One evening, a group of Christians and I met together for a home group (this was in a previous church I belonged to). I forget the subject of our Bible study that night, but I recall vividly what happened during the prayer time at the end.
As I prayed for the group, I got this nagging sense that someone was struggling with migraine headaches. From time to time, I believe God shows me such things and that this is part of my spiritual gifts. I shared what I had sensed, and as it happens, two of the eight people gathered admitted to having struggled with severe headaches all that day. Neither had mentioned them during the course of the evening.
We prayed together, and prayed for these headaches to cease. For one of the two, they did. I remember that person saying so clearly, “It’s gone!” for the other person, they said it had helped but they could not admit that the headache had completely gone.
Even so, it sticks in my mind as a time when God was truly faithful. It highlights that for a whole variety of reasons that not everyone receives healing every time we pray. That should not stop us asking however, and to see someone freed from an intense headache was truly something to thank the Lord for.
I have had migraines in the past, and they are no fun at all! It was an immense privilege to be able to hear God’s direction that day, and to be able to pray for a sister in need.
When it comes to spiritual gifts and the healing ministry, it is something I remain passionate about. God has blessed us with these gifts, and we are to use them to build up His church. Yes there are times when things do not quite work out as they should. For instance, this weekend I had a sense that someone had hurt their ankle. When I reached out to them, they had not. The most likely reason was that I was simply wrong.
Being wrong is something I have grown used to over the years, but that does not stop me trying to listen to Jesus and acting on His voice. The pain of a migraine, sore ankle or whatever ailment can be a real drag to people. if God should wish to use me to bring that relief, then I am humbled and clearly the glory is all His.
Have you ever had an experience like this? I’d love to hear about it.
I hope that this brief testimony has encouraged you. God cares. He loves you. He cares about your headaches, your bills, your entire life. For the most part, He will direct us through His Word, but I rejoice in the times He directs us through His Spirit too. Praise the God of love who cares for us each and every day! Amen!
At our church yesterday, we had our “World Focus” spot. This is a time where we think about another part of the globe, and see what the Lord is doing there. Often it also involves thinking about the challenges a country or region face, and helps us think on how we can support the church in that place. Given events in the Ukraine right now, this was our subject.
We learned about a woman named Jessica who works with orphans in that nation. She lives in a fairly dangerous region of the country in “normal” times, and even more so now. As of yesterday, she was heading for the border following the advice to flee. She leaves behind one of the orphans she has helped to raise, a young man now aged over 18, and so he cannot leave in case he is called upon to fight for his country.
This is but one story of thousands. How many families are being torn apart by this dreadful situation?
I have seen a number of blogs about the war in Ukraine, and many prayers uttered. I join with them today, and pray for peace in that land. I also pray for wisdom for both sides, and for leaders across the world. We know that such situations can quickly escalate, and it takes only a spark to set a great blaze.
We pray for the citizens of Ukraine as they bravely defend their homes. We ask you Lord to move in that place, to bring forth all or any good You can out of this time of trouble. We pray, too, for a swift end to this conflict, and that lives on both sides would be saved.
May Your church arise in that part of the world. May those who know You, and are seeking to follow You, be blessed with strength, wisdom and resources to shine Your light in that place. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and Russia, asking You to unite them with one purpose in serving You. May their love for You far exceed the hate of people, and may their example and ministry bring many souls into Your glorious kingdom.
Lord, when we see such things happen, it can be hard to know what exactly we should pray. Give us wisdom, and direct our prayers so that Your will is done, and You may be glorified. Where people suffer, may You be there to offer comfort. Where there is hurt, may Your church bring healing in Your Name.
We pray in the mighty Name of Jesus, amen!
Thank you for joining me in these prayers. And do add your own in the comments if you wish.
I want to encourage you to go to church with a servant’s heart.
The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV)
Church is not about you. For many of us, we go to church wanting it to meet our needs. We might want our favourite seat. We want our preferred style of music. We want sermons that do not make us feel uncomfortable or challenge us too much.
That may sound harsh, but unfortunately we are often guilty of going to church for what we can get out of it, not what we put in.
Of course, church should be a blessing to us, and if we never received anything from being there, it would not be healthy or right. But the primary purpose is not about what you need or want.
Instead, go with an attitude of service. Give up your seat or parking spot for a newcomer. Pass out the notice sheet if you see those without one. Help move the chairs afterwards if they need moving, or offer to serve the coffee or other refreshments.
Bringing together the family of believers is primarily about the worship of God. It can take a lot of work and organisation to bring it all together, and our consumer society means that too frequently we rock up, expecting to be “fed” and then leave. We are a family though, and if we all do our bit to serve one another, it will be such an amazing experience.
The church I attend is not perfect (of course) but one of the things that was so positive about it was that there were so many volunteers of all ages contributing to the events. We first went to a family oriented event, with different craft activities and a Bible time later on. There were many people there who were just there to serve, and it has always stayed with me.
In my experience, it is usually a select few who run around doing all of the work while the rest keep the seats warm! But we all have gifts, talents and abilities we can use to be a blessing to each other. If everyone did a little serving, then that would go a long way.
In my experience, it is usually a select few who run around doing all of the work while the rest keep the seats warm! #church #Bible #Christianity #Jesus
The season of Lent is approaching once again, with ash Wednesday next week.
Christians celebrate Lent in many different ways. Some give something up, while others try to pick up a good habit. in a previous church I belonged to, we tried to read a Christian book during Lent and discuss it as a church family.
If you wish to follow this practice, then may I humbly suggest my own book.
As you can see, it is a devotional book which you can read over the 40 days of Lent. it was written with lent in mind, and tries to think about some of the things Jesus would have considered during his time in the wilderness.
It is available to buy on Amazon, in both paperback and kindle formats.
On the back of my series on the Great Commission, this is a timely reminder from our brother in Christ.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15 NIV https://1peter.bible/1-peter-3-15
For this Sunday here’s what you can do: Pray for Church Members to Share the Gospel. A few months ago I wrote This Sunday at Church: Thank the …
At the beginning of 2022, I began a new series called “Sunday Suggestion” and the first in that series was Go for a Goal linked here.
As many people do at the start of the year, it was about setting goals for yourself – although I hesitated to call them resolutions!
We are now nearly two months into the year and for this week’s Sunday Suggestion, I want to encourage you to review your goals.
Are you still on track, or have you let it slide? Is this something you need to pick back up again, or do you now realise (in hindsight) that it was too much to take on this year?
If you are still on course, then good for you! If you are not, then it certainly is not too late to catch up. If miss a meal due to a busy schedule, we do not give up eating altogether, but perhaps eat a little more next time!
If you missed that earlier post, or did not set yourself any goals for 2022, then there is no reason why you cannot (prayerfully) set some right here and now. You perhaps cannot claim them to be “New Year’s Resolutions” but if you think about it, 1st January is just an arbitrary date anyway. Why not start a new, positive habit on 20th February? If it is indeed positive, then there is no better time than now to begin.
In Galatians, Paul says:
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 (NIV)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal 6:9 #Bible
I want to encourage you today not to give up. Press on towards your goal, even if progress has been slow up until now. Do not become weary in doing the good you need to do, instead keep putting one foot in front of the other and sooner or later, you will reach your target.
Do comment below with how things are going, and please do respond to one another’s comment with words of encouragement.
Throughout this week, we have been thinking about the Great Commission as given to us by the Lord Himself and recorded in Matthew’s Gospel. I want this week’s Sunday Suggestion to carry on the theme.
Before I do, is there anything that has challenged you this week? If so, talk it out with a trusted friend at church. Perhaps you were moved by the fact that the Eleven disciples had doubts (see Matthew 28:16-17), or perhaps you felt a nudge from the Lord to “go”? Maybe the discussion about baptism prompted you to want to explore it for yourself, in which case why not take this chance to discuss with your pastor? Did the posts about making disciples or teaching challenge you to want to go deeper with the Lord, or help others do the same? Whatever it may be, grab a coffee after the service and sit down with someone. Share your thoughts and get their views.
If there was nothing in particular that stood out this week, then that is fine. Instead, take that same cup of coffee and talk to your home group leader or leadership team about how your church is fulfilling the Great Commission. Do not be critical of course, but look for ways you can get involved and support the church’s efforts. There are undoubtedly myriad ways you can get involved. You might like to help run the next baptism preparation class, or take the big step of offering to lead a small group and help make disciples? You could start a prayer programme for those who are going out and sharing the Gospel, or join them yourself.
Ask your pastor or trusted friend to help you figure out your gifts and unique contribution, together make a plan on how you can use those talents to preach the Gospel – directly or indirectly.
As you discuss the Great Commission, see if there are ways you can encourage others. Some may be cautious or even fearful about stepping out, so give them confidence by supporting them and reminding them of Christ’s presence with them. It might be that they have a God-ordained idea in their heart to reach people with the truth, but they cannot do it alone. You may be the person they need to help turn their idea into a reality.
There are countless ways in which we as individuals and as part of a church, can seek to fulfil Jesus’ commands here. Perhaps you are desperately seeking a way to do so, but just can’t seem to find the right avenue. Talk to someone about it, and listen not just to them, but to the Lord through them as well.
I do hope you have enjoyed what you have read this week, but do not allow it to just pass you by. Let it prompt you to action, and to “go” as Christ instructed. Don’t dive in without thought, but do take definite action. Take the counsel of fellow believers and work with them in whatever way God is directing you.
Together, we can take the Gospel to the world that needs it so very much.
As a reminder, here are the words we have read so many times this week. Read them once again, slowly, and pay particular attention to those elements you have not noticed before. Importantly, read that last sentence more than once. Jesus is with you! Praise the Lord!
But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had sent them. 17 When they saw him, they bowed down to him; but some doubted. 18 Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go[b] and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Matthew 28:16-20 (WEB)
If you missed any of the post on the Great Commission, here is a list:
Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Matthew 28:18-20 (WEB)
Over the course of this week, we have taken a good look at the Great Commission found in Matthew’s Gospel. I hope that you now appreciate (if you did not before) that it goes beyond simply sharing our faith – although that is clearly part of it.
In summary, Jesus tells His Eleven – and by extension, us as well – that they are to go, to make disciples, to baptise and to teach people to obey Him. We have explored each of these in turn, and I now ask you to reflect on how you can contribute to fulfilling each element.
I hope you agree that this is no small task! If you are feeling a little daunted by the idea of trying to fulfil this Commission, then you are not alone.
The first thing to remember is that God will never ask you to do anything that you cannot do. He would be unjust to do so. God is neither unreasonable nor sadistic, enjoying watching us struggle. Instead, God never lets us go through things we cannot bear.
No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (WEB)
Paul, talking of temptation here, points out that God does not allow any temptation beyond that which we can bear. He will provide a way of escape so that no temptation will overcome us.
In a similar way, I believe God will not lay a command us on that we cannot do. He equips us with all we need to succeed, be it gifts, talents, resources or indeed His very own Spirit.
#God equips us with everything we need to succeed. #Bible #Christianity #temptation
It is also important to remember that we are not expected to fulfil this task all on our own. We may have individual responsibilities yes, but it is not on any one person to complete this great work solo. We work together, as a family of believers, and united as the Church of God, we can complete the mission before us.
For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (WEB)
We, the church, are one body. We are made up of different parts, but all exist together as one, and only by co-operating can we hope to fulfil the Great Commission. I may be able to write (to some extent) but I surely cannot sing! What if someone is to be reached with a tuneful rendition of a biblical song? You will not be able to call on me to do this! Instead, you will need a different part of the body.
The truth is that you cannot do everything, but you can do something. God has purposely made us all different, and so each of us can bring our unique gifts, talents and experiences to bear. I cannot do it all, and neither can you, but together we can do a whole lot more.
I am with you
Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Matthew 28:20b (WEB)
Not only do we have one another’s help and support, we have Jesus’ too. Here, He tells us plainly that He is with us and will remain that way.
When we “go” in faith, stepping out to make disciples, baptise and teach, we do so with the Lord Himself. One of the keys to success is not trying to do this in our own strength, but in His. No one comes to the Father except through Christ Himself (John 14:6) so attempting to do this without Him is fruitless.
I recall a time when my wife and I had to move some furniture in our home. One of our children, who were rather young at the time, tried to help us. Their little amount of strength was insufficient to move the item, but with their father’s help, the job was completed.
Trying to fulfil the Great Commission without the strength and power of the Lord is like a little child trying to pick up and move a bed. It cannot be done.
I am reminded of Jesus’ words from earlier in Matthew’s Gospel:
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29 (WEB)
A yoke combines the power of two or more oxen, so that the plough is more easily moved and the work done. If you only put one ox in the yoke, it will be lopsided and likely move in circles. Jesus asks us to link up with Him, and together the task will be completed.
Do not go it alone, but go out with Christ. He has promised to be with you, and only by working with Him can you extend His kingdom and share the Good News with the world. It is a great mystery that God chooses to involve us in His plans, yet I rejoice in that mystery and in being a part of that family.
I leave you with this thought; in heaven, you will be able to pray, to worship, to study Scripture, to fellowship with God and His people, but the one thing you cannot do is fulfil the Great Commission. Let this spur you on, united with the church, and in the power of the Spirit. Let us go out, make disciples, baptise and teach, knowing that Jesus is with us. Amen!
What will you do?
Ask yourselves these questions today:
What comfort do you gain from knowing Christ is with you?
How can you practically draw on His strength more?
Having read this series of posts, what three things can you do now to participate in this great mission?