Finding Him

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Acts 17:24-27 NIV
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”

The fact that God is sovereign in all circumstances and in the lives of all people, is revealed to all. The Eternal God who made everything that exists, has set the structures and the systems of this world in such a way that we will see His character revealed. The natural world with its beauty and wonder is a reflection of His grandeur and divine majesty and power. The realisation that every part is joined and influences itself and exists in infinite levels of beauty, is beyond our understanding. The fact that eternity is revealed in the physical world, and generates endlessly in mind blowing fractils, takes our understanding to deeper and deeper levels.

The delicate and intricate systems perpetuated in human and animal forms, so seemingly easily, is a wonder of conception, birth and life.
Plants, yet more amazement as every leaf and flower is a unique form and also revealing the power of fractils.

Everything is purposely made for function, beauty and the extension of spiritual truths mirrored in the divine design. Human blindness towards this God is choice. The facts that are so obvious stand before us and reveal the whole panoply of The Creators design. If you look large at the mountain ranges or look smaller at the veins on a leaf, the same imprint of God is there. We are without excuse.

The miracle of living beings, creatures and all growing things, demonstrates the creativity of a being so huge and way bigger than our planet. There are natural forces at work in our world that can destroy the whole planet in a short space of time. There are other forces, political, economic and social that dictate culture and lifestyle for millions of people at a time. There are spiritual forces which can manipulate human will and keep them blind and foolish.

God seeks to reveal Himself to us as a race of His creatures and is not far from any of us. He has set up world history and the organisation of human affairs, so that we will be encouraged to ask questions about higher ideas than our own. We do this, especially in music and Art and philosophy. Humans seek to know what they cannot see or touch. We reach out to know Him.

The beauty of this world is not enough, so we reach further. We seek knowledge about a higher creator, a being who has understanding, something like ours, but unknown to us. God has purposes that His Word is made known. He has recorded it and kept it, so that human beings can read it and search its pages to see Him and come to know and understand His Truth. If we persist and search with all our hearts, we will find Him.

The reward of confidence in God

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Hebrews 10:35-39 NIV

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”

There are times we are cast down and start to loose our way as we walk along the road of life. Even as a Christian we can become sad and the disappointments of life take centre place on our thoughts. Events happen and coping with the thoughts and feelings they generate is difficult.

In the middle of the fight against these waves of sorrow, doubts and fears raise their unwanted voices. Perhaps Jesus didn’t die for me after all. Perhaps His love does not extend to me.

At this point, this scripture tells us to throw those ideas out and hold fast to the confidence in the Word of God that we have believed and obeyed all our Christian life. If we hold fast in our faith to the promises of God, written for us in the Bible we will be rewarded with strength in the Spirit and strong faith.

The words are strong and require strength of resolve from us. They are not soft and comforting in a compliant way. We are to persevere, keep going, even when everything seems against us. The comfort is that one great day, our Saviour and Lord will come and we will receive the promises He has made to us. Some promises we have right now, and some will be fully revealed in that last and glorious day.

In the mean time we please our God by operating in faith. This faith that is the primary feature of our lives, is what pleases the Lord. This faith can be seen by those who know us, and we will not be deflected from it. Indeed, God says if we do shrink back to dependence on other things, He is not pleased with us. God is number one. We go forward in our Christian lives in His faith and we never renege on our devotion to Him. Only faith saves and only faith will see us through to the end. A false faith ultimately fails, and we should fear that and ensure our devotion does not fail by attention to our spiritual evidences of our love for our God. The one who does not love, does not love to draw near to the Lord, and so will fall away.

The overcoming life is the life that saves, and the faith that drives it is pleasing to the Lord. Our deeds matter because without the evidence in our lives that God is at the centre of our being, our faith is vain. Christ Himself is our centre and sun and He will give us the faith and confidence to carry on.

Watch out for His coming again. Love that day. Press on towards that high calling in Christ and let no one turn you back. Draw near, let the love grow and the power of the Spirit of God will be in your life as you pray, read, study and meditate on the very Words of God. The reward is a holy confidence in God and a faith that is certain.

Love and holiness

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God is love. He is in His whole being, love. Everything He does is rooted in love. However, God also has wrath. This is another side of love. God hates sin. Sin destroys everything and is practiced in our world by us as people. Our world is ruined by the effects of sin and as humans we have destroyed our world in all aspects. Physical, political, spiritual aspects of life are tainted with our sinful mindsets and desires.

God will eventually deal with that sin finally and absolutely, and it will spoil no more. Those who insist in holding onto it, will be destroyed also. The foolish idea that God will in the end, let everyone off, is not love. God’s pure love will not allow His heaven or His people to be ruined by this sin. Sin is in its essence hatred of God and all that is good, so it will not last. Love conquers all. Love hates sin and runs from it.

The three persons of the trinity relate to each other in love. There is no arguments, rancour, ill-will, petulance, disagreement, or self-seeking. There is only love. Because love reigns there is also peace. There is no fear, guilt or shame, because all is perfect. The state of love is the state of perfection. This is the glory of God. This is holiness.

We do not even recognise this, because we are sinners. We are used to sin and we actually want sinful stuff. Sinful desires are part of us, which is why we need a Saviour. We are laden down with guilt and shame, and we need God to point it out to us. God has given us His word so that we can understand our need, seek Him, and find Him. His astounding love wants to rescue us from the consequences of our sin.

If I say I know God and I believe He loves me, that same love must be in me. This is the trademark of a Christian. This attribute of love will give me the motivation to also pursue holiness. No one will see God without this holiness. This applies to every Christian.

Love is more than we realise. Everything God does, He does in love. This is hard for us to take in, because God allows some very painful and testing events to happen to us. Often we cannot see His love and think it isn’t there. We mistrust Him, and it makes things worse. But His love is as strong as death and no one can stop its power. We must be careful with love, to do that it asks, and obey as it guides us in our lives and shows us the way to heaven.

There is no love without God and there is no holiness without Him either. If we have no love – the true and powerful love of God in our hearts, we will also lack holiness. So may we seek to by holy, and to have love for other Christians and those who don’t believe, that we will be a worthy daughters in His kingdom.

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Stand up

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The Lord is able to make his people to stand. We cannot stand in our own strength – we have none. But God has the power that raised Jesus from the dead, and we can live in that strength and excercise it in our lives. Christ can make us stand and he can make us stand together. We do not naturally want to stand together as a body of his people and we carp and nitpick about our perceived differences.

We are different and we are meant to be – God does not make copies. Therefore we have to learn to bear with each other and be large hearted and loving and kind. God gives plenty of room for us to choose options in life and to think freely, so we should encourage each other in the gifts and abilities that God has given us, without illwill or favouritism.

It is very hard to stand in the company of this world. The workplace can be such a testing environment, and can cause us much pain, but God has put us there on purpose. It is God’s testing ground, to build Christian character and an arena of witness and testimony.

The church environment can also be a difficult place. Christians can be just as judgemental as anyone else and it can seem that we, as rescued failures, are the first to point fingers and blame each other. It should not be like this at all, as we are all guilty of a host of sins and have needed the most costly act of sacrifice to pay for what we have done.

Judging others hurts them and us. It makes us bitter and insular and small-minded. It separates us for other people and we loose the opportunity to be gracious and truly generous and to learn from them.

Perhaps the idea that our sins are not quite so bad as other peoples, comforts us. In our minds we construct a heirarchy of wrongdoing. Our faults and failings are not really as bad as other really big sinners, who have fallen into worse things than we have. We grade sins in order of our ideas of badness, and people who succumb to the bad ones are less deserving than better sorts of people.

All sins are wrong. All sins should be avoided and fought against, and our aim is personal holiness, as Christ lived his life on earth among us. Our desires should be to walk with God and serve him whole heartedly. Outward sins are seen, but perhaps the worst sins are those of the heart and mind, where no one sees -our bitter thoughts and selfish attitudes.

If we should harbour such states of mind, then the thougths will become words and deeds of spite and jealousy, fuelled by resentment.

These are the real rotteness within. We become white-washed graves which look clean, but inside all is rottenness and death.

It is easy to find ourselves going down this road, indeed, it is our natural condition. The end product leaves us with ugliness, mistrust, gossip and insincerity.

To change our hearts require the greatest miracle of all, and we require daily miracles of grace to sustain us and keep our hearts God-glorifying. God himself had to enter the world, walk among us in sorrow and grief, and allow himself to be killed to pay for our wrong ways and morally dead hearts. This is our state of being. It is not attractive, and unbelievers see it and stay away from church. They see what we are like, better than we ourselves.!

Let us not be fooled. We are rotters, through and through. This world can build us up and make us think we are something, but it is a dupe. We read our theology and think we are better than most.! It will stop us humbling ourselves before Christ and each other, and prevent us witnessing meaningfully to other people and ultimately keep us away from walking with our God and enjoying all he has for us.

To stand up requires backbone we don’t have, love we don’t have and stamina beyond this world’s reckoning. Anyone can have these qualities. We have to want them more than anything. Pray for them, ask for them, set our hearts towards Christ and follow him. It’s easy…. and yet so impossible…!

Jesus said to us, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Matthew 9:23) This is the universal crunch. Do I want him, or not? How far will I go?

He wants everything and when you give it, you will receive more than you could ever imagine. This is how we stand up.

The path of power

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Psalm 34

This Psalm was penned by David, in response to his attempt to fool Abimelech that he was suffering mind illness. Abimelech realised David was fake and drove David out of his region.

David was familiar with mind illness because He himself was a sufferer. In this Psalm he rejoiced in the deliverance of the Lord from his foes. David sees that it is the intervening hand of God who rescues him in all circumstances. He identifies some states of mind – troubles, broken hearted, concern about personal safety, condemnation, need for refuge, oppression, disappointment, depression, paranoia, persecution, need for asylum – these all on the list. David understands the elements of illness and uses his knowledge to try to dupe Abimelech. David is not squeaky clean…

King Saul also became progressively ill in his mind. He rejected the Lord and the Lord rejected him. It is easy to associate the presence of mind illness as an indicator of the absence of the the Spirit of God. We tend to link the pain of mind illness to a lack of the Holy Spirit, in a way that we don’t link physical illness. There are always those who associate any illness with God’s rejection. The acute sufferings of Job teach a different lesson. God permits the righteous to suffer, as Jesus suffered, and is a mark of godliness and rejection of worldliness.

In the life of the Christian, suffering moulds us into the image of His Son, Jesus. Mind illness is particular. It is fearful and hurts us with little hope of relief, but it causes us to turn to God in a way like nothing else. David was known as a man after God’s own heart, and such internal and deep suffering would make him to have such a mind. The suffering Saviour also had such a mind.

Mind suffering strengthens a person in a way like nothing else, and shows us the heart of God like nothing else. God draws close to a sufferer of mind illness and teaches lessons that cannot be learned any other way. He reveals Himself to sufferers. Their inner eyes of faith and insight, see God and know God in a profound way. The mind has so many labyrinths that it is impossible to sort out without insight. The mind sufferer often has this gift of insight that teaches and strengthens the psyche.

Wisdom is insight and God offers us this rare gift, if we just ask. He will teach us wisdom’s way, but it will not be as we expect. His way is the fight with sin and self. His way is a life coping with suffering that we hadn’t bargained for. It is a life long close walk with God where we will learn from Him to trust and obey. We will learn to listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to us: we will learn His voice and not the voice of another.

To walk with God involves saying goodbye to our heartfelt desires and wishes, and following the narrow way. Suffering is part of that and mind suffering the most difficult. Many don’t get through and spend life trying to just cope with life. Others find the key and the insight they are given, enables them to examine thoughts, and courage gives the ability to face fears and doubts. With the power of the Spirit and the truth of the Word, they become strong and bold for the sake of Christ.

Mind illness is greatly misunderstood, especially by groups that have a wrong view of the Christian life. We run from it because it is scary. We ignore it because we can’t face the stigma. We keep it quiet because it is regarded as shameful.

David was a sufferer. Christ also suffered for us in that way. Many great and prolific Christian writers, artists, missionaries all suffered this way. Maybe it is not so much a disgrace, as a glory. Maybe it is an indicator of deep spiritual abilities. Maybe we need to turn our mindset around and change our attitudes. Maybe the people at the bottom of the “regarded” pile are not what we think…

Calvin, Luther, Cowper, Newton, Crosby, Spurgeon and very many more suffered deeply in their minds and emotions. It seems anyone who stands up to work for God whole-heartedly, will probably struggle with mind illness. Christian sufferers are not pathetic weaklings but people who have huge fights with the mind, and who can have the power to do great things for God, even as they struggle and overcome. The Christian community needs to change its views and realise that these kinds of illnesses can be overcome, and sufferers have so much to contribute. The nature of the illness and the strength of the stigma, probably means they will suffer alone, but step out for Christ in their own way.

There is no limit to the power of God. There is no limit to the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. To seek Him and His daily filling of our thoughts and therefore our words and deeds, is the path of power, for those who will claim it… It involves suffering, for those who act in courage.. 2 Chronicles 19:11 “Act with courage and may the Lord be with those who do well.” What ever God has put on you heart to do, you must do. “He will show you great and unsearchable things that you know not.” Jeremiah 33:3

Before time was

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In those bright and glorious realms of eternity, God fellowshipped with God.

Before the Earth, stars or countless Universes were formed by this God, a decision was made.

This holy, all-powerful being who is the One God, and the three persons together as the blessed trinity, made a plan together. This is a deep mystery…

There were no bargains struck. No political discussions. No arguments or debates regarding roles or responsibilities. There was no payment deals, or mercenary pacts agreed. There was only Love.

This love determined the rescue plan for a race of beings not yet made. Beings who would revolt against this Loving God and set up their own kingdoms instead of Him.

Love struck the plan- the Father would send the Son to pay the ransom that He Himself demanded for the payment of sins that would be committed. The Son would become one of them – human, and would live with these human people and show His love, only to be rejected and killed.

The Eternal Son in doing this would become the Saviour of those who would believe in Him and the Judge of those who would not.

The Holy Spirit would do a spiritual work in the hearts of men and women, so that they would believe in the Son – Jesus. The Spirit would convince people of their sinfulness and allow them to see the personal need for repentance and there forgiveness of God.

Those who would repent would become the Children of God, those who would not, would be forever judged and pay for their own sins. So, all three persons in this glorious trinity, would be fully involved in this amazing rescue mission. The other created beings would see this and marvel at the grace of God.

The humans that became His children were to be commissioned to spread the good news to everyone, so that everyone would have the chance to believe. This is the greatest act of love – to speak this unpopular message to rebellious people. For some it meant laying down their lives and for many it meant loosing everything, even as Jesus did.

God made the world. He made everything. The prophesies in His Word all came true. Jesus came and the plan was carried out. The Eternal Son died for you and rose again, victorious forever. He calls to you to come…

Which kind of person will you be?

Will you repent and be changed to be like Jesus…? or will you choose judgment and pay forever for your sin?

Many hear this plan and respond with anger. They quibble and carp with the Living God at His mercy… they harden their hearts and never come. Your response to this is vital… Which kind of person will you be?

Whatever you choose, Love will win… all hate will be forever shut up with itself, and Love will conquer all.

 

 

Wreck

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The aged wreck is permanently parked on the garage forecourt, not going anywhere and gradually accumulating filth. The deflated, disused tires that will never go on another journey – forever have lost every semblance of usefulness. Walking past the closed-down garage, it sits in exactly the same place. It gathers increasing inherit dust and the air in the punctured tires have seeped out – now empty.

There is something alluring that pulls the eye to the decrepit vehicle, with windows that don’t stay up, thick layers of road dust, like a blanket of time, stultifying the moments unreturning momentum. How long has it been there? Why is it still sitting there?

It’s hulk is parked in the shifting shadows of the night, but even there the obvious deterioration is not hidden amongst other such vehicles.

It sits there, disregarded and wasting. It’s purpose gone and not to be restored – a signpost of waste and the inevitable destination of the scrap merchants crushing machine, until it is finally destroyed.

Women who glorify God