What will you do?

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There is no such thing as a silent Christian..

Where is prayer? What does it cost us? How many lost people do I personally know and am meaningfully involved with? How long would I persist with a soul who takes and wastes time and refuses to come to Christ? These are the questions and they decide whether I care or not. It doesn’t matter how many functions I put on and how slick is my outreach event, if we are not engaged with actual people, it’s a waste of time, money and effort.

The taking up of the cross, is not what we might think. Christ carried that death device for our sake. He had to trail it across the streets of Jerusalem, outside to a hill where He would be made a spectacle of. Joseph, commandeered by the Roman soldiers, helped the Lord by carrying it for Him- such was the weakened state of the human body of the “maker of the ends of the Earth.” Will we get away with less?

We are commanded to “take up our cross” and follow Him.. It is painful, distressing, disappointing and humiliating. There is no crown in this life. If we are to enjoy the glory of our Saviour, then we must suffer for His sake. There is no resurrection without death first. As Christ died for our sins, so we die daily to ours. Nothing can be covered over, favourite sins harboured and hidden, energy wasted on foolish activities… this is the way of the cross. Perhaps we need to reevaluate our devotion to carrying it. Maybe we need to fix our eyes on Him? Jesus my Lord, carried it for me, so I will imitate Him and use my strength for His glory.

Will I bear it for the sake of others who are dying in their sins? Will I humble myself, give all that I have to the one who gave all for me, and seek out His lost ones for His sake? The way of the cross is not glamorous- there is no glory in it here and now. You will not be praised to the skies, or even noticed…

Those who looked at Christ, that terrible day, as He stumbled to Calvary, scoffed and mocked Him. Some wept tears- tears without the reality of pity- that Jesus gave back to them without accepting any for Himself…. what a Saviour..! His heart was always for His people and His focus was saving them, not adulation for Himself. Why would I not love such a one? Because I know it will cost me.

That cross shows the worth of a soul. The worth of your soul, that He was prepared to do that for you- to shoulder that torment for you… you have to decide what you want… the cross to glory, or the easy way to shame. The people around you.. what do you have for them.? Jesus counts them worth to lay down His life, what will you do..?

Understanding

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It can be hard to accept that not everyone understands, even in a small circle of family or friends. Our lack of confidence and security in our own thoughts and ideas, can make us insecure and rather paranoid. We want to be part of the group, whatever the group, and if we appear to not be, the blame is apportioned to ourselves.

This is common to all humans, and some draw back and keep away from the uncomfortable situation. Others can find a rational to enable themselves as people to adapt and become skilful at understanding others and fitting in with them. Relationships are two way streets and each side must be willing to change, adapt and reinvent new ways to build the intellectual and emotional bridges towards each other.

Humans are complicated and our minds are complex and changeable. We cannot even keep track of our own, never mind someone else’s…

It takes years to formulate a philosophy of living. Look in the Bible, I hear you say… it’s one thing to read the word, it’s another to meditate on it and ruthlessly apply it to your own life. To understand and know the character of God is a painful and frightening study. To know God, we must also know ourselves, and we don’t want to do that. Facing up is very painful and honesty with ourselves is almost impossible. The driving force for us in this task, will be suffering and great hardship. This is God’s way of purifying our thinking processes and getting us to square up to our sin. What a loving Father He is towards those He loves, He will not let us go or permit us to wallow in falsehood, evil and self.

Understanding is always difficult. It is an emotional and deeply spiritual journey into the unknown. It is not an intellectual exercise, but a slow building of a scaffold that will shore up our cognitive faculties and support our souls as we learn and examine God’s ways. It will change us forever and there is no going back…

Many do not attempt it, especially in these dark and barren days we live in. We think it’s easier to avoid the deep things, but paddling in the shallows give no satisfaction to souls that have Christ’s life in them. We are dissatisfied and empty. That feeling of missing out is not far away…

Who has the answer? Who will seek the Lord with fresh eyes? Who is brave to face rejection and sorrow in this life?

To know the joy of the presence of the Holy Spirit is the way to peace. To know Christ and the power of His resurrection… what could we not understand or do in this holy living?

Job 17:4 NIV
“You have closed their minds to understanding; therefore you will not let them triumph.”
God can do this too…

Proverbs 19:8 NIV
“The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.”
Wisdom chooses understanding…

Doubt

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Doubt is the driving force behind many of our weaknesses and failures in our lives on a daily basis. It strips us of our confidence and boldness to live and speak for Christ. Doubt is the fuel that propels lack of faith and the haunting spectre of fear that often follows our footsteps along the narrow road to heaven.

What is at the basis of it? The weakness of our flesh cannot be over-estimated and we buckle at the thought of other people rejecting us or sidelining us from the social group. We know we cannot stand alone, and need approval and validation from our social set.

The weakness of our faith stems from our lack of understanding and failure to grasp the love of God, demonstrated on the cross of Christ, and what exactly was accomplished there. We do not look at what we have been saved from or to. Our value as human beings, bought with that precious blood of Christ, is incalculable and the efficacy of that blood, is sufficient for everything. He alone gives the power to believe and keep believing in His glorious name.

All power belongs to Christ Jesus, so why the doubt? We need to confess our failure and find forgiveness again at the cross. We must enter the secret place and earnestly seek the Lord and surrender all to Him. Without Him I can do nothing. With Him, I can conquer all that opposes and oppressed my spiritual walk and witness.

So why linger? Maybe our prayer is “not yet..” maybe we can see the complete surrender that this will require, is not my cup of tea. I don’t want to be different, or to be so separate from friends, and I want the Kudos of being successful is in this world, rather than God’s kingdom. The fact that many churches are emptying is no accident. We all have personal responsibility for our walk with God and sincere character before people. We all affect each other. Fear spreads among humans, as we indulge in worldly attitudes and ignore God’s word.

So fear is the output. The fear of others, being unpopular, loosing what I think I own and the “right” to self-determination will shut me down. So the greatest sin? Unbelief…

Hebrews 11:6 NIV
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Check out the whole chapter of Hebrews 11. It is surprising what God counts as faith and who or what He rejects. No one who gave everything to God, ever lost out in any way. It is better to have fellowship with the Father, Jesus the Saviour and the Holy Spirit than to have the whole world and everything in it, but loose Him…

Spiritual cabin fever

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It’s the feeling that you are on a kind of treadmill;  a chasing something that isn’t there; a daily trudge around the same old walls and nothing happens. Life has become a monotony and the Spirit within fades in His life-giving and holy effect on the life. We do things without thought or imagination, and duty rules the day. We have lists for everything so that we don’t forget and there are no happy accidents to give us a reminder that we are not in control.

Whatever happened to “free”? Where did that lighthearted spirit of joyfulness get lost? It is all too easy to sink into this darkened morass of care. Too much care is not good. Bowed down with sadness in a dreary kind of way, is not the way we are supposed to live.

So what do I do to fix this?

Psalm 55:22 NIV “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

Isaiah 49:4 NIV “But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

Psalm 18:32 NIV “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”

Psalm 145:14 NIV “The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.”

Psalm 94:18 NIV “When I said, “My foot is slipping, ” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.”

Psalm 27:13 NIV “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

These are just a few of the words for our comfort and spiritual healing… there are many more. To read, meditate, learn and live these precious truths is the way to break down the wall and get a glimpse of the glorious outdoors that God has made for His people.

Don’t go round and round the cabin… open the doors, windows and throw down those walls..!

 

 

The thrill has gone…

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I don’t know how long you have been a Christian, but at any point along the pathway to heaven, we can loose our joy and with it our peace. The problems and routine of daily living can jade our view of what we have been saved from and what we are saved to do and be. We start to look to other people for reassurance and we look for things to make us feel better about ourselves and our fellowship with the Son of God is broken.

Reading and studying the Word of our Father in heaven becomes a chore  and eventually gets left out, as it seems to loose its relevance to “real” life. Praying becomes entirely unnecessary as we can look things up online, rely on our education and earnings and so forget God.  I don’t know where you might be on this sorry continuum, maybe you think you are not too bad, better than others you know- this complacency is the thing that will keep you from seeking the warmth of God’s embrace again. It is the worst state. If you are away from the heat, at least you will seek the heat to get out of the cold. You will feel and know your coldness and it will bother you. We become this world centred and our spiritual life fades and we become weak and lacking in faith.

So what do we do? How do I get warm towards God and back to love and devotion for Him? We must first confess our sins with hearts full of sorrow and make specific plans to remind our hearts about drawing close to God. We need to ask that the desire we once had will return and the Holy Spirit will again fill us daily. Set aside a time every day for reading your Bible and praying. It should be a time you can keep and a time when you can be alone with God. Even if you are reading and praying with another person, you still need this time for your personal walk and relationship with God.

Read a variety of scriptures over time-don’t get stuck going over and over one book. The whole Bible is for everyone and God will speak to you and teach you His ways as you meditate on His Word. Prayer is the primary activity in our relationship with God. We ask for ourselves and make intercession for others as well. Keep your circle wide and pray for everyone who comes to you. Some people keep lists and get prayer requests from various societies that serve God and others, and this also connects us to Christians and unbelieving people all over the world.

It is difficult to fight the lazy, self-seeking flesh, but the fight must go on and we will overcome in the power of the Spirit. As the ice around our soul melts, we are glad to come aside and meet with the eternal God and commune with Him. It takes time and we need to build up our spiritual stamina and character, and grow in the things of God. No amount of sermons can take the place of this precious place where your soul and God’s Holy Spirit meet and commune together in harmony. This is the “normal” state of the Christian and our place where we feel at home, peaceful and emboldened to face a hostile world.

Don’t give up; don’t give in and fight for Him who fought for you…

Lydia

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Acts 16:12-15 (NIV) From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

Lydia was from Thyatira. She was a prominent business woman in that pagan city that worshipped the god Apollo.

The water in this area, produced wonderful dyes. Red for fabric used to make Fez hats. Unique purple dye that was very expensive and Lydia sold it and made a good income. She made much money at her business of selling the purple cloth, and was a clever and resourceful woman, who had a large home and even servants.

She still made time in her busy life for God. She went to prayer meetings by the river with other believers. She was not a Christian. She wanted to know God and have a spiritual walk with Him, but did not know how.

When Paul came to preach and teach, she learned the truth, God opened her mind to understand, and Lydia put her faith in God. She was baptised as a Christian believer and was the first European convert to Christ.

Her business did not suffer when she became a Christian, and she used the money she made to further spread the word about Jesus.

She taught her household the truths about God and she opened her home to others.

When Paul and Silas were released from prison after being beaten, Lydia took them in and treated them and sheltered them. Lydia showed her faith by what she did for people outside the kingdom of Christ and also other Christians.

She knew there would be persecution ahead, but she stayed close to God.

Lydia’s house was always open to other believers. People met there for meetings and maybe her home was the first “church”

Lydia was not lazy: her business prospered because she worked hard and put all her effort into what God gave her to do. This was not for herself…

She kept her eyes on the Lord Jesus, and she maintained the “spiritual glow” that made her stand out from other people. She was devoted to God and all her life showed it.

Lydia kept her business going so that she could support the work of God and help the message of NEW LIFE to be preached and shared with other people around her. She made money so that it could further the spread of this message. Lydia became a new person when she trusted God, and turned from her sins. Her life blossomed as the Holy Spirit purified her life and made her more like Jesus.

Peace, peace…

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“Peace, peace, but there is no peace….”

From what I have seen on the media regarding Donald Trump’s election, the “christian right wing” are already being duped. I observe Trump in these few days of victory, and he seems a man shocked by what has happened and reeling from the reality that this has actually turned out a victory for him. I don’t think he meant hardly any of this to happen, and does not realise that there are powers beyond him who will use and destroy him for their own ends. He thinks he has the power and believes he is making his own decisions.

I think evil has taken up this foolish, selfish and godless person and will use his folly to further the inroads of evil in our world. We have “christians” praying for him and asking God to bless him and give him wisdom. Where is discretion, judgment and dignity? The man is at least bemused at the antics of these deluded religious well-wishers. The look on his face and the perpetual pout is extraordinary.!

God warns us of this behaviour and attitude…
2Timothy 3:1-5
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”

This scripture could not be clearer….
2 Timothy 3:12-
“everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

What we see on the screen of our devices, is not God’s way. You will know you are living for God when you are hated for loving Him, following His Word and doing good. What we are actually seeing is the work of the spirit of Anti-christ, which is always ready in the history of this world, to rise up and stake its claim against the eternal and everlasting God.

We must train ourselves and be wise. The Scriptures are the answer- the Lord Christ Jesus is the only Saviour, and we must fly to Him. I pray the people will trust in Him and know His peace, for He only is our peace…

Women who glorify God