Thursday, 1 December 2016

It's not over yet

Oh! I wonder just how many times I have struggled with me myself and I saying to me myself and I that "You won't get past this one?" - "You have done it now" - "You have gone beyond that line in the sand that you know you couldn't cross and yet you crossed it anyway" - "You won't win any freedom from sin now - you have muffed it, stuffed it and gone beyond the pale"

Well, I am writing this to all of you who have felt exactly the same way as I have - those of you, who like me never seem to be able to walk in a straight line - always deviating either to the right or to the left - putting a brand new "I wouldn't do anything wrong" face yet crucifying yourself because of your own stupid waywardness.

You know God knows all about us - our wantonness, our sinfulness, our stupidity and a straight out waywardness. So let's, you and me, not throw in the towel just yet. Let's not quit because you know it's just NOT over!! - Not yet - Not until God says it is.

It may appear to the likes of you and me that all hope is gone we have completely and utterly hit the limit of God's patience with us - we have gone to that place where we just know we shouldn't have gone again and again and again and each time we come crawling back and asking for forgiveness, repenting only to fall again.

These voices inside our heads telling us to give it all up and just go on your way - drag your heavy heart out the door - you are beaten, defeated so just accept it and go.

We have to keep on fighting out of our dark places into God's amazing light where there is His hope - His life - His truth - His grace and His eternal faithfulness.

He will never let us go - His promise not mine (John 10:28) so even if you think "my time has come" please don't despair and PLEASE never give up. God has us covered no matter how we are feeling. It's more than time to forget your past and claim the future that God has in store for us. Jesus died that we might have this eternal life with Him - Our past is dead and buried with Him and we have risen to a new life once we have come to Him and repented of our sins and asked forgiveness.

So whatever is bangin' on your door, lust, jealousy, self pity, victimisation, worry, bullying, deceit whatever it is if you know immediately when you have sinned and need to do something about it that's so great IF it leads you to repentance but feeling sorry for your sins can be bad if it doesn't help you to turn away from them. Being 'sorry' is so different from being 'repentant'.

Repentance is turning away from sin, trusting that God has forgiven us and reminding ourselves constantly that he has. In 2 Corinthians 7:10 we read:- "Godly sorrow brings REPENTANCE that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, BUT worldly sorrow brings death"

So what do we do with our on-going sins - those things that bring us to the point of believing that God just can't forgive us this time? We lay them and us at the foot of the cross - we let them and us be washed clean AGAIN by the blood of Jesus - he died so that we can live anew in Him.

We will go through hard times - it IS a part of life that no-one can avoid - and hard times in life are different for most people BUT the trick is please PLEASE don't let these times blind you and let them define your mind into thinking that is exactly who you are because Jesus death and your repentance and forgiveness have decreed otherwise.

My profile name on Face Book and Twitter is "Itsbygracealone" and when we have truly asked God to forgive us and come again to the cross, laying it at His feet then that amazing GRACE comes again rushing into us like a flood!

Remember that you ARE forgiven - you ARE a brand new person! We don't give into the lie that we are somehow disqualified from His presence - like demerit points on your drivers licence - 9 points and your lost for eternity! NO Way - no matter what we have done that's not who we are - Through Jesus Christ and the very GRACE and MERCY of God, He has promised to finish what He started in us to make us that brand new person he promised we would be.

Keep looking to Jesus, keep stepping out with Him, even if it's 'baby steps' keep following Him - praying that he will forgive your sins, but please don't 'wallow' in the past - they have gone, paid for and forgotten. But as you find yourself falling each day, keep asking God to renew you until you become more like Jesus.

Please take heart that it is not over yet and that there are a lot of Christians out there going through the very same situation as you and me - be encouraged in your walk with Jesus in helping you to say a big fat 'NO' to sin whatever that sin is. There IS hope to carry on - Our God IS able to do abundantly more than we ever thought possible.

Love this verse in Philippians 1:6

"Being confident in this, that he who began a good work in you WILL carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 In closing:- Remember YOU ARE FORGIVEN! and IT'S NOT OVER YET!

And as my tennis obsessive beautiful wife says:- "It's game, set,  match!"
You're forgiven and your sin is now in the past. Write 'game, set, match' over them and welcome that GRACE that comes in like a flood, washing us clean for a new day with Him.

Many blessings to you this week.

Monday, 21 November 2016

My God is MIGHTY

What does it mean when people go on about How MIGHTY God is? I know what mighty means but really what does it mean to say My GOD is MIGHTY?

When we just stop for a moment and try to grasp the sheer enormity of just how MIGHTY God is, we can't help but be thunderstruck by the fact that He is indeed an AWESOME God - and I mean AWESOME in the real sense of the word.


God is so mighty that sometimes His very presence can be terrifying indeed. We stand in awe and wonder as to just how mighty and majestic He is!

The very mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead and conquered the very forces of evil and vanquished satan to wallow here on earth trying desperately to convince man just how sinful and dreadful are his sins, is the very mighty power that saved you  - that changed you!

When we grow in Christ the changes in our lives become more and more evident - where once we condoned even loved to sin now we are intolerant even hating sinning, cheating and whatever else comes between our saviour God and us.

All this is through the mighty saving power of Jesus - the very one who plucked us out of the filthy pit we dug ourselves and enjoyed being in. There is no such power greater and more consistent and faithful than the power of God.

God's very majesty and power are so evident - you just have to step outside in the middle of a storm and feel the rain against your face or watch the thunderclouds gather and see the lightening. He is MIGHTY indeed! When you think as you stand there in wonder that there is nothing really between God and you - you can almost just get a glimpse of His might, His power and even His face - He is that close.

God controls everything in this world and these natural marvels are a vivid reminder of God's awesome majesty, might and power. When I take the time to watch an incredible sunset - or see HUGE waves crash onto the shore - I am overwhelmed by the sheer force of His might. That couldn't possibly have just happened or evolved! God's creative power at work!

God could have made this world a purely functional place but instead He filled it with marvellous beauty which in turn mirrors His majesty and MIGHT!

His might brought the world into existence - His love and might saved our souls through His grace. The fact that God loves us anyway, even though we have nothing really we can offer back to Him is amazing and worthy of praise.

Another thought while we are thinking of His mightiness is that He is so mighty and awesome that he is worshipped by the multitudes in heaven itself! The heavenly hosts praise Him - giving Him honour and glory for all that He has created - If the very beings in heaven fall before His throne in awe and wonder then how much more should we also fall before Him in worship?

Just think back over your life for a few minutes. Reflect on the ways that God has cared for you, protected you and blessed you. He showed mercy when we rebelled - He forgave us when we often couldn't forgive ourselves!

He has genuinely given us unconditional love and blessings!

Our God is a MIGHTY God: Our God is a glorious God - Turn to Him now - accept Him into your life - give Him one hundred percent: Give Him the praise and worship that he deserves.






Monday, 7 November 2016

abandonment

Did you ever experience being lost as a child or left at a pre-school or kindergarten without your Mum - horrible feeling isn't it. Separation anxiety is a real problem - a feeling of abandonment or rejection. Do you remember that feeling of absolute aloneness?

Can you recall the horror of being totally abandoned and out of control with these overwhelming feeling of utter hopelessness. - David wrote Psalm 27 when he was suffering the same fate.

He explains that his enemies wanted to kill him but even so he was convinced that he would be physically safe in battle. He had a strong sense of God's plans for his life - after all hadn't he been kept safe with the  Goliath incident and look at how God kept him safe throughout the years that Saul had been out to get him?

Rather than panicking over being abandoned by his friends and loved ones, David turned to the only true constant he knew - his Creator and Lord, the one who would never abandon him.

David found comfort and security that he needed - an incredibly beautiful thing to remember next time you are alone. God is your light and salvation. You're never lost with Him.

There are so many of us today facing abandonment and rejection - my mind travels to the many many orphans and single mums devastated through war and loss of homes and loved ones - it must be absolute horror to go through this. Many others have faced rejection and abuse throughout their own childhood and have grown  up carrying unresolved wounds.

These unresolved wounds caused through abandoned and rejection cause a multitude of emotional problems. Abandonment and rejection ranks among the most distressing of events that we as humans can experience. We are all created to co-exist with our fellow beings - to love and share - to give and take freely and lovingly.

Rejection/abandonment by anyone, but especially a loved one or a close family member, can have devastating effects. A romantic relationship, bullying stigmatisation, family breakdown even job redundancy can compromise our situation to the extent that we can't seem to operate throughout the day - Abandonment or rejection can cause insomnia and sudden drops in any positive emotions.

This act of abandonment or rejection by others can cause depression, anxiety and phobias.

So what do we do when we have no-one to turn to -  no-one to cling to? We do what David did in Psalm 27 - we turn to our ROCK, our Saviour, our own Jesus. Only he is our constant when things go wrong - when others abandon us - when we are bullied and alone - when we are separated from our peers and loved ones and no-one understands.

God is our ROCK. By describing God as our ROCK, David means our Creator is a place of safety. Just like a rock offers shade and cover, so God offers protection to his people.

Just as a rock is good to build on, so God is our solid foundation. Like a rock, God is immovable - our safe place where we can go when all else have rejected us - where we have been abandoned and alone.

We have talked about BEING abandoned but how about you? Are you taking care of what is yours?

Our society makes it so easy to abandon our responsibilities!  Our society today says:- are you tired of your spouse?  then get a divorce. Up to your neck in debt? Declare bankruptcy. Feeling tied down in your job? walk away - easy!

The problem is that abandoning your responsibilities doesn't make them disappear. If you don't take care of what is yours, someone else will pay the price.

I have been so convicted lately of just how much damage a 'ME FIRST' attitude can have. The Bible is choc-a-bloc full of stories that help us recognise the damage of what a ME FIRST attitude can do - to others and to ourselves.

So if being abandoned and rejected is truly horrible and inexplicable then how about being the one who abandons and rejects? We have to take responsibility for our actions and how those actions can have a HUGE impact on the lives of other people.

So there we have it - whatever side of the wall you are at the moment - abandoned, or even planning to abandon, then take a leaf out Psalm 27; written all those years ago by David who knew what it was like to be on both sides of the wall at the same time.

Rejection is horrible and nasty no matter from what angle you look at it; it really has no 'nice' bits at all. It can devastate the innocent and cause untold damage often irreparable. Families smashed and hearts broken forever.

Look to Jesus no matter where you are on the 'abandonment/rejection scale'.  He has the answer to all of your rejection problems - He will never leave us: he will never abandon us (Deut 31:6) is his promise to us regardless of what is happening in your life.

God bless you this week as you come to terms with your feelings of rejection.

If you are thinking of abandoning your responsibilities then please take responsibility for them instead. Then the guilt and shame that comes from abandonment won't be shared.  Matthew 18: 15-17 commands us to put it right and make it right and be reconciled.



Friday, 28 October 2016

Pride

WOW!! what is pride? Took a good look at some dictionaries and here's what I reckon is the best definition I came across:-

"High or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit or superiority whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct etc"

So in other words a great opinion of oneself either in the words, deeds or thoughts.

If you've had some enviable successes in your life, you've probably tempted to replay them in your mind from time to time. Resist the urge!

Nothing will cause you to lose your way faster than looking behind you.

If however, you insist in rehearsing your accomplishments, make sure you give credit where credit is due. Apart from God, you could have done nothing. Apart from you, God can still do anything.

If you still want to show thankfulness to Him then go ahead - knock yourself out. BUT if you are just looking for a little bit of praise - don't bother - just get over it.

There is certainly a big difference in the pride of self where we can can get so consumed with ourselves we have utterly no room for God at all and say for instance the pride in your family or a job well completed.

In Psalm 10 it says "In his pride the wicked man does not seek God, in all his thoughts there is no room for Him". God is after a spirit of humility not pride! Pride tells us that we are capable of anything - that we can be the master of our own destiny - our very spirituality depends wholly and solely on us.

On the other hand the humility of what God speaks makes us recognise that we are so spiritually poor that there is absolutely no way to come to Him except through His grace - His eternal grace. Nothing lasts in this world - not our fortunes or our pride - nothing! Except the very grace of God by which we are saved through the sacrifice of Jesus.

The proud are just full of their own importance; they believe that somehow they deserve his acceptance.

We hear a lot of D.I.Y these days - everything seems to come in flat packs and so often you need an engineering degree to assemble it. BUT D.I.Y isn't an option for those who come to Christ - at least not where their spiritual life is concerned.

God is the source of our strength. Without Him, we are helpless. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge that fact has allowed pride and ego to block their view of the truth. And they may have to learn the hard way just how dependent they are on God.

Read and ponder John 3: 20-21. Swallow your pride and be willing to come into the light of God's Word. Be willing to open your entire heart to God and let him continue to change you.

Remember that God wants all of your life; your job, your spouse, your money, your dreams, your next two minutes, your next two years. You can't have Jesus simply sand down your rough edges, rather, the crucified carpenter wants to shape your life and make it into a different piece of wood entirely.

Pride has kept many people from accepting the saving grace of Jesus. 2 Corinthians says we are not to boast about what we do but if we must boast then we should boast in God's work in us. Pride is sinful because it is giving ourselves credit for something that God has accomplished. Pride is self-worship!

We can't keep our pride and our relationship with God. He won't allow it. In fact, I reckon, God abhors our pride - Jesus died to do away with our pride and if we make a point to grab the attention and praise for ourselves then we are guilty of taking something that belongs to him. We are robbing God of His glory and he won't stand for that.

It's so important to scan our lives regularly for signs of harmful self-regard and ask our heavenly Father to forgive us, to rid us of self so that we can see Him and His amazing plans for us.

God bless you this week as we together lay our prideful selves at the foot of the cross and pick up the grace of God freely given for all of us.


Sunday, 16 October 2016

Temptation

Satan is a pro's pro when it comes to temptation. Look at the strategy against Jesus.

Remember, Jesus hadn't eaten for 40 days. So Satan attacked what he assumed would be Jesus vulnerable area. He tempted Jesus to turn rocks into bread to feed himself.

The question I would ask you as I ask myself is:- How might Satan tempt you?

What is your most vulnerable area? Are you susceptible to saving and hanging on tightly to your 'hard earned'?  Maybe you are a sitting duck for destructive angry impulses. Are you susceptible to sexual temptation, perhaps at work or on-line porn. Do you struggle with the urge to lie so that you can look good?

As a wise warrior for Jesus we have to get to know our vulnerable areas and take the necessary steps to shore up our defences.

On saying that, If we don't stand for something, we'll fall for anything. That goes for all of us. No matter how 'seasoned' or 'street-wise' we may think we are!

No one is ever immune to temptation - Satan loves to hood-wink us into thinking that all is well with our spiritual lives, then when we are really settled, out of the blue comes along our 'old favourite' - that good old temptation that we thought was dead and buried - and yet there it is staring us in the face once more and sadly often we fall for it over and over again.

Once we stop making decisions based on reason and God-given wisdom, we become susceptible to just about anything the evil one can throw at us - we become putty in his hands.

Sexual temptations can scramble our brain waves; greed can drive us into all sorts of amazing and sordid ways to make and keep our dollars and 'things'; unforgiveness can harden our hearts to the point where we are carrying around in our bodies a lump of rock so hard that Superman would find it hard to break; anger can alienate the strongest human ties - families and marriages.

Apart from our Lord and Saviour, he who died for us and gave us the pure gift of the Holy Spirit, I believe all of us could benefit greatly with a rock-solid Christian advisor in our lives.

I feel our Spirituality would continue to grow if we find someone we can share everything with and depend on to give us Godly advice, without us having to 'take over the show'. Let this person, whoever he or she may be, serve as an extra guard against allowing us to be manipulated by Satan and in turn fall again for the 'temptation carrot'.

Most personal consequences of our temptations that lead to sin, come to us when we are alone and our 'falling' is easy to deal with - no one knows and we can live our lives as if nothing has happened - we continue to step out in life putting up with our inner torments of guilt but keeping our pride and reputations in tact.

Sooner or later, though, most sin makes it way out into public - then  all manner of consequences 'hit the fan'. For some it may mean being caught in an affair. For someone else the tax department may come knocking, and we know what happens to tax cheats!. For others it may mean someone discovering their stash of computer pornography.

Way back in Ezekiel 39, God used public revelation as part of his plan in dealing with the sin of the Israelites. Who are we to to imagine that God wouldn't use the same method in dealing with us?

Maybe we should keep this in mind next time we are tempted and encouraged by Satan to sin and disobey. Those times when Satan whispers in our ears "Go on, do it, no-one can see and no-one ever will - you are safe".

Let's guard ourselves from shame and run  from temptation! If we don't we can find ourselves in BIG trouble if we let temptation/sin get a foothold in our lives. No matter how strong and or self-controlled we think we are, we need to do what King David did after his affair with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband. We need to call on God for help!

God won't magically remove temptation from our lives. That's not how he operates at all. But he will give us the resources we need to fight it.

Those resources may include anything from friends who hold us accountable to a change of location  to help us escape some long-standing temptations.

God is absolutely committed to the ultimate destruction of anything and everything hostile to his eternal plan (which includes plans for your life - see my last blog).  This is exactly what the Bible teaches us and promises!

God will one day crush Satan, our great enemy. By calling on God's promises today, especially the moral power to say NO to temptation, you hasten the demise of Satan from your life.

When we resist the devil, he has no choice but to retreat (James 4:7)

God bless you this week as you fight, with God's mighty hand there with you, the urge to sin and may you be victorious in this battle in which we are all so susceptible.


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Plans

Have you ever realised that God has a plan for your life? Yes you!

Our great God the Creator of the universe - the one who hung stars in space and surrounded our magnificent world with all sorts of incredible beauty (which we have since tried desperately to destroy) has a special plan just for you.

Unlikely as it sounds we puny humans are so loved by this amazing God that it is so very hard to even take in let alone realise that this awesome (in the true sense of the word) God of our's love is so deep that He has individual plans for us all springing out of his deep deep love for us.

People parrot the phrase "God is Love" in a superficial way. Divine affection isn't some sappy, sentimental slop. God's love Risks, It suffers. In fact, it is always marked by wrenching sacrifice.

The Bible goes to great pains to urge those who have experienced God's lavish love to turn around and become courageous lovers themselves.

God's great love for us should be played out in our lives by showing that great love to others. In this way God's plans for us can be fulfilled BUT if we aren't growing more Christ-like every day then these amazing plans for us can't possibly take root in our lives and bring a magnificent harvest to our God and King.

So where are you situated at the moment in God's plan for you? Is there something holding you back from being in the centre of His will for your life?

Do you show kindness and compassion to the undeserving? To cheats and liars? Backstabbers and betrayers? To rude and hateful and cruel people?

As imperfect people none of us have such love in ourselves. What we do have, however, is Jesus Christ living in us and impacting our actions and attitudes and that is more than enough for God to show His mighty plans to us and change our lives forever. Oh! if we only let Him.

We may never really understand it BUT God has a plan for each of us as individuals, as well as complex plans for each civilisation across the globe. But regardless of whether we understand these plans or not, we still need to be obedient to God and accept that His ways are far exceeding ours and to accept His will for our lives.

God's plan for our lives involves us to be faithful to Him in everything we do regardless of what that involves. THE BIG plan for our lives is just trusting Him completely, obeying Him and walking closely to Him every day.

If we can do that then His plans for us will unfold before us, often in surprising ways.

So you can be absolutely certain that God has a plan mapped out for you but only if we let Him work His wonders - only if we are obedient - only if we are trusting Him daily to work in our lives.

It just makes so much sense that we would be created to accomplish what God wants for our lives.

God also calls the shots when it comes to His plans for civilisation itself. They rise and fall. World leaders come and go and all of it, the Bible tells us is according to the will of God.

He is in control and as his children we can trust His goodness and wisdom. So we should prayerfully and carefully make our daily/weekly plans but do so with a joyful willingness to let God alter our agendas to fit His bigger purpose and perfect will.

In lots of ways the lives of us Christians, the Redeemed, if you like, could read like an action adventure. We have been given a mission from the Almighty God of the universe. This mission will expose us to all kinds of risks. We have people, our fellow believers depending on us to carry out our mission. Then on the other hand we have our age-old enemy who will stop at nothing to prevent us from completing it.

So how will your story end? Will you be able to say "mission accomplished" at the end of your life? Or will your enemy celebrate your incomplete, abandoned and thwarted mission.

Let's decide today to be a HUGE threat to satan. Don't let him write us off as a non-threat.

God bless each of us as we obey our Father and seek His perfect plan for our lives this week.











Sunday, 25 September 2016

resting in purity

Do you ever wrestle with feelings of guilt and unworthiness? I know I have.

Have you made mistakes from which you can never seem to recover? Are there blemishes on your record that just won't go away no matter how hard you try to erase them?

Have you done things that people won't ever forgive?

Every one of us has sinned and as we are probably aware the result of that sin is going to be eternal separation from God and an eternity of torment.

Every one of us has done things of which we are thoroughly ashamed and often our past comes back to haunt us again and again. The result of sin brings with it guilt - and I mean guilt with a  capital "G".

In lots of ways we can be very thankful for guilty feelings because without them we wouldn't be driven to get these feelings forgiven and forgotten. So maybe our guilty feelings can be the catalyst to a real and ever rewarding walk with Jesus through this topsy turvy life of ours.

When we ask for forgiveness and truly repent of our sins even the most heinous ones can be slaughtered at His cross - they can be blotted out forever.

Admitting that you're wrong can never be easy but it is essential if we come to Jesus to have our sins forgiven - we have "all sinned and come short of His glory" Romans 3:23.

As far as God is concerned, nothing is more extreme than sin. That's why He requires us to admit our guilt in order to receive his forgiveness.

We can't have our cake and eat it too. we need to give up our illusions and perpetual 'rightness' and acknowledge our need for him to make us right.

Just think about what Jesus did on that cross. He took your guilt, your shame, your mistakes, your blemishes on Himself - and destroyed them forever.

Sadly a lot of Christians wallow in their past sins always remembering their former selves. Memories which should have been forgotten but strangely cannot be. Are you like this?

Corinthians chapter 2 tells us the "The old has gone the new has come" - we are new creations in Jesus - what he did for us that terrible day was amazing and ultimate - He took our sins and buried them forever. Part of our 'old' life which Jesus killed for us was the remembrance of sins - that is now gone - Jesus has forgiven us and he has forgotten our past.

I feel one of the biggest; No! HUGEST reasons so many of us Christians are living defeated lives is because of guilt.

Guilt makes us feel dirty and worthless - it robs us of confidence in God and if we let it, it will even rob us of our faith.

Guilt can thrive and grow if we continually bring up the past to ourselves - thinking about how we messed up - where we went that led us on a path that we will always regret - who we went with and how that person/s life and fate intertwined with ours and could so easily have had disastrous consequences.

The enemy loves to trip us up and set the traps he knows will cause us to stumble. We have to learn from our past and not let our past define us for the future. We can learn from our past the areas where satan loves to call his stronghold and so stop him dead in his tracks.

Although we rarely admit to needing it, God's mercy is available to us on a daily basis. God abounds in mercy, and he loves to share it with us.

Many Christians present a facade that says "Hey everything is Ok" They like to walk tall and pretend they don't need anything from anyone. However, if the truth be told, all of us have doubts and fears, including unresolved guilt and feelings of self-condemnation for past mistakes.

God longs for you to bring these innermost wounds to him; his mercy extends beyond what you might expect. God will NEVER turn away a repentant heart.

So whats the point of all this?

If you are Christian, in God's eyes  you are perfect. Spotless. White as snow. Don't let your feelings of guilt drag you down. rest in the purity that has been given to you.