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Be Hopeful


The three great pillars of Christianity are, Faith, hope and Love. Because we see in Jesus that we are perfectly loved, hope rises in our hearts, no matter what our circumstances are. This leads us to be able to exercise faith in God, regardless of life’s circumstances.
        Christian hope is not a vague longing that somehow life will turn out ok.  It is a confident expectation that God will work our “all things”  for good because of the love He has shown us in Jesus, the grace and mercy He has extended to us through the death and resurrection of our Saviour. So our hope is in Jesus. Not in any effort we put into life, but because of  the love and grace Jesus brings to us. (1Thes. 1:3) Hope is grounded in God; He is the God of all hope and the Father of mercies. (2. Cor:13) This is the foundation enabling us to face life in all its joys and sorrows and to bring encouragement and hope to others because of the difference that the love of God has made for  us.
         Hope looks to God, not self. As the bible says; “You have placed your faith and hope in God because He raised Christ from the dead.” (Peter 1:21).  Our  hope does not depend on us, or what we have done; rather on Jesus and what He has done for us. As Augustine said to a hopeless man who thought of nothing but his sins, “Look away from yourself and look to God.”  If we keep looking at ourselves and what we have done, or failed to do, we will see life and its problems and opportunities as too much.  We will be as St. Paul put it, “without Christ and without hope in this world,”  But he also speaks this way; “Sin shall not have  dominion over you, for you are not under the law (what you have to do) but under grace, (what God has done for us.)” 
       This brings real hope that God will make life work for us and bring us home to glory. We can have biblical confidence because; “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19) Hopelessness is destructive. Hope is constructive. Therefore; “Put your hope in God. For I will yet praise Him, My Saviour and my God.” Ps 42:11
Rev. Collin Britten Rtd.

1 Cor. 15:58NIV

A career is something you choose; a calling is something you receive. A career is something you do for yourself; a calling is something you do for God. A career promises status, money and power; a calling generally promises difficulty, suffering and the opportunity to be used by God. A career may end with retirement and lots of toys;  a calling doesn’t end until you die. A career can be disrupted by any number of events, but God enables you to fulfil your calling even in the most difficult circumstances.

For some people in Scripture obeying the call of God meant living in slavery, being captured and sent into exile, or being put to death. Their career trajectories didn’t look promising, yet they fulfilled their calling in extraordinary ways.

Chuck Colsen had one of the highest profile careers in America. He had access to power and influence in the Nixon White House, yet he landed in prison. His career was over, but his calling was just beginning. He was called to reach others just like himself. He reflects :”the real legacy of my life was my biggest failure- that I was an ex convict. My great humiliation- being sent to prison, was the beginning of God’s greatest use of my life; He chose the one experience in which I couldn’t glory and used it for His glory.”

In the providence of God, the end of your career can be the beginning of your calling. So whatever God has called you to do, the Bible, says, “Give yourselves fully to the work, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.”

Bob Gass.

WHAT ARE YOU MAGNIFYING?

“O magnify the Lord with me; and let us exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:3) Sometimes when we get together we throw a pity party. We talk of how badly we have been treated, how terrible our circumstances are or how awful our life is.

As we magnify our problems, failures and looks they overwhelm us. Years ago there was a book published; YOUR GOD IS TOO SMALL.  The more we magnify our problems the less we focus on the greatness of our God and how He provides for all of our needs and causes us to be more than conquerors in Jesus. The Israelites had this problem.  After God had delivered them from slavery to the greatest empire of their day, and with many miracles brought them to the borders of the Promised Land, they send in 12 spies to explore the land and report back.  Ten of them reported that the people of the Land were too big and strong, and the problems too great for them to take the land.  Even though God had promised it to them! Only Joshua and Caleb had a different view. The others saw the inhabitants as giants and themselves as grasshoppers. 

Joshua and Caleb had a different spirit.  They saw themselves as the giants and the Canaanites as grasshoppers.  They magnified God, saw things from His perspective and reported “we are well able to conquer it.”  But because of the majority report the Israelites were kept out of the land till the unbelieving majority died. (Num. 13). Time and again the Israelites celebrated the victories of God in song to get their perspective right, ie Psalm 78, Psalm 138. 

We do best when we celebrate the goodness of God and His promises to  us rather than focusing on our problems.  Focus on the greatness of God and His faithfulness and we will live a life of blessing to God’s glory. Faith focuses on God and His love, His ability, His promises and so we possess His promises.  Fear focuses on our problems, lack of inability and robs us of the things God has provided for us in Jesus and promises us in His word. Therefore we have a need to gather with God’s people, magnify His Name in prayer, praise and preaching and lift Him up together. 

This is how we can build one another up and see God move in His great love and power. Amen!  Rev. Collin Britten. Retd

. MIND YOUR MIND

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, (or fixed on) you because they trust in  you.” (Is. 26.3)
What goes on inside us has a huge influence on how our lives turn out.  Jesus offers us a new heart, a new centre of our being when we are born again by the Spirit of God. (Ezek. 36:26-27). And the Bible urges us to guard our hearts for they determine the course of our lives. (Prov. 4:23)
This reminds us to be wise in what we feed our hearts and minds on.  In computer talk: GIGO – garbage in, garbage out.  Let us then fix our hearts and minds on God; His love, His goodness and mercy and His Word, especially the Word as it reveals Jesus.
Jesus transforms us by renewing our minds. Romans 12:1-2. He gives us peace in our hearts, regardless of life’s circumstances. John 16:33. Our circumstances may be bad, but our God is good, and He is in control, working all things together for the good of those who love Him.
The best biblical instruction regarding all this is probably found in Philippians, 4:6-9. Here we are urged to worry about nothing, but rather pray about everything. This will lead to God’s peace guarding our hearts and minds. (vs 6 & 7). Then we are encouraged to fix our thoughts on all that is noble and good, practice this and God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds.
I have a friend, who after years of effective ministry, developed Alzheimers disease. With his mind failing, he was placed in a dementia ward. As he practiced this, and received prayer, he was released from this ward and now lives a much more normal life.
As the bible says; “Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:6. This needs to be a consistent life practice, to give us our greatest benefit, and Paul writes; “Be renewed as you learn to know your Creator better, and become like Him.” Col. 3:10
Rev. Collin Britten RTD.

CHOICES
 
In the 1970’s I produced a play, ‘The Clown.’ The main character set the theme of the play saying, “Choices,  that’s what life is all about.”

We see the reality of this as we watch people making life choices. Some choose drugs, alcohol etc., to gain a high or to dull pain and having made the  choice we are powerless to change the outcome, unless we change our choice.  A great-nephew of mine made this choice – drugs - and was found dead and alone in his dwelling, 3 months after he had died.

If we believe that the “stars” determine our lives, we will live the way our favourite astrologer says our life will go.  If we believe that life has no meaning or purpose, we will live accordingly – “let us  eat, drink and be merry, because tomorrow we die.”  Our choices will be determined by what we REALLY believe. If we believe God, we will orient our living according to His Word, (John 14:15 & 21), and love – His for us and ours for Him – will be the motivation for our choices.

God makes this appeal to us; Deut. 30:19,20, “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.”
Sometimes we may be found to have made a wrong choice, or at least be challenged to follow someone or something other than God – there are competing voices, and the call to do what is popular or easy or self-serving and the call will come to us at that time as it did to Israel; “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you WILL serve...But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15.)

Once again CHOICES. But having made our choice, we have fixed the outcome that cannot be changed, unless we make a new choice.

Jesus said: “As you sew, so shall you reap.” Choices affect our lives as Christians.St. Paul wrote: “So then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him.”

We need to have the attitude, “I choose to trust Jesus this day and in my present circumstances.”
Rev. Colin Britten Rtd


FRESH CHALLENGES NEED FRESH POWER
ACTS 4:23-31

In this bible passage we learn an important lesson. With every fresh challenge or opportunity, we need to seek a fresh empowering of the Holy Spirit. We can’t live off past experiences. Our relationship with God, like all relationships, has to be kept real and personal daily.
Our experience of the Holy Spirit is not some “one off” past happening, no matter how real or spectacular; we need to depend on Him every day, and particularly when a significant challenge or opportunity is presented to us.
The Christians here in Acts 4 had just experienced the power of God to heal a life-long cripple, then challenged those who rejected Jesus to come to faith in Him. (Chapter 3) This caused a backlash from the religious leaders, who jailed them, and commanded them to stop preaching Jesus. Their response was; “We must obey God rather than man.” They faced further threats, but the miracle of the healed man, like the miracle of changed lives, confirmed their message.
Faced with Jesus command to tell everyone the “Good News” and the religious leaders dire threats for doing this, they did the only sensible thing – they called a prayer meeting! Though they had already experienced a remarkable move of the Spirit (See Acts 2 and 3) this new situation required fresh “power from on high.” So they prayed on the basis of God’s Word, quoting Psalm 2:1-2, asking God to take note of the threats of the opposition, deal with them, and give them boldness to speak God’s Word: and power to confirm that Word with healings, signs and wonders. (v 29,30). Verse 31 records God’s powerful response.
This is still real today. I experienced some church leaders telling me that God’s miracle power was not for today, and not for all Christians. (But see 1 Corinthians 12:1-7). I was forced out of pastoral ministry, with no prospects, no house and no money. In no time God gave me a house, an interdenominational ministry and faith to believe Him for finances, to live and to minister, without cost, where ever He opened doors. I taught on the power of God to use the whole church to do the ministry of Christ and I did this for 5 years, till Christ opened many of our churches to the ministry of the Spirit, then I went back into pastoral ministry.
The challenge is: “Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
Rev. Collin Britten Rtd

WHAT IS DRIVING YOU?
There are two basic forces that propel our lives – fear and faith.
The Godly Job illustrates the power of both.
Job feared that his children would sin against God, even unknowingly, so he regularly offered sacrifices to God for them “just in case”. (Job 1:4-5). He feared disaster and disaster struck (Job 1:18-19.)  He confessed: “What I feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true.” (Job 3:25).Fear, like faith, has attracting power; it draws results from the spiritual realm. Indeed fear is faith in reverse gear! It does believe but it believes either God does not exist, does not care or can’t be relied on.
In the end Job actually met God. He went from arguments to awe and said: “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.” (Job 4:2-5). The difference between knowing about God and knowing God is life transforming!
The Israelites knew a lot about God. They saw Him devastate Egypt and lead them out miraculously; guide them and provide for them in the desert and bring them to the border of the land He had promised them.

Moses then chose 12 leaders to spy out the land to see both the good and the bad. Ten of them became fearful and brought a negative report saying: “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” (Num. 13:31). They saw the giants and felt like grasshoppers and feared.
Joshua and Caleb saw the same difficulties, but concluded “we can certainly conquer it!” (Num. 13:30).  They felt like giant killers, because they had seen God in action and trusted Him to give them the land He had promised. They had faith in the power and faithfulness of God. The fear of the majority led to them spending another 40 years in the wilderness. Everyone over 20 years old at the time of the Exodus died, but Joshua and Caleb, the men of faith, came into the Promised Land, even though past 80 years old.  Nothing can stop the person of faith receiving the promise.

What can change our fears to faith? The love of God in action. 1 John 4:18 – God’s perfect love casts out our fear. The Israelites saw the love, power and faithfulness of God in delivering them from slavery in Egypt. We see the love of God in Christ freeing us from slavery to sin and death and bringing life and immortality to light.  We have to choose whether to trust God to free us or fear the very real difficulties and stay in the comfort zone of our own fears.
Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.


WHAT DO YOU KNOW? (Job 19:25)
 
Many have the philosophy “When I die, then I will know whether  or not I will make it to heaven.” That is a very big question mark to have handing over your head! It makes life very unsettled and death more than a little frightening.  God does not leave us with uncertainty about eternity.
Some people know from experience that witchcraft and the occult are real.  They have experienced the power and reality without realising of facing its satanic origin and it’s traumatic destructiveness in this life and beyond.
Others trust in the religious heritage handed down to them. They go through rituals they believe God wants, but they never know the reality of God Himself, and His love for them.
Jesus a dressed this  a number of times with the religious leaders of His day. He said things like, ”You search the scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.” (John 5:39-40). As Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). And again the Bible says, “And this is the way to have eternal life – to know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ the One you sent to earth.” (John 17:3). The Jewish leaders knew about God, but they did not know Him. Scriptural knowledge that does not lead to us knowing God is useless, even deceptive. God intends for us to know Him personally, and in a growing way. As Col. 1:10 puts it, “All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.” See also John 10:27-30. To know Jesus like this brings us “a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10).
As St. Paul was able to say through all his trials, “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard (keep) what I have entrusted to Him.” (2 Tim. 1:12)
It is important to know what you believe, but even more to know “whom” you are believing and  trusting your life to.
After all of this we must still realise we don’t know everything for the Bible says: “For we know in part and we prophesy in part.” (1 Cor. 13:9). We are meant to grow in knowing God, till the day of perfection arrives.
Do you know Him in this personal and positive way?

Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.
THE OUTCOME IS UP TO YOU.

DONT LET THE WORLD AROUND YOU SQUEEZE YOU INTO ITS OWN MOULD
Romans 12:2niv

You determine the outcomes in your life because God has given no one but you power over your options.  When things aren’t working out for us, we often look elsewhere for the reason.  Like Eve, we can say, “The devil made me do it.” No. Jesus said, “I give unto you power over all the power of the enemy...”Luke 10:19.

Like Adam, we say, “Eve made me do it.” But the psalmist says, “I trust God, so I am not afraid. What can human beings do to me?” Psalm 56:4. Sometimes we believe circumstances beyond our control are responsible, but with God,,,,”All things (including people and circumstances) work together for our good...Romans 8;28  not for our defeat!  Your mistaken beliefs victimise you and predispose you to a lifestyle of trying to change people and circumstances. That’s like attempting to unscramble an egg, You become a blame-fixer instead of a problem-solver.

Accept the truth that no matter what Satan, others or circumstances do, God gives you the right to the last work in your life. “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4, The outcome is not determined by what goes on around you, but by what goes on within you.  ‘As he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7. The devil can only determine the outcome with your permission and co-operation – and you don’t  have to give them! So believe in God’s ability to bring you triumphantly through this difficulty.
Bob Gass Ministries
 

 
 UNDER ATTACK
 
“When the enemy comes like a raging flood tide, the Spirit of the Lord will drive him back.” (Is. 59:19 NLT.
Mankind is under attack; at war. If you doubt this, don’t just look at the ongoing wars all over the world – wars destroying the lives of many thousands every year, but consider the break-down of family life, especially in the affluent West.  Think also of the destructiveness of the world-wide drug trade. Then also remember the massive number of people affected by things like AIDS and Ebola and the vast number being destroyed by starvation and unsanitary living circumstances, and those enslaved by pornography and sexual promiscuity.
This can all be overwhelming. The devil really is going around like a r oaring lion, seeking to destroy as many as he can.  But we are called to resist him and stand firm in the faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9). Our faith is that Jesus defeated Satan and sin at the cross, (Col. 2:14-15) and that He has given us power and authority over all of the enemy’s power – to loose those under the control of the enemy (Matt. 16:19 & 10:8). The battle is on in earnest and if we are not feeling the heat, we are either dead or willing prisoners of the enemy.
If Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth, as He claims, (Matt. 28:28) then Satan has indeed been defeated at the cross and in His resurrection Jesus has shown Himself to be Lord of all!  Any authority Satan has, has been handed to him by us, just s it was in the Garden of Eden. (Gen.3).
We are designated as more than conquerors through Jesus (Romans 8:37). The battle is still real, we can still fall; we can be down but not out. (Ps. 37:4). For the battle is the Lord’s.  Join His army and he will do the fighting for us. We will find that greater and more numerous are those for us than those against us.
So don’t be afraid – the Lord god Almighty goes before us; He will not fail us or give up on us (Heb. 13:5). We run a sometimes tough race by keeping our eye son Jesus, not our problems.  He assures us of victory against all our foes, and he uses us as a part of His all-conquering Army. We are all gifted, we all have a part to play in the battle. (1 Cor. 12:4-7) Christ works in us and through us by the power of His Spirit.  We represent Jesus on earth, and are given His power and authority to bless others, and see His kingdom come and His will being done on earth as in Heaven!

Rev. Collin Britten Rtd.



WHAT IS MY LIFE?
This is a question posed by James, the brother of Jesus (James 4:14). His answer is that it is like a morning mist – here for a moment, then gone forever.  But is that all there is to life? James certainly does not think so. He ends his letter with a challenge, to go after these who wander away from Jesus and bring them back to Him (James 5:19,29). This will cover their many sins, save them from eternal death and place them where “the blessings of God that enriches life” will again be experienced.
We can value life many ways –
1.    By our possessions.
Jesus said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (Luke 12:15 See Vs 1-34). Yet people will exhaust themselves in the pursuit of financial gain.  But when you die, you can’t take it with you; somebody else will get what you have put so much effort into.
Jesus told a story about a person who measured their life by their possessions (Luke 12:13-21). He started by wanting a better deal form his father’s estate (vss 13-15). His motivation was greed, (vs 15). He moved into storing more than he needed for himself, so he could, “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” (vs 19). A thoroughly self-indulgent person.  At this point he is called to answer for his life to God and asked, “who will get what you prepared for yourself?”
His fault was not in being rich, but in trusting in his riches and not being generous toward God and His people – that is selfish.
2. We can value life by position.
Jesus underlined this difference between His followers and those who are worldly at the last supper (Luke 22:24-27 and John 13:1-17).
Right at the last Supper, as Jesus was preparing to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, the disciples began to argue among themselves about which of them was the greatest; the sort of argument that is often raised in secular society and too often in Christian circles. Jesus settled it by  pointing out that He was among us as a Servant – that is the greatest of all is the Servant of all.
It is not people who rule over, or boss others who are the truly great, but rather those who humbly serve others. We can only serve God by serving people, that is how god measures us.
So, as the Psalmist says: “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Ps. 100:2). For He has truly blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm.

Rev.Colin Britten Rtd.

HEALING OF THE BROKEN AND CRUSHED.
 
“He Heals the broken hearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
 
Life often hurts, even breaks and crushes us.  I believe my father, though wounded and gassed in World War 1, was more damaged by other war experiences than these.  One of the first sights that greeted him was that of a group of men who had a shell land in their midst and blow them to pieces; and that was just an introduction the horrors of war.
Then his mother died, and he came home an orphan aged 19.  I believe this negatively impacted the rest of his life, and made it almost impossible for his children to get close to  him.
What does Jesus have to offer those who are broken and the people who are hurt because of their woundedness?
 
I suffered the consequences of having a father I could not get close to, or receive affection and affirmation from (though I was aware he really cared for me) and as a result I learned to “hate” my father at age 5.  Becoming a Christian at age 26, I became aware that my negative attitude to dad was harming and messing up my life.  One effect was blinding migraines.  I believe the way God got me through can help others.
 
Jesus announced that He was sent by the Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit: “To send for the delivered those who are oppressed- who are downtrodden, crushed and broken down by calamity.” (Luke 4:18)  We have no say in others bruising and crushing us, but we do have a say in how we respond.  And it is not rocket science.
 
We forgive them and bless them as God has forgiven and blesses us! Jesus taught us to  pray: “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12).
So, a forgiving heart opens us to receive more forgiveness, but refusal to forgive, as God forgives us, is a roadblock to experiencing forgiveness. (Matthew 6:14,15)  I willingly forgave Dad, recognising the trauma he had suffered and how it had damaged him, and prayed and worked to be a blessing to him’
Then I had to ask God’s forgiveness for the grudge I had unwittingly carried for so many years.  As I maintained this attitude of forgiveness and blessing, I was changed and my migraines disappeared.
What about traumas caused by family, friends, enemies, even churches?  Jesus gave the answer: “Love your enemies!” Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:27,28)  Praying: “Father, forgive them.....”
 
Paul taught the same thing in Romans 12:14-21.  I have experienced the reality of this in painful situations.  “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Return good for evil, blessings for curses; all because this is how God treats us.
 

Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.



THE REAL THING

DON'T JUST PRETEND TO LOVE OTHERS. RELALY LOVE THEM.   Romans 12:9
My Mother used to observe the actions of professing Christians and when she saw genuine care and help being given, she would comment, “Now they are real Christians!”
Jesus said: “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people b y  their actions.” (Matt. 7:20)
James has a similar word in James 2:14-20, He asks, “Can faith without appropriate actions prove its existence?  Commenting that if it does not produce Godly actions, it is useless;  dead.
So, Paul argues, some people say, “I have faith,” while others have good deeds. But he continues: “Show me your faith without corresponding actions, and I, by my actions, will show you my faith.”
We can all be theological and proclaim; “There is a God” a basic belief of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. “Good for you!” He says, and then points out that even the demons believe this, and shudder in fear.  It takes a life-changing faith in the One who loves us and gave Himself for us to make a real difference in the way we live.  As John, the apostle of love, wrote: “We love because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19) It is in experiencing God’s remarkable goodness and love following us all the days of our lives (Ps 23:6) that we are changed and are enabled to show love towards others who need it as desperately as we do, and deserve it as little as us.
To love is to think and act in a positive and caring manner towards others, sincerely caring for their welfare, regardless of their attitude or action.  In the Greek language sincere means, “without wax.” The Greeks often patched cracks and defects in marble statues with wax.  The repairs were invisible when the statue was cool, but in the heat, the wax melted and the defects reappeared.
Sincere love is the real thing.  It works the same in the heat and pressure of the moment as in the good times.  It is produced  in us by the Holy Spirit, not by us straining and struggling to be “loving”; It does not require us to like what others are doing, but as God gives us the opportunity to act for their welfare, (Romans 5:5) it becomes a reflection of God’s remarkable love for us.
So enjoy God’s love for you, then you will be able to show His love to others.

Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.
 
BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS

 “If it had teeth, it would bite you!”  Both my mother and my wife have said this to me when I have missed the blindingly obvious – I have failed to see a container of food in the refrigerator or an item of clothing hanging in my wardrobe.
In a similar fashion we can miss the very obvious indicators of God’s existance and care.
Psalm 19:1-6 speaks of the creation being a revelation of the Creator: v 7-14 remind us that the word of God reveals the One who gave that Word. John 1:1-5 tells us that the Word became human and lived among us.  Jesus said; “Anyone who has seen me,  has seen the Father,” (John 14:9) God has made Himself known through His creation and through His historical revelation of Himself through the bible, which centres on Jesus, the Word made human. (See also Romans 1:8-32).
His existence,  and purpose is made blindingly plain, as Paul argues, quoting the Cretan philosopher Epimenides, “So that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him.” (Acts 17:27,28).  He has p laced us where we are and when we were born, because “We are His offspring”, he argues, quoting the philosopher Aratus.  So from Hebrew scriptures and secular philosophers he draws the conclusion that God has given indications of His existence so that we can pursue Him and get to know Him and enjoy His love and care.
Yet it remains true that there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.  Why do we refuse to see what God  has made obvious? Jesus said, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19).
Even though God has made His love and mercy brilliantly plain in Jesus, and in creation, we would rather “be like God” (Gen.3:5). We would rather establish our own belief systems, and our own ideas of how we should live, our own evil and life destroying philosophies  than have God expose our failure; even when His plan is bring us mercy and forgiveness and set us free, and establish us in “a rich and satisfying life”. (Jon 10:10).
What to do?
As the prophet Isaiah said; “Seek the Lord while He can be found, call upon Him while He is near”. (Is 55:6). Now is the time for sincere seeking, Now is the time when God is happy to make Himself known to you!
Rev. Collin Britten Rtd.

 

The Question:
MY GOD WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?

Everyone has, at some time, asked God that same question: “WHY?”
From parents whose infant child has suddenly and inexplicably died; to the old person who has slowly and painfully died after living a Godly productive life; and everything in between, that question has been asked.  If there is a God, and if He is good, why did this happen to this person, this way?
Interestingly God never gives a theological or philosophical answer to satisfy the human mind. Job’s friends tried the religious and philosophical approach. Job, being a Godly man, did not know why he was being tested so severely in losing his wife and children and livestock so his answer to his friends was; “Do you think your words are convincing when you disregard my cry of desperation?” (Job 6:26TNLB) He and his friends had argued back and forth like this with no satisfaction; no solid answer.
Then God Himself showed up. The result? Job, of whom God boasted to the enemy of humanity; “Have you not noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth.” (Job 1:8) But face to face with God, Job could only cry; “I have never seen you before, but now I have seen you with my eyes. I take back everything I said, and sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (Job 42:5-6 TNLB)
God then turned to action. He heard the confession of Job’s comforters, accepted their sacrifice, had Job pray for his unhelpful friends, restored them and restored a double blessing to Job in all that he had lost.
Jesus had a similar experience with His disciples. (John 9). They asked Him “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (v2).
Jesus response; “Neither this man or his parents.” (v3). He moved from blame fixing to saying it was “So that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”(v3) So He healed the man, met the need and revealed the love and compassion of God.  This way He set an example for us.
God does not just speak encouraging words to those crushed by life. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  He took on Himself the sin of the whole world and its disastrous consequences. He did not meet our hearts cry of “why?” by blaming us for all our failure, or lecturing us on how to do better. He became one of us and at the cross He publicly triumphed over sin, Satan and death, offering Himself as the solution to whatever ails us.
We either trust Him or we reject Him. When we trust Him He makes Himself real to us, and our response becomes like Jobs: “I  have heart about you, but now I have met you and I am at peace.”
From religion and philosophy to a personal relationship with the Living God. This appears to me to be God’s way.

Rev. Colin Britten Rtd


MORBIDLY RELIGIOUS

We hear much about the dangers of being morbidly obese, of being so overweight that our health and even our life is at risk.  But can we be overweight Christians – morbidly religious?  So religious that it is killing us and others.
Jesus thought this was a real danger. In Luke 18:9-14 He told the story of the Pharisee (the very orthodox religious) and the Tax Collector. (These were Jewish men who robbed the people of God on behalf of the Roman invaders.)
The religious Pharisee congratulated himself on how good he was, better than others; and certainly far superior to the traitorous and compromised Tax Collector. The Tax Collector hung his head in shame and had no excuses, but rather acknowledged what a mess he was in and asked God for mercy. He was the one Jesus gave as an example of one who could become right with God, acceptable in the eyes of the Almighty, though rejected by the religious.
We need to be sure we are turning people to Jesus and not to religion.  Jesus warned us of this in Matt. 23:15.  We can make people religious in the sense of conforming to our views or our statement of faith.  Think of the horrors perpetuated in the name of Jesus, during the Inquisition, the troubles in Ireland and also in the name of God in Muslim history: Muslims fighting Muslims and Muslims killing Christians to this day.
Religion is a mighty destructive force when wielded by the morbidly religious. People need to know God in all His love and mercy to be able to show this love and mercy to others.
The greatest example of someone making the change over in the bible is probably Saul of Tarsus – St. Paul.  He was strictly orthodox and a thorough practicing Jew. (Phil. 3:4-6.) He knew all about God or so he thought, but he didn’t actually know God or do His will.
In reality he violently opposed those who followed the longed awaited Messiah and so opposed God. His was a toxic, destructive religion. His story is one of how God can turn a person whose religion is toxic and who is morbidly religious into an enthusiastic and  effective member of God’s family.  He met the risen Jesus and yielded allegiance to Him, becoming probably the most enthusiastic and effective follower of Jesus in the first Century. (This is what we all need; our own encounter with the risen, living Lord. Our own experience of His life changing grace and mercy.)  Our orthodoxy and religious pride will never turn anyone to faith in Jesus. His love and mercy will change us and others.
What to do? Jesus said; “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you. Seek and keep on seeking and you will find;  knock and keep on knocking and the door will b e opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10.)  There needs to be a genuine desire to know God and a willingness to pursues Him. To these, God happily responds to.

Rev. Collin Britten  Rtd.

The Future
“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to  harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
God has good plans for your future, but they can only be put into effect if you trust Him. Then, even if you get off course, He can bring you back into the place of His blessing.  As Psalm 23 says: “He guides me a long right paths.” And that is “Even when I walk through the darkest valley.”
You could be facing a dark time in your life.  I have one brother in care, and a friend who is likely to die soon. But even for these God has provided a bright future. As Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” (John 11:25)
And He made His point by raising Lazarus back to life after He had been dead for three days.  Then by being raised back to life Himself after being dead, also for three days, and appearing to over 500 people over a 40 day period.  Demonstrating that we have a future and a hope even in the face of death.
You can trust your future to God, no matter what is going on in your present life. Without such faith and hope in the love of God, life can become very dark.  With faith in Jesus, the new life has already begun. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) Jesus said about those who have genuine faith in Him: “they will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death to life.” (John 6:24). Jesus has already secured our future, we don’t have to work for it.
As Jesus said, “This is the only work God wants form you: Believe in the One He sent.” (John 6:29) then we can know that we know; as the bible says, “His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16) In this way God makes us secure regarding our future.  And because we trust the love of God in Jesus, He can start sorting out our present.
You have a bright future in Christ! Start enjoying it. As the song says: “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow, and I know He holds my hand.”

Rev. Colin Britten, Rtd.

Receiving

Our Christian life begins with the act of receiving.  As the bible says; “As many as received Him (Jesus...He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)  That Christian life continues in the same way, by receiving all God has promised us. (Col. 2:6) “just as you received Christ Jesus, as Lord, so live in Him.”
In 2 Peter 13-4 we are reminded that with the gift of Jesus comes everything we need for life and Godliness, through the promises God makes to us.  But the promises don’t work if we don’t believe God and receive what He has promised with thanksgiving.
So the way forward is not basically through striving and praying, though these are important, but rather through believing and receiving.  Whatever we possess and experience in life is through the “givingness” of God.
The other side of “givingness” is not asking but receiving -0 taking that is why it is so important to make bible knowledge a priority, not to be foundation for taking what God has given freely.  As Jesus taught: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to y our children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask (And keep on asking) Him. (Matt. 7:11)
If then we are not experiencing and enjoying what God has given, it may not be that we  have not asked, rather that we have not taken by faith what He has promised.
Here is a suggestion.  If you feel stuck; change your approach to God.  Every day, for the next week try this sort of approach, tell Him:” Thank you Heavenly Father for your great love for me.  Thank  you for giving Jesus your Son to pay for all of my sins so that I can be forgiven and reconciled to you.  Thank you Jesus that you live in me by your Holy Spirit. Thank you that I am complete in Jesus, and have access to all I need in Him.  Thank you that you who have begun a good work in me will carry it through to completion.  Thank you Jesus that you are my strength, my joy and my peace.  Thank you God that you will supply all I need according to your glorious riches in Jesus.”
Remember: GOD IS FAITHFUL.

Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.

TRUST
John 14: 1-21

I think the big question God asks each of us is: “Do you trust me?”  For it is written: “without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb 11:6). Faith, or trust, is central to letting anyone direct our lives.

Jesus said: “Trust in God; trust also in Me.” (John 14:1). Then He went on to say that through His death, He was going to prepare a place for us after death, and by His resurrection, He assured us that He would take us to that place when we died.  He also promised us that in the meantime He would send another Helper, the Holy Spirit, to be all we need to navigate in life, and fulfil its purposes. (John 14:15-21).
But! Do we really trust Him? Or can we find a better offer? If not, take His offer. Know that He is the Way to God, that in knowing Him and seeing Him in action, we will know God, and see Him in action; and become a part of that action. (v12).

Life will then throw many challenges to us. We will face issues that we have no answers for; circumstances that are too much for us. Problems too great for us to solve. Then we need to heed His word: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek Him in all you do and He will show you which path to take.” (Prov. 3:5-6).

Does this mean that everything will fall into place immediately? It is obvious that this does not happen! This is where trust becomes important. God has much to teach us and He is very patient. If we trust Him we will let Him have time to get through to us and open up His way for us. If we are like spoiled children, who expect what we want, when we want it, we will come to a place where God tests the reality of our trust in Him.  St. Peter reminds us: “There is a wonderful future ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine.” (1 Peter 1:6-7). St. Paul has a similar word for us in Romans 5.

We grow through the testing of our faith. Faith is built on the understanding that God really loves us and that He is in control of all that is going on.
Personally I have had my faith tested by the death of a wife, and the opposition of my denomination to my understanding of how God operates in this age: that is, just as He acted in bible times.

The outcome? I have and even better marriage and two children I can be proud of. Also much of my denomination now holds the same sort of beliefs that I embraced. Over time God has shown Himself to be in control and as being worthy of trust over the long haul.
And He will do the same for you!

Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.


Do You Get Your Hopes Up?
When facing some difficult or unknown and dangerous situations people often say to us: “Don’t get your hopes up.” But God has a very different perspective, as the Psalmist said when facing discouragement: “I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again.”  Ps 42,43. He is saying, “If your hope is in me, you will come out on top.” In other words: “Do get your hopes up!”
As the prophet Isaiah says; “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.” Is. 4):31.

Life may crush us, disappoint us, or, as with a friend of mine, you may be told, there is no hope, their illness is terminal. St. Paul reminds us that, ”For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Phil.1:21.

So even in the face of death we are reminded to keep our hopes up because Jesus not only died for our sins, but was raised back to life to give us hope beyond the grave, a better life after death. For the person of faith there is no such thing as a   hopeless situation.

Hope keeps the Christian confident and secure, even to the end. Because no matter how rich, happy or successful we have been no matter how Godly we are, or how many miracles of healing we  have seen; we all face death as the “last enemy.” Our hope comes from knowing the Living Saviour.

St. Paul calls us to face up to what the reality is if Jesus has not risen from the dead. (1Cor. 15:15-19) He says that if our Christianity is good only for this life, we are to be pitied more than anyone else. The philosophy “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” makes more sense than the struggles, rejection, hardship and misunderstanding we face if we genuinely follow Jesus and seek to serve Him in a God-rejecting world.

The Christian hope is not just a trembling, hesitant hope that perhaps the promises of God may be true. It is the confidence that they cannot be anything else because we have come to know the living Saviour.

As we come to experience Him in all His goodness and faithfulness more and more in this life, our confidence for both time and eternity grows.

But there is still mystery: the full and final outcome of our hop-e still lies in the future. As the bible says; “Our hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? >>>(but))) we wait patiently for it.” (Rom 8: 24-25) Here is where our faith is important. We lost Paradise when we did not believe God about the consequences of tasting both good and evil. (Gen 3) we regain it when we again trust God, just because He has proved His love for us, (Rom. 5:8), by sending His Son to save us. The three abiding Christian virtues are; faith, hope and love. (1Cor 13:13), These last forever.

So when we are going through turmoil, we need to do what David did; “Put your hope in God for I will again praise Him, my Saviour and my God.” (Psalm 42:5).
Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.

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The Monkey's Point of View

Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree, discussing things as they’re said to be
Said one to the other, “Now listen you two, there’s a certain rumour that cannot be true.

That man descended from our race – the very idea is a disgrace!

No monkey ever deserted his wife, starved her babies and ruined her life.

And you’ve never known a mother monk to leave her babies with others to bunk
Or to pass them on to one another till they scarcely know who is their mother
And another thing you’ll never see – A monk build a fence around a cocoanut tree.

And let the coconuts go to waste. Why, if I’d put a fence around my tree
Starvation would force you to steal from me. Here’s another a monk won’t do
Go out at night and get on a stew, or use a gun or club or knife to take some other monkey’s life.

Yes, man descended – the ornery cuss, but brother, he didn’t descend from us!

Anonymous.

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Who Cares?

This can be a negative statement by some regarding problems and worries you may be facing; it may even be your attitude to the needs and problems of others.  But it is not God’s attitude to any of us.  As the bible says; “The Lord is good and a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” (Nahum1:7). Others may not care about what is going on in our lives but God cares! As the bible says of Jesus; “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36. Summarizing Jesus’ ministry Peter said; “He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.” Acts 10:38.

Satan oppresses, Jesus blesses. Satan only cares for his plans for world domination; Jesus cares about the welfare of everybody. That is why He died to free us from our sins and Satan’s destructive plans.  As the bible says of God: “The Lord is good to all, He has compassion on all He has made.” Psalm 145:9.

Jesus made it plain that caring or not caring is what separates the sheep form the goats, the blessed from the cursed. (See Matthew 25:31-46) Those received into His Kingdom are those who prove their faith by feeding the hungry and thirsty, clothing the poor, taking care of prisoners, the lonely and the sick; in other words practically ministering  to the needy and disadvantaged. Caring for people. Those who are rejected are those of whom He said: “Whatever you did not do for one of the least.......you did not do for me.” Verse 45. In other words, caring for people in the way we show care for Jesus and failing to show care for people is the indicator that we don’t really about Jesus.

Jesus again makes this point in Luke 14: 12-14. He says in effect, when you throw a party, don’t concentrate on your family and friends, or your rich neighbours, they will simply return the favour. Rather, gather the poor, neglected land disadvantaged; they can’t repay you, but God will.

“Cold as charity” is how many see institutional good works, where churches pay others to care for the needy.  These institutions can do a lot of good. But, as seen in recent sexual abuse cases, when we pay others to do the caring for the needy, and we stay aloof from needy people, the already vulnerable can become victims of abuse, not recipients of personal love and care.

What to do?

As the bible says, “Therefore as we have opportunity let us do good to all  people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Gal. 6:10. And, “Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. As the old poem concludes; “Care, Oh care, for  the sick and the lost. Care for the lonely too. For once, far out on a bald green  hill, Somebody cared for you.”
Care for others, because God cares for you.

Rev.Colin Britten Rtd

 
Just Think
 
Isaiah 1:18-20

When my children went to University and also when they go to church, I have said to them, ”Don’t believe everything you hear, but think, be discerning. If what you are told does not agree with what God says, reject it; and discover God’s point of view as revealed and recorded in the bible.”

Everyone has opinions; but we certainly can’t all be right! St. Paul reminds us that when we are mature Christians, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching (doctrine) and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” (Eph 4:14). This is where men differ from animals, as A.W. Tozer reminds us; “man reflects, and the beast does not.”

We are to reflect on any teaching given to us and decide whether or not it is in line with the revelation God has given us in the bible.

Think on where any teaching will lead us both in time and eternity. What will be the outcome of following a teacher or teaching, both for this life and the next?  For it is God who has put eternity in our hearts.

We can all too easily just go along with what everyone else in our group and even the way our church thinks. In this way we soon become side-tracked from the important issues of life – the matters of “justice, mercy and faithfulness” as Jesus reminds us. (Matt.23:23).

So let us think – let us “reason together” with God, In this way we will be led to appreciate that no matter how bad our failures, and no matter how great our problems, God has, in Christ, dealt with it all and offers us mercy and forgiveness, bringing release from that which holds us down and provision for all we need to rebuild our lives and guide us to a renewed hope on to the path of the just which shines brighter and brighter till the perfect day. (Prov. 4:18)

So think about the application of your faith to the way you live.

Think biblically.

Think about the things you are told to believe.

Think “does this really sound like the Jesus I read of in the bible?”


Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.

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Still Thinking

Phil. 4:9-9
Contrary to the opinions of some, Christianity is a thinking man’s approach to life.  As the proverb says: As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”  What we really think about life, others and God, both shows and shapes the person we are and are becoming.

Paul, in his summing up in Phil. 4 gives instruction regarding the way to achieve real and lasting peace.  It has to do with our thinking.  We are thinking all the time; the question is: “what are we thinking?”  we can be thinking about how we  have been  hurt, how we have been cheated, how we have missed opportunities or even how life is nearly over at 80!  Very soon we will be miserable, depressed and feeling hopeless.

Or we can think of how greatly we are loved by God and others; how faithful God is; how much greater He is than all that stands against us, how He is a present help to us in our times of need and how and  how He has given us a future and a hope, even beyond the grave.  Then we will feel optimistic even cheerful!
While we are living we will always be thinking.  Paul tells us to practice our faith, and in particular practice what we think about.  Practice faith, hope and love thinking!

In verse 4-7 He reminds us peace comes as we rejoice in the Lord always.  As the Bible says in Eph 5:20, we are to “at all times and for all things, give thanks to God the Father because of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Remember Paul and Silas in the Phillipian jail? Chained and in dire peril they were praising God! God released them and saved the jailer. (Acts 16).

So we know he practiced what he preached, and it worked.  His instruction is to be anxious for nothing and pray about everything if we want peace.

He finished by calling us to think on whatever is noble, true and pure. To concentrate our thoughts on the things that are lovely, excellent and worthy of praise. To practice this and the God of Peace will be with us. Think then of the goodness, grace and mercy of God. Think nobly and well of the hope and help He offers; and He will continually encourage and sustain us.
 
Inevitably we will fail at this from time to time, but failure is not final. We fail, God does not. Though we fail we will not be abandoned, for God Himself will pick us up dust us down and send us on our way rejoicing in the mercy and faithfulness of Almighty God. (Psalm 37:23, Psalm 145:14)
 
Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.

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Two Keys to a Successful Life of Faith
 
1.  The  first key is that Jesus primarily calls us to be with Him. (Mark 3:14). “He appointed the twelve………that they might be with Him.” That is His priority, that we spend time with Him, find our security in Him, learn from Him and receive authority and power from Him. This enables us by His grace, to live the life and fulfill the calling He has for us. 
 
We may be called to be a labourer or a housewife, a teacher or a preacher. Everyone needs His leading and His enabling Presence to live the life and fulfill His calling effectively, and to impact others with the power of His love.
 
We spend time with Jesus in prayer and meditation, in fellowship with His people, in reading His word to hear what He is saying to us personally.  This is crucial to handling life opportunities and challenges.  This is how we learn what Jesus has for us to  accomplish and the resources He give s to be successful.
 
We can be active and prosperous, in a “successful” church, appear to be doing very well and still be a failure. (See Rev. 3:14-21). “They were rich and successful in their own eyes. But wretched, poor blind and naked” in the eyes of Jesus.
Why? Because He was excluded from intimate fellowship with His people. (v20). This call for intimate fellowship is not directed at the unsaved, as usually preached, it is directed to those in the church.
 
2.      At conversion, that point of putting our real faith in Jesus, He gives us His Holy Spirit so that what we do and say will be a witness to Jesus. (Acts 1:8)  to His life-changing love and power.
Our first calling is not to tell the world when the end is coming (v 7), Nor to be a preacher, evangelist or teacher of God’s Word.  NO! It is to have a personal relationship with Jesus which changes us and enables us to successfully get through all the ups and downs of normal life, and to share this with others, who need to find meaning and purpose in their lives.
A witness tells what they have come to know and experience first- hand.  Jesus, wants us to know and experience Him in all of life’s joys and trials and share this with others. (See 2 Cor. 1:3-4).
 
 
Rev. ColinBritten Rtd.
 
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More Than Enough
 
It is the truth that Jesus is more than enough for all of our needs; and everything else is never enough.

As the Bible says: “My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19)  But remember, this was written to those involved in freely giving to the need of others.  Jesus said; “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mark 10:23) For if we are trusting in our riches, we won’t trust in Jesus.  As He said; “You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt.6:24)
He is more than enough for both this life and the life to come.

He is more than enough to deal with all of our sins and failures as the Bible says; “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (Romans 5:20).

He is more than enough to meet all our needs as we seek to meet the need of others. (2 Cor. 1:8) “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  So we have more than enough in Christ and by His Spirit to witness and minister to the needs of others; in Spirit, Soul and Body.

We face many difficulties and challenges in this world that largely opposes God:  but Jesus is our sufficiency as John 1:16 (Amp) reminds us: “Out of His fullness (Abundance) we all received – all had a share and we were all supplied with – one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, and even favour upon favour and gift heaped upon gift.”  It is true that of ourselves we are not sufficient or competent; but as we trust God through Christ, He makes us able and competent for all we face in life. (2 Cor 3:5). As Paul testified; “I can do everything through Him who gives me the strength.” (Phil. 4:13).

We face many battles in life, but we need the faith of David as he faced Goliath, he reminded him that the battle is not won by human effort or ingenuity, “For the battle is the Lords.” (1Sam.17:4) or as Paul put it, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37).

And when things are not going the way we would like them to, and our prayers are not being answered the way we want; learn from St. Paul who when under painful attacks from Satan, heard Jesus say to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, my Power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

Then Paul went on to say he boasted about his weaknesses, because that gave opportunity for Christ’s strength to be seen and experienced.  He is more than enough, no matter what the sin, failure, battle or need.


Rev. Colin Britten, Rtd.

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Things We Can Know

Let’s face it, there are many things we do not know, even though we may like to know them.

We don’t even know what will happen tomorrow, as St. James reminds us, (James 4:14)

We don’t know when the world will end.  In fact Jesus said; “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority.” (Acts 1:7)
But take heart! On much more important issues, God has told us things we can know.

Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” (Job 19:25) This is something encouraging that we can know.  Acts 1:1-3 tells us that after His resurrection, Jesus showed Himself alive, and gave “many convincing proofs that He was alive” over a period of forty days.  So we have convincing evidence that He conquered death, sin and hell for us because of the testimony of all those who were there.  He also told them He would return, so we know we have a future home and hope. John 20:31, Acts 1:11.

Also we know our faith in Jesus is real and effective, because of the inner witness of the Hoy Spirit. Romans 8;16. This goes beyond mere intellectual knowledge; it is an inner experience a “knowing that we know we know.” A deep assurance of the reality of the salvation Jesus gives.  I had this witness of  the Spirit long before I discovered this scripture.  It is a solid defence against all the attacks on our faith.  As St. Paul wrote; “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard (keep) what I have entrusted to Him.” 2 Tim 1:12.  It is important to know what we believe, but as Jesus pointed out (John 5:39-40) we can think we have our beliefs all sorted out through Bible study, but we can miss knowing the One the bible talks about.

 We also have an objective measure to make it evident that our faith is real.  It is when our lives have turned from rebelling against God to obeying and trusting Him.  This is further strengthened as we find ourselves loving, caring for and seeking the welfare of others. 1John 3:14.

Finally we can know God will make whatever happens to us turn out for our good.  Romans 8:28 says: “We know that God works all things together, for the good of those who love Him.” Many times I have proved this.

On one occasion when I was attacked for my beliefs and had significant needs God provided a home, work and ministry for me in a completely miraculous way as I took a stand on Phil 4:19.

There is more; more than we could ever imagine. (Ephesians 3:20) As you read your bible, write down everything God shows you He wants you to know and trust Him to make it all real to you.
 
Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.
 
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Joy and Rejoicing

Psalm 100

This Psalm shows us the ideal way of approaching God and the reason for this kind of approach.  Verses 1 and 2 speak of coming to God with shouts of joy and gladness; expressed in song – why?  Because He is God, the Almighty, the Creator of all things, including us; the people He h as chosen and cares for and who provides for all of our needs; as a shepherd does for his flock (v3).
Then we are called to come into His Presence with thanksgiving and praise; because He is good to us, always, v 4,5. His love and faithfulness is extended to us all of our days.
 
Here is a good reason for us to be a people of praise; “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies n ever come to an end, they are new every morning, because of His great faithfulness” and love, as shown to us in Jesus. (Lam. 3:22-24).
 
So the bible tells us to; “Rejoice in the Lord always,” Phil. 4:4. To not be anxious about anything, but to pray about everything, with thanksgiving; because God hears and answers prayer.

My mother left me with one outstanding piece of advice; “count y our blessings.”
Even tho ugh there are difficulties in life, because our eyes are on the goodness of God, we will have expectations that God will turn it all for our good.  This makes us confident that beyond this life we have the perfect life prepared for  us by Jesus. (John 14: 4,5)
 
Now we understand why the bible tells us; “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh. 8:10). These people had just heard the Law of God read to them and understood that the disasters they had experienced were a result of disobeying and disrespecting God.  Now as they were experiencing His mercy, t hey were called to rejoice; to celebrate,, to have a festival and include everyone.  This is a call to u s when we have heard the word of God and have returned to Him.  The Eucharist is supposed to be a joyful celebration of the mercies of God which He extends to all. The amazing thing is that God joins in the celebration! He is not a mean forbidding Judge; rather He is our loving Father who will “rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph.3:17.

So – count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord h as done.” Then rejoice more!


Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.
 
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Who I Am? –in Christ

Part 2

An older gospel song says in part: “I’m a conqueror and victorious, I’m reigning with Jesus, I am seated in heavenly places in Him…And the Kingdom of God is within me, I know no defeat, only victory.”

The devil will constantly lie to us and tell us we are unworthy nobodies; and that God could not really love and accept us.
This is where faith comes in, because God says all that is in that little song and much more.  Faith does not focus on ourselves or our failure or achievements; but on what God says. 

As the bible says, “Now faith is the assurance….of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see (or feel), and the conviction of their reality – faith perceiving as a real fact - what is not revealed to the senses.” (Hebrews 11:1)  Faith is never what we see, what we see is our failure, faith believes what
God says about us and the conviction He will make it real to us.

God says in love He planned for us to be adopted in Christ and made acceptable to Him because of Jesus.  Eph. 1:4-7. He chose us because He wanted us, vs 4, it was His will and purpose to make us acceptable in the Beloved. Vs 5. And through His blood we have salvation, and the forgiveness of all of our sins v 7.

We do have battles in life, serious, hurtful and at times seemingly overwhelming; but in Christ, we are more than conquerors. Romans 8:28, As the bible says, “If God is for us, who can be against us.”

We are reminded that God will make everything that happens to us work out for our good, if we love and trust Him in response to His love for us. Romans 8:28.
So who am I in Christ? I am God’s child (John1:12) I am a saint, ie. Set apart for God Eph 1:1, Because God purchased me at great cost to Himself (1 Cor. 6:19-20) I am the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt 5:13-14) I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27) even His bride, (Rev. 19:6-10) and as such if we love Jesus we must love His church; and we must call o hers to join the festivities of the great wedding feast (Rev. 22:17, Acts 1:8) Because I am free from condemnation forever, (Rom 8:1-2) and it is a lie of Satan that we can’t influence others for Jesus, because the Bible reminds us I can do all things through the strength that Jesus gives me. (Phil.4:13) and remember, the work He has begun in us, He will bring to completion (Phil. 1:6)

I know I belong to God and my future is safely in His hands. Do you know who you are?


Rev.C.Britten Rtd.
 
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The Mark of a Christian
 
In John 13:34,35, Jesus tells us that we mark ourselves as His disciples by loving one another. I get truly concerned when I see so often people in the same family, and even the same church, who are more than at odds with each other, and are actually plain nasty toward each other.

The bible says: For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, (literally – who is right under his nose), cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20.

He is not saying we must like the things our fellow Christian may be doing, but that we are to love that brother in the same redemptive way God loves us in our imperfection.  We are to work and pray for their welfare, in the same sort of way Jesus persists with us; even in discipline and correction, for our welfare.

Jesus sent a letter to His people at Ephesus along this line, (Rev. 2:1-7) He commends them for their hard work and their orthodoxy. But He warns them they are in danger of losing it all because; “You have forsaken your first love. “ V4. They neither love Jesus or the people He came to save, the way they used to.  They had lost touch with the fire they had when they first discovered how much God loved them and the rest of the world John 3:16.

The last letter He sent was to the church at Laodicea.  His complaint was that they were “neither hot nor cold.” He was ready to vomit them out of His mouth because they were only lukewarm.  The fire of love had gone out of their faith.

Materially they were well off; they were self satisfied and complacent; materialistic, just like the people of Laodicea. Instead of their wealth and success making them a success in Jesus eyes, He found them, “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” V 17. He pictured Himself as standing at the church door and knocking to get in.  Because He loves them He is rebuking and disciplining them. 

So He is literally standing at the hearts door of individual believers, wanting to get in and have deep, meaningful and life changing fellowship with them.  As has been said:  “Jesus loves us each one, as though we were the only one.”
Do we make the time and space for Him to come to us and pour His love into our hearts by the Holy spirit, so we will  be motivated and enabled to love others with the same love He has for us? Romans 5:5.

Did God wait for us to be “good enough” before He loves us? NO! So why wait for others to be “good enough” before we love them?

We are to love sacrificially and redemptively, as God loves us.
 
Rev. ColinBritten Rtd.
 
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Who am I?EphesiansChapter 2.
 
How then did it happen that Jesus said to leaders of His people, Israel, “You belong to your father, the devil” John 8:44?  It was not that they did not know their origin to God; but rather that they had chosen to join Satan in rebellion against God by challenged the truthfulness of God and led man into self-centred rebellion; resulting in a separation from God, our source of life of meaningful existence and support and into a place of being cursed, cut adrift, without hope and help. Genesis 3. 
 
This is where Ephesians chapter 2 brings us really good news. 
 
Verses 1 – 3 tells us why we are objects of God’s wrath; because we follow the ways of this world.V 4 introduces God’s love and mercy.  By this we, who were doomed, are made alive in Christ and are seated in heavenly places in Christ.  All of this is done to demonstrate God’s great grace, His kindness and mercy, available to all who will stop disbelieving God and His good purposes for us and respond to His love by trusting in Jesus, the Saviour He has sent.
 
Vs 11-19 when we take this step of leaving our unbelief behind and start trusting Jesus, and all He has said to us and done for us, we are radically changed from enemies to friends, from doomed and exclusion to reconciliation and acceptance. We become a new creation in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17. The old  outcast has gone, the new child of God has arrived We are someone new, and He has called us to become reconcilers; by loving and caring for others, doing them good, even though they may not deserve it.  Praying for them, though they ma n no more care for God or others than we used to, and sharing the Gospel – the Good News – with them. So we aretruly different.  We are reconnected to our roots in God, and our lives show this.  Now as the Gospel song puts it: “I am greatly blessed, highly favoured, imperfect but a forgiven child of God.” 


Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.
 
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The Power of Forgiveness

Matthew18:21-35

Peter was feeling generous, so he asked Jesus should he pardon someone who sinned against him seven times – Jesus had just been teaching on forgiveness, and I think that He considered forgiving someone seven times a very generous gesture.  But Jesus said 70 x 7 times, in other words, as often as he needs forgiveness and asks for it.

The story is then told about a man who had an insurmountably great debt and was ordered by the judge to be sold, along with his wife and children and everything he owned to pay the debt.  The man, horrified at what he had brought on himself and his family begged for patience and mercy so he could try to repay the debt.  The master then, in an act of compassion, knowing the man could never repay the debt, released him and forgave the debt, sending him away a free and happy man. This man responded by grabbing a fellow servant and imprisoned him for a comparatively insignificant debt. This infuriated the master, who had his ungrateful servant sent to prison to be tortured till he could pay the debt that had originally been forgiven. (Matthew 18:21-25.)

Jesus used this as an illustration of what will happen to those who have been forgiven their huge debt of sin, but are unforgiving to others who “owe them”, and need their forgiveness.He taught the same thing in the Lord’s prayer: “Forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” Matthew 6:12.  This is the only part of the prayer He comments on saying;  “If you forgive those who sin against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (vss 14,15).This is a “Godprinciple.”  
So if you are finding yourself in bondage to y our sin and failure, ask yourself: “Is there someone I need to forgive and treat with the same kindness God has shown me?”It is a powerful thing to find  yourself released from your burden of sin and shame and “accepted in the Beloved.” I found this very real and freeing.  I was hindered from accepting Jesus as my Saviour from sin and its consequences feeling I was too b ad, had gone too far in my rebellion against God.  Then God convinced me that Jesus had come to save sinners of all kinds, that facing the fact that I was a sinner, was what qualified me to find mercy and salvation by trusting Jesus, the Saviour God sent. (Matthew 1:21).Life has never been the same and I seek t o treat others with the same kindness that God has shown me. (Part 2 to follow.)

Rev. Colin Britten, Rtd.
 
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The Power of Forgiveness 
Part Two

Staying Free
Romans 12:14-21 
 
 I have very close friends who, both husband and wife, had their parents murdered by neighbours and friends; a perfect  reason to hate and seek revenge; but they chose to go to these people and offer forgiveness in the name of Jesus.  Now they minister to the disadvantaged, accepting a much lower salary than they would get if they chose the best job offers and just looked after themselves.  But they are happy with good friends, happy children but of course, the cost has been great. 
 
Jesus offered the perfect way to avoid the agony of anger and remain gracious, warm and happy.  He said; “I say love y our enemies! Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” Luke 6:27-28. 
 
Sadly, I also have people close to me who have carried resentment and bitterness throughout their lives.  They lack friends, grasp for material wealth and cause hurt and disruption wherever they go.What is God’sanswer to this? 
 
Our passage in Romans 12 is central to avoiding this sad outcome.  These words reflect the words of Jesus. 
 1. Bless those who harm you. 
 2. Enter into the joy and sorrows of others. 
 3. Live in harmony with others as far as it depends on you. 
 4. Don’t repay evil with evil. 
 5. Leave revenge to God, who surely will repay.
 6. Do good actively to others. Care for them and show kindness to them in practical ways.  This will shame them, possibly change them and glorify God by acting toward them the way God has acted towards us. 
 In these ways we will overcome evil with good, as God has done to us.  For it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance – to a change of attitude and actions. Romans 2:4. That none of this is easy is obvious.  It causes us to have to lean on the wisdom, power and perseverance that only the Holy Spirit can give. 

We have to reaffirm our forgiveness to those who have most deeply hurt us until they are truly released in our hearts and our desire is for their blessing; admitting they no more deserve a blessing than we do.  Acting in this Godly way leaves us feeling free to be open with God about our failures and receive His continuing mercies. 1 John 1:8,9. This can bring us to the position Paul found himself in, Philippians 3:12-16. He could face the fact that h e had not reached perfection; but he could leave the past behind, in God’s hands and subject to His mercy, and press on to reach  his heavenly goal, through God’s grace and mercy.By grace we can.  Through faith we will and God will get all the glory. 
 

Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.

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One Way
 
Many today, as in the past, see all religions as leading us to God; just as in the 1 Century world it was considered that all roads led to Rome.  Both are generalizations full of flaws.  Many roads led to p laces other than Rome; many religions lead to other beings who are not God.Religion is man seeking God. Jesus is God seeking man.Jesus said; “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through Me.” John:14:6. Either that is true, or Jesus is a liar. In John 7:12-13 people were arguing about who Jesus was, and we get opposite opinions.  Some said “He is a good Man,” others, “He deceives the  people.”  He cannot be both.  As ever, He forces a choice.  Either He is who He claims to be – claims backed up with signs, wonders and miracles and His resurrection – or He is a fraud.  So He goes on to say: “Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.” (John 7:17). 

Faith in God is not a matter of personal opinion, it is a real response to a real God who has made Himself known and that supremely in Jesus Christ.The Apostles taught the same.  Having healed a cripple at the gate of the temple, Peter made it plain that it was not by his ability that the healing happened but “that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene.” And ”that there is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:9-12). This was because; “God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ.” So much so that Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.) John 14:9. Or as Paul also wrote; “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” 2 Cor. 5:19.

God is not a God of confusion; He has made one way to know Him and that is through faith in Jesus the  Messiah.  All other roads are dead ends.  That is why Jesus said, “This is eternal life to know personally and experientially You, the only true and real God and Jesus the Messiah whom You have sent.” (John 17:3, expanded)So Jesus put it to His disciples: “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus response was: “You are blessed, Simon, son of John, because my Father in heaven h as revealed this to you.  You did not learn this from any human being.” Matthew 16:16-17.As you search to know God, have you found Him seeking you in Jesus His one and only Son?


Rev. C. Britten Rtd.
 
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The Death of a Young Man

As a young man in my early 20’s when I drove passed our city’s major cemetery, I felt depressed.  I saw all these dilapidated and neglected graves and thought that is how I will end up.  Not a very encouragingthought. Then when I came to know Jesus at age 26 this all changed; death was no longer the end, it was no longer to be feared.  For Jesus made real to me His promise: “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” (John 11:25). Death was no longer the end, but rather the gateway to life in the presence of our risen Lord. 

As St. Francis’ hymn says “And you most kind and gentle death waiting to hush our latest breath, Oh Praise Him! You lead home the child of God and Christ our Lord the way has trod. O Praise Him!”Jesus has indeed taken us out of the Kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of light. (1Peter 2:9) St. Paul in 2 Tim. 1:10 speaks of; “Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

For the good news is not only that Christ died for our sins, in public, on the cross; but also that three days later he was raised to life and was seen alive by over 500 people over a period of 40 days. (1 Cor. 15:6) Jesus the Lord of life, has in reality destroyed death and him who has the power of death ie. Satan, (1 Cor. 15:20-26 and 54-57) The final revelation of this will be at the resurrection of the dead. However, we can enter into the experience of this reality now as we trust in our risen Lord.

At age 80 I am more aware than every of my mortality. So how does this help in the here and now? The bible says “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:21. So death is no longer clouded by the fear of nothingness, darkness or loss. Instead it presents the promise of a better life than I now enjoy.  We are told in 2 Cor. 5:8 that to be “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Paul had a dilemma, he said he would prefer to be away from his body and at home with the Lord, but he chose to stay to help the church. (2 Cor 5:8). And in case we think this means some ghostly, insubstantial existence in 1 Cor. 15:35-49 and 2 Cor 5:1-5, he reminds us that there is not only a physical body but also a spiritual body.

I have spoken to some who have a ‘clinical death’ experience but were very aware of being alive and better off. So Paul encourages us to make it our goal to please the Lord whether we are at home in this body or away from it. (2Cor.5:9.)   GOD AND HIS WORD The bible reminds us that “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfil?”  (Numbers 23:19)  God is always true to His word; as He reminded the Israelites after He had delivered them from slavery in Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land.  “Not one of the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed, every  one of them was fulfilled.” (Joshua 21:45). This remains true for us. 

Know what God has promised you, then trust Him to act accordingly.By His Word the universe came into existence (Gen 1:1-2 and 2, Hebrews 11:1-3) When God speaks, it happens, as the prophet Isaiah says; “So is my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Is. 55:11)

So read God’s Word and trust the Holy Spirit to apply it – then trust God to make it happen.  That is what Jesus did, He spoke out of His relationship with the Father, and saw what He said actually happen.  (See Mark 4:39-41)). He spoke to the wind and the waves and the storm, and they stopped immediately which awed His disciples who were terrified at such authority and said, “Who is this? That even the wind and waves obey Him!”  This happened when He spoke to the sick and healed them, to the demons and they obeyed Him (Mark1:40-42, 21:28). In Ps 107:20 it is written: “He sent forth His word and healed them.”

As Ps 119:105 tells us: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  Live in the light of God’s word and life will never be the same. Over 30 years ago God quickened to me Ps 128:6, “May you live to see your children’s children.”  I thought it ridiculous, as my wife was in the latter stages of dying with cancer.  She later died.  I remarried and at age 50 my first child was born.  God went to such trouble to convince me that this was His personal promise to me that I confidently await grandchildren; not because of my youthfulness and good health. I am now 80, with several significant health problems; but because with God all things are possible and He is faithful.  Also I have seen other unlikely promises fulfilled by God. Remember Duet. 8:3, quoted by Jesus in Matt 4:4, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” 


Rev, C. Britten Rtd.  


CHRISTIANITY IS?

Ask what is Christianity and you will get many and varied answers.Some will say, “A Christian is someone who goes to church.” And so they should, for the bible says in Hebrews 10:35 not to give up meeting together, especially when the going is tough, but to encourage and support each other.  But many who do go to church do not personally rely on Jesus, or encourage others in the faith.Some will define a Christian as someone who does good.  Again we should do this.

Hebrews 10:24 tells us to “find ways to motivate one another to love and good works.” But Jesus tells us that only God is truly good. (Mark. 10:18)  And Romans 3:10-18, quoting the Old Testament reminds us that we all fall short of God’s standard for being good.  So, as Billy Graham reminds us: “Just because a person claims to be a Christian does not mean that he is one.”

Then what defines a person as being a real Christian? 

Colossians 3:4 is very clear speaking of “Christ who is your life.”  He is the open secret to what makes a person a Christian.  We must receive Christ as our Saviour, and put all our faith in Him. (John 1:12,13).

Quoting Billy Graham again: “Some people think that going to church and owning a big dust-covered bible makes a person a Christian.  That is not true.  A Christian is one in whom Christ dwells, and the person’s life will give evidence of this.”  As Jesus said; “By their fruit you shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20). Therefore St. Paul challenges us to examine ourselves to see if we are indeed in the faith. (2 Cor.13:5).

Are we truly trusting in Jesus for ourselves and not relying on our family’s Christian heritage? 

Remember: “God has no grandchildren”; either we have been born again through putting our faith in Jesus, or we are illegitimate in our claim to be a Christian; Jesus made this plain to a religious leader of His day. (John 3:1-21).So check yourself: does your life give evidence of Christ being your life?If this is the case are you impacting others?  Does your life challenge and encourage them to trust in Jesus?  This is our calling as Christians.  Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8.  We are not only called to this ministry,  but also equipped by God: and in obeying we grow in our experience of the reality of God being for us and with us.Rev. Colin Britten Rtd. 
 
Authority Jesus said: “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Therefore, if He has ALL authority, Satan and his minions have none.  He can only get to us in the same way he did in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3). By twisting and challenging the truth of what God said. (Note vss 12,4,5) and even that only becomes effective as we believe and accept Satan’s lie as Eve did (v.3b,6-7).

Jesus reversed this in His confrontation with Satan in the desert, not in the Garden of Eden, but in the harsh reality of this fallen world. Matthew 4:1-11.  Satan challenged Him to meet His own legitimate needs in subtly selfish ways; using His authority for His own comfort and benefit. 

In each instance, Jesus answered with the Word of God and His submission to that Word.This resulted in Satan withdrawing from that particular attack, defeated; only to return again and again till Jesus finally and openly defeated him at the Cross. (Colossians 2:15).  This underlines the importance of knowing the Word of God.  Read it, remember it and apply it for it is the Sword of the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:13-18, especially v 17). 

I have been reading, remembering and applying the Word of God for well over 50 years and still Satan attacks and still God deals with these attacks according to His Word.Jesus finished His life on earth by introducing His followers to the Holy Spirit (John 21:21,22).  It is only as we receive the Holy Spirit, ie., welcome Him and submit to His leading, depending on His power working through us, day by day, that we move in the power and authority of God.  The bible instructs us to be constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit so we can live the Christian life in the power of Christ.  Ephesians 5:16 which literally says “Be constantly being filled with the Spirit.” 

Jesus in Luke 11:9-13 teaches us to be persistent in our prayers and specifically in V 13, to keep on asking for the Holy Spirit.  He is there not just to kick-start our Christian life, but to make it effective at every step along life’s journey.  So keep asking, and believing as you receive when you pray. (Mark 11:24). Jesus made it very plain in Luke 7:1-10 that it is only as we are under the authority of God, that we can effectively exercise the authority of Jesus.James puts it bluntly in James 4:7 saying, “Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from  you.”If we know these things, what a blessing it will be if INTO THE UNKNOWN. 
 
With the dawn of the New Year – or even a new day – we venture into the unknown. We will face challenges, difficulties, and disappointments – as well as blessings, encouragements and opportunities.  Old familiar people will no longer be around, either having moved away or will have gone to meet their maker.
 
We do not know what the future holds, our hope is in knowing Him who holds the future. The bible says  “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you.  He will be with you: He will neither fail you nor abandon you.  Duet. 31:6. 
 
Some things outside our control and comfort zone however,  will certainly confront us. What then?The bible says: “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You, I will praise God for what He has promised. I trust God, so why should I be afraid?  What can mere mortals do to me?”  Psalm 56:4 
 
At this new season in our lives God reminds us: “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.”  Psalm 32:8.    Faith trusts God when we have no idea how or where He is guiding us, or how He will provide for us.  The bible says: “Be free from the love of money….and be satisfied with your present circumstances and what you have, for He (God) Himself has said, I will not in any way give you up, nor leave you without support:  I will  not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake nor let you down.   Assuredly not.  
 
So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be seized with alarm, I will not fear or dread or be terrified.  What canman do to me?” Hebrews 13:5,6. James warns us against self confidence and self sufficiency in chapter 4:13-17.  Reminding us that if we self confidently boast of our future plans and how much money we will make, where we will go and what we will do, without following God’s plan for our lives; we will be doing evil, and forgetting that in God’s big picture we are like a morning mist, here for a moment then called to give account of ourselves to God - right in the middle of all our planning and activity! So let us trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not rely on our own insights and understanding, but in all our ways acknowledge and trust Him and He will straighten us out and guide us in the best path for us. Proverbs 3:4,5.
 
 Rev. ColinBritten Rtd.
 
 
RULES RELIGION AND RELATIONSHIPS
 
Jesus said, “This is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” 1 John 17:3In John 10:14,15 Jesus tells us that His people know Him in the same way that He knows the Father and the Father knows Him. Ie., by personal relationship. 
 
To the religious leaders of His day, who were strong on religion and law, He said; “You do not know me or my Father,” For if they had had a personal relationship with One, they would  have automatically recognised the other! I became a Christian from a religiously ignorant background,  but as soon as I  trusted Jesus I knew Him as a real person whom I could talk to and who talked to me; and God became real to me as my Father who cared for me, and whom I could safely trust in for the real issues of life.   (John 8:47 and 10:28.)
 
Paul, in Galatians 3:1-5, poses the question: “Did they receive the Holy Spirit and perform miracles by obeying rules even God’s rules, or by believing and trusting the Good News of God’s love and grace in Jesus?”Our religion can be weak and ineffective if we try to make it work according to either God’s law or our own churches particular rules.
 
Religion run this way has been particularly destructive, whether calling itself Christian or some other name.  Persecution, wars and unbelievable horrors have been promoted by various religious organisations. Christianity is only true as it lives out Jesus’ challenge to love one another as He loves us (John 13:34,35)  Experiencing His love and grace personally becomes the foundation for loving others; and experiencing the love of God poured into our lives daily by the Holy Spirit provides the power to love others. (Romans 5:5) This message is emphasised in 1 John 3:11-24.1. 
 
We are to love one another, specifically our Christian brothers and sisters.  Verse 1. 2. We are not to be surprised if the world, including the religious world, hates us.  Because the world rejected Jesus and killed Him we can expect a similar response, especially as we do the right thing. V 12-15 3.      

We know what love looks like as we see Jesus laying down His life for us. And this provides the pattern for our living.  It is to be a practical thing, sharing our material blessings with those in need. V 16-21. 4. 

This outworking of faith in Jesus gives us confidence before God in facing life and being effective in prayer. Verses 21-24. It seems that rules were made to be broke, because we are broken.  We twist and change them to serve us. Mark 7:6-13, note v 8)What we need is to be changed by Jesus, so that we serve the Lord with gladness and bless others with the same sort of blessing that God has poured on us. (2 Corinthians 1:3,4,5) 

Rev. Colin Britten Rtd
 

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HORROR OR GLORY?
Luke 16:19-31  The Rich man and Lazarus.  
 
This is a well known story told by Jesus.  He illustrates here the huge difference in the way we interpret life and death; and the way it really is with God. 
 
Wealthy people were seen by the scribes and the Pharisees as being blessed by God, others were seen as the Rabble who do not know the Law. (John 7:49)  But Jesus pointed out that it was not knowledge of the Law, but obedience to it that brought blessing.  (James1:22) and at that point we all fail. (Romans 3:23). 
 
The Rich man lived out life in extravagant luxury. The Poor man, at his front gate, lived in abject poverty and suffering, uncared for by the man who had more than enough. 
 
 Both died – as we all do.
 
The Poor man entered Paradise, and a life of everlasting blessing.The Rich man ended up in hell, suffering torment; in this life he had received all good things; but now he would be tormented for ever, with no one able to help.  He was desperate to warn his family, but was told that if people would not turn to God because of the scriptures; they would not believe; even if someone would rise from the dead to warn them of the horrors of living without God. 
 
Jesus drove this truth home forcibly; firstly by raising Lazarus from the dead four days after he died, only to have the religious leaders try to kill Jesus and Lazarus (John 11).Jesus  Himself rose from the dead three days after his own death and was seen alive by 500 people over a period of 40 days.  The response of the religious leaders? To pay the guards at his tomb a large sum of money to cover up what they had seen and to lie to the authorities saying that His disciples had come and stolen his body. (Matthew 28 :11-15). 
 
Jesus spoke of hell in terms of eternal fire, outer darkness, where worms continual eat us, and of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.  All figures underlining separation from all good and of eternal suffering.  This is all repeated in Revelation 20:11-15 and 21:8.

On the other hand Jesus spoke of heaven as a place of consolation and reward, of eternal joy and fulfilment (Revelation 22:1-6, Psalm 16:11) 

In Matthew 25:46 Jesus reminds us that both punishment and blessing are eternal. Choose then now whom you will serve. 

Remember, God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should have a change of heart and put their trust in Jesus (1Peter 3:9)He has sounded a dire warning but also has shown us great love to win back our trust.  So activate your faith and seek the Lord, and he will reward you. (Hebrews 6:1) It is the Goodness of God, not the fear of hell that leads us to change our attitude and trust Him. (Romans 2:4).

Rev. Colin Britten Rtd.      
 
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SINNING SAINTS (NBL translation)

This is a reality for all Christians, but it does not tell the whole story.Paul, in Romans 8, tells us that when we are ‘in Christ,’ there is no more condemnation for us, because He took our guilt and condemnation on the Cross and because of the gift of His Holy spirit to us He has ended sin's control over us. “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law.  Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” (Romans 6:14)  
 He no longer holds our sins against us because Jesus has paid for them all. (Psalm 103:8-14, Isaiah 1:18) faith is not a one-off past happening, it is how we live day by day and daily we are being changed by depending upon Jesus. (Hebrews 12:3, 2 Corinthians 3:16-18)We aremeant to grow in our faith.  This is done by receiving in faith, all God has provided for us through Jesus. (2 Peter 1:3-9).  The impossibilities we face are to drive us to Jesus on a daily basis, and to experience His goodness and love daily. (Psalm 23:4) He reminds us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.”St. Paul reminds us near the end of his life that he had not “arrived”, he was not yet perfect.  
 
Saved from what?
Are we to be saved from God?  After all He is “The Judge of all the earth.”  But if we think this way, we see Jesus as saving us from God.  The bible says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” (2Cor 5:19)  Event he Old Testament says: “I (God) take no pleasure in the death of anyone…………Repent and live.” And “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him.” (Psalm 32:2)
We are save when we turn from this world’s religions and philosophies, and trust Jesus to do the impossible for us, saving us from sin and death, the consequences of our rebellion against God. (Luke 18:27).  For all of our sin is against God. “Against you, only you, have I sinned” King David confessed. (Psalm 51:4) After he had seduced Bathsheba and sent her husband to his death so he would not be found out about his committing adultery with her. 
Therefore in 1 Peter 2:24, it says of Jesus: “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.”  In Jesus God took all of our sins and their consequences on Himself, and offered us pardon and acceptance back into His family.  Have a change of heart and mind about Jesus, trust Him and live.
                                                
Psalm 56:3,4,  10,11

It is believing God won’t work the ‘all things’ we face in life for our good as we simply  trust Him.  (Romans 8;28).
It is believing we can’t do or face all things through Christ. (Eph 4:13)
So it is not our inability to believe that hinders us for God has given us all a measure of faith. (Romans 12;3).  It is our choice to believe the lies of Satan, the father of all lies (John 8:44) rather than the Word of God.  This is faith in reverse gear.  Move forward by trusting God in all He says and promises.  Though Satan will challenge us, Jesus defeated him a t the cross and gives us authority over him.  (Col  2:15).

Lamentations 3:22,23
Our focus is to be on God and His Kingdom (v33) and then God will take the responsibility of meeting all of our needs.  We are to do this day by day, trying hard not to clutter up our today's by worrying about our tomorrows.
This is what He draws our attention to in Lamentations 3:22,23.
Rev. Colin Britten (Retd)
Day by Day Faith
We get so disappointed if we try to make our faith some one-off experience of the past.
For faith to be real it has to be the daily basis of how we do life.  As Romans 1:17 (Amp) puts it; “For in the gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith – disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith.  As it is written the man through faith is just and upright and shall live  by faith.”  Faith in God. leads to more faith as we live it out day by day.
As the bible promises: “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” (Deut. 33:25).  So the bible reminds us in 2 Cor. 4:14 “Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”


WEALTH AND SECURITY
“Just a little bit more.” Was the response. In other words, material prosperity will never satisfy us.
Further comments in V6 state, “So we can say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man to do me?” (Quoting Pa 118:6,7).  Bluntly ask yourself, “Is mysecurity in God or gold?”

The One I Hate
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Are you in a hurry and looking for that bible verse to hit the spot?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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