit led intercession for others, could it be that something of that eternal realm is transmitted into this corrupt world?


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Graham McKenzie-Smith

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“Anyone who eats of my flesh and drinks of my blood remains in me, and I in him.” John 6:56

 Feeling somewhat lacking in Vitamin D after a cold grey summer, we took a last minute holiday to Tuscany with the intention to colour our skin from extreme white to pale milky coffee while reminding ourselves what the world looks like when you don’t have to run between pelting rain. It’s so easy to forget that there is a part of the world (i.e. anywhere outside Scotland) where the sky is a deep blue and people go places without raincoats or fleeces. As it happened, Italy was actually experiencing one of the worst droughts and heatwaves for a decade. The temperatures were usually at least mid 30s at lunchtime, often higher. Indeed one day I cautiously stepped into the car and saw the gauge reading 44c. Had I left a chicken in there, it would have been done to perfection. So we quickly learnt to take a nice drive in the middle of each day, viewing the countryside and coincidentally enjoying the lovely air conditioning, which is why one day we found ourselves in a lovely spa town and the foot of the Tuscan hills.

 I say lovely but truth be told, it was mainly plain, modern and unexciting. We parked the car and tentatively stepped out into the heat to explore in the hopes of finding a gelateria. It doesn’t take long in those temperatures to feel hot and sweaty and we were at the point of giving up when we came across a park which had one of the spas that the town has been famed for since roman times. In the middle of the park stood a huge imperialistic looking building from the early 1900s with a grand ornate entrance. Inside, the structure was made up of colonnaded high vaulted ceilings with a large courtyard in the centre. The courtyard was open to the sky and only had white canopies for shade while the sides of the building were on the whole open to the gardens beyond while the floor was a shiny marble. The overall sensation of the place was one of peacefulness with cool shades, colour and light. With every step came a glimpse through the sturdy columns towards trees, fauna and fountains. As if this wasn’t enough, one area had rows and rows of large basins, each with large taps from which flowed cool refreshing mineral waters to drink from. It was all a most tranquil and relaxing setting, like a temple or oasis. 

Now we can’t always run off to Italy or some such place every time the weather is gloomy or things at work are rather stressful, and we certainly don’t live in the midst of a natural drought. However, there are times when we do need a place of calm, of refreshing, strengthening, and it’s not always easy to physically step away and take a deep breath but we must never forget that we have that place within us. He is Christ, and He dwells within. This is the place that our spirits ought to be no matter where we are for in Christ we find the cool from the heat of the day, the shade from the harsh realities of a busy life, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the refreshing living waters that flow from the cross. Jesus is the temple in which we are at peace and if we step outside, even for a moment, we are burned by the things of this world that are so intense and chaotic. Remain in Him and He shall certainly remain in us, keeping us safe through the heat of the day.


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


 

“Choose this day whom you will serve!” (Joshua 24:14,15)

Choices

    We make choices every hour of every day of our lives. Some choices are of relatively little importance, although they have their moment of glory, for example,  if we’re choosing an item from a lunch menu, or choosing a new outfit in a shop, etc., it will be important for the moment, but in the big scheme of things these choices are of minimal or little importance and may quickly be forgotten.

    Some choices are vastly more important: our education, our careers, relationships and marriage, where to live, etc. These choices affect the direction and the content of our lives and we take these a lot more seriously, or we should do.

    However, when we discover that there is an ‘afterlife’ or an eternity, we encounter decisions that cast every other decision we have ever made into the shade. The bible teaches us, “Choose this day whom you will serve!” (Joshua 24:14,15) and, as we read the bible, we discover a loving, righteous, yet compassionate and forgiving God, who would put to rights within us - through faith in Jesus - the things that have gone wrong (sometimes very wrong), through the incoming of sin (known to Christians as the Fall of Man). But, we must make a conscious choice to follow God - we must choose His will for our lives, or we can choose not to follow God and in doing that, choose our own way instead - keeping our sin and ignoring the invitation that is given to us from God. It’s not just a doctrine. Plenty of evidence exists or lives changed by choosing to follow God.

    God has given us ‘free will’, which turns out to be the most wonderful as well as the most awful gift. We can literally choose our eternity. We’ve never faced a choice like it.

Over to you. Your choice.

 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Mandy Stinglehammer

by Susie Jean Sharkey


John 14:6.  I am the way, the truth and the life

   John 18:38. Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"

 Doubts can easily come to mind if you rely on your natural senses, the ones that you use to make sense of this world.  But beware! The bible tells us that Satan is the ruler of this world.  Instead we access the kingdom of God and His truth with our spiritual senses: 

And yet there is no direct comparison with our five natural senses, although sometimes it happens that the spiritual world comes so close that people have seen with their natural eyes a vision of Christ, or heard heavenly music, or felt the touch of the hand of God on their bodies, or smelt heavenly perfume.

No, normally, we communicate with God through Christ in our spirits: your spiritual ears that hear the word of God spoken into your spirit; your spiritual eyes that see something about another life.

And that requires faith to believe in the reality of the heavenly kingdom, that it is more real than the natural, for Christ has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Once having seen and known the truth with our spiritual sight, we should never be able to 'unsee' it, we must not let this truth be confused or dimmed by relying on our natural senses.


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Susie Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


'The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away' Psalm 90 v 10 KJV

My very good friend Anne takes her exercise by walking round the cemetery beside her house (I'm sure she won't mind me telling you!). It's a very old cemetery with literally thousands of gravestones. It speaks of lives lived and lost, of days gone by and for many hundreds of them, there will be no one left to mourn as the generations have come and gone.

I find headstones fascinating, not at all morbid. Very often they give a tiny insight into how a person has lived their lives, and how they wish to be remembered. Have you ever wondered what will be written on your headstone, how you want to be remembered when people walk past, stop and read what is written? I remember once being at a funeral when the life of the person was summed up by the fact that he loved good food, he loved caviar and he loved good whisky...no mention of the Saviour, no mention of the cross, no mention of forgiveness, just a life lived for himself with no thought of others or of the life beyond. It was such a sad funeral; sad because this man went to his grave with the epitaph 'he loved caviar'.

Oh Lord, let us live our lives such as when we go out into eternity we will be remembered not by the food we loved or the drink we partook of by how much we loved Christ and how much we loved one another. So, as we go into a new week, let us consider what we would like to have as our epitaph on our own headstone and then go and live it out, moment by moment, day by day.

 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Rosalind Creighton

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Joshua 1:9 "Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

 

This verse was part of my daily reading the other morning as my husband, Andy, left to go to Rwanda for a fortnight. I was cheered and encouraged by this promise from God that He gave to Joshua and the Children of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. God would be with Andy too when he was far from home.

Twenty three years ago, a friend and I were about to embark on a trip to New Hampshire to spend the summer working at a children's camp. I was excited but also full of apprehension- I was only seventeen, had never been abroad or taken an aeroplane trip- and I had never been away from my family for more than a few days. My dad gave my friend and I the verse I have quoted above and it stayed in my heart and mind all summer and the summers that followed. I remember sitting in a service one night, and a wonderful peace filled my heart as the realisation dawned on me that even although I was thousands of miles from home, my loved ones and all that was familiar, God was still with me. It was a pivotal moment that helped me stand on my own two feet in terms of my faith in God. I can still feel something of the joy of that moment every time I think back on it.

God was with His people thousands of years ago; He was with me as a naïve  teenager in a foreign land; He's with Andy and the team in Rwanda- and He promises to be with us today and always.


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“Fixing our eyes upon Jesus” Heb. 12:2

             We live in troubled times. There is increasing persecution of Christians throughout the world; we read of Christians (though not only Christians) fleeing their homes and businesses – leaving everything behind them and escaping with virtually the clothes on their backs. Persecuted for not submitting to different beliefs and a different way of life. Flee or die. Shocking, in every respect.           

            In the West, although life is quite comfortable in many respects, there have already been cases of Christians losing their jobs, or their education because of their firmly-held Christian beliefs – in many cases relating to same-sex marriage, or perhaps for praying with someone at work. Marginalisation and persecution are on the rise here too. And, with more and more liberal legislation being passed, it may well get worse. 

            So, how do we respond as Christians? How do we cope with increasing criticism of our biblical beliefs and our choice to follow the Saviour wherever He should lead us? How do we deal with criticism or antagonism in the workplace, if that exists? Hebrews gives us the very specific answer, it is by “fixing our eyes upon Jesus”. There is no other way. When the storm raged and the disciples thought their boat would sink, they immediately looked to Jesus, “Lord, save us!” (Matt. 8:25), clearly showing us the way through every storm in life – they instinctively knew that in the midst of fearful troubles the thing to do was to call on Jesus for help. It is ever thus. Jesus is still there coming to the aid of Christians in their own personal storms. 

“Call to me and I will answer!” (Jer. 33:3) The bible isn't vague. Call on Him today to calm the storm in your own life.


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Susie Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


 

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6 v 34

Just for today

Last Monday morning as I was sitting having my usual quiet time, the words from an old hymn we used to sing in my childhood church popped into my mind. 'Lord for tomorrow and it's needs, I do not pray. Keep me my God from stain of sin, just for today'. In particular, those three words, Just for today stuck in my thoughts. As I sit before God, quietly in the early morning, He wants me to bring to Him 'today', quite simply just 'today'. Because He knows full well that today is all we have. We don't yet have the troubles and trials of tomorrow as we haven't yet lived our tomorrow. But for our today, for what we will face as this new morning dawns, He wants us to bring every part of that and commit it into His hands and to commit our lives that very day into his care and His keeping. He doesn't want us to spend a moment worrying about tomorrow; as we read in Matthew 6 v 34, today's trouble is enough for today....and tomorrow's trouble will be enough for tomorrow.

So, as you are sitting quietly in the morning, bring to Him all that the day ahead will hold and simply say these words to Him 'keep me my God from stain of sin, just for today'


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord” (Jer 29:11)

When we become Christians, we choose God's will over our own, and what a relief that is when we discover that God has the perfect plan already in place for our lives. Our part is to discover what that plan is. Yes, it takes humility and submission on our part to accept His plan, whatever that might be. It takes wisdom and a faithful walk with God to hear His voice and to search for and discover that plan, but the wise Christian will choose God's plan over their own any day. It's the perfect way for each and every life.

To have a plan in place in our lives also gives us a sense of purpose. A sense of purpose means a reason to get up in the morning and a reason to press forward. In another part of scripture, it says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov. 29:18) Isn't this so true? To live without a purpose is to merely exist and have no reason to do or to be anything. Why bother? But, to have purpose adds quality to a life: in comes the possibility of making a change in our environment, making the world a better place, relieving pain and suffering – contributing something worthwhile – and, to the Christian is added the purpose planned out by a miracle-working God! The possibilities are endless. William Quarrier, through faith in God, built a village for orphaned children in the 1870s. George Muller, built orphanages in Bristol without ever having a penny. He prayed in the money to build the orphanages and to keep them running. In our own day, Bruce Olson went out alone to Colombia as a teenager with less than $20 in his pocket and through prayer has seen a headhunting tribe converted and schools and hospitals built. The list could go on and on.

It doesn't matter if you are brim full of talent or not. It doesn't matter if you are an excellent communicator or not. It doesn't matter if you travel the world with your job or if you are housebound or in prison, God has a plan for each life – and a purpose that will bring life and joy to ourselves and to others – and glory to His holy name. Praise Him!


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Susie Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


'He is not here, He is risen from the dead' Matthew 28 v 6

 

As I am writing this, today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. For many people this will be a week of quiet reflection leading up to Easter Sunday and the glory of the empty tomb. But before the tomb came the terrible events of Calvary, and before Calvary came the events in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there that Jesus said to His disciples' Couldn't you watch with me even one hour?....the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak'. The disciples were tired and as Jesus drew aside to pray, their eyes became heavy and one by one they fell asleep until Jesus was the only one awake through these dark hours. They did not realise the significance of the hour and how soon, so very soon their Jesus would be taken from them, hung on a cross and crucified. Yes, those were dark days,  quite literally, when we read that 'darkness covered the land from the 6th to the 9th hour' as Christ hung on the cross. The disciples had never known such darkness, such despair, watching hope dying in front of their very eyes...........but God.

They say that the darkest hour is before the dawn, and certainly for those disciples it seemed an intensely dark hour but with the dawning of a new morn, came the dawning of new hope and we read those glorious words that sound though-out the annals of time 'He is not here, He is risen from the dead...'. Their hope that had died was dead no longer, their despair turned to joy and darkness was turned to light because Jesus, their Lord had indeed risen from the dead. Gethsemane was over, Calvary was over, the long dark night was over and now.........Christ is alive in the power of an endless life, and because He lives, we live also.

This Easter week, let us take time to watch with him, to remember those dark days and then let us rejoice with all the rejoicing of our being that He is indeed risen from the dead, living in resurrection power and life and that the tomb, once a symbol of death and despair now lies gloriously empty for HE IS ALIVE

 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21 ESV)

The angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream stated very plainly what Jesus' mission on earth was – to save people from their sins.

'Sin' isn't a word we hear a lot these days, but it's very interesting to trace it's history. It didn't start in the Garden of Eden with Eve being tempted to eat the fruit of the tree as she had been forbidden to do, but the bible gives us glimpses into a time in heaven, before Eden. Maybe hundreds or thousands of years before Eden – if time existed there at all: Ezekiel 28:15 tells us of an event when Lucifer, who was a powerful angel, one of the closest to God, had chosen to usurp God's position - to be 'as God' - – and God speaks to him, saying, “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousnesswas found in you.”  (New Heart English Bible). Unrighteousness is another word for sin.

Lucifer, who was later known as Satan, had rebelled against God. Sin, quite simply, is rebellion against God. Sin is the currency of Hell. When we sin, we are not doing something insignificant, we are doing Satan's will and not God's.  We are rebelling against God. The problem is, though, that no matter how sorry we are that we have sinned, we are unable to put it right. That's why we need a Saviour to put it right - to cancel out sin, which He did on the Cross at Calvary.

No wonder the angels that filled the sky at the birth of Jesus declared, “We bring you good news! A Saviour is born who is Christ the Lord!”

Thanks be to God! There is a Saviour we can run to and confess our sins – and be forgiven from them. 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Rosalind Creighton

by Susie Jean Sharkey


John 1:16 & 17 “Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  
 


How can we receive grace in place of grace? First of all, let’s think about what the first grace is that we have received: it is the word of God that Moses heard from God and passed on to the Children of Israel as God’s laws. But how is the law an act of grace? Well, why do we try to teach our children right from wrong? To protect them; to help them make good decisions; to teach them to consider others’ needs as well as their own; to teach them that sometimes obedience without understanding the reasons why is often because we know better than them what is best for them. And that is why God gave us the law- not to spoil our fun, but to put in place limits that would make society work.  Surely, that was an act of grace- the gift of instructions for how to live a happy life.

And yet, we can not keep all of God’s laws, just like our children cannot keep all our rules. 

God, in His immeasurable kindness, decided we needed a new grace in place of the grace already received- and so the Word of God became a baby, who would grow up to make a new and living way into God’s presence by taking all the punishment for all thebroken laws onto His shoulders and dying the death we deserved. His resurrection, by the power of the Holy Spirit, sealed this new covenant that we can enter into with God.  And that same power of the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, is graciously available to us today to help us life the life of joy, peace and hope that we are unable to do under the law alone.  

That is the grace and truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that will never lose its power!
 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Eric Wylie

by Susie Jean Sharkey


John 8:1-11 New Living Translation (NLT) .....and Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”


Go and sin no more. That was the problem.

Many years ago, when I first became a Christian. I heard the good news. I realised that Jesus would give me a new beginning, a fresh page but, I knew one thing for sure: That fresh clean empty page would soon be a terrible mess again, very quickly. I knew that I would ruin it and then I would be right back where I started. Fresh starts are all very good but, surely it's what you do with it that counts.

My fear increased when I realised that the sacrifice was once for all. Jesus had forgiven all of my past sins but, who or what could do anything about my future ones?

But then in this story about the woman taken in adultery, I noticed a secret that changed everything. The Pharisees were right, by the law she should be stoned to death. but Jesus replied to them saying "Let the one who has never sinned cast the first stone." That 'one' was Jesus Himself. The only one who had a right and a duty to kill her was Jesus. But he didn't. Instead He set her free. 

How could He do this, for her sins were not yet atoned for by sacrifice? 
Because He was on his way, even then, to do it. The fact that it was in the future made no difference to Him. He was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. In fact, because He had committed to that sacrifice so long beforehand, all of our sins were future sins to Him. Now the verse which says " Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins."(Hebrews 7 v 27) is a verse of hope and not of fear because, "all sins," means every sin, past , present, and future. We need only repent.




 

 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“You will see clearly” (Matt. 7:5 NIV)

 

We are told to “First remove the plank from your own eye and you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matt 7:5 NIV).

When a life begins, under God, to deal with sin in themselves, many wonderful changes begin to take place. One of those changes is in an understanding of life and a ‘seeing’ that wasn’t there before. It’s as if the sinner is lifted from dark pit of sin and their eyes are opened for the first time ever. Life begins to make sense. Their function and purpose in life becomes clear and, the greatest joy of all, is that God becomes near to them and the Cross of Jesus makes sense for the first time ever: “Of course, the Cross is the place of forgiveness and freedom from sin! I see it now!”

The more that sin is put to the Cross and eyes are lifted heavenward things become clearer and clearer. Specifically, as a humbled life finds more and more of the revelation of Jesus Christ within themselves, it’s as if a light comes on and the spiritual landscape becomes more real than the natural one. A discernment, without effort, becomes a daily feature of life. In humility, a redeemed sinner has entered into a useful and God-anointed new life to graciously and beautifully walk through this world carrying with them the loveliness of Jesus to every life who will turn to look and listen.

God equips us for the journey most wonderfully. And, in removing the plank from our own eye (sin, which was blinding us), we begin to see clearly.

 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Pride and Humility

Pride comes with being human, it’s as simple as that. We all have it, it’s like having an illness that permeates every part of the human race. To varying degrees, of course. Some people give it more ground than others and some deal with it sharply, even from their youngest years. But, it’s there causing trouble and is a danger to all of us and must be constantly watched, lest it gets a grip of us whether younger or older and frighteningly, whatever stage of the Christian walk we are at.

Pride is first found in Lucifer, the archangel, who claimed a throne higher than God’s in Isaiah chapter 14. Lucifer, also known as Satan and the devil was the channel through whom sin came to mankind. Pride came with The Fall of Man. It’s part of the human package.

Pride comes in many guises and says, “I am better than you!”, “I know better than you!”, “I’m more important than you!”

With pride comes a hardness and an impervious outer shell which becomes indifferent to the plight and needs of humanity and pursues a life of self-centreedness and self-appointed greatness.

Humility is the opposite of pride. Humility says, “You first!”, “What can I do to help you?”, “I genuinely care!”, “You first!”

With humility comes a graciousness and compassion that cannot exist alongside pride. Kindness grows and becomes a way of life. An inner happiness and a delight in everything beautiful becomes the spontaneous rises from the soul and, more than anything else, humility says, “O God, you are enthroned on high and I am a poor, helpless sinner redeemed by Jesus on the Cross and by your overwhelming mercy!”

 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

This claim and declaration by Jesus is sobering in the uttermost. No one comes to the Father except through me.” No one (not a single person, individual, not a soul) - No one!

According to Jesus’ own claim in the gospel which the Church has been given to proclaim to the ends of the earth, no one will find the way to an eternity with God without finding Jesus in this life first. He is the only way. Oh yes, the gospel is wonderful, but it’s terrifying too.

A preacher once said, “If what’s in the bible isn’t true then it doesn’t matter, but if it is true nothing else matters!” Friends, it’s not as if we are all on a train heading to a pleasant destination and the Christians simply get to travel first class with lots of blessings along the way, with everyone else in the world travelling further back in other carriages. There are no other carriages! Jesus is the way, the truth, the life; He is the only way to God.

So, what if our friends aren’t interested or have decided they don’t need a faith in their lives to get through this life? Then we pray thatl their hearts are opened. Only the Holy Spirit can show a life its need of a Saviour. Preaching the gospel without the anointing of the Holy Spirit does more harm than good. Pray for the fire of the gospel in your heart until the salvation of a soul is your very life and breath. Be urgent, live ready: that means we must live in such a way that the flame of the gospel is burning inside us - and keeps burning. That’s what it is to live a holy life, like carrying a candle in a wind*, as one writer put it. Pray that God gives us a clear understanding of the gospel and the anointing of the Holy Spirit to share it. The time is short.

*Gerhardt Tersteegen 1697-1769


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Susie Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15 v 58

 

In the past week there has been a seismic shift in our Nation. Everyone is on edge. Markets prices are falling, our PM is resigning, more than half of the Shadow Cabinet has resigned, over 2 million signatures have been added on a petition for another Vote to stay/leave the EU. Where, as Christians does that leave us? What should our reaction be to all that is happening around us? How do you feel in this time of uncertainty? If you voted to 'stay', should you be signing the petition for another referendum? Are you putting on hold your plans to move house as house prices may now plummet? Are you putting off that holiday to Spain/France/Portugal as the pound drops to it's lowest in 30 years and you've decided on a 'staycation' rather than a 'vacation'? Whatever you are feeling right now, God has the answer. As Christians we are taught not to put our assurance in money, career, possessions, but our assurance lies fully and completely in God. Paul said in Corinthians,'Let nothing move you'. In other words, 'Don't worry about what you see on the surface, don't worry if the whole world seems to be spiralling out of control, don't fix you eyes on earthly things, but look to God......LET NOTHING MOVE YOU. Find that place of peace in God that no matter what is happening around you, you have the assurance that God is in control, He knows the end of the matter and all He asks is for us to put our faith and hope in Him alone. Make a decision within yourself that no matter what 'bad news' you hear this week you are going to stand firm and let nothing move you.


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“I press on” (Philippians 3:12) 

Christianity is not passive in any way. Let me explain: We can sit and wait for God to come to us with a blessing, or an answer to prayer, or perhaps waiting for some change to take place in our lives. We can simply wait and we may wait passively for a lifetime. Or else, we can press on into God and (reverently speaking) not let go of Him until He answers our prayers or meets our needs.

Jesus, Himself, said “ Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7 NIV)

 There is an attitude of asking, seeking and knocking in Christianity – or at least there should be. We should indeed, wait – but with an attitude of expectancy that the time of receiving will come. We should ask – but with the attitude of knowing that the answer will come. We must seek – knowing that God has promised that if we seek we will find. We  knock – knowing that God has already promised that the door will open.

 Speaking of heaven, Jesus said that the “violent take it by force” (Matt 11:12). I believe Jesus is directing us to an actively seeking attitude where we “press on” in everything we do, in everything we seek and pray for. God wants us to find Him, to hear from Him and to 'bring Him down' to the people . We do that by giving Him no rest from our vocal prayers, but also in the attitude of our hearts. Jesus told that the neighbour answered the door because of the needy man's importunity (Luke 11:8) – and so it must be with us – keep asking, seeking, knocking hour after hour, day after day until the blessing comes and the hand of God moves on our behalf!

 

 

 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good..” (Romans 8:28 ESV) 

            This is a well known verse for many Christians and yet, is it so familiar that we have lost sight of it's full meaning? We understand that ultimately all will work out for us as Christians, that is a fundamental truth of Christianity, but what about the daily situations of life, do we stand on this scriptural promise then?

            It's always easy to believe this verse when things are going well, but what about in the dark days? What about when things in life go very wrong? I find a good way of beginning to understand a bible truth is to think of the extremes that are possible in life's situations and to try to apply that truth across the board (let me say here that it can be quite a sobering and difficult journey to think about the 'what ifs' we may encounter – be warned!). Let me explain...

            Ponder, first, the good times: things are going well. There is enough money, there is food, clothing and shelter, there is harmony with those around us, all things are working in our favour – there is no hardship at all. Easy to keep believing? Well, yes, but beware the temptation to forget God in the times of comfort and ease. We can trust 'in the flesh' all too easily and lose sight of His kindness, love and provision when life hands everything to us on a plate.

            What about when things go wrong, when life is tough and the impact of a situation shakes us to our roots? Imagine the death of that precious person very close to us, perhaps a child? Think of a terminal illness striking us out of the blue at a time when life should be opening upto us new and exciting possibilities. Think of a senseless act of wickedness ripping our lives apart (like those affected by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels) when loved ones are maimed and killed in a moment of madness due to a warped ideology that glories in killing innocents, or we ourselves find, in a split second of time, that someone else's wickedness or carelessness changes our lives forever. What about in situations like these? Are we still willing to believe that, “all things work together for good”? Are we even able to imagine for one second that God can turn these situations into blessings? Truthfully, it is beyond the ability of the human heart and mind to contemplate or imagine that that could ever be the case.

            To the human heart imagining good coming from evil is an impossibility. So, there must me a greater depth for us to discover here:

            True faith chooses to keep believing even when the darkness falls. Oh yes, there can be days, weeks or months of clinging on (as if by our finger nails!) without any assurance that God is with us, but there gradually grows within us a sense of light and yes, we can hardly believe it, a joy despite all our circumstances. The miracle happens when we hold-on in faith: instead of this shadow of darkness over us as it has been (whatever it is), faith in God brings us the miracle that turns things up the other way: our loving God is now shining down upon us and the shadow which was over us (still there, but of much less significance), is now under our feet. The miraculous change in our perspective means that our hearts are now free to praise and worship God. Our hearts are singing and joyful. The miracle we thought impossible has now taken place. We can hardly believe it ourselves. In addition to all of this, we are now in a place where we can bring God's love to others suffering in similar ways.

Helpful points:

  • Never look for a reason 'why' in evil – it doesn't exist.

  • Never ask, “Why me?” - you'll focus on yourself instead of God

  • Never blame God! God is love – in Him there is no darkness at all. Evil comes from the devil and is found in a fallen world. God is our help in the day of trouble.