Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The hardest things to do... #3

Bookend Scripture
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
2 Corinthians 12:9 nkjv

Finish

Are you one of 'those' people?
You know, the ones who are really good at starting things, but find it quite challenging to actually finish things?
Don't beat yourself up as you read this! I would rather encourage you instead...

Here are two thoughts around this idea today:

1. God is able to finish what He began in your life!

The reasons why I can say that is because He actually has planned to help you finish well.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 niv

When God looks at your life He is not solely focused on the stumbles and the mistakes.
He is looking at it in its entirety. Beginning, middle and end.
Blips and bumps are just that to Him, blips and bumps. He will forgive you if you need forgiven and He will patch you up if you need patched up - all so that you can finish.

Check out the example of Peter in the Gospels and you will see how God works.
Peter makes a whole bunch of mistakes it appears at the pinnacle of all that Jesus was doing for him and for us. And yet Jesus turns up one day after the resurrection, cooks Peter breakfast, and reinstates him. All because God wants Peter to finish and not be shipwrecked by those mistakes.

2. You can finish and you can finish well!

You can finish your race!
Because God has done it, you can now do it...
Jesus on the cross didn't say large amounts, but what He did say has huge ramifications for us who believe. He actually said "it is finished" - which it a powerful 3 word statement about His life.
You and I can finish our race because Jesus has done the hardest part for us. He removed the hurdle that was always stopping us finishing well. It is now gone so what are waiting for?

Take heart that God is determined to help you finish well!
More determined than what you can generate in your own strength.
Look to Him...Trust Him...
Pick up your cross and follow Him, and see what He does in the life you now live for Christ!

Bookend Scripture
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
2 Corinthians 12:9 nkjv

Something to think about...

_____________________________________________

Note on this little 'simple thought' series
I have been thinking recently about sharing honestly, transparently about some of the hardest aspects of our faith, of following Jesus. Not wanting to do this in a negative way at all, but in a way that helps us all I hope on our journey.

I am a fan of what scripture encourages us to do - to cheer each other on!
So with that in mind I am going to bookend each 'simple thought' of this series with one scripture.

A scripture that reminds us that when we are weak, God has room to do something. That when you are struggling with some aspect of following Jesus, God is ready to jump in and do His thing!

Friday, March 20, 2015

It all seems to be a balancing act

Our country paid a lot more attention this week to a particular talent show.
All because in the course of the show, some 'judges' made comments that many considered to be nasty, vindictive and down right stupid.

The country rose up angrily and came to the defence of this hapless soul who had just given his best to try and impress. People phoned radio stations. Articles were written. Campaigns were launched on social media demanding the judges be fired immediately. The upshot of all this hand wringing is the young man in question received support from all over the world and the crowd got what they wanted...blood.

For the record I thought what was said was highly inappropriate.
What I have been considering relates to this example played out on our screens.
The issue for me is how far is too far?
When is the tipping point for constructive criticism to where it is just nasty?
Others have 'judged' on shows like this before and said pretty strong things without the same level of reaction.

I think if people had a little more wisdom they would know better what to say and how to say it. Maybe have better control of their tongues and know what thoughts are better left unsaid?
This particular wisdom doesn't seem to come naturally.
I love what God promises us "if any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5

Maybe your mouth and decisions aren't as out of control as Mr & Mrs Kill? But maybe you think you could do with some of this wisdom God offers us? Ask him. See what He does for you...

Something to think about...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The hardest things to do... #2

Bookend Scripture
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
2 Corinthians 12:9 nkjv

Sacrifice

Yes I find it hard sometimes to sacrifice...
That isn't to say I have always been like that. It is in part because I haven't always understood what the big picture of it is with God.

Doing 'faith' actions for God will only get you so far if you don't have some understanding of why you are even doing them in the first place.
Sacrifice is like that I think. If you don't understand why you are doing it, eventually you will find a way to not do it anymore, and rationalise away an excuse to avoid it.
But central to our faith is this 'Jesus example'...where He came to earth to serve and not be served. To give more than He was ever given. To sacrifice His life as a ransom for many!
And He wraps that all up with "come follow me and be my disciple..."

Check out the dictionary and you get a pretty black and white picture of what it can mean...
: the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone
: an act of killing a person or animal in a religious ceremony as an offering to please a god
: a person or animal that is killed in a sacrifice
source : merriam-webster online dictionary

I believe several things about biblical sacrifice:

1. It sometimes hurts
Giving up something that we value or has even cost us a lot can hurt.
When something has truly been sacrificed there is always some pain. I would hesitate to say that if there is no pain then it was not really a big sacrifice.
The lady who gave all she had in a offering that Jesus was watching with his disciples, understood this concept more than all who gave out of their overflow, their leftovers. Luke 21:1-4
She experienced pain in the sense she had nothing left.
So why did she do it?

2. It always costs us something
If you give away what was never yours - then you can't really define it as sacrifice.
King David showed he understood this principle when he went to make an offering to God one day to prevent further disaster for his people. The owner of some land he needed wanted to give it to him. On face value it was a fantastic and generous offer, but David knew it was not really legit without cost to him personally. 2 Samuel 24:24

3. It is sometimes very messy
You don't have to be a theologian to work out that the way sacrifice happened in the old testament was probably pretty messy! Aren't you glad God doesn't ask this generation to sacrifice sheep, cattle, goats, birds etc to get us right with Him? Jesus sorted that all out for us by becoming the sacrificial lamb, once for all! He was messed with, messed up, and His body destroyed to create the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me.
The cross was a very messy sacrifice!

Where I think it can get messy for us is with our thinking...
Why should I sacrifice my time, my resources, my love?
If we have wrong expectations based on wrong thinking and possibly wrong teaching, it messes with us.

That is why Paul summed it up with what he wrote to the Roman Church around 57AD...

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 niv

Please don't race to finish what you are reading?
Take a moment and think about what this being a 'living sacrifice' could mean for you right now...
Sacrifice is ultimately something very personal. It is not meant to be simply about task and function.
It is ultimately a desire to be like Jesus yourself.

If God asks you to sacrifice in some way at this time, please remember the promise Paul mentions in verse 2 - and remember our bookend scripture.

Bookend Scripture
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
2 Corinthians 12:9 nkjv

Something to think about...

_____________________________________________

Note on this little 'simple thought' series
I have been thinking recently about sharing honestly, transparently about some of the hardest aspects of our faith, of following Jesus. Not wanting to do this in a negative way at all, but in a way that helps us all I hope on our journey.

I am a fan of what scripture encourages us to do - to cheer each other on!
So with that in mind I am going to bookend each 'simple thought' of this series with one scripture.
A scripture that reminds us that when we are weak, God has room to do something. That when you are struggling with some aspect of following Jesus, God is ready to jump in and do His thing!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The hardest things to do... #1

You might be wondering where this is going?

I have been thinking over the last few days about sharing honestly, transparently about some of the hardest aspects of our faith, of following Jesus. Not wanting to do this in a negative way at all, but in a way that helps us all I hope on our journey.

I am a fan of what scripture encourages us to do - to cheer each other on!
So with that in mind I am going to bookend each 'simple thought' of this series with one scripture.
A scripture that reminds us that when we are weak, God has room to do something. That when you are struggling with some aspect of following Jesus, God is ready to jump in and do His thing!

Bookend Scripture
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
2 Corinthians 12:9 nkjv

So here is my first one I find hard sometimes:

Trusting God

Yes I find it hard sometimes to actually trust God.
There are moments when I have a lot of questions.
Moments where I get things wrong.
Moments when I think my circumstances have shown me there could be a hint of God not being someone I can trust...

But here is something I have learned along the way...
It is easy to say you trust God when you don't actually have to.
For example. Maybe you have lots of resource at your disposal and at the same time you say you trust God to provide? Sometimes that can mean you don't have to trust Him directly. Therefore easy to say.
When you choose to 'live by faith' and use that resource to contribute to the Kingdom based on scripture, and then challenges come - then you truly find out whether you trust God!

God uses circumstances in part to teach us, grow us, discipline us and ultimately reveal something to us.
When I have started getting scared over something, it has revealed to me how much I do or don't trust Him.
I then remind myself of scriptures like our bookend scripture for this series.
I remind myself about all the others that tell me to trust God, even when it makes no sense.
I remind myself of the testimony I have in my heart where He has shown Himself to be trustworthy.

My trust in Him is based on years of having to.
Years of experimenting, taking crazy leap after leap of faith.
Experiences that have taught me that God is faithful!

Bookend Scripture
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
2 Corinthians 12:9 nkjv



Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Where my brain went...

In another blog today I read the statement...
"Imagination increases your mind"
The writer was trying to encourage his readers to use their imagination more in a godly way, because in doing so, it can really help your journey.

I tend to find we can focus too much on the negative of things if we are not careful. 'Using your imagination' is considered by many to be dangerous, because vain imagination and unchecked ungodly imaginings are unhealthy to your relationship with God.
On the flip side, a healthy imagination does something extremely powerful and special. This same writer also said "imagination diminishes and eliminates the perception of obstacles."

My agenda today is simple...I want to encourage you to use your imagination when you are reading God's Word.
Why?
Because it has the power to increase your mind. It has the power to diminish and eliminate the perception of obstacles to your understanding of the very things you are reading.
Can I encourage you to let the word of God stir and stretch your imagination?
Let it motivate you to ponder and to ask questions...

Here is an example I was looking at this morning and below I have put some of my thoughts/questions/imaginings.

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
Matthew 17:1-8 niv

This is where my brain went after reading this...

  • What did they talk about? What was the conversation that Jesus had with these famous players in history? Could the disciples hear it?
  • It seems to go from level to level. One minute Jesus is glowing, then He is talking to some famous guys, then God is speaking. It is like it just kept getting better and better! What would that have felt like to the disciples?
  • They heard God actually speak out loud! Think about that...
  • They saw Moses and Elijah - having never seen them before. Remember they had never seen a picture of them and here they were...photography was a long time from being invented!
  • Were Moses and Elijah the the age they were when they died or younger version of themselves?
  • How long did these events last? It seems quick because of it being recorded in a sentence or two, but what was it really like?
  • Why were they only scared when God spoke?
  • Imagine if they had Facebook? Imagine if they had Twitter?

Why don't you spend a little time this week not just reading but imagining your way through whatever you read in God's Word.
May it stir your spirit, grow your mind and understanding, grow you and change you!

Something to think about...


Quote References : Shana Shutte | Focus on the Family
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