Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I have probably said this before, but I am always surprised about what I find in the Bible…
Even in places I have read many times, I find phrases or ideas that I have never seen before.
Things that jump out at me...things that suddenly have more meaning…

Like today I read this in what I was reading:

Mark 10:29-30
"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.

On one hand it is really encouraging.
But on the other hand it mentions persecutions.
Seemingly not very encouraging...

So God tells us he will bless us, but we will be persecuted even more.
So then do I want to be blessed?
Of course I do!

The reality is that our faith costs us something.
But that cost is never more than what we have gained.
100 times more than what I am giving up goes along to cover the persecutions or struggles I may face.
I still think it is the best deal for me.

The early disciples loved this concept.
No they weren’t sicko’s looking for punishment!
They learned that to become mature you need to go through some things to help you mature.

Consider what James & Paul wrote…

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Romans 5:3-5
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

I’ll be honest with you…I don’t like pain, discomfort, persecutions and all that stuff.
But I will gladly go through it if they help me become more mature.
If they help me grow in my faith.

My flesh wants the easy path in my walk with God.
My spirit wants to pay the cost so that I inherit everything God has promised.

Paul says this amazing statement that I will leave with you...

Philippians 1:21
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why is it so hard to find time for some things?
Like time to clean up something we should have done months ago…
Like catching up with a friend that you keep thinking would be a good idea to catch up with…
What about time to pray?

Most of us consider our lives to be really busy, with not much room to add anything into them.
When people ask me how I am...I seem programmed to reply “really busy!”
But am I really busy and or am I really good at looking busy and feeling busy?

Being busy can help you feel good.
It can reinforce feelings of meaning, feelings of your life being important.
It can help hide issues in our lives we don’t want to face.
It can mask guilt.
It can even be a drug...
I know for me, I have often made myself busy to make sure I don’t feel guilty about not being busy enough...aaaah!

A negative about busyness is that it will eventually rob you!
I guarantee it!!!
It robs me of the most important things in life.
Robs me of my time, family, friends and eventually God...
It will make you so tired that eventually you can’t even stay awake to pray.

Some people like to use passages of scripture like the following to explain about our prayer life...
Then he (Jesus) returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Matthew 26:40-41
I didn’t think Jesus was religious about his prayer life.
What we do know is that Jesus made sure he did take time out to pray.
To seek God. To be in his presence.
No matter how crazy things got he never got too busy to pray.

Many years ago there was a christian ministry called the Change the World School of Prayer.
They essentially went around teaching people why they should pray. How to pray. That sort of thing.
I remember a promo clip they had really well...because it was so embarrassing.
They promoted that if you came to the course they ran, not only would you get a work book...but you would also get a free plastic bag.
This bag wasn’t amazing or anything. It was like a shopping bag from Foodtown.
Hardly anything to get excited about.

But I did learn something from my day of lectures…
That God has designed it so when we get together to pray about anything he promises to do a few things.
One, hear us.
Two, be there.
Three, do something.

I think that is awesome!
Maybe, just maybe, that might give that little bit more encouragement to come pray with us tomorrow morning?
Or to pray sometime today?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Last night I found myself around 6pm sitting on a park bench.
A large street light was above me and the bench itself was located at the top of some stairs.
I was looking out on the amazing view from there, breathing heavily because I had just run the 115 stairs for the tenth time.

Even though it was nearly dark, a little light was still on the horizon as the sun was fully setting.
The air was really still and cold.
It was really quiet.
The only sound I could hear was my breathing and the occasional subtle noise from a neighbouring house.

So here I was...and I suddenly thought that God could see me.
That he noticed me sitting there.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think about things like that all day long.
It was just this amazing feeling. The feeling that God saw me sitting there.
Not because my pasty scottish heritage white legs were gleaming as a beacon all the way to heaven…
But because he wants to see me.

For a moment I wondered why God noticed me?
Out of all that he could see or take notice of, why me?
While famines and disasters occur all the world, why does God still take the time to seek me out?

I then thought of a whole bunch of things that God says about you and me in the Bible.
Things like…

John 15:16 (niv)
You did not choose me, but I chose you

1 Peter 2:9-10 (message)
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

Isaiah 49:16
I have engraved you on the palms of my hands

Even back in Genesis you see God’s heart.
It records how God came walking in the cool of the day looking for Adam and Eve.
He even asked “where are you?”
Simply because he wanted to be with them!

God notices you!
God wants to be with you!
No one else cares about you and what happens in your life as much as God!
No matter where you go in this world God still sees you...because he wants to!

Something to think about...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

When was the last time you had a really good laugh?
You know the one I mean...where you are just about loosing it from laughing so hard!
I had one last week and I realised that it had been a while since I had experienced such a thing…Which of course got me thinking about laughter and how good it is for us.

It all started with 4 guys in the church foyer talking about a meeting we had been at that week.
We found some of the things interesting to talk about, and then the conversation took on a life of its own.
It got more and more outrageous...more and more funny.
It finished with us laughing so hard we had to walk away…
Good times!

Proverbs 17:22 (amplified) says...
A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Maybe a good laugh is the medicine you need right now?
Maybe you should find somewhere/somehow to get this into you and see what it does in your life.

After that moment with those 4 guys, I went away feeling great.
Things didn’t seem to weigh me down.
Life seemed a little different, even for just that moment.

Here is another interesting verse…

Job 8:20-21
Behold, as surely as God will never uphold wrongdoers,
He will never cast away a blameless man.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with joyful shouting.

Have you thought about the fact that God designed us to find things funny?
It is part of his amazing design for us. Part of the package he promises when he talks about us having life, and all its fullness.
We also know Jesus had his disciples who he lived, ate, slept with over about a 3 year period.
I wonder if they had times of laughing? Whether they got to share a good joke with Jesus and just about loose it laughing so hard?
Wouldn’t that be an amazing experience? Having a great laugh with Jesus...

Something to think about...