Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Only believing in what you can see?

"I only believe in what I can see, feel, touch or eat" that was a statement I received just recently. And I guess it pretty much sums up everything we have been taught over the past generations.

Science tells us not to put our belief in anything that can't be proved - only trust the tangible!

It's so interesting to note that verse in Luke 18:8 when Jesus Himself says "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on earth?' Open to much discussion.

The way the world is going today our 'faith' in God comes under much scrutiny sarcasm and derision. It amazing how closely the prophesies of the Scriptures line up with today's attitude on faith and belief in Christ and the church.

Jesus tells us plainly in Luke 21 and Matthew 24 just some of the signs that will herald His coming back to earth.

Jesus tells us in Luke 21:26 "People will faint from terror: apprehensive of what is coming on the world" and honestly, what has happened in Syria, Paris, Afghanistan, Iraq - that is exactly what is happening.

Our world lives in terror! "There will be wars - but it is not the end." Jesus said so Himself - earthquakes and famines everywhere - people turning against each other - brother against brother - it's happening right here right now!

There will be many deceiving the nations, many will follow the path to destruction - all predicted - all happening!

So many enemies of God - so many enemies of our faith.  So where/what is faith?

Because our world is so opposed and is so much in denial and contra-faith in God, Jesus reveals what we need to know to counteract those in opposition and to use our gift of faith to grow in Him.

The very epitome of Christianity is our Faith - without faith we cannot please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith isn't just a 'nice thing to have' in our lives - it is ESSENTIAL if we want to have a REAL relationship with God. Faith is a mandatory and imperative step we need to have and take when we first come to Christ.

Faith is SO important that without it we can't possibly come to Christ at all.

There are many many examples of faith in the Bible. many listed in Hebrews in the so-called "faith chapter" (Hebrews 11). We read here of amazing things done because of faith.

My personal way of looking at faith is believing God and His Word over anything you may see, hear, feel or experience. Faith is so much more than a 'warm and fuzzy' feeling - it is a strong and steadfast belief in the Creator God and the amazing work of Christ on Calvary all those years ago.

Just recently I read the horrific story of a young 12 year old lad and his father kidnapped by the evil ISIS. The father, a Christian and believer was asked to revert and deny Christ. He refused and was tortured brutally - when he still wouldn't deny his Lord they tortured his son in front of him, finally crucifying them both.

We see reading this horrible and brutal account of the strength of faith here in our world - right here right now. So much more than lip service, bells and steeples and waving incense down church aisles.

Faith is real and tangible - changing peoples lives for good and eternity.

Our mere human brains can't possibly take in the magnitude of FAITH. It effects us spiritually and emotionally - an amazing gift from God, the very SOURCE of faith in the first place.
"For by grace you have been saved through FAITH, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

So let's not be swayed by so-called experts in the scientific fields who tell us we must prove before we believe - rather let's be bold and courageous, asking God with confidence to impart to us His amazing gift of Faith.

Of course after we have faith given by the very grace of God, we turn to the cross where we repent and ask forgiveness for our sins. Another incredible gift from Him.

God bless you as you step out in faith this week, relying on Him to supply all of your needs. Be confident in God's love, be content with what you have and be courageous and steadfast in your witness for Him

Saturday, 14 November 2015

lay off - I've heard it all a million times before!

You have to live right and do the right things - obey the rules and make a go of your life - stay true to yourself and obey your parents and everything will be OK.

That's exactly how the world  looks at 'proper' living. We have rules for this and rules for that and actually when you look at it thoroughly that is precisely how it should be - after all where would be without rules?  Anarchy reigning supreme!

Of course we need rules and heaps of hoops to jump through sometimes it seems way too many hoops.

We also have a myriad of people willing to enforce those rules to make us 'live right'. I like to call it the "Pharisee Syndrome". People who love to point out to us our mistakes.

There always seems to be an 'achievement point' that we should aim for in life. Some far off distant place where we must set our sights. "Work harder son and you will achieve". "Act smarter and work longer hours".  Do this and do that, go here and go there break your back climb the corporate ladder and keep pursuing your dream.

It's the same with our salvation. How many times have we heard "It's not through works" it never was and never will be. Yes! We have heard it all a million times before. BUT there is something nagging in the back of our minds "maybe if I tried a little harder it really wouldn't hurt - God may approve".

If I achieve this and help out in here - If I can organise that group or run that camp - organise the worship group or run the creche just perhaps I can win a few "brownie points" with Jesus and just squeeze into heaven.

Something in the back of our minds keeps prompting us that, well, after all, yes, we 'need' to do something, anything really, to live right and stay in the lines so God will eventually approve.

So many of us jump through the hoops, take on a workload, join the circus, break our backs and knock ourselves out trying to win the approval of God which we have been told a million times that it just won't 'wash' with our Heavenly Father.

All of these works are great and good and deserving of our father's blessings BUT we must do these works out of lives of faith and trust not out of some sort of duty bound necessity.

In James 2 we read:-  "What good is it if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?" so we see here that deeds ARE essential to our faith BUT they must come from a heart given to Christ. They are natural out-pouring of a heart changed permanently by our Father God.

Often these outpouring of 'works' can be a torrent - a gushing of praise and thankfulness to a mighty work of change and transformation in our lives.

These works are so different to the "obligatory' works that we so often find ourselves doing out of a sense of duty and necessity.

In 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 we read about all types of works being "proved" by God -  just how He will do that remains a mystery to me, but at the end of that final day, works that are done out of a sense of duty or obligation will be burned up.

BUT those done out of a heart turned to Christ and done with faith and trust, out of a natural out pouring of a life changed, will last eternally and bring honour and glory to God.

Okay, so we may have heard this a million times before, BUT the message is unchanged and still rings true today as it will eternally. There is absolutely nothing we can do to earn our salvation. Jesus has done it all.

When we grasp this amazing truth, it's like seeing God's grace in a brand new light as if we are seeing it for the very first time.

Let's not build our lives on a foundation of 'self' breaking our backs building monuments that will not last, just like our wonderful tree house here, but let's build on a firm foundation, one built on faith in Christ and trust in Him.

Any 'works' emanating from our 'heart change' will reflect the very love of Christ and come from Him via us. It is these types of 'works' that will last eternally, not so much the physical side, but the motives and the consequences will glorify God for eternity.

We don't have to jump through any hoops, we don't have to break our backs and minds trying to prove ourselves worthy of God's love. Everything is done for us, all we need to do is to accept, through faith, this amazing and astounding gift of love offered to us.

Let our faith in Christ bring forth the amazing deeds and works that He has promised us. Let's not 'jump the gun' and try to get God's approval. He loves you because YOU are YOU. He made you and He loves you.

God bless you as you work through your salvation. Take heart in the fact that you REALLY don't need to 'earn' anything. God through Jesus paid that price once and for all time.


Thursday, 5 November 2015

When you've mucked things up

Where do we go from here? I have said that to myself over and over again seemingly all of my adult life. Where do I go from here?

Mistakes aplenty seem to exude from my life like water over Niagara and accompanying these endless displays of 'hiccups' is the self-pity syndrome that comes along for the ride.

I love to throw "pity-parties" and have the world see exactly what a wonderful martyr I can be.

What does a guy like me have to do to break these cycles of worry, self-pity and the endless mistake making? What have I learnt after all these years.

I reckon one of the things I have learnt and am so grateful for is that God isn't finished with me yet. Praise him that He has shown me that not one of us will ever be perfect and our very salvation is being perfected through His Holy Spirit constantly.

Usually when things go wrong instead of acting appropriately and working with God to find solutions I often indulge myself in a depressive mindset, feeding my melancholy state with my own despondency. I wallow in self-pity, become morose and start playing the 'blame game' to all and sundry who happen to be in my personal firing line.

When people like this sink into the 'pity-party' attitude they tend to focus on themselves and crave the attention of others, inadvertently inviting all and sundry to attend their 'pity-party' and join in the "poor me" chorus.

Self-pity is probably one of THE most destructive attitudes we can have. It robs us of self-confidence and Independence. Focusing everything on ME, we become self-centred and often physically exhausted.

We tend to worry more over every detail, becoming short tempered and easily upset by seemingly innocent remarks or actions by other people which in turn leads us to a never ending cycle of hurts and upsets.

Thinking about this problem has driven me to seek the Lord with a totally new focus. I have gleaned much from reading about how others in the Bible coped with 'mucking things up'. It's encouraging to know that where I am as a Christian many others have been there before me and yet have led lives for God in fulfilling and amazing ways.

Reading in 1 Kings 19, I was astonished to see that even Elijah fell into the "mucking things up and self-pity' brigade.

He had just shown what a mighty warrior he was for God because he had actually killed all of King Ahab's and his wicked Queen Jezebel's prophets of Baal with the sword - the lot by himself, then surprisingly took off because he was afraid of Jezebel's promise of death.

She had said to him "may the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them" 1 Kings 19:1

Elijah had had enough, he fell into wallowing in self-pity and said to God "it is enough! Now Lord take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!"

I can relate so well to Elijah here. He started to worry, then worry led to a presumption of an outcome that was pretty much sewn up in his own mind. He focused on the problem and he focused on himself!  Does it ring any bells with you? It certainly did with me!

Elijah retreated into himself - he turned away - you can imagine him crawling into a foetal position and just asking to die.

What does God tell him to do - well in a nutshell "get up and get moving"! It's quite a story and well worth the read - I learnt so much here.

God wanted Elijah to be obedient rather than relying on his own emotions. He wants from us the same thing - genuine repentance and a reliance and trust on Him.

It's just so easy to become a victim instead of a warrior. God Himself has provided solutions for us time and time again to alleviate and get rid of the victimisation and self-pity syndrome. He has told us and re-told us not to worry and certainly not to bring others in on our worrying and self-pity cycles.

Jesus is ALL we need - all of our worries, all of concerns and uncertainties and indeed our misgivings and apprehensions can be handed to him.

In fact all of our self esteem and confidence comes FROM Him so we really don't need to go bandying about and sharing our worries with all we meet, seeking pity and self confidence in them when we have the very best listener and the actual author of empathy, sympathy and supportiveness right here in our lives.

Being focused on ourselves can bring about pretty big disasters. Look at Abraham and Sarah. Told by God that they would be the parents of a great nation - as numerous as the sands of the seas or the stars in the sky. Did they believe Him? in a way they did but they thought they would do it their way and so the whole 'Hagar incident' came about with disastrous effects.

Yes we can 'muck things up' so easily. We can through self-pity spoil amazing plans God has for our lives, simply by looking inward and not trusting God.

We can let worry overtake us and inadvertently drag others down with us to an never ending spiral of self doubt and depression.

I guess in lots of ways it is only natural, being human, that we can respond to difficulties, trials and struggles with self-pity and 'what did I do to deserve this' attitude, but don't be mislead, it is not because of worldly pressures that ultimately lead us to self pity.

These pressures can either lead us to excessive worry, self-pity or to all sorts of dilemma and mistakes or it can lead us to overcoming through the example of the selfless Jesus - the great overcomer.

So, with God's Spirit living in us we can choose to trust God and refuse to indulge and wallow in our so-called natural desires of feeling sorry for ourselves and giving in to our all-consuming worries.

We can be warriors for Jesus, regardless of our past mistakes. we can be overcomers with Him who saved us in the first place.

May God bless you as you put aside any thoughts of  self and stride out purposefully with Jesus. The very 'author and finisher of our faith.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The Whipping Boy

Way back in the 16th and 17th century it was decided that a king's son, the heir apparent was far too regal to be punished by other the King himself.

The King was looked upon as being ordained to Kingship by God Himself and as such any offspring of this, pretty much deity, should not and could not be disciplined by a lowly commoner.

So with the King away so often on duties that would take him away from the palace, the only option for 'royal discipline' for his offspring was to 'take it out' on a lowly "whipping boy".

This lad would often be brought up with the heir and as such became a playmate and eventually a friend of the Prince.

When the royal child did find themselves on the wrong side of the palace officials and needed correction, usually in the form of a thorough beating, it was the whipping boy who took the punishment on behalf of the royal.

Bit bizarre you may question? I know I did! what an unfair system of so-called justice. And yet in some respects I guess it worked well. The boys would grow up as friends and become quite close. The Prince when doing wrong would see his friend take a beating on his behalf. that alone may have a lasting effect on the royal and maybe just maybe it would deter him from making the same mistake again.

There are lots to argue from either side but when it comes to the crunch it still seems grossly unfair.

Figuratively and literally speaking Jesus did that very thing for us - He in every way became our 'whipping boy' in every sense. He not only took our whipping but in fact laid down His life for us.

Why did Jesus have to do this?

Well,  some believe that Jesus didn't die to pay the penalty for sins, that God didn't need to have Jesus killed. They believe that Jesus was showing the crowds way back then and indeed us today just how far true love would go. That even the threat of death from would not and could not subdue His love.

That sounds amazing and yes, I truly believe that Jesus' love for us drove Him on to His ultimate sacrifice. Jesus' very last commandment was in fact for us to love as He loved.
John 13: 34-35 "A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Certainly love is the key but the fact remains that we have ALL sinned everyone of us!  Romans 3: 23 "For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

We have all fallen short, none of us have attained the perfection God has demanded. Only Jesus stands as the sinless one - the ONLY one who never sinned - was tempted in every way as we are BUT never sinned.

If Jesus didn't die for our sins NOT one of us would come near to even 'think' that God would accept us into His kingdom.

1 John 2: 2 says "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (NIV)

I love the way "The Message" puts this verse "Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus. When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, He solved the sin problem for good. - not only ours but the whole world's."

Jesus is our sin bearer - I truly believe that Jesus did so much more than showing us an example of how to love and live. That, as far as I am concerned is a 'given' - He certainly DID do that, but He also did far far more.

Jesus took up the sins of the world when He picked up that cross. He not only carried that huge tree but also your sins and mine. The ones in the past, the present and future, all there on His broken body, dragged up that hill and nailed alongside of Him on that cross.

So where does that leave us? Just with a beautiful example of what true love looks like? Sure that is a major part of it, but ever so much more.

Jesus did for us what no one could ever have done. He opened the gates of eternity to sinful people to you and me so that all we need to do is come to the cross, accept what He did, ask forgiveness from our God and by faith, trusting in Him, hand our lives and our future to His care.

Have you done that? Have you confessed your sin? Have you asked Christ to come and take over your life? Have you handed over one hundred percent, holding nothing back?

His grace took Him to Calvary,
His love showed Him the way,
That's why I want to live for Him
and praise Him every day.

And when I think of Calvary
And what He did for me
How the father's wrath was paid
By His death upon the tree.
My heart cries out with gratutude
That He the Lord most high
Should deign to take my sins upon Himself and bleed and die

He rose again victoriously
and one amazing day
He'll come and claim the faithful
Who have followed in His way
And all of those who love Him
Will meet Him face to face
To worship at His might throne
His glory and His grace

And when he comes in wonder
His beauty to display
And the sky rolls to herald
His bright and glorious day
the trumpet of the Lord shall sound
and every knee will fall
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord of all.

copyright Bruce Mewett

Monday, 12 October 2015

When you feel like running away

Ever felt like it? Running away that is? I know I have.

Even the very thought of just turning around, slamming the door and taking off into the blue horizon fills you with sense of the warm and fuzzies.

Maybe the job has got you to point of no return, or maybe no job at all and the prospect of yet another day of the 'endless search' is driving you to point of distraction.

Maybe living with a hormonal teenager is tipping you over the edge, or your finances in this latest global financial disaster has taken it's toll and you want to throw in the towel and give life as you know it all away.

Whatever has rocked your boat to the very edge of your personal shipwreck, please take heart, so many have been there before you.

The desire to 'run away' form it all and leave those difficult and sometimes unimaginable horrors of life and just slip over the fence to 'greener pastures' is not new or unique. It's far too common in fact.

Maybe you have been going through a pretty tough time of it though loss or betrayal? Harsh words and bullying through social media is rife these days and dialogue is so freely available and often just so easy when not face to face.

When we have been severely hurt and offended, the words and actions are so often hard even impossible to erase from our memories. Maybe you are recovering from or have been threatened by violence or violence through the exchange of harsh and disparaging words. Sometimes even at the hands of family.

Maybe all you can think of doing is running away - or maybe you have even now already run away,

On writing this I have no idea what your burden could be but I know the feeling of just longing to jump in the car and take off and drive some place - any place really as long as it's away and you can take a break from the heaviness of your heart and the huge weight of that dark cloud on your shoulders.

All of us are on our own journey and many of us are carrying heavy loads of doubt, worry, guilt and all sorts of burdens that very few of our friends even know about.

Honesty with ourselves and with God, in my opinion, is the very first step towards healing. Coming to the point where you can actually lay your burden, whatever it is, at the feet of Jesus. Psalm 55:22 says "cast your burden on the Lord, and he will shall sustain you."

So what does that actually mean "Sustain you"? - The last thing I want to do is quote platitudes that 'make you feel good' like a bumper sticker, but God is God who answers our prayers surprisingly not in the way we often expect.

God will see us through these hard times - He will indeed. The situation in which you have found yourself may not in fact simply disappear once prayed over BUT God will definitely see us through them.

My mind goes to that dark night when Jesus prayed in that garden. he prayed that the looming crucifixion would complete God's plan and bring it to a final conclusion.

Jesus certainly wasn't hankering to go through this horrendous pain but He certainly wasn't going to shy away from it.

Jesus prayed that all would be done according to the will of God - Such a great example of how we should be praying when we are faced with tumultuous times when we feel like giving it all up and just running away.

Jesus didn't run away - he was prepared to do what needed to be done and pray according to the will of the Father. That is exactly what we should be doing, praying and living according to the will of our Father.

When we start living like this our lives, in a very real way, cease to be ours and start to be Gods. He starts living His life though us and guiding us though the dark times, through the doubts, through the despair.

So instead of running away from our burdens and trials, which ultimately won't work anyway, pick up your burden and ask God to start living His life though you. Ask Him to carry your load for you. Put it squarely on His shoulders - He will definitely see you through this dark time.

May our stressful times be a beacon to the world that God's grace is alive in us and that through our trials his name will be glorified.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Far too old to move on with Jesus? Step out with Christ

I have been so convicted lately of our need to be always on the lookout to what God would have us do and where He would have us go not what we would like to do or where we would like to go.

We have to be always ready to do His will no matter how we are feeling or what we are doing or whoever is on our life's horizon.

It's just so easy to please ourselves and actually ignore God's pull on our lives, His prompting and His guidance.

I found myself in this position just recently, well at least over the last 12 months.

Its amazing just how many excuses we can find not to do the will of God. We can just plainly be too busy to even think that God may want something more of us that what we're prepared to give.

Must admit I was a tad gobsmacked when I, at last, realised that God was indeed talking to me! Really what did I expect? I know what I maybe needed - a smack across the back of the head may have got my attention but our God doesn't work like that - maybe more to the pity.

As I said, for the last 12 months I was feeling disorientated in our church. I say "I" when actually I mean "we" for both Sue and I had been feeling the same way for completely different reasons,  but the outcome was the same.

Amazing is our God that He uses different methods of communication for different people. For me personally it was a feeling of unrest, like I had left something undone or forgotten, For Sue it was more definite but hadn't been going on and on for as long as my feelings of unrest and incompleteness.

When we finally gave in and really listened to what God was saying we were both completely taken aback that he wanted to use us in this most unexpected way and at our time of life.

Here was I being happy to sit back in our huge church in our huge auditorium soaking up the amazing messages. Sitting on my blue plastic stackable chair listening to one talented artist after another extolling praise and worship with extraordinary songs with astounding lyrics that blew me away Sunday after Sunday.

I was comfortable (well as much as one can be on a blue stackable chair) warming my place each week, paying my dues and making friends . No one bothered me much and I loved worshipping God and joining in on the social side of things with folk my age doing what folk my age do - just enjoying each others company and attending growth groups.

Still underneath all of that there was this feeling of something missing.

You know God isn't finished with any of us! If you think you may have completed your work here on earth then like me you may have to think again! You may retire from your employment but never from the work and servitude of working for God.

I like to jog (in fact I feel I am addicted: sigh)  and one cold wintry day at 5am I jumped out of bed. a quick word of prayer, pulled on my jogging clothes, wired myself to my NanoPod and my inspirational music and set off.

The gloom was pretty heavy that early morning, the moon had waned and no-one was around, a slight mist but not that heavy. Not far from our home is a busy road that winds itself through a good old fashioned Aussie bush. Beside the road and running alongside the bush is a straight footpath and that is where I concentrate my jog.

At that hour of the morning there is very few traffic and I guess it is just a bit gloomy with mist emanating from the bush and just a few street lights trying to shine through. I usually tune off and listen to the music and have my quiet time with Jesus - it's our special time together and often I completely "zone out'.

On the opposite side of the road there is no footpath just a rough verge of stones and potholes and I noticed through the gloom a young guy jogging on that side. "Strange" I thought and wondered why he didn't cross the road to the more level path.

When he was opposite me I was surprised when he called my name. At first I couldn't make out who he was though the darkness but soon realised it was a friend that once had also been at our church.

He told me how he never jogs down this way and how he had actually been lost in the bush and finally stumbled out onto the very road and very place where I was jogging. I had never seen him there before and I have never seen him there since.

We jogged together and as we did we chatted about our families and our churches and he shared with me about this tiny little 'church plant' that his congregation had commenced, would you believe, in our very next suburb.

I knew immediately that was where God had intended us to go - I knew with utmost certainty He was leading us there to this little church.

Feeling a bit like Moses, my first thought had been, no Lord - I'm way too old - what can we possibly offer - I'm comfortable where I am in this sterile wilderness of my own making - I can't speak or sing - I can contribute nothing!

We stepped out with Jesus - scary to leave friends and move out of your comfort zone but God is such an amazing guide - He tells us just to follow that's all! - Just do your very best for Him and He again promises us that he will indeed take care of everything else.

Since leaving the huge and joining the tiny, we have indeed been blessed - honestly there is no better feeling in the whole world than to know that you are in the place where God wants you to be. His will and plan for us is perfect and in Him there is fulfilment and satisfaction.

So, don't get too comfortable where you are and never be surprised by God no matter how old or young you are. In the words of the Late Keith Green  "Just keep doing your best and pray that it's blessed and Jesus takes care of the rest"

My prayer for you this week is that you will be open to God's leading in your life. Be completely honest with Him - tell Him your anxieties and fears as to where and how He will lead you but be super sure you have counted the cost.

God bless you as you leave your future entirely in His care trusting and following Him - the Author and Finisher of our Faith.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Hit your limit? Can't go on?

Mistakes from Ella's past loomed over her head - she was so aware of the botch-up job she had made of her life.

The voices kept telling her and reminding her of the myriad mistakes she made and how she has reaped what she has sown and how now she has to live with those consequences.

The sins of the past kept worming their way into Ella's life - disrupting and spoiling everything she tried to do and everything she touched.

Years before she had those three abortions and even further to when she somehow became the surrogate sex partner shared around by anonymous groups of teens, Ella had been a Christian or so she thought.

Her husband of four years knew vaguely of part of her past but even to him she had never disclosed her entire story.

The life she had lived back then and decisions she had made were eating her up inside and in her panic and feelings of unworthiness she was on the verge of depression and isolation.

Ella and her husband had tried to conceive a child - she wanted so much to become in her eyes a 'real' family. Many doctors had said it was completely unlikely that she would conceive normally and of course Ella blamed herself and those abortions from years ago.

Her guilt and self-condemnation haunted her every move and nothing would take those feelings of dread, regret, remorse and shame away.

In her early years, Ella had committed her life to Jesus, she had been challenged to learn more and more about Him. '

She had found herself wanting to go to church and meet with others of like mind and keep on learning from His word. She believed that in God's grace and mercy Jesus had forgiven her sins and she was so thankful to Him.

Somehow over the years she had slowly slipped away - a little at first and then the more she missed handing each day over to Jesus the easier it became to become a follower of the world out there and bit by bit the ways of Christianity seemed to slip through her fingers.

In her desperation, Ella found herself sitting in church one Sunday - her mind a total blank - her heart breaking and not knowing where to turn or who to turn to.

She vaguely heard the songs- she vaguely heard the message - she rarely even lifted her head to look around - then she somehow heard these words.

"I don't know what happened in your life all those years ago but I do know what regret and guilt over past actions can do"

Her breaking heart skipped a beat - she felt like crying out "can you repeat what you just said?'

She kept her head bowed low and listened probably for the first time to what this stranger was saying.

The minister kept on - she seemed to be speaking to Ella personally "Every so often I find myself cringing at the sudden recall of things done or said from my past."

Ella became like a sponge, absorbing every word and syllable. It was like God himself had sent her to this church on this very day.

The minister went on to say how particularly hard it is when our past comes back to hurt and disappoint those we love the most.

She opened God's word to Romans eight and from there expounded the Gospel of how Jesus came to die for us all - everyone - no one excluded. no matter what we have done or failed to do. No sin is too gross that God will not forgive if we TRULY repent.

She went on to say that does not mean that we are free of the consequences of such actions. Often the sins of the past have major consequences that effect our future and we have to deal with them in very individual ways.

These consequences as sad and damaging as they may be, do not in any way affect our salvation but they do affect our lives.

Ella re-committed her life to Jesus that very hour. Did things improve? - the consequences didn't - she still had the past and what that meant but the guilt had been washed away - she was a new creation - a new person in Jesus.

I have no idea what has happened in your life - I know I have a past and I know only too well what that past can do - BUT I also know that I have a future and my future is so wound up in Christ and what He has done for me.

How you deal with past mistakes and the consequences of them is entirely between you and God. You may need to ask for forgiveness, you may need to give forgiveness from your heart and that can be extraordinarily hard.

It may go deeper than that - you may have to own your sin - that is own up to what you have done and bear the consequences - again truly hard and agonisingly sad. All these things need to be taken to the throne of God - He will show you through the work of His Spirit what you should do and how you should act.

Let me assure you that nothing you have done can come between you and God. Nothing is too hard for God to forgive. Of course we have to repent, which is far more than 'being sorry'. True repentance comes from the heart and it is a 'turning away' from that sin.

Charles Spurgeon said " Repentance is a discovery of the evil of sin, a mourning that we have committed it and a  resolution to forsake it"

So have you hit your limit? Are you feeling you can't go on? These voices inside your head and in your heart telling you "you won't get past this one - you are defeated - it's not real- you are a failure?"

Please take heart - it's certainly not over yet - God has far greater things than this waiting for us. Far greater than our past and far greater than our uncertainties.

Turn your life over to Him right now; right where you are. Don't give you past a foothold in your life.

With Jesus we can do anything and achieve so much more.

Life is a race we run so let's run till the race is won. Don't look back - keep looking to Jesus - after all He keeps looking at us.