Walking in the Steps of Jesus

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk in the footsteps of Jesus?

We had the absolute privilege of doing just that for 10 days after Easter with Dr Peter Walker who is a professor of biblical studies and a world expert on the Holy Land. He took us to many sites associated with Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and Jerusalem and masterfully uncovered layers of history to let us experience each contrasting area as Jesus and his disciples would have done 2,000 years ago.

We literally walked on his steps up to the temple in Jerusalem where he would have been taken by his parents as a baby, where he lingered as a boy and where he went as an adult to turn the tables of the money changers and to face his execution. We walked in the hillsides around the beautiful Sea of Galilee where Jesus healed many and taught them about the kingdom of God. It was a worshipful experience and not just a tour as we sang ‘When I survey the wondrous Cross’ at the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and we shared communion on the shores of Lake Galilee where Jesus prepared breakfast for his disciples after his resurrection.

Reading the bible will never be quite the same as now we can visualise the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, we can picture the house in Nazareth where Jesus grew up and we have walked the route Jesus took on that first Palm Sunday from the Mount of Olives into the City of David as the people declared him their King.

The challenge is for us to make him king of our lives and, in the words of the old hymn, which we sang while in a boat on Lake Galilee, to trust him:

“In simple trust like theirs who heard beside the Syrian Sea, The gracious calling of the Lord, Let us, like them, without a word, Rise up and Follow thee.”

Will we continue to follow in the footsteps of Jesus now we’re home?

 
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Ruth and Martine Somerville have been part of The Belfrey for over 30 years. For the last six years Ruth has worked as Matthew Porter's PA.

 
 
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Salt & Shake
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As I was praying recently, I sensed the Lord show me a picture of a Walkers Crisp Packet – the brand was “Salt & Shake”. As I asked Him more about this, I felt the Holy Spirit begin to speak. I believe He took me through various stages associated with eating the crisps and began to speak a word over us as one church – particularly, The Belfrey in York and St Thomas’s in Newcastle. The stages were as follows:

Stage 1 – Opening the Crisp Packet
When you open a packet of crisps, light invades. I sense the Lord desiring to flood His church with light. I believe part of this will involve re-visioning. For some, this will be a reawakening of nearly forgotten dreams – the Lord has not forgotten and passion for things you believed would not come to pass will begin to happen. For others, confusion will turn to clarity as you have sought the Lord’s will for the next season. For His church, I sense clarity of sight will come – seeing through the very lens of Jesus. Fresh and new vision will be released and past visions fulfilled – part of this will involve future church plants from both York and Newcastle. Prepare for change to the status quo.

I sense light will also bring fresh revelation of Jesus. His beautiful face. He longs for us to know Him more. Intimately. As the psalmist writes, we must learn to “kiss the Son”. This is the one thing we need. Few things matter, indeed only this one thing. I sense the Holy Spirit longing to teach us how to long for His Presence – the beautiful courts of the King.

Finally, light will expose that which is hidden. “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” – Luke 8:17

Stage 2 – Pouring on the Salt
Once the crisp packet is opened, inside of it is a packet of salt. You pour this over the crisps to bring flavour. If you have ever tried the crisps without the salt flavouring, they’re not very appealing – they are bland and boring. This is not how Christianity or Church should be, but sometimes, if we’re not careful, we can sink into powerless religion.

I sense the Lord desiring to pour salt into His church. He desires for us to be attractive, appealing and full of flavour. Expectant and excited about all God has for us. Full of faith that God can (and indeed) will do more than we could ever ask or imagine. Zealous for the things of God. Believing anything can happen in a meeting. A house so full of Glory that the unbeliever will confess; “what must I do to be saved?” He can still walk into the room and overwhelm us with His manifest Glory.

Stage 3 – Shaking the Crisp Packet
Once salt is poured into the crisp packet, you shake it to distribute the salt evenly. I feel the Lord is shaking things up – in the heavens and on the earth. I sense we are feeling part of His shaking in The Belfrey and the North of England.

I was reminded of Chapter 12 in the Book of Hebrews where the author quotes the prophet Haggai – “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” (vs. 26). While the writer is referring to the second coming of Christ, I sense the Lord may be speaking through this passage for now.

I believe part of His shaking is the redistribution and provision of Kingdom Resources (of which there is an abundance). I sense the Holy Spirit reminding us all that every good thing we have is from Him and belongs to Him – He chooses where resources are positioned, and we must guard against any feeling of entitlement or need for self-preservation during these times of change.

Part of this shaking (redistribution) is church planting! And we must believe and pray for more church plants – they are coming! I believe Jesus would ask us to embrace this wonderful and exciting change and opportunity we have before us in Newcastle – He is fulfilling His promise “I will build my church”. I believe this shaking is part of God fulfilling His promise that “the Glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house” (Haggai 2:9).

Hebrews 12 also tell us that shaking involves the “removing of what can be shaken…so that what cannot be shaken may remain…for God is a consuming fire”. (vs 26-29). Shaking involves fire. And “fire will test the quality of each person’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:13). Wherever we build, with whatever resources we have, no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. Fire is coming to purify His bride. He will remove anything built on sand, so we build only on rock. He is Fathering us to be ready for His Glory.

Stage 4 – All of the Crisps are in the Same Packet
Finally, I sensed Jesus say that “all of the crisps are in the same packet”. Whether we are in York or Newcastle, we are reminded how we are all part of One Church, serving a vision greater far greater than ourselves.

I sense the Lord desiring to warn us that we must not allow our insecurities and worries to become a gateway for the enemy to bring division. Can we not see the enemy is overplaying his hand?

It is a privilege to give away and celebrate with those who have heard the call to go. It is a blessing to rejoice with those who have heard the call to stay. It is an amazing time to be alive to see the Lord moving and His powerful hand over His church. And He knows what He is doing! May we be full of heavenly wisdom - pure and peace loving.

So, Let Us Pray
· For re-visioning and fresh revelation of Jesus – “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called—His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance” (Ephesians 1:18).
· For re-salting, fresh expectancy and excitement. “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)
· For shaking, for redistribution and provision of resources, for building on Him only and for the embracement of His purifying fire.
· For unity – “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are One—as you are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent Me. (John 17:21)

 
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Richard Dearden is a Head of Prophetic Ministry at The Belfrey, and also works as a clinical psychologist.

 
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Generosity
Hallelujah! I give thanks to GOD with everything I’ve got— Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation. GOD’S works are so great, worth A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment! Splendour and beauty mark his craft; His generosity never gives out.His miracles are his memorial— This GOD of Grace, this GOD of Love.
— Psalm 111: 1-4 (The Message) -

Generosity is a key part of Christian discipleship and as we can see from this psalm, generosity is also a key feature of God’s character. As I said in the Friday Message last week, Emma and I have been blown away by the welcome we’ve received and that is, in no small part, due to the generosity of the church family here at the Belfrey.

The generosity I speak of isn’t purely in financial terms - although we were incredibly grateful for the hamper we received! - but there’s also been a generosity of spirit. People have gone out of their way to welcome us and to make us feel at home, whether that’s been by coming and having a chat before or after a Sunday service or inviting us over for dinner, or encouraging us as we begin our time in York - the kindness shown has been wonderful to both see and receive! As well as generously welcoming newcomers, it is also important to be generous in terms of our time and talents and how we use them to invest in others, all of which take courage in differing ways.

This is another area where Emma and I have been incredibly blessed. Shortly after I came to faith, I was very fortunate to have a vicar who spent time with me, invested in me and (without me quite realising it!) discipled me. He helped me to grow in my faith and develop into a more mature follower of Christ by spending a lot of time with me as I shadowed him and learnt from him. In doing so, he took risks as he encouraged me to do things I wouldn’t have thought possible - like launch and lead a ministry only a month after I had become a Christian! This took not only bravery, but generosity, both in terms of his time and in a willingness to let me try something which I was passionate about, knowing full-well I had his support and backing if things hadn’t gone the way he hoped.

Emma, too, has been really blessed in this respect in her own ministry with young people, particularly during her time in York before we went down to Cambridge. Emma arrived at that church as a part-time youth worker covering maternity and left as a full-time children, youth and family worker, despite her having no previous professional experience. The church invested in her with words, prayer, support and even financially, as they helped her finance her qualification in youth work. The generosity on display in that church was a real sign that they not only valued Emma but that they were courageously seeking to model the generosity of God as well.

Living generously isn’t only about building up and encouraging those who are already part of the Church, however, as Paul says in Romans 12:20-21;

‘Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.’

Paul is encouraging us to treat those who we disagree with well and not in the way the world would encourage us to treat them with, at worst, revenge, or at the very least by un-friending them on Facebook! Jesus encourages us to love our enemies, do good to those who harm us, and be generous in love towards those who expect and maybe even ‘deserve’ our contempt - because that’s how we live out the Kingdom of God. This is how conversations start about grace, forgiveness and salvation, in fact, Jesus talks about the knock on effects of generosity in Mark 4 as He talks about the Kingdom of God:

‘24 “Listen carefully to what I am saying—and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own. Giving, not getting, is the way. 25Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.” 26Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man 27who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. 28The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. 29When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!’

Living our lives in the way Jesus modelled ultimately means, among many other things, being generous. Generosity can lead to the planting of spiritual seeds - some of these seeds will have a visible and quick growth; others may well be ‘harvested’ many years down the line without our knowledge; but what Jesus promises with this description of what the Kingdom of God is like, is that by living generously and by seeking to be Christ-like in our actions, we are spreading the seed of the Kingdom and helping those who don’t yet know Jesus to step closer and closer into a relationship with Him.


So my prayer and challenge is this; how can we be more generous to those we meet? How can we use our words and actions to build the Kingdom of God and share the generosity of Jesus with those around us? Who knows how the seeds we sow this week might bud and grow in the weeks, months and years to come…

 
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Mike Perkins is the Curate at the Belfrey in York.

 
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