Growing the Gift

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Hattie May Wiatt

Have any of you heard of Hattie May Wiatt and the story of the 57 cents? Hattie was a young girl who lived in Philadelphia in the 1880’s. She attended a baptist church not far from her home, but the Sunday school room was so full of children she was afraid to go in for fear of being trampled. Often tickets were issued before the services to avoid overcrowding, imagine that! On voicing her concerns to her Pastor, Russel Conwell, she was told that one day, when they had enough money, a new, larger church and Sunday school room would be built. Sadly, in 1886 Hattie May died. After her death, Hattie’s mother gave Pastor Conwell a little purse with 57 cents in it, explaining that Hattie had been saving to help the church build a larger premises. Pastor Conwell was moved. He changed the 57 cents into 57 pennies and sold them to his congregation.  Church members made donations, and cheques came in from far and wide. The 57 cents turned into $250.  The Wiatt’s Mite Society was formed and was dedicated to making Hattie’s original 57 cents grow further.  The amount of money raised was a sizable investment towards the building of a new Sunday school and church building, and eventually a university and hospital too.  It’s amazing what can come of 57 cents and faith! Today Grace Baptist Church is still going strong and you can check out their website here.

Why am I telling you this? This weekend, out of the blue, a friend of mine gave a gift to our church to put towards hosting a team of people from Pulse Ministries, who we’re partnering up with to run a holiday bible club for local kids in August.  This gesture blessed us immensely.  The family doesn’t attend our church and their children aren’t at the age where they will be old enough to attend the club in the summer, yet they chose to bless us with a gift. It humbled us.  It encouraged us. However, most importantly of all it revealed their compassionate hearts and kingdom building mindset. They’ve realised the potential this bible club could have in our community. 70 children, many unchurched, being taught the gospel, for 5 hours a day, for 5 consecutive days…that is bound to be a game changer. This isn’t just about a week. Foundations will be laid for lives being built and lived out on solid biblical truths, seeds will be planted which will sprout and grow into blossoming relationships with Jesus Christ. This is kingdom building folks, and that is powerful stuff.

22317_imPOSSIBLESo, we’re asking you to invest: Not in Ste or me, not in Full Life Church or Pulse Ministries, but in growing God’s kingdom here on earth, in the wider church. We’ve changed our friend’s gift into £1 coins and we want to sell them, just like Pastor Conwell did with Hattie May’s 57 cents, at a profit. We’re in the process of setting up a Just Giving Page where you can donate an amount of your choice in exchange for one of the original £1 coins (If you’re not local, message me your address via our Facebook page if you’d like me to post you your £1 coin!). Alternatively you can do a bank transfer into the church account.
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Interestingly, the Bible is full of stories about investing and multiplying, the parable of the talents being the one that springs to mind in this instance. The Message version of it is below for you to read, but for now I’ll say thanks, in faith, for buying a £1 and investing in the bigger picture!

The Story About Investment – Matthew 25: 14-30

14-18 “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

19-21 “After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

22-23 “The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’

 

 

Tough questions: Is our eternal destiny already decided?

Sometimes there are aspects of the Christian faith which we struggle to comprehend or accept. The temptation is to skim over them and assume that they can’t really be teaching what they appear to be plainly stating.

However, 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is God-breathed and useful for our teaching, reproof, correcting and training, so we cannot ignore sections of the Bible simply because they challenge our perceptions.

In the latest sermon series at Full Life Church we confront some aspects of scripture which can be difficult to understand and yet are, in many ways, fundamental to our faith. We will encounter some tough questions but we will also strive to find true, biblically based answers. This week we look at whether our eternal destiny is already decided.  Click here to listen.

Tough questions… What is faith?

Sometimes scripture can take us off guard. A passage can surprise us or even shock us and challenge our perceptions of what the Bible teaches.

Sometimes there are aspects of the Christian faith which we struggle to comprehend or accept. The temptation is to skim over them and assume that they can’t really be teaching what they appear to be plainly stating.

However, 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is God-breathed and useful for our teaching, reproof, correcting and training, so we cannot ignore sections of the Bible simply because they challenge our perceptions.

In the latest sermon series at Full Life Church we confront some aspects of scripture which can be difficult to understand and yet are, in many ways, fundamental to our faith. We will encounter some tough questions but we will also strive to find true, biblically based answers. This week we ask what faith is. Click here to have a listen.

How do we know if we are really saved?

Sometimes scripture can take us off guard. A passage can surprise us, even shock us and
challenge our perceptions of what the Bible teaches. Matthew 7:21-23 is one of those passages, and the temptation is to skim over it and assume that it can’t really be teaching what it appears to be plainly stating. However, 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is
God-breathed and useful for our teaching, reproof, correcting and training, so we cannot ignore sections of the Bible simply because they challenge our perceptions.

In this sermon Ste (my husband) confronts this difficult passage
and the question that inevitably stems from it…How do we know if we are really saved?

Click here to be challenged and encouraged by the amazing truths the Bible gives us.

Hoping for good things in 2014.

Well, the dregs of the turkey are safely tucked away in the deep freeze, the central heating has taken its toll on the tree, and the last cracker has been pulled. This can only mean one thing… Christmas has passed and a new year is dawning.

I always find myself feeling rather sentimental in the week between Christmas and New Year. It’s a proverbial nomads land; reflecting on times gone by whilst eagerly anticipating what the upcoming new season may bring.

Generally around this time of year I’m even more thankful to God for His unwavering provision and opportunity in all areas of our life, yet hungry for more of Him, and more opportunities to serve and grow our ministry, being Kingdom builders rather than pew sitters.

One of my Christmas gifts from Ste is a new study bible. My old one was getting a bit battered and I was really touched that he’d thought to buy me a new one without me having to drop any ‘subtle’ hints (ladies, I’m sure you can relate…). Anyway, I was thinking about the word ‘hope’, and how it gets banded around a lot at this time of year. It made me think about how the meaning of the word seems to have changed over the years. Nowadays it’s a word we tend to use out of desperation, when we don’t know what else to say, when we’re trying to give an empathic word of encouragement to a friend, or sadly, even when we think the desired outcome is unlikely. In biblical times however this was not the case. Hope packed a punch. To hope was to be certain of, to be convinced, to have an  unwaveringly confident expectation.

Isaiah 40:31 was the ‘Verse of the Day’ on my bible app today. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”. This is my prayer for you this year. That you will have a confident expectation and unwavering believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to earth for one reason; to give you, and me, and all our other brothers and sisters here on earth a way to our heavenly father, through a divine relationship with him. By grace we have been saved.

I’m hoping for a fantastic 2014, are you?

Cutting the mustard…Plant or tree?

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.  It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32 ESV)

What if the popular interpretation of this well known parable is flawed? What if we’ve totally misunderstood the message Jesus conveyed through this story? What if the global church has become something it was never intended to be?

In Ste’s latest soon series ‘Your Kingdom Come’, he unpacks this parable in a way you may not have heard before. Have a listen here. His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

The faith is in the asking.

You’re in a restaurant and ask the waitress for a glass of water. You pull up into a garage and ask the mechanic to change a tyre. You go into a shop and ask the assistant if they have that beautiful top in the window in your size. You look pleadingly at your toddler and ask her to help tidy the ridiculous amount of toys she has pulled out of the toy box and left strewn around the house. In every question we ask, regardless of who we’re asking and what the question is, there is always an element of faith required. If we didn’t have the slightest bit of faith that we would get a response to our question we wouldn’t bother asking. I have been thinking about this a lot lately in relation to a specific scripture; James 5:14-15.

Over the last couple of months our fellowship has been sick. Really sick. I can’t think of one family who haven’t been ill, and I’m not just talking about a little sniffle here and there. I’m talking about prolonged and recurring sickness, slipped discs and heart issues to name but a few. Painful and ongoing trials that are wearing people out physically and emotionally. There have been too many instances of sickness for this to be coincidence. This is something far greater and far more exciting. This is a spiritual attack. Exciting? Yes, exciting. As a fellowship we sense we are in the midst of a new season of growth and blessing, from welcoming new members into our congregation to the real possibility of finally having a building we can minister from on a 24/7 basis rather than just a Sunday morning. Full Life Church are a threat to the powers and principalities in the spiritual realm and the battle is rife. Boy, are we feeling it at the moment, but it means we are heading in the right direction and God is working through us for the development and growth of His kingdom here on earth. As a congregation we are very aware that this is more than just physical and that although the victory is already ours, we must keep our eyes fixed on the Lord.

As we continue to pray earnestly, believing that healing is already ours through the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross, I started to think about anointing the sick with oil and what the bible says about it in James 5:14-15. James writes,

“Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.”

In biblical times oil was commonly used as a healing agent (Luke 10:34). However today, the oil itself is merely a symbolic reminder of God’s healing power. In the application of the oil and accompanying prayer, we make an outward confession that we are believing and trusting in God for healing.

I felt that we, as the pastors of the church, should go and offer to anoint our suffering church family members. After all it is biblical and as the leaders it is our responsibility to do all we can to evoke healing and restoration to the suffering in our congregation right? WRONG! Re-read the passage. It says, “You should call for the elders”.

The FAITH is in the ASKING!

The faith is in YOU asking.

By YOU contacting your church elders and asking them to come and anoint you with oil YOU are demonstrating to God that YOU believe that He can, will and already has, healed you. By His stripes you ARE healed.

Wherever you are reading this in the world and whichever fellowship you are a part of the message is still the same. Have faith, believe it, receive it, and call your elders!

Grace at Work

Grace_at_WorkOver the last few weeks the hubster has been doing a sermon series at church entitled ‘Grace at Work’. It’s a walk through Ephesians in which grace is a prominent theme.

Week three, called ‘Know what He has given you’ (24.2.13), spoke volumes to me about fully understanding what God has provided for us as Christians, as well as wisdom to know how to effectively implement that in our daily lives. It impacted me so much that I wanted to share it with you so that you can have the opportunity to listen to it and learn from it in the same way I did. Below is a bit of background about the book of Ephesians and I’d encourage you to read it before listening to the message here: http://www.fulllifechurch.org.uk/pages/watch-listen/sermon-series/grace-at-work.php

The apostle Paul was nearing the end of his ministry. He had spent years travelling throughout the Roman Empire, sharing the gospel message and teaching new believers. God had done some amazing work through him, but his journey had been far from easy.

Some people had gladly accepted the message he was sharing, but others had fiercely opposed him. He had faced angry mobs, serious violence, backlash from the Jewish authorities, and had been arrested on false charges. He had then been tried, transferred, retried, retransferred, shipwrecked and was now imprisoned in Rome awaiting an audience with Cesar himself. A ministry like this would crush many people’s spirit and leave them drained and discouraged; but not Paul. It was in this situation, at this point in his life that he decided to write to some of the Christians he was no longer able to visit. He had no specific issues that he needed to address as he had in many of his other letters, he simply wanted to write to encourage them and give them some general teaching on Christian living.

After all that he had been through, Paul could have been jaded by his experiences, but instead he could not contain his enthusiasm. Paul had seen God’s hand at work in all situations and his experiences and God’s revelation in his life had shown him all the riches that God has made available to those who put their trust in him.

Throughout the letter which was written for the Ephesians, we encounter passages of soaring praise, heartfelt prayer, inspiring encouragement and incredible teaching. Paul shows us how God has revealed his eternal plan to us, has given us a rich inheritance in him, has brought us into unity with Christ and all other believers across the world and how we, as Christians, should live our lives as a result of all of this. But what we will see again and again is the evidence of God’s grace. In all aspects of his plan throughout history, in all that he has done in redeeming and forgiving us through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, in giving us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our future inheritance and within every situation of our lives day by day, God’s grace is, and has always been, at work.