24 December 2010

The Purpose of Trials

The word ‘trials’ brings with it a variety of mixed emotions…

It will likely make you either uncomfortable or angry, disillusioned or uneasy. Many painful memories and thoughts, experiences and people can come to mind, even entire years where everything in life seemed to fall apart.

Trials can have many different meanings and contexts, including storms, afflictions, hardships, tests, discipline, suffering, persecutions and alike…

In many cultures, there is mixed opinion about life’s trials and their response to them. Ancient Greeks saw trials as a curse which was always negative. The Romans saw them to be avoided if at all possible which were to be detested.


However, early Christians saw trials in a different light. To them it was sent by God either directly or indirectly, to Purify, Prune, Prepare and Prove. They saw them as opportunities to purify their motives (1 Peter 1:6-7), prune for greater fruitfulness (John 15), prepare for the future (James 1:4) and to ultimately prove that they belonged to Christ by sharing in His sufferings (Romans 8:17).

FOR you - not Against you

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 - Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.

During the last 2 years I have had to overcome some difficult personal trials that would get harder and stay longer! At times I was often frustrated, angry, discouraged and depressed.

However, only AFTERWARDS have I found that the purpose of trials has always been to grow, to strengthen, to refine and stretch my capacity. The results have meant that I always leave with new capacity, greater humility, superior character and more dependence on the power of God.

Looking back and having perspective is a great weapon against trials for the future leaving you with a bitter and wounded heart. It is very likely that the person who you are today is a result of trials you had to overcome personally.

James illustrates:
• even a poor man has much good in his trial of poverty if he knows God - the owner of the universe.
• and a rich man through he lose everything can rejoice in the good of having learned not to place his faith in riches which can quickly pass away (1:9-11).

Scripture is clear that it is commendable to God when we endure unfair treatment patiently:

1 Peter 2:19-24 - For one is regarded favorably (is approved, acceptable, and thankworthy) if, as in the sight of God, he endures the pain of unjust suffering. [After all] what kind of glory [is there in it] if, when you do wrong and are punished for it, you take it patiently? But if you bear patiently with suffering [which results] when you do right and that is undeserved, it is acceptable and pleasing to God.

Why is this so important and whose example do we have that this is even possible? Look at the next verse:

For even to this were you called [it is inseparable from your vocation]. For Christ also suffered for you, leaving you [His personal] example, so that you should follow in His footsteps. He was guilty of no sin, neither was deceit (guile) ever found on His lips.


When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]; but he trusted [Himself and everything] to Him Who judges fairly.

Testimony – His Eye is on the Sparrow

I received a message from someone whose family was going through a terribly difficult time with no end in sight. This is what she wrote:

I have known the truth of Romans 8:28 in my head for many years, but only over the last month have the words had a meaning for my heart. I am convinced that this whole situation has a purpose, but I am still struggling with the "What." Without the promises of God, I am sure that I would be unable to carry on, going to work and supporting my kids.

If this letter sounds disjointed, it is just how my thoughts have been over the past several weeks. But I have continued to hold on to this truth… Don't worry about 2 or 3 weeks from now, because God has already been there. I know that he continues to hold our entire family in the palm of His hand and that He is directing this to its own end and to His glory. I know that since He cares for the sparrows, He surely is caring for us.


That's a wonderful statement by a believer who, though struggling to understand her own situation, has rested her faith on the fact of God's sovereignty over the details of life.

God's sovereignty means "He knows what he is doing, and he is doing it." That sums it up pretty well doesn't it?


He brought me here. He will keep me here. He will make this trial a blessing. He will bring me out again. Therefore, I am here by God's appointment, in His keeping, under His training, for His time…
- Andrew Murray

http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/5-4-2003-his-eye-is-on-the-sparrow/


Trials = Complete Spiritual Maturity

James 1:2-4 - Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

The natural response when faced with a situation that is unpleasant is to want that situation removed. If there is something that is causing you pain, you naturally want that pain removed.

However, the mature person sees that trials come into our lives to strengthen us. Trials are for our good. We should not want them removed simply because they are unpleasant. We should bear them in faith and seek God’s wisdom to learn whatever God is trying to teach us during them.

The end destination of trials is ultimately to reach a state of complete spiritual maturity, measuring up to the full stature of Christ (Eph 4:13).

1 Peter 1:6-7 - In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.


In summary, if you are experiencing a trial right now, ask yourself: what is God teaching me? Is there anything in my life that shouldn’t be there? Are there character/heart issues that need to be developed?

If you said yes to any of these, the best thing you can do ….. is surrender. Lay down your pride, discomfort, securities and everything that you dearly hold on to, and give it all to Him. The idea of surrender is that you are wrong and you have nothing to hold onto – Freedom!

If God is perfect (Matt 5:48), the complete expression of Love (1 John 4:16) and is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8), He can be trusted. God is always in control – He has the last say at the end of the day.

Remember: The purpose of trials is to Purify, Prune, Prepare and Prove, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing!

29 November 2010

Pride Goes Before the Fall

Pride is a subject few take the time to seriously consider…

It can be described in a number of ways including: excessive confidence, glorification in one’s self/possessions; arrogance, conceit, self-importance, overconfidence, superiority, ego, and self-righteousness.

Additionally, pride can take place in many forms such as competitiveness, contentions, rebellion, strife, personal gain, selfish ambition, jealousies and many others within the family unit, work and society.

In the newspapers and media, these characteristics seem to be a part of everyday life and a character of most people. Ego, status and power are today’s currencies and standards to live by. To get ahead and be in the ‘cool crowd’ is to have a healthy tank of pride and self-importance...

The Dark Side

However, there is a dark side to pride many do not see. Pride consumes, controls and causes destruction wherever it travels. It is especially deceitful and self-centered, leading to disregard and disrespect to all people. As a result it is self-delusion and often results in self-destructive behaviour. There is an overestimation of one’s self and an underestimation of others.

Pride is so attractive because it is a deceitful form of superiority and overconfidence. The things of this world which offer wealth, possessions and power can drive a man obsessively to pride for the things he can achieve. They believe they are greater and more deserving than anyone else. It is a state of mind of arrogance that deceives and makes us believe we don’t need anyone.

It is very fitting that the middle letter in Pride is ‘I.’ It is all about ‘me, myself, and I’, a total preoccupation an obsession with self.

So what does God’s Word say about all of this you may ask? Very simply: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

‘In Their Pride the Wicked do not Seek Him’

Psalms 10:3-4 For the wicked boasts of the desires of his heart, and the man greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord. In the pride of his countenance the wicked does not seek Him.

God’s word has much to say about the prideful and proud person. Pride is giving ourselves the credit for something that rightfully belongs to God. It is taking the glory that belongs to Him alone and keeping it for ourselves. Pride is essentially self-worship.

Everything we have is from God – existence and life itself, the ability to earn money, relationships, success from our talents and ultimately Salvation. Therefore anything we accomplish in this world ALL praise belongs to God.

I propose that the ways of this world are far below and substandard to the glorious and wonderful ways of God He is calling us up to. The God who created everything originally as ‘Good’ and even ‘Very Good’ in Genesis, we have created into evil. Love has become Lust. Good has become Evil. Light into Darkness. Peace into Fear. We have exchanged the Truth for a pack of lies, and it all originates with Pride…

Still not convinced? The fruit and results of pride historically has always lead down the path of destruction. Scripture is clear that pride will be destroyed in the end with all other sins, no one will be spared and all will fall for the last time ‘The Day of Judgement is coming, burning like a furnace. The proud and wicked will be burned up like straw’ (Malachi 4:1).

An Inconvenient Truth

Pride is a serious sin God takes very personally. Imagine your son/daughter, who you have given life to. Throughout their childhood you fed and clothed them, gave them a home, the best education, toys and much of your time and love. Everything they had came from you and not by their own ability.

But then one day in their adult life, after building a successful life themselves, they boldly exclaim, “Look at this great life of mine! I have everything I need and no one to thank. By my own mighty power and ability, I have built an empire for myself and take full credit for it”.

They have forgotten you completely, consumed with themselves and all their achievements. They never have quality time to see you anymore, and every Christmas are too busy to ever be around. This my friend is perhaps 1% of the pain that God in Heaven feels, towards us who have walked away. This is the true Heart condition of Pride.

Prides Contemporary: Humility

Micah 6:8 What does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

True humility can only come from a changed heart and a renewed mind. Our sinful nature is so corrupted and depraved that it can not bear to remain humble for more than one day!

God’s word has as much to say about humility as it does pride. Some of the greatest promises and blessings in scripture are given to those who are truly humble and meek (Prov 22:4). Godly humility is to know that everything we have comes from above, and gives all the glory to God for every success. The humble man is so grateful for his Salvation that his only response is to willingly serve God and His church with all his heart for all his days.

Like all sins, pride corrupts our spiritual nature and being made in the image of God. Pride says, ‘God, I can do this better than you, I can take care of this, I don’t need your help’. This kind of attitude keeps us from the intimate relationship that God desires to have with us. ‘See a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than him’ (Prov 26:12).

Scripture warns the prideful that they will be humbled (Matt 23:12), scattered (Luke 1:51) and if not repentful, finally punished (Zeph 2:10). In contrast the humble will be heard by God when they cry out (Psalm 9:12), delivered by God (Job 22:29), lifted up (James 4:10) and finally exalted (Luke 14:11).

Pride is a difficult heart condition to overcome, but it is possible. When pride is rooted in a person’s life, only a place of repentance and surrender can remove it completely. We need to fight against it and stop it from taking a hold on our hearts. Staying humble is to be the furthest place from the devil. When our hearts are aligned with God, we will receive all that He has in store for us.

Proverbs 22:4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life!

13 October 2010

In Christ: Freedom

Freedom is a powerful word that stirs many words and emotions…

When the walls came down in Germany 1989, the world watched and celebrated because people were being set free. Films like "The Great Escape" and "The Shawshank Redemption" are bestsellers because they stir the human belief to fight for freedom.

People were never created to be in prison, slavery or in any kind of bondage. Even if it is our fault or the result of our decisions, to live in any type of bondage is the greatest of all evils.

This is why Christ came to set us free...

However, many people today are living in bondage to fear, pain, addictions, debt and sin. This is far from God’s best and not where we should be living. God is an expert in setting people free from any bondage or slavery. Through Christ we are all set free and our calling is to set others free.

Definitions of freedom:

  • The condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without restraints
  • Liberty of the person from slavery, detention, bondage or self; deliverance
  • The right to unrestricted use; full access; given complete freedom
  • The right of enjoying all of the privileges of membership or citizenship; the freedom of the city.

2 Corinthians 3:17 - Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Enemies to Freedom

Because we are born again, we now desire to live holy just as Christ's example to us is holy, we desire now what he desires, we will what He wills. The battle that exists is between our new nature in Christ and our old nature that is in our flesh. This is why obedience and trust are essential for the Christian walk for they are the two things that enable us to overcome our old nature. Trust and obedience are a giving into the spirit of Christ that now lives inside of us, who is the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 3:12 - And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children… This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.


Isaiah 61:1-2 - The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me, to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favour.

Take Nothing of the Old into the New

We must pass from one dimension to another, taking nothing of the old into the new. Take a hold of the word of God and speak it over your life. Let it transform your mind and heart. In Christ there is now

• No shame - Isaiah 45:17

• No condemnation, guilt - Romans 8:1

• No sin or death - Romans 6:14

• No devil - Colossians 1:13

• We have passed from death to life - Romans 5:17

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

Freedom – Not to be Abused

With this freedom it is expected that we do not abuse it in any way. Our conduct should be based on our reality. We are now dead to sin and alive to Christ (Rom 6:11). Christ died to set us free from sin, not to remain in it and do whatever we want. We are to live unselfishly as children of God and live lives worthy of the calling.

The enemy has two faces – 1) religion and 2) lawlessness. Religion is any type of legalism that enslaves us to a self-effort approach to gaining God’s favour. Lawlessness is all sin and disobedience that separates us from God. Both are deceiving and are a place of harsh slavery and bondage.

Liberty is our license to walk with God freely, our right and pass to access the presence of God. It is not liberty to sin or to indulge in selfish desires but to live in a life of godliness and righteousness.

Romans 6:17-18 - But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

The liberty of being right with God is the greatest liberty of all. When our heart possesses assurance with God, our heart is free to live with God forever. We are free to serve the Lord without compulsion. We serve Him because we want to do it.

This is the opposite of serving the Lord in a straight-jacket of legalism. We do right because it is right, not to obey a set of laws and rules.

The basis for all freedoms is grace. Grace is the provision God makes for us on the basis of His Son’s person and work. Jesus provided a way that we might have eternal salvation, power to live the Christian life and be in the presence of God eternally.

God provided these things totally by Himself. We did nothing to get them or earn them. We can not add anything to get them or do anything to take away from them.

John 8:31-32 - To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.

Wherever you are, whatever state your in, of either bondage, confusion or liberation, know that it is God’s will that you are free in Christ, in EVERY area of your life. Physical freedom, emotional freedom, psychological freedom, financial freedom…

Make God number 1 in your life today. I guarantee you, His gift of Freedom is worth it…

20 September 2010

Lioness Arising

These people rise up like a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself…
Numbers 23:24

Today, I would like to promote a book by one of my favourite authors and inspirational speakers, Lisa Bevere. Lioness Arising is a timely book on the power and authority of women in the church today. Their influence has historically been ignored and abused – but I believe the time has come when their voices will be heard and lives will be changed.

The lioness rises from her slumber, a magnificent image of strength, passion, and beauty. Her mere presence commands the landscape, protects her young, and empowers the lion. In groups, lionesses become a creative and strategic force to be reckoned with, acting as one to change the world around them.

In Lioness Arising, Lisa Bevere offers the life and image of the lioness as a fierce and tender model for women. Revealing the surprising characteristics of this amazing creature, Lisa challenges women to discover fresh passion, prowess, and purpose. Below is an excerpt from her book:


The year was 1994, and it was a night like any other in that season of my life. I had tumbled into bed later than I should have after a desperate attempt at putting my house in order. As a pregnant mother of three sons, I slept deeply in those days. I would shut my eyes and fall right to sleep, only to be roused by the sound of an alarm, children, or late-morning sunlight streaming into my room.

But this night I fell asleep and woke at dawn, shaken to my core. In the predawn hours I’d experienced a vivid and unusual dream. Actually, to call it a dream makes it sound as though it came to me in the form of sleep or shadow; this imagery did not. I dream regularly, but not at this level of intensity. In my world of sleep, I found myself vibrantly awake.

Before me was a scene set in another place and time. I sensed I no longer walked the pathways of earth. I stood in some heavenly realm, a place of illumination, without glare. Radiant light was everywhere and appeared to come from everything. There was no mist or shadow, only glorious color. These saturated hues of living color were comprised of shades so concentrated that I am without earthly reference to name them.

The pigments were layered and multidimensional. For some reason I best remember the tones of purple (but not quite our purple) and blue (yet unlike ours). There were no edges, sides, or upper border, yet the backdrop of color enwrapped what it showcased - an elevated platform of flawless, cream-colored stone, and on this platform reclined a golden lioness.

She was feline perfection - majestic, powerful, and richly textured. She didn’t move, but there was no doubt in my mind that she was alive - far more alive than any earthbound animal I’d seen in motion. Her head was erect but not tense, and her forelegs stretched out in front of her. Her fur and eyes gleamed golden. Beneath her flawless, tawny coat, I could see every curve of her perfectly formed muscles. This stunning, still lioness was far more substantial, vivid, and vibrant than any of the lionesses that now walk our earth.


This book is packed with remarkable insights from nature and a rich depth of biblical references to lionesses. I believe Lioness Arising is a call for women to rise up in strength and numbers to change their world. Learn what it means to:

• be a stunning representation of strength
• fiercely protect the young
• lend your voice to the silenced
• live in the light and hunt in the dark
• raise a collective roar that changes everything


To be released 21st September, 2010

www.messengerinternational.org


21 August 2010

Be Holy for I am Holy

The pursuit of holiness must be the desire and duty of every true believer.

Holiness is from the Greek word Hagios which is to be literally holy, and set apart for God and his purposes for our life. It is a lifestyle of righteousness, separated to a greater life of living, with the aim of measuring up to the full stature of Christ (Eph 4:13).

Holiness is a life of freedom, victory and power which the world will never see again. We are called to imitate his holiness - in thoughts, words and deeds. We serve a good and amazing God because He never commands us to do anything that He won’t empower us to do.

1 Peter 1:15-16 - Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

Proof of Salvation

Christianity is not a life of good morals, honesty and attending church – it is to be Holy for He is Holy. We are to become like Jesus Christ, God Himself made flesh, and measure up to His standard of Holiness. It must be in our every affair, in every condition, towards all people.

Christ calls us to radically respond individually. Proof of our salvation is to live a life of holiness which is to be eventually dead to sin. We must watch out and pray against the sins to which we are inclined to. Scripture is clear without holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14).

Job 31:1-7 - I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl. For what is man's lot (portion, reward) from God above, his heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? Does he not see my ways and count my every step? If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit - let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless

He Came to set you Free

When God brought out the Israelites out of Egypt it was His plan from the beginning to make them a nation set apart for Himself (Exo 19:4-6). When God said, Be holy, because I am holy, it was not a request or an option – it was a command. Our life should mirror the characteristics of God Himself. After you are saved, God no longer calls you a sinner - He calls you Righteous! (Matt 5:20)

God didn’t save you to take away your guilty conscience and still own your life. He came to set you free and bring you back to what you were created for – to become like Him. You were bought with a price, in fact the highest price in the universe, the blood of Jesus Christ. Your life now no longer belong to you.

Your value is therefore the greatest value in all Creation, regardless of who you are or what you have done. As a response, we are to do good works to further His Kingdom and living lives of righteousness worthy of the calling.

Heaven is a Holy Place

Isaiah 6:1-3 - In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted … Above him were seraphs … And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."

We must be holy, because without holiness on earth we will never be prepared to enjoy heaven. Heaven is a holy place. The Lord of heaven is holy and the angels are holy. The unholy and disobedient would hate heaven because ‘Holiness’ is written on everything in heaven and the air that they breathe.

A man may go great lengths and yet never reach true holiness:
It is not knowledge—Balaam had that;
Nor great profession—Judas Iscariot had that;
Nor doing many things—Herod had that;
Nor zeal for certain matters in religion—Jehu had that;
Nor morality and outward respectability of conduct—the young ruler had that;
Nor taking pleasure in hearing preachers—the Jews in Ezekiel’s time had that;
Nor keeping company with godly people—Joab and Gehazi and Demas had that.

Yet none of them were holy. These things alone are not holiness. A man may have any one of them and yet never see the Lord.

Our Response to God’s Great Salvation

Most people want to go to heaven, but they are unwilling to do it God’s way. But the reality is if they refuse to be Holy and live God’s ways they won't make it. Since no greater gift could ever be given than the gift of salvation in Christ, no gift then could ever demand a greater response and the greatest obligation.

It is not an accident of language that the Holy Spirit is called first and foremost ‘Holy’. The Spirit, being God, must be absolutely and infinitely Holy and free from evil. He is holiness itself, the sum and essence of all that is unspeakably pure.

1 John 1:6-7 - If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not live in the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.

The true Christian is not to be happy but to be Holy. We are to love what God loves and hate what God hates. We have the mind and heart of God written on our very own hearts. When we fall into sin and temptation our response should be of conviction, sadness, confession and repentance.

Holiness is directly related with our sexuality and it is essential that we live pure lives. The Bible is clear that sexual immorality is a sin against our own body (1 Cor 6:18). Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and we need to protect it and guard it whatever the cost.


Reflections from Eternity

How will we ever be at home and happy in heaven if we die unholy? Death works no change. The grave makes no alteration. Each will rise again with the same character in which he breathed his last. Where will our place be if we are strangers to holiness now?

Suppose you were allowed to enter heaven without holiness. What would you do? What possible enjoyment could you feel there? To which of all the saints would you sit down with? Their pleasures are not your pleasures, their tastes not your tastes, their character not your character.

Do you think one would delight to meet David, Paul and John, after a life spent in doing the very things they spoke against? Do you think he would rejoice to meet Jesus, the crucified One, face to face, after cleaving to the sins for which He died for?


Heaven is a never–ending Sabbath. The saints do not rest not day or night, but praise "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty," and singing the praise of the Lamb. How could an unholy man find pleasure in occupation such as this?


Would he stand before Him with confidence and join in the cry, "This is our God . . . we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" (Isa 25:9)? Do you not think rather that the tongue of an unholy man would cleave to the roof of his mouth with shame, and his only desire would be to be cast out?

He would feel a stranger in a land he did not know, a black sheep amid Christ’s holy flock. The voice of cherubim and seraphim, the song of angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven would be a language he could not understand. The very air would seem an air he could not breathe…

http://www.gracegems.org/Ryle/h03.htm

All people, regardless of who they worship, what religion, person, animal or object, will become who their god is. God is the Model of all holiness. As we worship Him we will become like Him in every way – Holy, Blameless and Above Reproach (Col 1:22).

Take courage and examine yourself today. Do you want to attain holiness? Do you feel this day a real desire to be holy? Then go to Christ. Wait for nothing. Wait for nobody. Linger not. Do not think to put it off another day.

Go and say to Him in prayer your desire to be like Him, and surrender every area of your life to His Glory in your pursuit of Holiness. This, my friend, is the greatest pursuit ever known to mankind…

21 July 2010

Your God Given Calling

Life is amazing when you’re living in God’s calling…

Your calling is your mission from God to achieve the purposes and plans on earth from Heaven. Not without testing and trials but always engaging you towards the highest good for yourself and for those around you.

You are uniquely designed and possess many skills, strengths, abilities and passions no one else has. Your calling is divinely suited to everything you are and your make up as a person. Make no mistake, every human being has a divine calling on their life that can change the world, and it is up to the individual to discover and fulfill it.

Proverbs 16:9 - A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.

God's calling for your life goes way beyond what you do. It's who you are, where you belong, who and how you love. A life lived operating in the gifts God has given us - and mindful of meeting the needs of others - is a life that beautifully reflects the person and heart of God.

Your calling is your greatest purpose, passion and priority in life. It is Christ centered and God focused. It will excite you, inspire you, drive you and consume your thoughts, time and energy. To miss your calling is to miss your destiny and ultimate purpose in life.

The First Part of Your Calling

Every human being has a divine calling on their life and it is up to them to discover it. God reveals a calling only to those who accept him as their Saviour.

Most of the things we work for or worry about won’t matter in three weeks, let alone three months or three years. We focus on the trivial and forget to pursue the eternal. But after 10,000 x 10,000 years in Heaven, you will still be delirious you invested your life for Jesus Christ, and still be dancing about with all the treasures in Heaven you worked so hard for.

Throughout your life, God's calling for you will bring great challenges, distress and frustration. You can't succeed at this task on your own. Only through the constant guidance of the Holy Spirit will you be able to carry out your God-appointed mission.

Jeremiah 1:5-8 - Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations - that's what I had in mind for you." But I said, "Hold it, Master God! Look at me. I don't know anything. I'm only a boy!" God told me, "Don't say, 'I'm only a boy.' I'll tell you where to go and you'll go there. I'll tell you what to say and you'll say it. Don't be afraid of a soul. I'll be right there, looking after you."

Check mating the devil

Your calling is divinely linked with overcoming the works of the devil. Life in the Christian Faith is a game very similar to Chess.

The Kingdom of God is white and the kingdom of darkness is black, good versus evil. Pawns are all the multitudes of mankind, serving God best by stepping forward in Faith. God is using all of us to checkmate the devil at the end. Put simply; God can't lose and the devil can't win.

Ephesians 3:20-21 - Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Reward or Loss?

1 Corinthians 3:8 says that we will be individually rewarded as a co-labourer and builder of God’s Kingdom. Every Christian is on the same level playing field – it is up to you how you multiple your talents as a faithful and wise steward (Matt 25). God's prerequisite to greatness is that we serve, regardless of which position, role or service we occupy.

Unless you are born again, you'll be guessing at what your calling is. You'll rely on your own wisdom, and you'll be wrong. Pay attention to who God made you to be; we are all uniquely designed. You may be able to learn by watching someone else, but your calling isn't their calling. Don't get caught in the comparison trap like Peter.

Signs to know your Calling

What are you good at and what do you love to do? What consistent patterns are noticeable in you that may be clues to your own individual calling? You are the only person who is going to do anything about your God given calling.

God has a special and unique purpose on your life based on the desires and passions of your heart. God will show you your calling through people, scripture, words from God and revelations. However, it is sobering to know that we can miss our calling in so many ways.

These can include: doubt, discouragement, sin, defeat, delay, marrying the wrong person, negative influences, falling away from the faith, temptations, temporary failure, spiritual attacks, lack of faith, disobedience and rebellion.

Ephesians 4:1-3 – I … appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God's service, Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.

Be Faithful, Obedient and Willing – Pay the Price

Life is but a vapour and you only get one chance to make it work. Your judgement will be based on what you were called to do. A few ways to know your calling is to 1) Seek God earnestly, 2) Be planted in your local church, 3) Pray daily and fervently, 4) Study the Word and 5) Walk in God’s commandments.

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We don't recognise our calling overnight. Rather, God reveals it to us gradually over the years like a giant jigsaw puzzle. As we use our talents and gifts to serve others, we discover certain types of works that feel right. They bring us a deep sense of fulfillment and happiness. They feel so natural and good that we know this is what we were meant to do.

You need to prayerfully seek God and ask Him to help you to discern His special plan and calling for your life. Ask Him to give you the faith and courage to follow, wherever He leads you. Take the time this week to seriously consider what your God given calling might be and look for confirmation from other people, prayer and the Word of God.

Being in the will of God will completely fulfill you. It will stay with you always until the moment you are called home to heaven.

18 June 2010

Wisdom

The older I get I find the more I know the more I don’t know…

Without wisdom I am prone to making negative decisions that can affect not alone me, but also all those around me. Without wisdom in my life I know I am doomed to failures which I could have easily avoided…

Knowledge is good but there is a vast difference between ‘knowledge’ (having the facts) and ‘wisdom’ (applying those facts to life). We can accumulate great philosophies, common sense and knowledge – but without wisdom it is all useless.

Wisdom I know is social. She seeks her fellows. But beauty is jealous, and always bears the presence of a rival - Thomas Jefferson

I can easily tell if a person has wisdom by how they use their words, priorities, finances, values, friendships and where they have placed God in their lives.

Proverbs 4vs7
Wisdom is the principle thing - therefore get wisdom!

God alone is wise - we are not wise without Him. When we don’t know what to do we need to ask God. 'Give me wisdom Lord. Show me what to do.' Wisdom knows what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Wisdom behaves right in life; it understands what to do in every situation. With less effort and more wisdom we will find ourselves succeeding in all areas of our lives.

But What is Wisdom?
Wisdom is the highest form of thinking – applied disciplines.
Wisdom is choosing right instead of wrong, good instead of evil, truth over lies.
Wisdom is acknowledging your Creator, seeking Salvation, and living a life of righteousness, obedience and Christlikeness.

Knowledge is limited and is focused on self.
Wisdom has an eternal mindset and focuses on everyone else.

The benefits of wisdom are extraordinary – riches and honour, justice, God’s favour, life and peace:

Proverbs 3:13-18
Happy (blessed, fortunate, enviable) is the man who finds skillful and godly Wisdom, and the man who gets understanding [drawing it forth from God's Word and life's experiences], for the gaining of it is better than the gaining of silver, and the profit of it better than fine gold. Skillful and godly Wisdom is more precious than rubies; and nothing you can wish for is to be compared to her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are highways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold on her; and happy (blessed, fortunate, to be envied) is everyone who holds her fast.

I have found that there is a BIG difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is limited, biased, convenient, conditional and circumstantial. Wisdom is deep, strong, unconditional and a foundation for applying good sense above comfort and convenience.

The characteristics of wisdom are broad and can be seen in many ways – through self-discipline, generosity, helping the poor, doing good, faithfulness, and hard work with your own hands.

Proverbs 1:20-23
Wisdom cries aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the markets; She cries at the head of the noisy intersections [in the chief gathering places]; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: How long, O simple ones [open to evil], will you love being simple? And the scoffers delight in scoffing and [self-confident] fools hate knowledge? If you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold, I [Wisdom] will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make my words known to you.

Wisdom is choosing safety over stupidity at the risk of not being ‘cool’. Wisdom is choosing to walk away from a fight – to walk away from peer pressure to smoke – to not get behind the wheel of a car when you have been drinking alcohol. Wisdom could well be the greatest power in the universe – to choose life or death…

--------------------------------------------------------
Proverbs 1vs7
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; only fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Wisdom is from God, knowledge is from man. We must understand that wisdom comes only from Him; a God-given gift that is far superior to any self-knowledge we can obtain in our finite minds.

To fear God is to respect Him, honour and to understand His greatness in comparison to our limitations in weaknesses, intellect and understanding. We are put in our place that He is the Creator and we are not.

Wisdom is essentially applying God’s ways and God’s methods to our everyday lives. We must understand this fundamental principle - His ways are good, perfect, Truth and right.


Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

The psalmist wrote with great passion and excitement How I delight in your commands, how I love them! I honour and love your commands; I meditate on your principles… (Psalms 119:47vs48).

Consider this – nine tenths of all sexual diseases would be eliminated if mankind were to conform to God’s ways or sexual purity (1 Cor 6vs18).

Consider this – all wars would end if all people obeyed His ways of loving our neighbour (Mark 12vs31), being rich in good works (1 Tim 6vs18) and living in peace with one another (1 Thess 4vs11).

And consider this – a world with no murders, violence, greed, adultery (1 Cor 6vs9), poverty (Luke 18vs22), disharmony (Matt 7vs12), drunkenness, gossip or slander (Romans 1vs29) – all of these would be non-existent if everyone followed God’s ways. His ways are to protect us, His ways are good.

We need to understand that the foundation of wisdom is acknowledging our Creator and honouring Him in our everyday lives. The dangers of ignoring wisdom should draw us to desiring it even more.

Proverbs 1:24-33
I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you - when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you. “When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me. For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the Lord ... they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way … Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Solomon and Moses

Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived – because he prayed for wisdom! Newly crowned as king the task ahead of him was great, its challenges high and its problems numerous. Before he made any decisions he seeked God and looked for help.


1 Kings 3:5-15
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." … Solomon answered, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for - both riches and honor - so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life."

Just like Solomon, our lives involve many decisions, challenges and a never ending cycle of problems that need Wisdom.

Acts 7vs22
And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds

Moses was learned and highly educated in words and deeds. He was reared as the son of Pharaoh's daughter and would be taught in all the accomplishments of his time. We know from the researches of the Egyptologists that at that time there were great universities for the education of all who were expected to engage in public employments.

However, Moses was not ready for the call of God on his life. It was in the wilderness and an encounter from God at 80 years of age when he changed history by leading the Israelites out of Egypt and destroying Pharaoh’s army by parting the Red Sea.

James 1vs5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Secular wisdom and Godly wisdom are chalk and cheese. The wisdom of man is foolishness to God. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are greater than our thoughts. I believe if we grab hold of this principle in our lives, we will soar and do impossible things in our lifetime – for His Glory.

1 Corinthians 1:18; 21; 25
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe…This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength…

In summary, we need wisdom, wisdom comes from God, therefore seek Him who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him in full.

15 May 2010

Rock or Sand Foundations?

The Sky Tower in New Zealand is the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere.

It took two years and nine months to build and has been designed to remain standing during storms with winds at 200 km/hr (125 mph). In extreme circumstances it could even withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake within 20kms of the tower.

That’s pretty impressive isn’t it? But what is the secret to its success? The Sky Tower’s foundations go down more than 15 metres and the concrete used was especially made of high strength, high performance concrete. Additionally, during construction daily real-time readings were taken of the structure using seven global positioning satellites to confirm its exact position.


Any builder would agree that the foundation of any building is the most essential component before any work can begin. Without a strong and level platform any building is at the mercy of the elements around it, namely wind, rain, storms and earthquakes.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Matthew 7:24-25
Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse, because it is built on rock.

The best foundation of all for a building is bedrock. Other less stable layers such as gravel, sand, soil, clay and porous rock should be cut away so that a large structure can be built on bedrock.

Sometimes digging the foundation takes longer than the building itself. Progress seems slow and for a long time it seems nothing is happening. But all of a sudden the building appears and its finished in no time.

A foundation supports the entire structure and each part of the building depends on the foundation. If it has good, deep, sure foundations the building will stand, no matter what comes against it. If not, when trouble occurs the building will fall.

1 Corinthians 3:11
For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Whether we believe it or not, our lives are exactly like a building. Depending on the foundations we have built and believe in and live by will depend greatly if our life and work will stand the test of time and all the winds, rains, storms and earthquakes that comes against us.

Jesus describes two ways to build: either upon sand (an unstable, hollow, uncertain foundation) or upon rock (a stable, thick and certain foundation).

Matthew 7:26-27
But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come in and the winds beat against that house, it will fall with a mighty crash.

So many people are building their lives on unstable foundations and then complain about how everything went wrong in their life. Sand foundations today can include trust and dependence on money, people, work, medication, personal achievements, qualifications, as well as materialism, pride and self worth in ones belongings, self centered ambitions and worldly wisdom. Any one of these which are temporary and uncertain in life as a foundation can be a sandy place to build ones personal empire.

The only stable bedrock foundation that will ever last in this lifetime is the personal revelation and power that comes from Jesus Christ. As the Son of God He has given us unquestionable authority (Matt 28:18), power (Matt 16:19), faith to move mountains (Matt 21:21), strength to do all things (Phil 4:13) and peace from this world (John 14:27).

His promises are certain and His Words are eternal. If it has worked for mankind for the last 2,000 years I’m sure it can work for any of us today.

Hebrews 11:10
Being confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

Personal Journey
I have found that there are days where everything seems to fall apart in my world. Nothing seems to work, plans fail, friends ignore you and family is too busy in your hour of need. This is the shaking of my foundations – particularly my being, self-worth and everything I am and stand for.

Last year was the greatest year of my life. When I mean the greatest year I mean the foundation was laid. To those close to me it was the worst year of my life. But God always sees things differently than man does…

For those 12 months was a season in my life I sometimes resented why God allowed it to happen. Yet in hindsight I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I did not experience what I was about to go through.

Everyday was difficult and the pain too hard to bear. The feelings of failure and the knowledge of credit card debt (the first in my life), and having no job for 6 months was too much for my pride, attitude and mindsets to bear. I was better than this I thought and my knowledge, experience and abilities far exceeded where I was at.

I must have wept every second day uncontrollably. On the inside I was suffering and inconsolable – and I was a Christian! Everything I turned to for peace, healing and comfort never worked. A dark cloud of depression hung over me and I eventually accepted counseling from the advice of my dad. During the worst days, all I had was my Bible as my promise of better days ahead to hold like a teddy bear as I cried myself to sleep.

Isaiah 28:16
Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem. It is firm, a tested and precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed.

It was during this period that the foundation was laid. Now the work and construction could begin. Every season has to end and this one eventually did. Today, I am stronger, wiser and deeply humbled by the work God has done within me. A transformation within me took place in my thinking that I must be completely His, trust and depend on Him for all I do in my life. My perspective has changed, worldliness gone, and my faith in God now unshakable.

My trust in the things of this world, my strengths and people has now been correctly placed on Him – where it belongs. All things really do work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes… (Rom 8:28).

Jesus – A Rock Foundation
No one can escape storms in this life. We too should not build anything unless we have found it in Christ. He is our rock which can never be shaken and nothing we build on with Him can fail. We should also build nothing that He isn't supporting.

Examine your life today and what foundation it’s built on. Believe me; it is well worth the time to consider it.


14 April 2010

A Divine Appointment

Everyone knows someone who has issues...

Life is full of deadlines, appointments, traffic jams and keeping up with the neighbours. A never ending cycle of bills and expenses seem to always appear and consume our time, energy and thoughts. Throughout all this we must somehow stay afloat while keeping our sanity and looking like we’ve got it all together.

Life is a rat race and the irony is is that even if you win your still a rat - Anonymous

The world offers prescription drugs, medicines, counselling, therapy; all of which can never fix our greatest need - the human soul. People die, money runs out, you lose your job, a drunk driver runs into you, friends move on and tragedies happen. The truth is life is hard and not everyone makes it.

-------------------------------------------------------

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones (Mark 5:1-20)

Many people experience a living hell at some point in their life - but did this guy have issues! There was a man on the other side of the lake that had been loved by Him from before the world began. He had been predestined to become one of Jesus' redeemed followers.

This man had a name but scripture does not say. No one knew, no one cared, no one wanted him and no one loved him. Humanly speaking, there was absolutely no hope for him. All that could be done was to abandon him to his demonic torment and hope that he stayed away until his pitiful madness destroyed him. And then one day fate took a turn, and the maniac met the Messiah.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many."

A legion was the largest unit of the Roman army, consisting of up to 6,000 soldiers. Everyone has their own personal demon they fight on a daily basis, but did this guy have lots of them!

It is evident that Jesus loved this man greatly to travel such a great distance. He cares about every single area of our lives, even down to the details of our inner demons. Jesus can fix, rebuild and repair any soul in need of healing. He came to heal, redeem, restore and bring freedom to all who are in bondage from themselves and this world.

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them." He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind

Jesus healed him in EVERY single area of his life - physically, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. He restored him to his normal mental state and empowered him with a mission and purpose in life - to tell everyone all the wonderful things God has done.

No matter what you are facing the touch of God can heal every single area of your life and give you a fresh start. There are no issues Jesus can't fix and heal you of completely.

Ephesians 2:4-7
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

When the local people came out to see what was happening, they saw a they found a formerly dangerous and demonic man sitting at Jesus feet - no longer shrieking but calm and peaceful; no longer naked and out of control, but clothed and in his right mind.

The greatest evidence of a good God is a changed and transformed human life from darkness to light – Anonymous

One of the wonderful things about our Saviour is that He goes out of His way to save those He loves. He travelled a great distance to save this unloved and unwanted man. Jesus also travelled the greatest possible distance to save us too. He left His glorious throne in heaven in order to meet us face to face. He even went so far as to die on the cross for us; that’s how much He loves us. He loved this poor man on the other side of the lake, too; and so He travelled a great distance to go and save him.

1 Timothy 1:17
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief

If Jesus hadn’t come to rescue me, I’d be just as lost and helpless too.

24 March 2010

Life of Freedom

Free will is a funny thing…

By definition it is ‘any internally motivated action, to exercise control over actions, decisions or choices regardless of the outcome and consequences’.

To be human is to know right from wrong, good or bad, and choose accordingly. This is what separates us from every other living creature.

Consider a person getting behind the wheel or a car after drinking heavily, a young woman falling pregnant, taking a deadly cocktail of drugs, or a father working 16 hour days while the wife and 3 kids are desperate for love and time together.

Why is part of our existence involve our ability to have self-rule in this short time on earth? Many lives have been changed and affected in history because of major decisions by leaders, rulers and dictators.

A nation votes for their Prime Minister because they have complete independence to make decisions for themselves no one else can make. Self freedom ultimately plays a significant part of society, which affects everything; from trends, fashion, stock markets, business, sports, travel and anything in between.
Free will could well be said as the most powerful force in the universe…

-------------------------------------------

Genesis 2:17
But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.

Why did God place a tree of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden? Why place such a terrifying consequence for humanity on the decision of just two people?

Quite simply, without free-will we would be robots with no choice to choose for ourselves. God wanted Adam to obey but He gave Adam the freedom to choose.

Without choice he would have been a prisoner and his obedience would have been without option. The tree provided an opportunity to either decide to obey or reject His ways. To obey was to live in freedom and relationship with His Creator. To disobey was to face consequences and separation.

It is clear from scripture that Adam was never meant to die but to do what he was created for – to walk in relationship with His creator forever. Thus the famous saying – “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”.

Adam's sinlessness was untested perfection. However, Christ's sinlessness was tested perfection. Without temptation faithfulness can never be proven.

What does it mean to be human?
To believe that you are created or not is to have free will.
To believe in life after death is to have free will.
To believe that we are fallen and in need of Salvation is to have free will.
To believe in a Saviour who can give you that Salvation is to have free will.



What then is the Will of God you might say? Well in a Biblical context God’s Will is for mankind to follow His plan being fulfilled, to follow His divine laws, and for all people to be saved from death through His Son Jesus Christ by Faith.

Hebrews 9:27
And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

Consider the following: Let us never set up our own will against the holy will of God. There was not only liberty allowed to man, in taking the fruits of paradise, but everlasting life made sure to him upon his obedience. There was also a trial appointed called Judgement that would investigate his obedience or not. By transgression he would forfeit his Maker's favour, and deserve his displeasure, with all its awful effects; so that he would become liable to pain, disease, and death.

Worse than that, he would lose the holy image of God, and all the comfort of his favour; and feel the torment of sinful passions, and the terror of his Maker's vengeance, which must endure for ever with his never dying soul. The forbidding to eat of the fruit of a particular tree. For man is sinful, and shows by his actions and his conduct afterwards, ready to do evil.

Deuteronomy 30:19
I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him

Free will – it’s a powerful thing.

26 February 2010

Social Justice

'The poor have come to save us...'

In the Bible there are almost 2,000 verses related to poverty, social justice and personal responsibility to act on them. God has a special interest in the welfare of those at the lowest end of the social ladder: the poor, widows, orphans, foreigners and the fatherless (Jeremiah 7:5-7). Could God be telling is something?

Proverbs 31:8-9
Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy
Generally, social justice has two key components:
Social – living together in communities or organised groups, and
Justice – the upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards, or law

On Judgement Day, Jesus even mentions six everyday unexciting works either performed or neglected as the final prerequisite to enter Heaven. They were all remembered by Christ and had been treasured, worthy of mention on the final day where all accounts are settled. Both the righteous and unrighteous were amazed at how their everyday conduct meant so much that they had forgotten them entirely. It was these little tasks of day to day living Jesus says proved His true disciples.

Matthew 25:31-40
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? And the King will tell them, 'I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!

To the heart of God, social justice is part of His character and His heartbeat for humanity. Every human being, especially society’s leaders, has a God-given moral duty to protect fellow human beings from social injustices whenever and wherever it is practical to do so (Proverbs 3:27-28). The prophets Amos and Micah spent much of their ministries condemning leaders in Israel for failing to practice social justice. They stressed that there was an integral relationship between true spirituality and social ethics.

For instance, Israel was condemned for committing another kind of “sodomy”; specifically, failing to help the poor and needy. “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:44-50).

It is evident that pursuing social justice is one of the highest moral responsibilities of the church and for every single believer. The Rich man and Lazarus is yet another example of the seriousness and devastating consequences of those who forget the poor but had the resources to help them. In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus speaks of an actual event where a rich man who lived in luxury and ignores the needs of a poor beggar who sits outside his gate everyday. Finally they both die with the rich man in hell and Lazarus in paradise...

James 2:14-17
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has not works, is dead.

Is this not a wake up call to every single person? What do you have that you can give right now? What resources, food, time, finances do you have? Or what serving, acts of kindness, volunteering, or encouraging words can you do today? God keeps records in Heaven and knows all things and all hearts. Nothing given in secret will ever be forgotten. Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive.

The prophets' main judgments were leveled against idolatry and social injustice. The living God insists on personal morality and social justice, while idols offer fertility and prosperity without social responsibility.

I just gave away money I don't have, for people I've never met, for a God I love very much – Anonymous

Jesus criticised and disobeyed laws when they got in the way of helping people. Religion and government were intermixed, so Jesus challenged the law of the land. This threat Jesus posed to both religious and political authorities led to his crucifixion.

Jeremiah 22:3
Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.

God isn't a conservative; he's a revolutionary. He not only takes the side of the poor; he puts Himself in their place. In the very alarming parable of the sheep and the goats he speaks of salvation as depending on how we treat the poorest and the most afflicted.

According to Pharisaical opinion Jesus should have come as a lord, a tycoon, a cult leader. Some of his followers today feel as though Jesus should have been, but Jesus came as a poor man. There are all sorts of meaning in that, but at the very least we can say that Jesus takes the issue of poverty personally. A church or a nation that ignores its poor or places stumbling blocks in their way, whose supreme good is money, is very far from the heart of God.

For God so loved the world, that He took a closer look through the eyes of a carpenter’s son so He could associate with the poor. And perhaps it may be true, the poor have come to save us…

18 February 2010

The Power of the Tongue

Do you know what comes out of your mouth when watching the TV?

How about at a crowded sports game thriller, in traffic at rush hour, or even under pressure in the midst of a stressful day at work? If you were to read a book on your every single spoken word in a month, I believe we would all be at the least surprised, or at the most horrified.

Proverbs 18:21
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit

When I was a child growing up a popular saying was “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words can never hurt me…” Now as a young adult with wisdom and personal experience, I believe that this saying is slowly losing its credibility.

The power of the tongue is enormous and can change the course of history. Winston Churchill’s life is proof that one person’s thoughts, words, and actions can do exactly this. Churchill was a multifaceted genius, but his command of the English language was legendary. In particular, his ability to motivate entire nations through the spoken word proved crucial in guiding the Allies to ultimate victory in World War II:

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…

Our words can bring life, joy, inspiration and encouragement. On the contrary our words can bring death, misery, coldness, hate and a lifetime of resentment. I’m sure we can all think of one person’s words who spoke to us we will remember for the rest of our life – which brought life or death. Such is the power of the tongue.

What we say has an incredible reflection of what’s in our heart - which encompasses our identity and everything we are and stand for. Some of the wisest people I have met in life and deeply respect, always seem to speak the least. Perhaps a better popular saying is “Sometimes silence is the best answer”…

---------------------------------------------

Matthew 12:36-37
But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned…

Jesus says what kind of words come from our mouth is a direct indication of what’s in our heart. Everything we do and say matters to a God who created us and loves us without measure. Our influence and impact on others can bring life and death - the greatest of good and evil.

You can never know what a person is like until you know what’s in their heart, and this is best known by what comes out of their mouth. Our human sense of responsibility and guilt, right and wrong, good and evil, righteousness and sin are proof that there will be a future day of judgement where all must give an account in their lifetime (1 Cor 4:4-5, Heb 4:12).


A man is literally what he thinks and says, his character being the complete sum of all his words. Men do not attract what they want, but what they are. A person’s actions, good works and selflessness will never go beyond his character and heart. You will know a tree by its fruit – the results of the seeds that have been planted in each person’s heart.

What we really need is a cure for the human heart which is the centre behind everything we do. God promises us a new heart when we choose Christ as our Lord and Saviour. I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command (Ezekiel 36:26).

With a new heart and a new spirit within us, our words will never be the same again.

07 February 2010

God Can Use Anyone

The next time someone says God can’t use someone just remember that:

Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a deceiver
Joseph was a slave
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson was a womaniser
Rahab was a prostitute
David had an affair and was a murderer
Solomon worshipped false idols
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jeremiah cried all the time
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
Thomas was a doubter
Peter denied Christ three times
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman at the well slept with multiple men
The disciples fell asleep while praying
Paul persecuted Christians
Timothy was too young to do anything great

Moses stuttered
David's armour didn't fit
John Mark was rejected by Paul
Timothy had ulcers
Amos' only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning
Jacob was a liar
Solomon was too rich
Peter was afraid of death
Lazarus was dead
John was self-righteous
Paul was a murderer
Jonah ran from God
Miriam was a gossip
Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal
Elijah burned out
Mary may have been lazy
Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse?

I find it amazing how normal, average and even difficult people could be used so powerfully by God in the Bible. Despite our frailties and weaknesses He sees us for our potential and not where we are right now.

He uses every season to prepare us for our greatest moments in life. He doesn't look at financial gain or loss. He's not prejudiced or partial, judgemental, unforgiving, deaf to our cries nor blind to our needs...

On the contrary we all have great strengths, amazing gifts, wonderful skills, unprecedented ideas and half a dozen talents. One of the laws of the universe is that if we are faithful with little more will naturally be given to us. Each of us has been created differently and uniquely to do incredible things to help, build, grow, strengthen and inspire those around us and our communities.


In a Biblical context, God has a habit of using everyday people to achieve great things beyond themselves. At the start of every project He always needs a chosen vessel to work through. Ezekiel said that God was seeking a man to stand in the gap. Do you understand how important you are to the work of God? He will not move without a vessel.

He will not pour out His spirit without a faucet for it to flow through - YOU are that faucet. God needs you and He needs me. Let’s get to work and do what He has called us to do. Lets be faithful with whats in our hands today and trust God to fix the details of our tomorrow. There is no time to lose…

03 February 2010

A Different Perspective

My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed.

At least that's what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped outside his closed door to listen. Are you there, "God?" he said. "Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed." I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humour. I realised for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labour. Apart from his size (6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas, and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.


I remember wondering if Kevin realises he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, returning to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme are laundry days, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.

He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

And Saturdays-oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. "That one's goin' to Chi-car-go!" Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights. I don't think Kevin knows anything exists outside his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn't know what it means to be discontent.

His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. He recognises no differences in people, treating each person as an equal and a friend. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be. His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it.

He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong you apologise instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.

Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God-to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an “educated” person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.

In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions. It is then I realise that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap – I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances – they all become disabilities when I do not submit them to Christ.

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of the Lord. And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realise that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed. Kevin won't be surprised at all.


By Kelly Adkins
www.inspirationalarchive.com