Archive for May, 2011

The Hundredfold Return: A Testimony

Many years ago I needed to buy a house. My budget was £28,000 (yes THAT many years ago!). At the time house prices in our area were going crazy. I found a house I really liked on the market for £29,500. It was perfect. Near my office, as in close enough to walk. Good heating. Good sized rooms. Close enough to our town to walk. Near to shopping. Bus stop outside should I ever find myself carless.

I offered my £28k. No dice. I sharpened my pencil and did the sums that would absolutely stretch me to £29,000. No again BUT should I go to the full asking price I had a deal. So I did what most young adults would do in my position. Yes I phoned Mom and Dad. Yes they would lend me the £500 I was short. Yipee. I made my offer the following morning, in person. As I was leaving the agents office I noticed a man from the next office going in, said Hi.

About half past 9 my office phone rang. My colleague had offered £30k, gone over the asking price. I was beaten. I decided it wouldn’t do anyone any good to get into a bidding war so I mentally let my perfect house go.

At lunchtime my friend and I decided to take a walk to a local shop to buy a sandwich and stretch our legs. I paid for my food with a five pound  note, but the girl behind the counter gave me the change of tenner. Straight away I handed her the extra five pounds back, explaining the mistake.

“What did you do that for, they never would have known?” my friend was incredulous at my stupidity. “I’ll be repaid that £5, 100 times over” I answered cheerfully. At the time I wasn’t even a believer, but I must have heard about the 100 fold return somehow along the way. Plus, I was  raised to do the right thing whenever the opportunity arose.

We wandered back to work, within an hour the phone went, the agent again.

“Erm, this is unusual but, um… the vendors have decided to accept your offer of the asking price and turn down the higher offer.” The agent seemed bemused but continued “Apparently you were very nice when you viewed the house and spent time talking with their kids… anyway seems they just want you to have it”

My £500 problem had disappeared! Over the next year that house increased in value by £10,000, a third. A fantastic return on that £5, which was never mine anyway!

Oh the colleague? He asked me out that afternoon, he’d heard I was very nice. We got married. We had two beautiful and clever daughters.

Do the right thing every time – its so worth it!

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7 Fundamental Principles of Doing Business the Christian Way

1. Trusting

But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is todayDeuteronomy 8:18

The enemy doesn’t want you to succeed and he knows the only way he can stop you is by attacking your faith in the promises of God. It will look sometimes as though there is no way your business can survive, but there is a way. Push through. Pray. Listen to the Holy Spirit as He guides your steps. Be obedient and trust.

2. Giving

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

The whole point of getting wealth is to give it away. It can do you no good whatsoever as wealth. It cannot buy you security. Your very house could be taken away, in theory (think Zimbabwe farm owner). Inflation could erode it. Its not coming to heaven with you. Do you really want your legacy to your children to be idle wealth or productiveness? So as it comes in give to the poor as much as you can. Yes its a publicity opportunity but that is a bonus sometimes its never why we give.

3. Stewardship

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Matthew 25:21

“Oh, but I am no one’s servant, I’m self employed” I hear you say. But you still have stewardship responsibilities. Your employees’ wages, corporation or other taxes, your have to account for every penny earned and spent and it is a solemn responsibility. Doing a few black market cash jobs may seem like its not hurting anyone but it is stealing from your fellow tax payers and your business will not thrive in this sin. Your sin allows the enemy a door into your business. Keep your business as sin free as your body, your marriage and thrive.

4. Integrity

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicityProverbs 11:3

Joyce Meyer is of course rich source of advice but one bit I’ve really latched onto is whatever the date is, read the proverb of that number. Proverbs is brilliant and clear and this verse is no different. Be guided by the Holy Spirit in every business decision. The answer to every dilemma is in the heart of the believer.

5. Use

You don’t have to be a Christian to know that sitting on stock will kill your business. As will holding onto unproductive employees. Two pieces of advice from running successful businesses I would pass onto everyone are:

a) the best time to fire someone is the very moment it first crosses your mind (subject to labour law procedures etc)

b) if its not selling or helping to sell something else get rid of it!. Clearance sales, ebay it, give it away – anything! Turn assets that aren’t earning their keep into cash and put that cash into something useful and/or saleable. If it means admitting a mistake and swallowing your pride, good! Take a big gulp, you’re growing!

Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

   26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Matthew 25:24-27

The parable of the talents was a mystery to me for years til I understood the law of use. Our Lord tells us that not using our talents is a sin.

6. Borrowing and lending

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wickedLuke 6.35

So the bible is pretty clear. Don’t borrow unless you want to be in bondage. Bondage is the territory of the devil. And loan, yes by all means, but view your loans as gifts.

7. Treating People Well

It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his householdMatthew 10:25

Being the head of the house is like being the head of the business. Everyone looks up to you and follows your example. Be the best. Be the best supplier, be a great customer.

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Why Do We Find It So Hard To Receive?

Instead of your shame 
   you will receive a double portion, 
and instead of disgrace 
   you will rejoice in your inheritance. 
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, 
   and everlasting joy will be yours.

 For I, the LORD, love justice; 
   I hate robbery and wrongdoing. 
In my faithfulness I will reward my people 
   and make an everlasting covenant with them. Isaiah 61:6-8

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Mark 10:15

Our Western society has a lot to answer for! In many ways of course it is responsible for so much progress and prosperity and we would not ever want to be ungrateful for that! But somewhere along the line we started having a really hard time receiving the promises of God. We seem so wrapped up in earning that receiving seems almost indecent these days. The word “earn” is used only five times in the whole bible. “Receive” is used over and over and over.

I was brought up in a family where earning was everything. Pocket money had to be earned, privileges earned. Everything good needed to be earned. In many ways I’m glad I was raised that way – not afraid of hard work. But have we made the rod for our own backs? We grew up with hearing “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”, “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is too good to be true”, “You don’t get anything for nothing in this world”.

Then we are born again and hear the good news of salvation and all the free gifts which are ours by grace – unearned gifts from our heavenly Father and is it any wonder we have trouble just believing that we receive? Is it any wonder faith, simple faith, is so hard for us?

The flipside of course is that we begrudge anyone else receiving unless they “deserve” to. Is it any wonder that we struggle just to give freely and without judging the recipients of our gifts? What should motivate our giving? Need. Just need and a whisper in our hearts from the Holy Spirit.

We need to practice our giving and receiving with grace over and over and over until it becomes second nature. The place to start of course is with giving. But don’t let feelings of doubt, unworthiness or lack of faith stand in the way of receiving either!

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10 Reasons Why Forgiveness is So Important

1.  Unforgiveness stands between you and God.Why? Because we are all sinners, and through Grace God has forgiven us and sees us as righteous. If God can forgive us all the awful things we’ve done, we can forgive others.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

2.  Forgiveness is good for you. If you harbour unforgiveness you will be holding onto bitterness and thinking badly of others, sinning and opening a door to the enemy to get into your life and cause havoc.

29 Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.” Proverbs 24:29

3. Forgiveness is mainly for your benefit, not for the benefit of the person you are forgiving. As long as you are feeling like a victim, you are carrying a heavy burden. Forgiveness allows you to put the burden down. And simply walk away from it. Free.

4. Choosing not to forgive gets us stuck in our own past, preventing moving forward. Without forgiveness you are constantly stuck in your own past. Many people waste years of their lives in bitterness and resentment when they could, through forgiveness, have lived that time in joy.

5.  Forgiving helps us grow. Once you have forgiven anyone in your life you feel has harmed you,you suddenly find you have more time for thinking good productive and useful happy thoughts instead of negative and useless self-centred complaining.

6.  Forgiveness leads to healing. Holding onto resentment and not forgiving is sinful and seems to stand in the way of physical wellness.  Just google bitterness and cancer if you don’t believe me.

“But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Matthew 9:6

7.  Forgiveness is a free gift! Free to give and to receive.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” Matthew 18:21-22

8. Forgiveness leads to purification of the spirit.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

9. Being forgiving is empowering. Forgiving those who have done you wrong gives you the power back. It unbinds you from the effects of that transgression and opens the door to the Lord to deal with the situation.

Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 2 Cor 2:7

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 2 Thessalonians 1:6

10. Jesus tells us to, He suffered and died and was resurrected so that we could have forgiveness.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28

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So What is the Big Deal About Israel?

You can’t blame people, especially young people, for not understanding why Israel is such a contenscious issue.

To fully understand the Israel issue you would need to read the whole bible (Which is not a bad idea anyway – why not start a reading plan today!)

Right near the beginning of time God made a covenant with Israel:

In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (the territory of) 19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites. Gen 15:18-21

Not only that but this is so important to the Lord that he promises:

2 “I will make you into a great nation, 
   and I will bless you; 
I will make your name great, 
   and you will be a blessing.[a] 
3 I will bless those who bless you, 
   and whoever curses you I will curse; 
and all peoples on earth 
   will be blessed through you.” Gen 12:2-4

This promise is made to Abram. Many people think this does not limit the blessing to Abram’s son Isaac and his descendants (Israel), but also to his illegitimate son Ishmael and his descendants. However Galatians tells us:

Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”[f] 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. Gal 4:28-31

Now for various reasons the Israeli people become dispersed but God promises to bring them back to their own land:

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’   Eze.37:11-20

Now we know this prophecy was realized in1948.

So the Lord gave the land of Israel to the Jews, he brought them back to land as prophesied, the bible specifically limits the land to the children of Isaac.

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When you feel Compelled, Who’s Doing the Compelling?

I’ve been thinking a lot about compulsive behaviour recently.

(verb) compel
to make one yield or submit

compulsion

noun

    1. (irrational impulse)  an urge to do or say something that might be better left undone or unsaid

Synonyms: irresistible impulse. Type of: irrational impulse

    1. (irrational motive)  an irrational motive for performing trivial or repetitive actions, even against your will

Synonyms: obsession. Type of: irrational motive

  1. (causing)  the act of using force to cause something to occur

It seems in thinking about compulsion that it is a 3rd party activity. Someone or some thing compels us to do or say something affecting someone else or ourselves, generally negatively.

This doesn’t make a lot of sense to our logical minds. We have laws and go to a great deal of expense in our Western society to protect our freedom of choice, freedom of action. So why do we allow ourselves to be ‘compelled’ into irrational behaviour such as compulsive eating,  drinking, smoking, drug taking? Well of course its addiction. But what does that tell us? That we can’t stop doing it so its addiction, if its addiction we can’t stop ourselves from doing it. A circular argument that helps no-one.

It seems obvious that the western world has spent massive amounts of money trying to unravel the mystery of compulsive behaviours. The total budget of the three NIH [US National Institutes of Health] institutes that work in  addiction research in 2006 was $2.9 billion. And yet we see no solution for millions and millions caught up in addiction to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, pornography, gaming etc. We can discount the “substance” element as porn/gaming don’t require ingestion of an external substance.

But thinking in terms of compulsion rather than addiction seems to unmask a crucial element. Who is the 3rd party putting a sufferer under pressure? Isn’t this exactly how the enemy works?  Temptation and submission.

What does Satan want? To kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10) He does it through temptation, do compulsive behaviours not kill,steal and destroy lives? The enemy wants you in bondage to him, so that you are not free to enjoy the life Jesus came to earth and died to give you.

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

but “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” (from 2 Peter 2)

What’s the answer then, how do we get finally free of the bondage?

The Word. In the gospels each time Jesus was tempted by Satan he fought back with the word.

St Peter said:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Ephesisans 6:12

So how do we fight back?

Read Ephesians 6:12-18 and become equipped, especially with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

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How Does God Answer Prayer?

I have testimony for you today. A small thing maybe, the world would certainly call coincidence, but a classic example of exactly how our Father provides for us.

We are so conditioned by the world, so dead to how the universe actually works that day in and day out we write off miracle after miracle as “coincidence”.

The bible says:

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when yepray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 11:24

‘That’s all very well’ I hear you say my beloved reader, ‘but I don’t have everything I desire!’

Well then I submit to you that your belief is not complete in that you don’t believe that you receive.

This morning I was making a shopping list for groceries and it became abundantly clear that there was not enough money in my kitty to get what I needed to feed my three growing boys for the next 10 days or so. As I fiddled about with the list trying to cut it down and feeling quite sad that it was woefully inadequate I could hear my boys in the kitchen…

“Mom, there’s no bread”… “Mom we need eggs”… “Mom the cereal’s gone”…

I’m a single Mom so I spiritually my Husband is Jesus and I felt let down, I do my best to be a good mother.

“Jesus” I said, out loud “You promised to provide for us, and that we would not go without any good thing and I believe you will”

My phone rang, no not Jesus, my grown up daughter. I knew this call was coming and I knew what the first thing she was going to ask me would be.

“Mom, is the world going to end today, what does the bible say?” I referred her to Matthew 24:35-36:

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

“Thanks Mom, you always make me feel better.” She sounded relieved, she worries about such things quite deeply. “what are you doing today?” I told her about the challenging shopping trip.

We went shopping and as we started down the aisles gripping the little list I had a text from her “I’ve put some money in your account on-line x”

Now of course I will pay her back, but it meant we could get what we needed. It didn’t even occur to me that it was Jesus answering my little prayer an hour earlier via my daughter! I laughed when I realised how quick we are to say “What a coincidence” and how slow to say “Thank you Lord, hallelujah”.

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Testimony. Why its so Important.

Why do Christians go on  about testimony? Well we love people and nothing is quite as upsetting as seeing people suffer needlessly. Whether its alcoholics or addicts, smokers… those suffering from depression, financially afflicted, or suffering broken relationships, there is a Christian out there who was at one time in pretty much the same place  as you and wants you to know you don’t have to suffer for even one more minute!

So today I have started my own testimony.

Its here. I pray it helps at least one person know God is Good, he loves you. Really.

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Obedience? Not Fun?

We all tend to think of the word “obedience” in negative terms. Obey your parents… groan, obey your teachers… moan, obey the law…yeah yeah. We think of obedience as tedious, boring, no fun.

But the fruits of obedience are wonderful! Obedience at home gives us peace and tranquillity. Jobs get done, the family prospers, everyone grows. Now I’m only talking here of Godly obedience. No-one should be obedient to un-Godly instruction and leave themselves open to abuse. I’m talking here about the “take the garbage out please”, “sure Mom” type of obedience.

Obedience to the law means no speeding tickets, no fines, no court appearances – no legal bills! …no unnecessary stress in that department.

Obedience in work or at school leads to positions of trust and responsibility, promotion, financial blessing.

Here’s what God taught me in one easy lesson of obedience…

About a year ago I was newly saved, unemployed, financially challenged and was looking for a good, local, bible based church. I found my local AoG (Assemblies of God) church on-line, and found out the service times.  The Lord said me “I want you to go to that church and give £20 to the person I tell you to bless. You’ll know who it is”. My reaction was What! No way Lord. That would be way too embarrassing, plus £20 was a lot of money to me at the time.

Luckily I’d been listening to Joyce Meyer’s teachings on obedience , so I decided to just ignore how I felt and just obey, as an act of faith.

I found the woman I was supposed to give the £20 to… I don’t think she needed it so much financially, but she did need a sign of God’s blessing. It turns out she was born in the same city as I was, over 3000 miles away, within a few months of my birthday. It turned out too we were both single mums. Now we do discipleship classes together now every week at that church.

The very next day I woke up with a gnawing thought about my water bill. Which was odd, its not the kind of thing I normally wake up thinking about! Turns out the water company has a special plan for single mothers which caps their water bill while they are on a low income. I was owed £35 immediately, and a £20 reduction every single month! That is how obedience works in God’s Kingdom. As you become more and more obedient the more He will open your eyes and ensure that you are in His favour!

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Grace through Faith

What is this Grace that Christians talk about? Well this is something that I have been studying very hard recently.

You can’t earn grace, it is freely given gift of God and He renews it every single day.

Ephesians 2:8-9

8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

So what, on a practical day-to-day level, does this mean for the average Christian going about his or her daily tasks?

Well today I had a good example. Someone asked for my help. This was on a technical matter and I am blessed with the particular skill that was needed. So straightforward decision you would think.

Except…

Except the person who needed my help has let me down, a lot. In big things and in minor things. Before I became a Christian I would have thought “no way mate, after the way you’ve treated me over the past few years? No way, no chance.”  But a year ago, having been newly re-born in Christ I would have thought “ok God, I’ll help, I’ll hate it, but I’ll do it and in return I know you’ll take care of me”. That is works. Doing good in hopes of earning God’s favour.

Now grace, this is grace: “Lord I don’t want to help this person, they are evil and mean to me and let me down loads, but Lord I’m not perfect and you by your grace forgive me my sins and shortcomings. Lord I am so grateful for your grace which makes me righteous in your eyes, I will do this in your strength”

Grace is recognizing that God forgives you, helps you, strengthens you and does not ask you to do more than you can bear. Your job is to receive God’s grace and obey his will. That’s all. Simple, but effective.

And this is just brilliant

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