31 December 2014

Come Boldly

It is a fact that we will usually avoid people when there are unresolved issues...

Pain, offence, insecurity, pride, unforgiveness will always hold on to us and keep us from people we need and love most. But what we must always remember is that people may let us down, but God will never let us down.

Hebrews 4:16  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

Thank God that we can come before a throne of grace! Never let unresolved issues within yourself keep you from coming to Him. There is no pre-requisite to entering into a place of prayer in our time of need. It is an open door of love and acceptance, not matter what we have been and done. 

Every Christian will have hundreds of seasons in their lifetime of mountains and valleys. Coming boldly to God’s throne of grace is not a one off event - but a lifetime pursuit. 

Let us come boldly to the throne of grace for:
1) Forgiveness from sin, shame and guilt
2) Restoration from brokenness and heartache
3) Strength in time of weakness and fear
4) Mercy when experienced failure and discouragement
5) Salvation to restore areas of our lives to bring new beginnings
6) Petition and prayer requests of our needs
7) Wisdom for divine guidance and words of knowledge

Bible stories abound of people who came to the throne of grace in their time of need. Not by accident but for our benefit as examples of God’s power and goodness. Think of David’s sin, Paul’s weakness and Joshua’s fear. Or what about Moses’ intercession, Hannah’s petition and John’s revelation. Normal people like you and me, coming boldly to a throne of grace in time of need.

The male lion is the most feared animal in the wilderness and open plains. When they roar everything that has breathe goes quiet and is terrified! But the lions cubs do not fear their fathers presence. They come anywhere and anytime, in need or to play because of their heritage.  

Likewise, children in need or distress automatically go to their father without second thought or hesitation. Why? Because they know they have complete access by natural birthright. And they trust them to meet all their needs without question.

Come boldly to Him regularly and make it a habit starting today. But especially in your time of need, anywhere, anytime. He loves you dearly and wants to hear and speak to you no matter what season you are facing. Happy New Year! 


15 November 2014

Throne of Grace

The world is a dark place to live for many it seems...

Life is so long and such a struggle for millions of people around the world today. We are living in an age of mental health crisis. Broken and hurting people daily battle depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, deep insecurity, fear and more.

Walk to your local shopping centre in peak hour and look at all the hurting people struggling to get through to the end of the day. Beggars, single mums, teenagers on drugs, gangs, families living on coupon hand-outs, young girls crippled by the pressure of beauty... The list can go on and on.

Depression affects one in five people with about ten percent of children diagnosed with a mental health problem at any one time. One in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.

Studies show loneliness is driving more and more otherwise healthy people to visit their doctor on a regular basis. Even the world’s biggest cities have the highest issues, with one in five patients visiting a local doctor because of an intense feeling of isolation.

Hebrews 4:15-16  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Thank goodness we serve a God who welcomes us with open arms. A God who is a Good Shepherd, heavenly Father, Prince of Peace, Healer, Saviour and Friend.

In Jesus’ day it was the blind, lame and sick who were suffering the most. No government assistance or handouts; it was survival of the fittest. Each day was a battle to just get through for the poor and marginalised. And Jesus accepted and loved them with open arms.

The gospel declares that we can approach God with confidence. To come humbly and boldly to the throne of Grace, where we may receive grace and mercy in our time of need.

A throne is a place of authority
A throne is a place where power can be given
A throne is a place where help can be supplied upon request.

Almost all thrones in the world today are off limits and strictly denied. Only upon invitation, the rich or famous may those have its privileges. But scripture tells us to come to God anytime to His throne of Grace.

Grace is a place of forgiveness
Grace is a place of empowerment
Grace is a place of salvation and new beginnings.
Grace is a person, and His name is Jesus Christ

And who may come to the throne? The strong, successful, blessed or famous? Those who have no worries or struggles, and need nothing from God? Of course they are all welcome anytime, but would they come to the throne anyway? Even upon formal invitation? Unlikely. God loves broken and hurting people the most, because they are the ones who come to Him most frequently.

Those who are broken and suffering are welcome at the throne of Grace
Those who are distressed in their soul are welcome at the throne of Grace
Those who have sinned greatly or failed are welcome at the throne of Grace
Those who have hit rock bottom and have nowhere else to turn are welcome at the throne of Grace

We should encourage ourselves by the excellence of our High Priest, to come boldly to the throne of grace. Mercy and grace are the things we want; mercy to pardon all our sins, and grace to purify our souls. Besides our daily dependence upon God for present supplies, there are seasons for which we should provide in our prayers; times of temptation, either by adversity or prosperity, and especially our dying time.

We are to come with reverence and godly fear, yet not as if dragged to the seat of justice, but as kindly invited to the mercy-seat, where grace reigns. We have boldness to enter into the holiest only by the blood of Jesus; he is our Advocate, and has purchased all our souls want or can desire - Matthew Henry commentary

His throne is a place of sanctuary, stronghold, fortress and safety. Go to the throne of Grace today, if not for yourself then for those around you.

23 September 2014

New Book Promo: Liberated

Do you base your value and worth on what you do or who you are? 

A distorted identity and life of bondage are not a coincidence. A poor understanding of our identity is the primary cause of bondage among Christians today. For your identity directly determines your every decision and how you choose to live your life.

A person who is liberated has the right or power to do as one pleases, or freedom without restraint or bondage. Galatians 5:1 declares this reality - It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. However, too many sincere believers today are living in some type of bondage when they already have the power to be set free. Therefore understanding who we are and unlocking the power within us as children of God is the key to a liberated life.

A desire to be all that God created us to be should be our highest pursuit in life. When we understand who we are and our purpose in Christ, we will be able to take hold of all the amazing plans He has in store for us. 

Expanded Synopsis

Freedom is so important to people today. It is possibly one of the most valued and celebrated realities a person can experience after a lifetime of bondage. The truth is we were created to be free and experience the fullness of freedom in Christ as Christians. But the reality is many sincere believers today are living in some kind of bondage, sin or ruled by negative emotions when they have the power to be set free.

One definition of the word liberated can be to set free from personal bondage. Nouns include deliverance, freedom, liberty, and release from captivity. This is everything Christ died for us to have today. Our identity greatly determines who we are and what we do in life. When we understand who we are and our purpose in Christ, we will be able to take hold of all the amazing plans God has for us. How you are loved because of who you are, not because of anything you will ever do. From this place who you are changes what you do.

The purpose of this book is to provide a clear and biblical framework of your identity in Christ which leads to long lasting relational, spiritual, physical and emotional freedom. To inspire and transform you to become all God created you to be. To live liberated in your life in total freedom in the fullness of your faith and relationship with Christ. That you would have freedom from addictions, liberty over the power of sin, release from childhood bondages, and set free from negative emotions.   

Chapter 1 – Identity Crisis – the realities of the brokenness of the world today
Chapter 2 – Who You Really Are – study of scripture of the Christian’s identity in Christ
Chapter 3 – Broken and Restored by God - how great things can be accomplished within us through life defining seasons
Chapter 4– Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind – taking thoughts captive and defeating negative strongholds
Chapter 5 – Walking in Freedom – practical steps of living free from bondage and sin
Chapter 6 – You Are God’s Answer to Your World – the power of your influence and legacy
Chapter 7 – Becoming All You Were Created to Be – the significance of living in divine freedom and what you could become

An accurate perception of ourselves, God and others based on the truth of scripture will over time lead to liberation in our everyday lives. Changing behaviour without understanding the reasons behind the behaviour will not bring long term change. But a deep sense of our need for God’s grace, sorrow over sin and joy over our forgiveness will.

God can accomplish great things within us through difficult seasons. I will share moments of my journey of overcoming years of bondage which I believe can be fully yours too. Join with me as we journey on living in the divine freedom which is yours in Christ. May God find you in this book and restore you as His child.

Available on Amazon.com in October 2014. 

25 August 2014

Getting Real With Your Dark Side

One of my favourite movie trilogies growing up as a child was Star Wars.

The character Yoda is a teacher and spiritual advisor, who is known for training Luke Skywalker to harness the power of ‘the force’, a supernatural ability for the Jedi and Sith armies. Many times he speaks of the mystery of not giving into the temptation of the dark side which Luke’s father, Darth Vader, fell into leading to a path of evil and destruction. Some of Yoda’s wise messages are below:

When you look at the dark side, careful you must be, for the dark side looks back…. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering… Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will”.

Doesn’t this sound familiar? It is fair to say that every person has a dark side that comes from the flesh and our sinful nature. It is unique to them and usually a place of great battle and shame. It could be a wound from a father or mother as a child, a sickness, a personal fear or phobia. It could be an addiction to substance abuse of drugs, alcohol, fornication or pornography. Or it could be greed for money, an affair, unforgiveness, fraud, stealing, murder or many others.

Think of the names of Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Milley Cyrus, Amy Winehouse, Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, and most recently Robin Williams. Actors, singers, sportsman and politicians are all human and can fall from grace like you and me today.

A dark side is a double life we can secretly live in private that no one knows. It could be rare, occasional or worse a lifestyle which Christians are not immune to. Regardless, if our dark side is not properly dealt with, it will eventually be exposed and bring untold pain and misery into our lives and may impact those around us.

God takes sin very seriously, so much so that He showed us by the death of His Son by crucifixion, in our place of judgement. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Bringing the Dark into the Light

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
Proverbs 10:9 NIV

What areas in your life have bondage over you? What is your dark side that only God may know and deep down you want removed from your life? Getting real with our sin is absolutely essential in becoming all we were created to be as Christians. What stays in the dark in our lives has incredible power over us.

But when it is brought to the light and confessed before God and trusted friends through accountability, it supernaturally loses its grip on us. If the Holy Spirit isn’t happy inside us, you can be guaranteed you won’t be either. But once we deal with the sin in our lives once and for all, a life of freedom, joy and peace will always follow. For whoever walks in integrity walks securely.

Accountability with others you can trust alongside you, who know what you battle with and still trying to overcome is everything. Ideally, they are praying for you, checking up on you regularly and keeping an eye out when you are getting close to making decisions that lead down a bad path.

And they are friends who will correct you privately and tell you what you need to hear because they love you, especially when you don’t want to hear it. Personally, I have five Christian brothers who know me and my dark side. They have complete liberty to ask me anytime how I am doing, to ensure my life is always on the straight and narrow path of freedom in Christ.

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Hebrews 3:12-13 NIV

If our dark side is an area we are not willing to deal with, God in His goodness and mercy will deal with us personally. Sometimes it is only when the pain of sin is greater than the need for change do people take action. Sin is by nature deceiving and over time will harden our hearts against God. All sin is bondage and a lie we first believe, that only truth will set us free from. Therefore, regular confession, repentance and submission to God through obedience will keep us on the road to freedom. 

Sin smears the image of God before Him, and like a seed, if it is not dealt with can take over our lives, ruining everything we have achieved and progress in our faith. It will hinder our journey with God and cause us to stay stagnate at best and backwards at worst.

Many well known Christians, throughout the history of the church, who did not deal with their dark side sadly fell with their lives and sometimes entire family devastated. Biblical examples abound of Korah, Samson, Uzziah, Zedekiah and David, who at some point in their lives battled pride, ego, self-righteousness or sexual immorality and later cost them everything.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
1 John 1:9 NKJV

As Christians the power of sin has been removed coming into relationship with God, but the potential to sin remains. Yes all believers’ sin but it is a personal choice to continue living in sin with no genuine repentance. Paul urges us to crucify the sinful nature with its passions and desires and to keep in step with the Spirit (see Galatians 5:24-25).

And once we deal with the sin in our lives once and for all, God will allow us to move on and into great blessing. And when we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.


30 July 2014

The Refiners Fire

         In ancient times a man was visiting a goldsmith to collect some gold. He asked the silversmith the process on how gold was refined. He replied, “I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the gold will be lost”. Amazed he asked, “But when do you know it is ready?” The silversmith replied, “When I can see my own image reflected in the gold.

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).

Job 23:10 says, Yet he knows the way I take; when he has tested me, I will come out like gold. The trials and opposition are an indication of the amazing future ahead of you. Often, you will have a good indication of your future by what struggles and adversity you have had to overcome. It is very likely that the person who you are today is a result of trials you had to overcome personally.

Through our trials rough edges were smoothed and brittle areas scrubbed until we more closely resembled what we were meant to be. God allows us to go through hard times so that we may grow and become smooth and shiny. His goal is for us to become a reflection of Him that not only He can see, but also so others can see Him in us.

Zechariah 13:2-3  But who can endure the day when he comes? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire, like the soap-maker's lye. He will sit, testing and purifying the silver; he will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold and silver, so that they can bring offerings to the LORD uprightly.

This process is one of purification, refining and cleansing. It has to do with the removal of impurities which can hinder and make us stuck. Impurities of character flaws, attitudes and weaknesses are burned, which rise to the top and skimmed off by our Father. Later what is left our character and spirit reflecting the person of Jesus, pruned for greater fruitfulness.

Christ sees it needful to put His children into the refiner’s fire. His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Our trials do not come at random, for all the very hairs of your head are numbered.

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 person of Jesus. If you are experiencing a season of being broken 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 on to.....freedom!

The purpose of trials is to purify, prune, prepare and prove, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. One day you will see that the greatest setbacks became the greatest set ups you never thought possible.

Without God in our lives we would all fall back into our old ways and lifestyle sins. We lose touch with the good things of God and take everything for granted. It only after being through a fire that you fully appreciate the work God is doing in you and making you into a better person.

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.

28 June 2014

Broken and Restored by God

         The male stallion is the toughest horse to break but the greatest work horse on any farm. Their temperament varies widely based on genetics and instincts as herd animals, so they require careful management by owners. But with proper training stallions can become efficient work horses and even successful athletes, competing in the highest levels in horse racing events and the Olympic Games.

Domesticated stallions are trained and managed in a variety of ways, depending on the owner’s purpose and the stallion’s temperament. In all cases stallions have an inborn tendency to attempt to dominate both other horses and owners. They will also be affected to some degree by the proximity of other horses, especially mares. Stallions must be trained to behave with respect toward humans at all times or else their natural aggressiveness has been known to cause serious injury and even death.

The ‘breaking’ of stallions usually follows one of many management systems, such as confinement, natural, harem or bachelor systems. For instance, in the harem model the stallion is allowed to run loose with mares. But in the bachelor model, stallions are kept in a male-only group with other stallions and geldings (castrated). Ideally stallions are to be periodically managed in multiple systems, depending on the season of the year, personality of the stallion and purpose of their use.

The owner must understand that a stallion’s nature is to procreate and fight for dominance. When a stallion’s libido is aroused he becomes a superhorse. His hormones – mixed with testosterone and adrenalin – are similar to rocket fuel, powering his strength and determination tenfold. Nothing stands in his way and he may even be willing to fight to the death.

All his hormonal and instinctual drives are still present and without the correct training the owner will have a very frustrated or depressed stallion on their hands, with potential consequences. An easy alternative is to castrate the stallion which will reduce its aggression. However, all hope of reproducing is eliminated. Time, patience, care and much expense are required by the owner, but with a bit of luck the stallion can become very profitable, rewarding and trustworthy companion.1

Broken and Restored: The Journey of Every Believer

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies,
it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
John 12:24 NKJV

The illustration of the stallion shows how even the most difficult horses can be trained to become an Olympic champion. The process of breaking is the necessary requirement based on the skill of the owner to achieve the stallion’s greatest potential. Likewise, no matter how difficult a believer’s upbringing or baggage, God in His grace and mercy can teach and equip them to realising greatness and incredible destiny.

The subject of breaking is throughout scripture and a necessary season each Christian will likely at some stage in their life personally experience to some degree. Normal and flawed people in the bible were broken by God which later resulted in either a change of nature, name or character. For instance, Jacob was a deceiver but after wrestling with God his character transformed into Israel and walked with a limp. Job was a righteous man but after being tested greatly he became a humbled man of God, later declaring, My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you (Job 42:5).

Others in scripture were broken by God which resulted in propelling them into their calling. Paul was a zealous Pharisee who persecuted the early church. But after encountering Jesus he describes in his ministry as constantly having a thorn in his flesh of persecutions, which by the grace of God was used to excel him as a powerful servant of the gospel. Even Jesus Himself, the Son of God, was broken in Gethsemane - or olive press - where He was asked to submit to the will of God and be crucified for the sins of the world.

Jesus was very clear on this subject and said, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone…. Left alone we can only reach so far with God. Even as Christians we can still own our lives and settle in our faith. We can become complacent or lose our first love after years of busy church life. Mediocrity will then become normal and a once grateful, soft heart can soon become distant and religious.

However, if it dies it produces much grain. Brokenness is a place of dying to the flesh and becoming completely dependent on God. It is described as the final key to being an effective Christian, where every area of your life is freely given to Him. And when your life is given completely to God, He can take us places we would never be able to reach. We all face difficulties and challenges in life. But as a believer we must understand that we have the life-giving seed of God on the inside of us.

It is doubtful God can use you greatly until he has broken you deeply.
A.W Tozer, pastor and author (1897–1963)

When we go through disappointments or suffering, you may feel like you have been buried. You may feel like you are in a dark and lonely place. And you may feel like it is the end. But in reality, with an eternal mindset, it is only the beginning. The fact is you have not been buried; you have been planted. You are on the come back! And not only are you coming back, but you are coming back on the increase, better and stronger than before, with a testimony others need to hear.

There is always a divine purpose in where God is doing a mighty work within you and a place of restoration is ahead! The best place about being in rock bottom is there is only one way to turn; up with Jesus who is your Rock. When God leads us into difficult seasons we need to think about what areas He desires for us to change.

Hosea 6:1-2 says, Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence.

Perhaps you have known someone or have personally experienced one of several of these life changing rock bottom seasons. No one adversity or suffering is worse than another. Each of us will face some type of tremendous loss that can potentially derail your life and impact around you. But again, always know that God will never leave you there. It is merely a season or an unspecified period of time with a primary purpose God intends to use for good.

God’s process in your life is very specific as well as very purpose orientated. His main objective, I have found in all things, is so that we can become more like Christ and to die to the sinful nature. I would even venture to say that the measure you are used by God is at some point determined by the level of brokenness you have experienced with Him. And just like the stallion, once broken, you have the potential of becoming an Olympic champion. A vessel of gold in His house, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Source: http://www.parelli.com/stallion-behavior.html

05 May 2014

Reflections of John

It was a day I will never forget. That day I first saw Him and He spoke to me. His words still resonate within me. Two simple words that changed my life forever - "Follow Me". It was the day He called me to follow Him and be His disciple.

Me? A simple fisherman with no education. Little did I know that magnitude of what would follow and the events that would shake nations…

Walking with Jesus
 Jesus was more than just a Rabbi. He was more than just a healer and teacher. He was my friend and closest companion. I loved Him and wanted to please Him in every way for choosing me. I had days where I scarcely believed I was eating at the same table with the Son of God. God Himself! Wrapped up in human flesh.

He was such a man of grace, compassion, strength and courage. Never have I met a man who loved the unlovable. Who was so willing to give to those in need. Who boldly faced the dictators of the Pharisees. And who was so obedient to the call of God. He was Love in flesh to everyone He met - the poor, the broken, the sick and despised.

Never did slander or hatred come out of His mouth. He was not moved by the opinions of others or insecure when those closest to Him were hostile. He was content to have no personal possessions or listen to the empty amusements of the day.

We ate together, we laughed, we fellowshipped and we cried. It was the ultimate adventure those first 3 years! We travelled to every village in Israel and saw with our own eyes miracles of healings, demons being cast out, and the dead raised. We heard Him preach incredible messages of the Kingdom and parables that were mysteries of profound understanding. Many wished they could be so close to Jesus like me and the disciples.

We didn't understand the full reality of His words until after His resurrection. At times none of the disciples understood what He was saying and why He must go to Jerusalem in the final days. He was fully committed to the Fathers will - even death, death on a cross! They were the darkest three days of my life, seeing Him tortured and crucified. Never was humanity at it's darkest than when His own people turned on Him.

But He rose from the dead and stood in front of us - impossible! But it was Him, my friend Jesus. Everything He spoke came to pass, straight from the scriptures of old. Suddenly everything made sense. We were appointed to share the news that Salvation had come through faith in Jesus. The fulfillment of the ages had finally dawned, and we were the first ones to share it!

The Early Church
That day in the upper room when we received the Holy Spirit was incredible. Many disciples left but the faithful remained, obedient to Jesus' words to stay until the Helper came. I was born again, filled with the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus said years earlier with Nicodemus. Peter spoke powerfully and was a completely different man to the one I knew. That day the church was born and 3,000 were added who received the word of God.

There were amazing days unlike any other ever witnessed. Everyone gave to anyone as he had need, selling their possessions, devoting themselves to fellowship, the apostles teaching and prayer. Many miracles and healings took place in those early days. All the believers were of one heart and mind together, serving, giving and loving all who were there.

There were no quarrels, divisions or strife, it was heaven on earth. It was only a matter of time until persecution broke out. Stephen, a man full of grace and a strong speaker was stoned without trial. The church scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, just as Jesus said to us before He ascended to heaven.

The late King Herod had James and Peter arrested, and had James executed. The church prayed for Peter earnestly for him and his safety, trusting that God was in control. Then miraculously he appeared at our house, previously guarded by 16 soldiers! It was then that I knew that nothing could stop the Kingdom of God advancing.

The apostle Paul was well known for persecuting the church in those early days. A man of zealous hatred, anger and hostility. And then he met Jesus and became a believer! Such is the power of the gospel and Holy Spirit. Paul was an incredible ally and used powerfully by God. He pioneered planting churches all across Asia Minor and was a persuasive write, speaker and leader. He was fearless and full of the Holy Spirit, willing to go anywhere he was called, whatever the price.

Banishment on Patmos
That was all many years ago now. I am the last one left of all the apostles, now an old man having seen wonderful things and great tragedies along the way. Peter was courageously crucified upside down; Paul was beheaded by Emperor Nero, with all of the others martyred. By the grace of God I was banished to the Isle of Patmos, cut off from all society for preaching the gospel. A few believers found me, full of youth, energy and excitement, wanting to hear the stories of old. What was it like walking with Jesus? Did He really rise from the dead? When will God restore Israel? When will Jesus be returning?

Many have asked me: What does it mean to follow Jesus? It is to live in the light just as He is in the light. To follow Jesus is to love one another, for this is the first command. We love because He first loved us….Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.

My eyes are dim and my strength is fading, but after decades of thinking, I have written a letter to the churches to my dear children in the faith. That which was from the beginning….God is light; in Him there is no darkness….Do not love the world or anything in the world….How great is the love the Father has lavished on us….This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another….God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in Him.

25 April 2014

Living Sacrifices

What is the biggest act of sacrifice you have ever made?

Was it money you loaned a friend in need once, hundreds of hours of time given in charity or caring for a family member? Then there is to take into consideration when you did this broke and overburdened.

Human nature seems to take the concept of sacrifice very seriously. Ancient tribes sacrificed animals for centuries. Parents are willing to sacrifice for the good of their children and a bright future. Then there are the thousands of unknown sacrifices everyday by strangers for the good of their fellow neighbour.

We have all sacrificed for others to some degree, either for others or personal long term gain.  How much does a mother sacrifice to give birth and raise her children? Or the sacrifice of a father to provide for his family for decades? Proverbs 14:10 says Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.

One definition of sacrifice is surrendering a possession as an offering to a deity. It can take form in many ways, and be of great personal cost of a relationship, house, career, or moving to a new city. To the believer, whatever it may be it is unique to each person and carries a personal cost.

The theme of sacrifice is throughout scripture. The first offering in the garden was between Cain and Abel. Abraham’s radically obeyed God and willing went to sacrifice his son Isaac. Then there was Solomon’s giant offering to the building of the temple. Or Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthian church in their giving.

Then there is the example of Jesus’ life – a life of complete sacrifice for the good of others until death. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).

God Himself sacrificed the most important possession He had too; His only Son Jesus Christ. Given into the hands of a sinful creation and nailed to a cross.

It is clear that God takes sacrifice very seriously. On our part it is meant to be costly and whatever is attached to our heart. Therefore sacrificing the idols of our heart can not be underestimated. For where your treasure is there your heart is also. He asks us to do only what He Himself has done first.

There are times when He will call us to give up items of great personal value to Him. A relationship, a hobby – even our life. To the flesh it will seem unfair, stupid, illogical, or senseless. It will feel unbearable, painful and even heartbreaking. But to the spirit, with eyes of eternity, it will make perfect sense.

Be sure that whatever you give up and sacrifice at the altar with God is a sweet smelling sacrifice to Him. He will honour it and it will come back to you in ways not thought possible. And it will enlarge your faith, drawing you closer to your Saviour and dependence on Him as a mature Christian.

We are called to a life of sacrifice so that we can identify with the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the greatest sacrifice mankind will ever know. Be encouraged: God is worthy of our lives and our only response in view of His great mercy of salvation is to offer our lives to Him in every area. You will be glad that you did. 

31 March 2014

Finishing Your Race

This is an amazing story.

During the Beijing Paralympics, 100m track blind sprinter Elizabeth Clegg competed and won silver medal. A running guide accompanied her ensuring she doesn't veer out of her lane. Her running guide, Mikhail Huggins, runs alongside her and talks to her throughout the race. 

They each hold one end of a rubber tube so he can guide her and lead her to the finish line. The rules for Paralympics who have a blind disability for track events are that the running guide must let the athlete cross the finish line first. 

'You have to be completely in synch and get the start absolutely right,' she says of the relationship she has with Mikail. 'We’re kind of a team — wherever I go, he goes.' 'To execute the run properly you need to be smooth and in time, with both the pace and the stride length correct. Mikail and I need to communicate to make sure our performance is the best it can be. 'It's a team effort, it's not just me. I'm the one that has to cross the line first, but when I get medals I want Mikail to be with me because he helps me do it.' Mikhail in response says, 'I know that I'm Libby's guide, but we come as a team – if she loses, I lose, and if she wins, we win as a team.'

Elizabeth says, 'I have to trust Mikail because I am running at full pelt [blind],' she says. 'He talks throughout the race, indicating where we are in the bend, whether I need to accelerate or hold or relax and he always tells me to put my chin back in because I tend to push it out when I run. 'He definitely has the harder job. All I have to do is run, which is the easy part. He has to talk and run.'

Does this sound familiar? Similarly the Holy Spirit is our running guide, we run within our own lane by the Word of God, and looking to Jesus as our finish line. Your running guide is strong and faithful. And when you win, God wins!

Source: http://www.elizabethclegg.co.uk

27 February 2014

Ten Questions to Ask Yourself

2014 - The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask yourself and re-evaluate your life (taken from Don Whitney).

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose 
salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?