God is more than…

“God is more than a trusty umbrella, we take out to shield ourselves from the rain, then fold it up again and pop it in our bags or the boot of our cars until another rainy day. He is more than a seasonal remedy for flu that we use,  and throw away when it is out of date; then when the symptoms return we look for another remedy we hope will work better than the last one. 

God is so much more than someone to be used when we are in trouble and for our own agendas, then ignored until we are in trouble again. And if He doesn’t give us what we want, we denounce Him and try one of the other hundreds of religions out there hoping to find something or someone better; than God! The God of the universe who existed before our time began and who will exist for all eternity; is more than a trusty umbrella, or anything else we use only when we are in need. He is not a tool in our tool box. 

Now, just to be clear, we definitely should call on God when we need Him and as often as we need Him, but not ONLY when we need Him. All too often, we come to God only when something is going wrong in our lives, with our personal agendas and speak to Him when we want Him to do something for us. Once we get what we want, we tend to forget all about Him until the next time. Our purpose in life is much more than demand and supply! Let’s remember that a relationship is a two-way connection and each party has their part to play. 

God never fails us and does exactly what He says He will do, but the problem is us. When we first come to the Lord we are ‘babes in Christ,’ so we don’t fully understand what is required for a good, healthy spiritual relationship with our Father. However, some years in, we should be growing and become spiritually mature; and the ‘me,’ ‘me,’ ‘me,’ ‘gimme,’ ‘gimme,’ ‘gimme,’ should diminish over time. Whilst we have no material possessions that God is interested in, we have our love, our praise and our time. Precious commodities that costs nothing, yet we refuse to bless the Lord with them.  

God does not need us, but we need Him. His life is amazing whether we are in it or not, but our lives are only amazing when He is in it. Before we start demanding things of God, let’s start with the basics and try doing what He has asked us to do first, then He will give us all the things we need, not necessarily the things we want!

Matthew 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

We need to submit totally to God in all things and this begins with seeking Him, and praising Him. A beautiful scripture to read which will inspire you is the following Psalm. The Psalmist really ‘got it,’ and we too must ‘get it.’ When you follow hard after the Lord you will receive so much more than you could have imagined.

Psalm 63
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.
But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

 

 

Using the name of Jesus in your life

When I speak of using the name of Jesus I am not referring to calling His name in vain, using colourful expletives before and after His name; or using acronyms in social media such as ‘omg.’


God gave us power in the earth through His Son Jesus Christ. If anyone calls on His name amazing things happen. So how often do we call on His name? We quote a lot of scriptures, we give each other lots of encouraging words but how often can we claim to be doers of the Word and not just hearers of the Word? The moment something goes wrong in my life I start speaking to God about it in my spirit if I am with company or vocally if I am alone… it wouldn’t do for anyone who doesn’t understand to try and have me committed. Worst things have happened! 

Putting scripture into practice and actively doing the Word of God is definitely a challenge and should not be dismissed lightly. It shouldn’t be difficult, but it undoubtedly is. The reason is that our nature is so different to God’s nature. Our ‘sin’ nature is not at all like God’s perfect nature, so we struggle. We resent the idea of loving those who hate us because we think it will make us look weak. And if we look weak then people will continue to take advantage of us, so we continue fighting to show our strength. We reason with worldly wisdom and not God’s wisdom. This is where we are going wrong. Our strength cannot overcome the strength of the enemy working through people to hate you. This is when we need the strength of God, so start living the Word and using the name of Jesus in your circumstances. The following scriptures are good to start with.  

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son
John 14:13 

The first lesson here is to talk to God the Father, ask Him for strength to do what is right in the name of His Son. Ask Him for the ability to love those who hate you and ask for His wisdom in these situations. When you ask, you must believe and you will receive.

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
Philippians 2:10 

The second lesson is to know the power in the name of Jesus. Satan CANNOT overcome you when you call out for Jesus to help you. Whatever strength you think others have, it does not compare to the strength you have in Christ. Just calling out His name and asking Him to help you is enough. He already knows what you need but you do have to ask. He won’t force you!

I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me
Philippians 4:13 

The third lesson is to know who you are in Christ. Reaffirm this in yourself. You need to be convinced of it. The world believes in positive thinking with great emphasis on the person’s own ability and strengths, but the Christian believes in the power of Christ working in them.  

One prayer I actively pray is to ask God for the ‘crucifixion love’ that enabled Jesus to forgive his accusers, the same people who were taking His life when He hung on the cross dying and in pain. This is the ultimate prayer to help me love people who hate you. Many thought they had overcome Him, that He was weak and that they had won. But He knew who He was and is; and the great power He had and still has so He did not have to prove Himself to anyone. Likewise, we do not have to prove ourselves to anyone; what does it matter if someone thinks you are weak. You know you are not, and if you don’t hate them or get involved in their battles with you, they have no power over you.

We can only overcome by the name of Jesus.

 

Why does Prayer confuse so many?

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Keeping it Simple

Prayer continues to be a source of confusion for many Christians! Many are not really sure when to pray, so they set themselves rigid regimental prayer regimes that cannot be sustained and if they are not able to pray at their appointed time, they don’t pray at all. Some are not sure why they are praying in the first place so therefore not sure if God is even answering them. Prayer for many is not a priority, but it is so necessary. We cannot claim to have a relationship with God if we do not pray. Prayer is our means of communicating with God, whether we pray in a structured way quoting scriptures or whether we simply speak to him from the heart. Talking to Him, laughing with Him, asking Him questions, reasoning with Him, putting your petition before Him, praising Him; these are all forms of prayers.  

We cannot refuse to speak to God from one month to the next, one week to the next or one day to the next, yet expect so much from Him in return!

My Alabaster Box: A Simple Guide Through the Christian Journey; Chapter Five defines Prayer, what it is why we need to pray and what happens when we do not pray. Prayer is spiritual, it is one of our offensive weapons. Once we realise that we live in a spiritual world and that our daily battles are spiritual we cannot afford to be unprepared. God wants us to talk to Him on a regular basis. Many misconceptions over the years would have us believe that if we are not praying a certain way or for certain durations then we are not doing it right.

Some Misconceptions:

Many Christians also believe in praying to persons other than God. They pray to the angels, Mary mother of Jesus; Saints and such like. God is the only person that can answer prayers so praying to anyone other than Him will not yield results. If you have been praying to someone other than God, for many years, it’s time to try the only person who can give you an answer. We should always pray to the Father in the name of the Son, Jesus!

Man made laws, rules, guidelines, dictated by those in power, have put people under immense pressure to do things their way and not God’s way. God however does not put us under these pressures, He simply wants us to bring our hearts to Him; to talk to Him and hear Him when He speaks to us. 

Many would have us believe that we must kneel, bow our heads, clasp our hands in front of us when we are praying and if we don’t we are not doing it right. So when we are not able to do these things we don’t bother to pray. Whilst these actions are a mark of respect and a sign of humility; these are not rules laid down by God. This should be a choice and there will be times when many of us just want to find a quiet corner and fall on our knees and cry out to God. However, if you pray while you are washing the dishes or cleaning the house, pray while you are having a shower or relaxing in the bath or in transit on a long journey; God is overjoyed that you thought about Him while going about your busy daily life. He loves it, He will not tell you to wait until you finish your work, to come and find him before you go to bed when you are exhausted and can barely concentrate on what you are trying to say. When you lie awake in bed, why not pray whether it is morning, or night. God’s time transcends our time so He doesn’t focus on the time you chose to speak to Him. He would love to hear from you any time of the day or night. When you learn to pray to God daily you are living a life of prayer.  You are beginning to walk with God!

 Putting Prayer into Action

Over this next week start putting prayer into action by speaking to God on a daily basis about anything and everything; watch your world begin to change.

  • Start talking to God daily. Don’t worry about how often or for how long, just speak from the heart!
  • Acknowledge God from the moment you wake. This does not need to be a chore. “Good morning Lord.”
  • When you are in your car listening to music or listening from your mobile device, why not start listening to some anointed Gospel music to uplift your spirit
  • When you are watching yet another of television programmes, take some time out and put God first
  • Thank Him for seeing you through the day
  • When you go to bed, say a few words to Him

Tell Him Goodnight!

 

 

I am struggling with…

When we come to the Lord, we are all messed up from life. We have been living in a physical world, born in sin… we are not perfect. There is only ONE perfect person and that is not any of us. That is Jesus Christ; so now we all know this let us not be ashamed to confess our faults to Him! We come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of baggage. We may look all suited and booted, well-groomed, driving the prestigious car and living in the most sought after locations in the city; but God still knows the mess we are in. Everyone has a struggle, a challenge, a thorn in their side, a weakness, something that won’t quite go away! Struggling with sexual, urges; with cravings for the substances we were abusing in the world, struggling with compulsive lying, the list goes on. Many accommodate it, some fight against it, some accept it and try to manage it while others seek God for an answer. So what should we do with these very real struggles? Remember we are still humans, not perfect but striving for perfection. We will slip, we sill slide, we will fall… but we must get up again. So, let’s go to the source of Truth and find out what God says about it in the following scripture:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)

Verse 7: And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Paul, an Apostle and one of the most influential teachers and interpreters of the message of Christ, wrote thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. He became a Christian and began travelling to preach and teach the Gospel (Good News). When we are called into the Faith we have the capacity to become great IN CHRIST, to do great things in His name and this was no different for Paul. Paul recognised that through the greatness of the revelations that would be revealed to Him through the Holy Spirit, he could be praised and glorified by others and indeed even put himself on a pedestal instead of giving the praise to God. In a nutshell, he could become prideful and vain, ‘big-headed’ believing in himself. Unfortunately, this happens all too often today, but that’s discussion for another time! For this reason, God allowed a messenger of Satan to ‘buffet,’ which is to strike with a fist, to punch him. So, we know Paul had his problems just like the rest of us and although we do not know exactly what it was we know that his struggle, challenge, trial was something painful and physical which afflicted his body! Was it visible to others? We do not know.

Verse 8: For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

Paul acknowledged his struggle and went straight to the Lord about it. He didn’t try to deal with it himself, he didn’t get on the phone to see if someone else could sort out his problem for him; he went to the one person who could help. And He begged the Lord three times to take it away from him. So we see here that we should keep asking the Lord until we get an answer.

Verse 9: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Many of us think that if we ask the Lord for something we will always receive what we have asked for. No! We will always receive an answer but it may not always be what we want. The Lord did not remove the problem, and He explained to Paul why it would remain. Remember God sees into the future and He knows the things we don’t know, He sees the bigger picture. Our Faith is a COMPLETE trust in Him, to trust that He will do what is right for us. What would Paul’s future have been like if the thorn had been removed from his flesh? Would he have continued to be faithful to the Lord and fulfil his destiny?We don’t know. The answer God gave was that His grace, which is His unmerited favour, His forgiveness, His patience, His understanding of what we are going through is more than enough to keep us. When we are weak we call on Him and He works for us and through that weakness, we see God’s strength. And more importantly we remember that it is Him and not us, who has the power. It keeps us humble and not puffed up and prideful. When the Lord explained this to Paul, he did not sulk and blame God; he GOT IT, he understood! When he realised that through his infirmities, Christ could work through him and that his struggles did not in any way diminish the power of God working in his life; he was HAPPY! He embraced his situation.

Verse 10: Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

From this point forward, Paul ‘took pleasure’ in his struggles and challenges for Christ’s sake. He was completely ‘sold out for Christ.’

Whatever the struggle, physical, mental, psychological, please go to God with it. The message here is to fully immerse yourself in the Lord, seek Him to find out if He will remove the thorn from your flesh or if your calling is so great that something needs to remain to keep you grounded! More importantly of all, trust in God regardless of whether you received the answer you wanted or not. We can deal with anything as long as we understand it!

 

 

 

Nurture your relationship with God

Today I planned to spend a few hours out taking some pictures of the beauty of God’s world. It’s easy to become so immersed in all the bad things that happen around us that we forget about the good things and the beauty that surrounds us. Photography is one of my lifelong hobbies but I’ve rarely found the time to get away from work and home commitments to really appreciate His world. Unfortunately it didn’t happen because the rain put a stop to that; but I will be rescheduling the moment the weather changes. I regularly take my ‘me time’ out with the Lord and this was to be one of those times. Sometimes we have to put the work down, get away from the crowds as Jesus did; often; to spend some alone time with our Father. I still took my alone time with Him at home, the location changed but the intention remained the same as time spent with God is so precious.

This is something that all new Christians must train themselves to do from the outset. Your relationship with God is THE most important relationship you will make on your journey and you must nurture it. Many people are uncomfortable to talk to God on a daily basis, outside of the structured way they are taught to pray, just speaking to Him as they would a friend standing next to them or driving with them. By nurturing your relationship with God, He will become real to you and not just words on a page or the distant God you hear being preached about. You will need to be in a personal relationship with God and when I say God, I mean the fullness of God. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

When you start to take time out to be with God, many around you will not understand and it can be taken that you are struggling with your Faith or falling away; but don’t mind that as long as your heart is really for God and you are seeking His face that’s all that matters.

By being in a real relationship with God, speaking to Him throughout the day, whether you vocalise it or speak in your spirit or mind you begin to build on a very real relationship with Him. When you are happy, “Lord I am having a great day, thank You. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for You.” “Lord, I can’t believe what just happened, help me to stay calm or I might do something I will regret.” “Father please take control of this situation and guide me through it.” “Holy Spirit, thank you for all the blessings you continue to bestow on me.” Speak from your heart, with reverence to the God who is with you always. When God starts working in your life, you will have real experiences of Him and you will have a testimony, so you can be a witness for Him and no one can tell you He is not real.

We cannot truly witness for the Lord if we have no experience of Him. The Apostles were witnesses of our Lord Jesus because they had real experiences of Him, they lived, travelled ate and socialised with Him. And when He died and rose again He appeared to them. By now you are thinking that Jesus was physically on the earth so there was no denying that He is real and now He is not physically here with us so our witness is not the same! I disagree, our witness should still be the same. Although Jesus was with them in the physical form of a man, they still had to witness and believe the impossible. He transfigured into His spiritual body, He did unbelievable miracles daily, He died and rose again… that still takes a serious degree of Faith to believe in those things to be able to witness to the world about them. And… they still had to believe He is the Son of God!

Today we do not have our Lord Jesus in His physical form, but we do have the Father and Son dwelling within us through the Holy Spirit of God. If you want to know if He really exists, ask Him. Tell Him you would like a real encounter with Him. All you have to do is ask, not just once, keep asking!

Matthew 7:7-8
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.

Everything the Lord did then when He walked the earth, He can and will do today, but we don’t believe! Whilst we have preachers and teachers who God has blessed us with, our ultimate teacher is God Himself. God the Holy Spirit was sent to teach us and to reveal the deeper things of God to us. Man can reveal the things of man, but the Spirt reveals the things of the Spirit. How will we know these things if we have no relationship with Him? We refuse to speak to Him and wait for someone else to do it on our behalf and to come back to relay the message to us. Jesus died so we would have direct access to God the Father, so please don’t let it be in vain.

John 14:12-18 (KJV)
Verily, verily (Truly, certainly), I say unto you, He that believeth(s) on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Please start asking the Father, in the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit will make it happen!

 

Unlock Your Heart

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God has a heart and He created us in His image so we have one too. The world is in awe of the great mind, the thinkers of our time, the high IQ… but God LOVES the heart. The heart of the simple man, not puffed up with his own self-importance, the heart of the uneducated fishermen who became Apostles, the greatest teachers of our time. The heart that says, ‘there is someone greater than me out there who loves me and looks out for me. I want to learn from Him.’ God’s love never fails, is unconditional, unfathomable, and transcends our fickle conditional human love. It is because of His love for us why we were created and why we are here! Our ability to love is God given. The enemy doesn’t know how to love and didn’t create us, so we have nothing to thank him for.

The human heart has the capacity to love for a lifetime, the real unconditional love which is God given; created by God to be resilient, to heal and to endure. So why do we struggle so much when we are sad and in pain. Why do we give up when our hearts are broken and things are not working out the way we planned? There are many causes, but the root cause is that we have taken a God given gift that would flourish and bloom under His spiritual guidance and tried to make it flourish under the guidance of the world.  So, how do we correct this? Simple! by putting the following scripture into practice!

Matthew 19:26 (KJV)
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Let God nourish His love within us so that we live and love as He intended. Often, we say ‘time is a healer,’ but actually, time is not a healer. Time is not even our friend! Time just keeps on ticking by, while we lose our youthfulness, beauty, health and prepare to leave this world in a worse state than when we entered it. We cannot slow it down or stop it. God created time and it does not yield to us. So, if we allow God to work in our lives over a period of time, our broken, damaged hearts can be mended fit and ready to welcome real love, IF we call on him. Is it really so unthinkable to say “God, please heal my broken heart,” or simply to remind Him of His promise to us? “God, you said all things are possible with you, so I am asking you to be with me in this situation, I am struggling and I need your help.” Once God helps you and build you up, making you stronger than before, you will be whole again; unless you put yourself back into that situation. And guess what? If you go to Him again and ask for help, He will help you so don’t be afraid to ask for it, although it would help us greatly if we didn’t keep making the same mistakes!

When we experience pain through traumatic situations, we decide in our minds to guard our hearts, never to let anyone near it again, so we lock it up still bruised and damaged and keep it to ourselves. Not good! The mind is so powerful that once we have made up our minds to do something, no one can change it. You are preventing yourself from enjoying the fullness of life and limping though it with a damaged heart is not the answer. If we could see the physical scars on a broken or traumatised heart I imagine we would want to throw it away or trade it in for a new one. We certainly wouldn’t want any part of it. But when God heals our heart it is fully restored to its’ true beauty. God doesn’t patch up, He makes all things new; we are the ones who like to patch things up.

It is not possible to live a life solely filled with joy never to experience pain or sadness; regardless of how rich you are, how long you’ve been a Christian or how positive you think. You will experience pain and disappointments! You are the only person who can manage your expectations of life and this starts with an expectation in Christ Jesus to do exactly what He said He will do. The Lord knows how important it is for our hearts to be whole so that we can love as He loves and we cannot do this if we have locked it away in a dark place damaged and wounded. Trust Him enough to take care of it for you because He will take better care of it than you do.

Unlock your heart to Christ now and it will begin to heal! You can’t do it by yourself so ask Him to help you.

Life is not defined by possessions!

Our world is so upside down, back to front and inside out that we put great emphasis on the things that are the least important in life. We are born into a world that says, if you have great material possessions, you have ‘arrived,’ you are a ‘success,’ and are deemed more worthy than others. So, you spend your life, stressed, working every waking hour trying to earn the big salary and bonus; buying the latest fashion fad, the biggest house the fastest car. Now, just to be clear I am not saying we should not aspire to be the best we can, or that we should not aim high or try to achieve our dreams, or that we cannot be rich. What I am saying is we need to keep sight of what is important and not to get so lost in this mind-set that our health suffers, we become selfish and no longer care for others and their plights; and we should never, ever get to a point where we begin to worship the material things we have acquired in this life, because we cannot take any of it with us when we go. As a Christian we need to keep focused!

Being rich does not mean that your life is more important than anyone else’s, we are all the same in God’s eyes. We continue to breathe the same air, eat food and wear clothes; earthly wealth does not transcend you onto another plain, you are and will continue to be a human being. Your possessions cannot define you! Many people believe that Christians cannot or should not be rich, and of course that is rubbish! Christians can and are rich, but one thing we should not do is to worship the material things that we are blessed with. We should never lose sight of God’s purpose for our lives and what we are called to do. Our hearts should always remain with God. When He blesses us with wealth, He has a purpose for that wealth through us. God did not intend for us to accumulate great wealth and keep it to ourselves and our closest inner circle, spending the rest of our lives accumulating more and spending it on a hedonistic lifestyle… no! When we are being blessed abundantly, it is at that time the Christian needs to cling to God more than ever to spend it in a way that is pleasing to Him, to bless others, to do the work of His ministry and of course God wants you to enjoy life as well. But we can only balance these things if we remain close to Him and continue to allow Him to guide us.

I stated in my previous post that when we begin to plan for the future we should acknowledge that we have no control over it and we do not know if we will live to see it. Therefore, we should not be presumptuous in thinking that because we want it and have planned for it, that it will happen; for none of us know what tomorrow will bring. The Bible tells us, before we start planning for the future to speak to the Lord about it and tell Him if He is willing and you are blessed with life then you would like to do this or that.

The following parable found in the book of Luke 12:13-21 (KJV) tells us of a presumptuous and very rich young man, who thought he had a perfect and long life, after accumulating great wealth; not knowing that he would not live long enough to either. 

Scripture
And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

In the scripture above, a man had great wealth and was selfish, he refused to share it with his brother. His brother too was covetous, so we have one who wanted what the other had and one who refused to share. The Bible confirms that a man’s life does not lie in the abundance of his wealth. The parable (a short story,) confirms that the rich man had so much wealth that he had to build greater storage facilities so he could store it, building himself a great empire. He also planned for years in the future but of course he did not know that the moment he finished storing his wealth he would die and never have a chance to enjoy it. This may seem far fetched but so many people do not live to enjoy their great wealth. You wouldn’t have to look very far to find proof of this!

Storing great wealth does not give us longer life, it does not buy us favour with God, we are not better than anyone else and when we die we have to leave it all here. The most important wealth to accumulate on this earth is spiritual wealth. It comes only from God and we cannot exhaust it. It starts with Love; loving God and loving others before yourself; accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour; having a real relationship with God and doing His will. Bursting with His Spiritual blessings and developing a Godly character. These riches, you CAN take with you when you leave here to go into the presence of God because these blessings are a part of Him. This will define you, the life you will lead and the life you will be blessed with. 

 

Appreciate the Present

Life is for living! I think we can all agree to that statement. But often we spend our whole lives planning and living in the future and all too often we miss the present, which is truly a gift from God. Of course, we should be wise and put some plans in place to deal with the future should we get there. Remember the Bible makes it very clear that we do not know what tomorrow will bring.

Proverbs 27:1 (KJV)

Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth (You should not boast of tomorrow, for you do not know what the day may bring.)

The following scripture is saying exactly the same thing but it explains a little further and tells us how to deal with uncertainty of it:

James 4:13-15 (KJV)

Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

The scripture tells how we are constantly making the big plans to go away for a period of time and live life according to our desires. It continues to tell us how fragile life really is, by describing it as a ‘vapour,’ here only for a short time and then vanishes away. And finally, a most important message we should take away from this and use from this moment on. When making the big elaborate plans for the future, do it with the knowledge of how fragile life really is and with respect to the Lord for blessing us with it in the first place. Confirm that all the plans you are making, you make if the Lord will it and if you live to see the future. A wise person will always acknowledge the fact that so many things can happen from one minute to the next and ask the Lord for His blessings for the future.

How often do people plan an evening out to relax and enjoy time with family and friends and in a second their lives are gone, because someone decided to take their own life and as many others as they can at the same time. How often do people plan the journey of a life time and set out never to reach their destination. How often are we in great health one minute and the next minute a pain appears from nowhere followed by devastating news from the doctor. That is how fragile life is. It really is like ‘vapour’ and can be snuffed out in a second; so every second is precious.

By living in the future we so often miss the present. Sometimes we are blessed with many things happening in the present and before we even begin to appreciate them, we start to worry about what if… what if it doesn’t work out, what if I can’t afford it, what if they don’t like me… what if??? That is the future which is not yet yours, so why worry about it. By stressing about the future which we have no control over, we cannot appreciate the present which we are living in.

The future

So distant, exciting, the unknowing
Uncertainty, hope, anticipation growing
Thoughts, plans, meticulous preparation
Ever striving, for that unknown culmination
Of promises not yet realised
But ever alert, remaining poised
Ready for all that it brings
That future for which your heart sings.

Patience, endurance must ensue
As your past resurges on the you it once knew
Desiring, vying for full restoration
Not to be outdone by present dedication
What is to be is not what has gone
For the present too will not be outshone
I’m the here and now it boldly affirms
The past is no more but for the future you yearn.

Time passes slowly it would seem
And the future, determined to be seen
Arrives fresh as a flower in bloom
Then gone again all too soon
For the present, must have sped ahead
Waiting to greet me instead
Future eludes me but it’s now apparent
The moment it arrives it becomes the present.

Plan for the future, but it will never be yours
Its furtive promise continuously allures
The present you have but try to ignore
With sight firmly set on what lays before
The fluid and seamless movement of time
Passes with future to present and past entwined
The wise will use the time at hand
For tomorrow is promised to no man!

Don’t Bypass God’s Process

I think we can all agree that no one likes to experience pain, suffering or disappointments. No one likes to be let down by family and friends or have their hearts broken by those they love. We do everything we possibly can to avoid the things that hurt us and often we try to protect ourselves by ensuring we never go through those experiences again. This is no different for the Christian; after all we are still human beings with feelings and emotions. We didn’t lose the ability to feel when we made the commitment to following the Lord. In fact the ability to feel the pain of others is often greatly increased.  When we come to the Lord, there is a process involved in cleaning us up, preparing us for the journey and equipping us to endure to the end. To achieve this we must go through the process, the pain, suffering and sacrifices just as Christ did; not that I am saying it is all pain and suffering.

Imagine for a moment you would like to be a brain surgeon. You cannot say “I want to be a brain surgeon” and by the next week you are a brain surgeon. There is a process to go through. Lots and lots of studying, sleepless nights, exams, sacrifices, failures in not achieving the grades you need and going back to the drawing board. The trauma of losing patients whether through no fault of your own or through mistakes made on that journey. Becoming qualified and registering with the necessary bodies, and respecting the authority of those over you. There is no other way that you can become a brain surgeon unless you go through the process and endure to the end and even then, there is ongoing training to maintain your skills level and keep up with new procedures, technology or even to pioneer new procedures yourself. If someone told me they got up one day and decided to be a brain surgeon and a year or so later they were ready to operate on my brain, I’d have to take my chances WITHOUT the operation!!

Yet often as Christians we come to the Lord, spend no time with Him to find out what His purpose is for our lives, and can’t be bothered to study the Word of God and allow it to feed our spirit. We don’t talk to Him so we have no relationship with Him, but we decide that we want something and expect to get it by bypassing His process. We have our own agenda and put our action plan in place. My question to you then is, “if you can’t bypass the process in the world why would you think you can bypass God’s process?” Surely that’s disrespectful! We cannot fulfil our destiny in Christ if we bypass God’s processes. We must suffer a little, make sacrifices, hurt a little, go through disappointments to come out the other side, stronger, wiser and with a testimony. Ready for the next challenge that life throws at us.

If you come to the Lord today and try to be a preacher, teacher, prophet and such like, a month; year later, you are trying to bypass the process. You have learned nothing, have experienced nothing, you have no testimony, you cannot stand in the face of adversity and you certainly will not know how to deal with the challenges of that office. Three of the most important things you will need to start working on the moment you come to the Lord is your relationship with God, spending real quality time with Him, speaking to Him and listening when He speaks to you. Finding out what you are called to do, what your purpose is. If you don’t know what you are called to do how can you fulfil your destiny? Then you need to learn to wait on the Lord. Let Him train you and take you through the processes required for your ministry.

To achieve anything in life there is always an underlying process!

Scripture

Isaiah 40:28-31 (KJV)

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

The Christian and Injustice

Wounded by religious practices, let down and hurt by those we care about, used, abused and brutalised… we all experience injustice of one kind or another throughout our lives. Some we can forgive and move on to live a fulfilling life, others not so easy to let go of and can adversely affect lives!


Romans 12:21

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

People walk away from the Lord for so many reasons that it would be impossible to list them all.  Some are bruised by religious practices, others have been treated unfairly by a member or members of the church, some are tempted back into the world by the things they miss whilst others weaken in their Faith and fall away.  Whatever the reason is we are all still responsible for our walk with the Lord and ultimately our salvation.  Blaming someone else will not be an excuse on the day of judgement.  We must forgive or we will not be forgiven! Forgiveness releases us from the situation as much as the person we are forgiving.  If we do not forgive and let it go, we bind ourselves into that situation and cannot move on.

Everyone struggles with injustices, but no one can claim a greater injustice against them than Jesus Christ and He said on the cross before He died at the hands of His own, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Whatever the injustice, go to the Lord with it; all of it.  Offload on Him and let Him help you and build you back up so you can be prepared for the next one, because the Christian will experience many injustices on their journey.  This journey is about winning the battles and not the war, the war is for God and He has already won it, we just need to survive.

Many Christians fall away from the faith and many people refuse to come to it because of a fundamental lack of understanding.  For the Christian, injustice is often a deal breaker due to a significant lack of understanding that the Christian journey sets you apart from the world and anyone set apart from the world is no longer part of it.  Therefore, if you no longer socialise by binge drinking, getting drunk every weekend, having casual sex, misusing substances; or if you were never a part of that world, then don’t expect to be accepted by the players in that game.  Not only will they not want you to eat at the same table as them but they will victimise you, sometimes openly but more often subtly.  The workplace is fertile ground for this.  Your strategy is to expect it, armour up with the right spiritual tools, talk to the Lord about it, a lot, and let Him deal with it for you.

This does not mean you will not have to go through the struggles inherent in these situations because you must.  When a baby is learning to walk they will fall over many times.  A parent will try to catch them when it first starts happening, but they cannot stop this or prevent it otherwise the baby will never learn to walk. Many of us come to the Lord believing that everyone who is called has love in their hearts for God and for each other and that now they are in church all will be well and everyone will welcome them with open arms.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  The first few years in the life of a Christian is hugely important in much the same way as the first few years in the life of a baby.  A good start in a new life lays solid foundations and a bad start will hinder progress and cause unnecessary pain because the foundations are not solid.

Becoming a Christian is the first step on the journey.  Love started us on this journey and love will bring us through.  Often when relationships fail in life, you will hear people say ‘Love was not enough,’ and this belief is expressed in films and books again and again.  Whilst this statement is true to some extent it is not the whole story.  The truth is, “Our love is not enough but God’s love is more than enough and perfectly able to cope with anything we experience in life.”  We need to practice God’s unfailing, unconditional, unfathomable transcendent love.  Through it all things can be accomplished. You will find that place in you heart to forgive the injustice and move on.

It may seem a little strange when I say practice loving people, especially when they do evil things to you but that is the single most important factor that will keep you flowing in your calling to reach that beautiful destination.  Ask for help all the way, ‘Lord help me, I can’t do this on my own.’  The human being has the capacity to love for a life time, the real unconditional love which is God given.  When this gift starts flowing in your life you will be victorious in Christ.