Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Broken Jars

I never cease to stand amazed at Mary Magdalene's faith - Here a prostitute - a reviled person according to the Pharisaical law - the lowest person - luckily not stoned to death for her sins, changed by the Son of God, and she was never the same again.

This same Mary of whom seven demons had been cast morphed into one of Christ's staunchest allies, showing courage and bravery far exceeding most of the disciples. She was there at the beginning of Jesus ministry, stood with Him at the cross and was the first one there on that Sunday morning of His awesome Resurrection.

It was my privilege to host a study on Twitter just recently on the subject of Mary's visit to the empty tomb and it was brought home to me once again the deep faith of this amazing young woman who loved her Lord with everything she had.

It was this same Mary of the "Alabaster Jar" fame. Mary who broke the Jar of sweet smelling perfume at Jesus feet and washed his dirty feet with her hair and tears broken before her Lord in adoration and praise.

For a woman to do this in those days with her long hair, which by the way was her 'glory' was an amazing sign of her humility. Mary unwound her hair and in that instant also unwound her glory and acknowledged the glory of Jesus as God, Lord and Master.

In another way Mary was saying "My glory is nothing - Yours is everything." What an amazing young woman.

The washing of people's feet was a job for the lowliest of slaves way back then. A job done by a slave openly treated with disdain. You can imagine the state of the roads and paths, the dust, animals, carts, mud and slush and with open sandals as common footwear - I need say no more.

If you visited a home it was customary and tradition that you removed your sandals before you entered. Manners then dictated that the host or hostess ordered the 'unimportant slave' to wash his or her guest's feet.

It was into this scenario that Mary appeared  - a picture of humble worship.

When Jesus entered the house of Simon that fateful night, He was not offered any such niceties - nothing, No kiss or oils for His head (both signs of respect), no water provided for cleanliness - nothing.

It wasn't until Mary appeared with her Alabaster Jar of expensive perfume that things started to happen here in the home of Simon the Pharisee. She immediately threw herself at the feet of Jesus and broke open her alabaster Jar filling the whole house with it's perfume.

Her tears were aplenty as she washed His feet and kissed them - her beautiful hair wiping the dust, mud and grime off his His feet. Immediately Judas was up in arms at her accusing her of wastefulness.

We catch just a glimpse of how Jesus must have felt - when He openly and suddenly turned on His host - read it for yourselves in Luke 7:44-47.

Mary's absolute humility and her willingness to actually throw off her own 'glory' has been a huge lesson for me personally. There were probably more than a dozen people in that room, at least, and none of them caught or even glimpsed a moment of the personal communion Jesus shared with Mary at that moment.

Mary dismantled her glory, her pride and her ego right there in front of all those people - she was ridiculed, accused and almost thrown out on her ear.

God wants us to dismantle our ego, pride and glory - He wants us to stop living for ourselves. He wants us to stop being pious and 'religious'. He wants us to take them all apart and like Mary lay them at His feet.

God doesn't care who we are, how important we think we are, how we feel, who we have been with and what our position in the church or work is - He wants YOU!! The real you.

Jesus didn't reach down and break that alabaster jar FOR Mary - she had to do it herself - We have to break our own selves to become one with Jesus - no more pretences - no more thinking we can do it our way - we have to hand the OUR way over to JESUS' way.

Often when we have gained that 'closeness' to God it has come after we have been broken in our spirit and in our lives - when we have nothing left - it is then Jesus picks us up. God loves a broken and contrite heart.

So let's decide today not to carry around our own Alabaster Jar of treasures. If we want to have that amazing encounter with Jesus as Mary had, we have to break it open and smash our pride and glory and in so doing give the ultimate glory back to Jesus - the one who deserves it.

God bless you as you become a 'broken person' for God this week.










Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Deliberate Sin! - Forgiven or Not?

The whole world was absolutely shocked and shaken to our core this week when the news broke that a "German Wings' aircraft had crashed in the French Alps killing all 150 on board.

Our hearts broke as the news flashed around the world that the Co-Pilot looked as though he had deliberately crashed the aircraft because of his on-going depressive illness. It was shocking to the say the least and very very disturbing.

Deliberate acts like this one astound us and we are so ready to judge and condemn. It was only last month here in Australia that the news broke that a father may have deliberately driven his car at high speed into a tree killing his wife, his eldest son and himself, leaving the youngest son in a critical condition and also an orphan.

We cry out in frustration WHY?? - When there is so much help readily available do people commit these atrocities and harm others?

When I was pondering these types of situations I couldn't help but ask the question that I guess many have asked before me - "Can I deliberately keep sinning and keep asking forgiveness?"

A very tough verse in the Bible regarding "deliberate" sin is found in Hebrews 10:26. "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sins is left."

Can't get much plainer than that! But let's just think about it for a moment. What does 'sinning' actually mean and what do we mean by 'deliberate' sinning.

Sinning is anything that comes between you and God - of course there is the obvious sins as laid out in exodus 20, greed, wanting what others have, sexual immorality, murder, stealing and the list goes on.

Sinning also includes unforgiveness, haughtiness, gossip and even not giving God His rightful place in our lives or not giving Him His due reverence. in fact anything that hinders our relationship with Him.

So if we sin and harbour say unforgiveness in our hearts and we are convicted of that and repent, does that mean we can never be forgiven?  Of course not - Our Lord is so willing to forgive us.

After all it was from the words of Jesus Himself that Peter was told in Matthew 18: 21-22 when he asked the question "Lord how often do I have to forgive a believer who wrongs me? seven times?" Jesus said "I tell you not just seven times, but seventy times seven".

But the author of Hebrews talks about deliberate sinning, the fact of 'keeping on' or 'going on' sinning deliberately.

I feel the key here are the words "keeping on" or in some versions "going on" sinning deliberately.
"Going on" sinning means that you are continuing in deliberate sin without feeling the least bit repentant or confessing this sin regardless of what that sin is.

You don't feel any remorse about this deliberate sin in your life and you have given up and/or refusing to go to battle over it.

So in other words if you are continuing in deliberate sin regardless of what that sin is, without confessing it, if you are happy in that state and feel nothing, no compunction to cease it then you are committing a 'deliberate' sin against God which leaves you in a very precarious situation indeed.

Jesus died for all of our sins, the past, present and future. He died for ALL sins BUT we need to confess those sins, turn away from them and ask His forgiveness.

But if you are 'going on' or 'keeping on' sinning feeling no remorse at all and no confession of your guilt then like it says in Hebrews 10 "there no longer remains a sacrifice for your sins"

Gods judgement is very clear. the Hebrews chapter goes on from verses 27-30 to explain the judgement of those who deliberately "KEEP GOING" into sin.

Okay, so how do we go about ensuring that we are indeed safe eternally with Jesus? Well, if right now you  are walking with Christ, you are trusting Him daily, and you have given Him all of your life, then you will never face His judgement. You are safe in His arms and your eternity is assured with Him.

You may ask "well what if I do fail?" We are saved by faith alone through Christ. Depend on Him to forgive you and be ever so willing to keep asking for that forgiveness.

We all fail, but the closer we walk with Christ and the closer we draw to Him the less likely we will be to keep falling over the same tricks of Satan who is so intent of driving us away from the presence of God.

We can trust God that ALL sin is paid for at the cross - but we have to ask and accept that forgiveness from God Himself.

If you turn to Jesus right here where you are and confess your sin, acknowledge that you can nothing without Him, then He will forgive you - He will indeed!

So if you are struggling with deliberate sin, ask God's help, genuinely ask His forgiveness. You need to fight this sin with faith and a contrite and humble heart.

Don't harden your heart and soul to the wiles of Satan. In 2 Corinthians 2:4 in the Message Bible Paul says "After all we don't want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for still more mischief - we're not oblivious to his sly ways."

If we keep on deliberately sinning, our hearts will eventually harden to the extent that we will feel nothing of the guidance of God's Spirit. Don't give Satan an even chance, turn your deliberate sin over to Christ the only one who paid the price to obliterate sin from our lives in the first place.

God bless you as you hand your sins deliberately over to God - Asking His forgiveness and accepting His miraculous saving gift of cleansing and mercy.






Sunday, 15 March 2015

Crumbs on the Table

Have you ever been really hungry and then walked past a really good bakery and the smell of the freshly baked bread nearly drives you insane?

When the first century Jews heard Jesus refer to Himself as the "Bread of Life" they likely thought of the basic staple, the life-sustaining constant in theirs and our daily diet.

In John 6:35 Jesus indeed declared "I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." Amazing words with astounding consequences.

The main point is that Jesus is indeed necessary for life. BUT how many of us actually feed from the "Bread of Life" or just manage to scrape a few crumbs off the table cloth?

Where does Jesus stand in your life? Is He your number one thought in the morning and your last thought at night? Does He have any standing at all through your busy day? Do you depend on Him in the day to day decisions and in the big moments in your life?

Or has life just got too busy for Jesus?

I have been so convicted lately as to just with what I am filling my eyes, ears, mind and time. For example, how long do I sit at the computer, or the TV, or reading some secular novel or magazine, gullibly swallowing every bit of unbelievable junk I hear or see.

Now, please don't take me wrong - these things are OK and worth enjoying BUT when they take over from God then they become such a sin - God wants so much more from us and He wants so desperately to give us so much more.

Truthfully, how long has it been since you said "I am going to wait on the Lord" in His presence - just He and you alone quiet, forgetting everything and everyone else.

Without the Spirit of God fully working in our lives, we are empty and virtually hungry so do we fill this void with other 'things'? - getting so busy that our minds and hearts really have no room for Jesus and what He is so freely prepared to give us.

God is not going to pour out His Spirit where He doesn't find hunger. How long has it been since we have been so hungry for God that all else fades into insignificance? I feel our problem is that we have never been really hungry. We have allowed 'things' to satisfy our lives and satiate our hunger.

I am so afraid that it is the same for many of our churches - we get so consumed with following agendas and Orders of Service we don't really expect to be in the very presence of God. We can get carried away with the music or busy ourselves with what needs to be done that we rarely expect the unexpected - God's Spirit moving in remarkable and extraordinary ways in His people.

God is the bread of life - He said "Feast on me" instead we are so content with the crumbs off the table. He said FEAST not NIBBLE.

Our churches are filled with worship and songs etc, but is God's Spirit really there? Do we really even catch a glimpse of God when we go to church?

I heard recently on a "Christian radio station" an advertisement that went something like this "Sundays are so busy! Got no time for church? then come to our church we are open on Saturday nights" WHOA!! - There we go - "So busy" - Too busy for God it seems.

We often hear preachers pray for revival - I feel there won't be a revival unless we repent before God - place Him in His rightful place in our lives - expect to really meet Him, either alone or in our church services, when we come in true repentance and prayer.

I pray for revival in me in our churches and in our lands. Instead of filling our lives with God, we fill them up with anything and everything including our worries. No wonder God's Spirit isn't really working in the lives of so many of us.

Jesus said in Matthew 5: 6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled"

If you, like me are truly serious about being really 'hungry" for God, then please join me in this prayer:-

Father, I pray that your Holy Spirit will grip our hearts, that you will turn us into Warriors of worship and obedience to you. Lord, we need you, our cities and nations need you. We are so tired of scraping just crumbs off the table, please send us a feast of your bread from Heaven. Amen.

My prayer for you is to be overwhelmed by God, to be totally consumed with His grace, love and forgiveness. That His Spirit will floor you with a revival in your life that will so change the way you think, live and act. May God bless you as you draw near to Him.




Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Moving Mountains

The story is told of a little boy who wandered into the deep dark woods only to find a giant lurking there.

"What are doing here" boomed the giant "These are my woods and you must stay here forever". The little boy stammered "I only came in here to dig for worms 'cause I am going fishing".

"Hmmm" the giant said - "I'll tell you what!  I will give you three chances to think of something I CANNOT do. If you win, you may go - but if you lose, you must stay in my woods forever."

The little boy thought for a long time. Finally he had an idea! "Bet you can't pick up that boulder?" - The giant threw his head back and laughed - "Simple" he said and picking up the huge rock threw it clear over the trees and out of the woods.

The little boy sighed "Two more tries" said the giant. "Bet you can't bend that big old oak tree so that it touches the ground?" said the boy. "Simple" said the giant and grabbing the tree bent it back so far that the big tree snapped in two.

"Phew" said the boy and sat down and thought. "That's two said the giant with a wicked grin - one more to go". The little boy didn't want to live in the woods forever he had to think of something!

"I know something I can do that you can't" he said to the giant - "I can move that hill and put it right here next to path". The giant laughed and laughed. Finally he stopped laughing and said 'watch this' - he put his arms around the hill and pulled - he yanked this way and that way - he tugged at that hill until he was breathless.

He couldn't move that hill no matter how hard he tried. Finally he gave up. "Okay" said the giant at last "if you can move this hill you may leave the woods".

The little lad picked up his shovel that he had brought to dig worms and dug a shovelful of dirt then he dumped it beside the path - he walked back to the hill and brought another shovelful and so it continued until the hill was completely moved.

How are you at moving mountains?

In Matthew 17:20 Jesus said "Because you have so little faith! Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain. 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

So.... how come I don't see mountains moving??

Jesus was speaking figuratively obviously. Moving mountains was exactly THE type of miracle that the Pharisees and 'religious' teachers of the day were expecting of Jesus. Jesus never used miracles to prove a point or to exhort Himself among others to win their approval and make them awestruck.

Jesus' miracles were helping and assisting people of which he performed so many - we must have only a fraction recorded for us in the New Testament. But moving mountains and casting them into the sea WOULD have satisfied the Scribes and Pharisees of the day - a miracle of humongous proportions clearly equalling the fire consuming sacrifice of Elijah and also the sun standing still episode of Joshua.

Jesus was clearly teaching His disciples here that there is unimaginable power available to them through their FAITH in Him. He said in John 14 "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in My name, I will do it".

So what is the key here - our FAITH of LACK of it? I truly believe that the key to this question is when Jesus said "IN MY NAME". I believe the requirement for receiving is to ask (in Jesus name) according to His purpose and will.

In James 4, James warns us never to ask anything of God with the wrong motives. We need to have faith in God alone not faith in our plans, or aspirations. The only way to receive anything of God is to ask according to His plans and His motives.

So to have mountain moving type faith is to aim for and work towards unselfish,  non-doubting and absolute confidence in God and Him alone. It's believing and having faith in His truth and absolute power while striving to do His will. And why do we live like this? So that God's name may be glorified.

The other part of 'mountain moving' type faith is to believe that God is working in your life to remove your personal 'mountains' that have grown in your life.

I know I personally have a 'mountain range' in my life that is being slowly whittled away as I move closer to God. Like the little lad in our story your mountain may not disappear straight away but with God's help and reliance on Him every mountain will be laid low.

So let's not despair about our 'mountains' but hand them over to our Heavenly Dad and have faith that according to His time and purpose these mountains will eventually be removed for ever.

And let's have faith that His will and purpose for our lives is in His hands. let's pray that our faith and His will collide and that whatever we ask of God, that it will be done according to His plans and His pure motives.






















Thursday, 19 February 2015

Turning WIMPS into WARRIORS

We live in uncertain times - to that we ALL must agree!!

My heart has broken so many times especially in the last two years with the rise of persecution of Christians - the horror of terrorism - the birth of ISIS or ISIL or IS whatever they choose to call themselves this week etc.

Wars and horrific events overwhelm us on all sides and we are bombarded constantly with detestable, ghastly and heinous crimes. Most of these crimes are directed at Christians, even in our so-called 'safe' Western world, the persecution and awful maltreatment and oppression continue right before our eyes.

OPEN DOORS is an organisation set up to directly assist the persecution of Christians world wide and they certainly have their hands full - read how they define Christian persecution on their website at https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution

"Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis"

I guess we can all relate to this statement as we have witnessed the frightful and abhorrent events carried out right before or very eyes.

It is my privilege to pray for Africa, Asia and the Middle East every week through Twitter on #GodsPrayerRoom and #GodsPraiseRoom and I would love to have you join us if you can - go to TweetingGodsLove.com for details.

During this time my eyes have been opened to just some of the fearful events unfolding in these countries and I may add some of the amazing ways God's Word is being spread by incredible and wonderful servants of our Lord and Saviour.

As I was dwelling on these suffering and persecuted Christians my mind wondered as to how I would fare, dealt the same set of circumstances? It's so easy in our comfort to say how we would react, it's so easy to put our hand over our hearts and confirm our faith in Christ and our willingness to lay down our lives for Him, BUT...

Are we really prepared? I thought of Paul being a mentor to a young Timothy and extolling the young guy to 'be strong in your spiritual duty NO MATTER what comes against you."

Paul knew that Timothy would be under great persecution that could very well cost him his life and he implores the young man never to lose his faith and to keep going on with Jesus.

Proverbs 29:25 tells us in the New Living Translation that "Fearing people is a dangerous trap".  Just being afraid of what people could think of us or say about us or how they will react to us if we boldly proclaim Jesus is enough to muzzle the bravest of us.

We are such capricious, changeable and unpredictable people are we not?

I am afraid we are not alone - I remember Peter and the 'denial incident' - Oh how we love to put the boot into Peter - but poor man had just seen Jesus horribly beaten, stripped, humiliated and sentenced to death on probably THE most horrible creation of man.

Peter buckled and crumpled at the thought that he could be next, but he wasn't alone. It says in Matthew 26:56 that the rest of the disciples had left Jesus and fled. They had all been ashamed of Him and not only were they embarrassed but they were afraid for their lives as well.

Peter's denial, you could say, is a classic illustration of what being ashamed of Christ is like. So instead of judging Peter, let's think it over. I would reckon all of us who love our Lord have had a 'past' in denying Him.

Those times at a party, at home with the family, at work even on Facebook or Twitter when we may have spoken just a word for Jesus and we have failed miserably. We have been ashamed of Him and failed to uphold our love for Him - and guess what - it's such a sin.

After the resurrection, you will recall that Jesus asked Peter three times "do you love me?' Jesus was restoring Peter because the old 'ashamed' Peter was useless to Jesus, just like we are useless in our embarrassed state.

It's only when God truly works in our lives that He can push us past that shame and fear - and we can throw embarrassment out of the window - only then can we be of any use to God.

Matthew 10: 32 & 33  Jesus said "Everyone who confesses me I will confess before my Father who is in Heaven but whoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father" can't get much plainer than that!

If we don't belong to Jesus - He doesn't belong to us - If we don't acknowledge Him he won't acknowledge us.

So here is a major sin that we commit and that sin is in the denying of Christ. It's probably THE worst sin we can commit - so how can we have a effective witness to our Lord?

We need to renew our commitment to God - Only He can change us from a WIMP to a WARRIOR.

God didn't give you a spirit of timidity - so if you are struggling with 'shyness' when it comes to God you can guarantee that it isn't a gift from God. God's gifts to us include love, hope, courage, power and discipline.

If you need courage to speak, ask for it. If you feel shy and ashamed about God then re-think where you stand actually with Him, take a good hard re-look at the gifts God feely gives and then tap into these amazing resources.

So like Timothy we need to be bold and courageous and not ashamed. We need to tap into the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit so wondrously given to us by God the Father.

God bless you as you use the gifts God has given us - the gifts of boldness and courage in taking His name to this uncertain world.


Friday, 6 February 2015

Meteors and promises

The world news is shocking - literally it truly is!

Everything is happening at alarming rates unheard of in the history of the world.

As a Christian, these horrible events have made me think even more than ever before at just how close the return of Jesus must be. I personally have always been fully aware of the second coming of Christ and have looked forward to that amazing day.

I have had many people try to explain to me that Jesus' return must be so close - "a minute to midnight" one dear Christian elder in the church once said to me and yet - it seems to me that Jesus must be delaying His return for a reason.

With the event of the holocaust for example many thousands of believers truly thought that Jesus' return was imminent - during that horrendous, despicable time, God's own chosen people were murdered, tortured, driven away, starved, beaten and horribly discriminated against. And yet here we are in the 21st century and nothing seems to have changed in fact things have got considerably worse.

So with that in mind I have started my research into the 'Heavenly's" to see what God Himself says about these 'last days'.

I began my search in Matthew 24 - the very words of Jesus Himself - "Immediately after the distress of those days 'The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken."

That verse drove me to Isaiah 13 which virtually predicts exactly the same and to Luke 21: 26 -28. "People will faint with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken and then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

The very heavens will be shaken? So the heavens will herald the coming of Jesus? So we should look to the heavens for signs of our Saviour return?

So armed with my scant knowledge of the return of Christ and my trusty laptop I began a Google search through the heavens for any signs - and I was surprised at the results I found.

I first started with the sun - that glorious creation that keeps us all here alive and kicking. Well according to Space.com the sun unleashed some sort of amazing eruption of plasma back in 2012 in back to back 'solar storms' called the incredible name of a "Solar Prominence" sounds awesome doesn't it.

In an interview, physicist Michio Kaku related how he personally is getting pretty worried about the recent 'solar flares' and said that the sun is 'having temper tantrums and is getting worse and worse". he continued in the interview saying that "My greatest fear is the earth could be hit by a large solar flare, and all hell could break loose."

Profressor Kaku is carefully watching the signs in the sun especially these amazing giant eruptions called "solar prominence" and solar flares becoming more and more frequent.

I then turned my attention to meteorites and the chance of these huge rocks hitting our tiny vulnerable little earth.

The world stood aghast as a giant meteor exploded over Russia on February, 2013 - here is the link to the video available though Space.com  http://www.space.com/19809-meteor-hits-central-russia-900+-hurt-video.html

The meteor is estimated to weight up to 10,000 tons and was travelling 64,400 km/h when it exploded. It was substantially more massive than first thought.

The blast, when it exploded, had power estimated of about 500 kilotons around 30 times larger than that of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.  It caused shockwaves that injured 1200 people and damaged 1000's of homes and businesses.

The happenings in our heavens are a sure sign that God is preparing us for the return of His son. Jesus is coming back with power and great glory and at that time 'Every knee will bow...every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2: 10-11.

I truly feel that our world is about to change forever. God is warning us loud and clear on the BIGGEST screen ever. The very heavens are speaking to us - thing is are we listening???

One thing I have learned from this study is that Christ is indeed coming again and that if we aren't ready for his amazing return then we will be left behind, we will not be part of His reign and we will be excluded from eternally living with Him in the place where He has prepared for us.

How do you get ready for this astounding, incredible time? By asking forgiveness for your sins which have separated you from God, asking God to lead your life and surrendering your life entirely to His control.

So like it says in Luke 21 - we look up to the heavens to see the wondrous works of God and see his promises coming true - We look up for our salvation and redemption is written above for all of to see.







Monday, 26 January 2015

We say "God bless you" and Heaven weeps!

Listening to Keith Green's amazing song "Asleep in the Light" really stirred me up as I was having my morning jog just recently.

There I was enjoying the stillness, if humid, early summer morning here in Australia - ear phones in and my Nano Pod on 'shuffle' jogging away like I have done countless times before, when this song, which I might add, I must have heard at least fifty times, started to play.

As if for the very fist time the lyrics seemed to come alive and reverberated through my brain.

The song itself is pretty ancient but the lyrics remind us that Christ comes to our doors so often. He comes in the guise of many and varied people - we may see these people at our front door, in the supermarket, at church or at work in fact anywhere we go Jesus may present himself to us, through them.

We so often turn these folks away saying - "God bless, be at peace" or variations of this but do we actually mean what we say - and can we back it up?

I continued on my way but those lyrics kept haunting me throughout that day and when I eventually joined a prayer and praise group that next Saturday morning through Twitter, as I usually do, I found myself actually tweeting those very words "God bless you - May God's peace be with you". Must admit I was shocked!

How glibly those words rolled off my keyboard - how trite they sounded after being convicted of their TRUE meaning. The very phrase sounded so flippant, off-hand, brassy and yes! even rude.

How can we as so-called Christians sound so 'real' yet be so hypocritical. The very phrase "God bless you" is so well worn it becomes worn out when we don't really mean what we say.

Not only that but I honestly believe that it can become an affront to God and a major sin.

I truly believe that God puts people in our paths on purpose then leaves it up to us to reach out to that person no matter who he or she may be.

The ways we reach out can be so numerous as will be the many and varied people we are trying to reach.

I believe that some of these people can come as a mighty big shock. Reaching the so-called unreachable, the unlovable, the friendless and the lonely. The busy office worker, the check out chap, the unflappable secretary, delivery driver and (here is a hard one) your enemy!

Jesus was a "REACHER" - He touched the unlovely, the ostracised, the lonely and the sick. Mark 5 tells the story of how Jesus reached a demon possessed man - chained due to his violence, yet was touched by the Son of God and became a Warrior for Jesus.

In Romans 12, we are even called to be Jesus' hands and feet, reaching out to people just where they are and in their need.

Now, at this point I am certainly not recommending that we disrespect people or annoy them in any way but all I am saying is that we, with the Holy Spirit's leading, connect with people around us. This may be as simple as a smile or a helping hand.

John 13:35 says "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another"

The presence of love for others even 'unlovable' others in our lives is a sure sign that God is changing us by his Spirit. With Jesus' Spirit inside of us any words of hope, encouragement, love and patience from us can and will make a huge difference.

Sometimes words of love and encouragement and putting ourselves 'out there' can mean a BIG sacrifice for us, but that is exactly what love does - it puts others first and ourselves last.

After learning this amazing lesson for myself I can now say "God bless you" in it's true meaning.

How are you at reaching out? How many personal stories are out there that you will never hear? How many hands are reaching out to you that you wouldn't even know about unless you make the first point of contact?

Pray this prayer with me:- "Dear Lord, I'm not really good at 'reaching out' but I know that with your help I can be courageous even bold for you. Please give me a loving and sensitive heart. Help me to love as you do and help me to see others as you do. Please help me to show love where it is needed most."

God bless you and may God's peace and joy reign in your life this week as you strive to show "Jesus type" love to everyone with whom you come in contact.