Sunday, 1 May 2016

Sometimes we have to drop the curtain

How amazing is communication these days - we have everything at our finger tips - just recently there was a huge debate in our home as to what computer our year seven Grandblessings was going to take to High school?

It doesn't seem that long ago we didn't really have a lot of communication devices to rely on - I mean how amazing is it that our phones can turn into virtually anything we want them to - our simple notebook is way out line - Mr Google has smashed the encyclopedia even writing is becoming obsolete.

Our lives are crowded - almost ready to burst I'd say! Crowded with information, ads, TV, ipods, mobiles - you name it  our lives are crowded and in turn so are our minds and hearts.

We can get to the stage in our lives where we just don't know of any other existence other than crowds - but on saying that Jesus Himself welcomed crowds.

It seemed everywhere there were people crowding around him, pushing and shoving.  At one stage He had to climb into a boat and push it a little off-shore so that he wasn't physically pushed into the sea.

On another occasion a little lady who was sick for donkey's years pushed past a huge crowd just to touch His clothing.

So Jesus was a crowd gatherer - no matter where He went there seemed to be crowds jostling Him and needing His attention.

Isn't it the same for us to day - we get bombarded with all sorts of amazing and interesting sometimes super-frustrating priorities in our lives that simply overwhelm us.

Buy this, do that, exercise here, go here, go there, sell this, eat this, take that and so the list goes on.

It seems to me that Jesus spent so much time jostling the crowds through His ministry of three years - makes me wonder how any of us would cope today? it's ironic isn't that the same crowd all turned their backs on Him that fateful yet wonderful day at mount Calvary when he gave His life for you and me.

You know, sometimes we have to 'drop the curtain' on our busy lives and actually see where we are and where we stand with Jesus - He at times made a huge point in 'dropping the curtain' against the overcrowdedness of His own life and be alone with His Father.

Jesus often went away on His own and prayed - finding lonely places far away from the crowds and the noise of everyday life. (Luke 5:16). He needed desperately to get alone with God. Jesus knew that time alone with the Father was the only way He could "refresh and re-focus" His life and get the rejuvenation He needed to continue walking the path he had to walk.

How often do we even think of "dropping the curtain' on our distractions and getting alone with God? Do we ever get alone with God? If we really want God's vision in our lives then getting alone with Him is vitally important. If Jesus Himself felt that then surely we must as well.

It may mean turning off the phone, the computer and whatever other distractions happen to be abroad and dropping the curtain and being alone - just He and you. Just try to be you - honestly and open with Jesus - don't use the usual platitudes - and become humble in His presence. You may even notice that the focus then will shift from you and those overcrowding thoughts and ideas and become centred on Him.

What is amazing is this simple truth:- God is waiting for you! He wants to meet with you - I feel He wants you to get to know Him just as well He knows you.

Our relationship with Jesus is not legalistic - we do have a will of our own - we don't have to bound by rules and regulations of how and when and what we should say in our prayer time. It's a relationship built on love and that relationship will not depend one iota what you do and don't do.

It's only through Jesus - He is the one who changes our lives and carries us from the whirling hubbub that surrounds us into a real and sustaining peace that sees us through any crisis the world may throw at us.

But to get that amazing change and peace in our lives we have to spend time with Him - drawing the curtain on our distractions and setting aside real time for prayer, talking and listening asking Him to show us where our life is heading and showing us what the next steps will be.

Huge blessings to you as you decide to listen to GOD this week. Remember God often speaks in a still small voice and to hear Him properly first we have to be quiet.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

submit or not?

Peter was an amazing apostle - a Man who knew Jesus - a Man who was named by Jesus as THE ROCK - what an awesome name - THE ROCK!!

Jesus said of Peter - "Upon this ROCK I will build my church" what ROCK was this? The very rock when Peter declared - "You (Jesus) are the Messiah - My Lord and My God".

This was the same Peter who went on the deny Jesus three times - the same Peter who saw Jesus' look as the rooster crowed three times - the same Peter who went out weeping uncontrollably because of his denial - the same Peter who almost broke a speed record getting to the tomb to see if Jesus had indeed risen - the same Peter who was interrogated by Jesus three times with the question "Do you love me Peter?"

One time you denied me Peter - Two times you denied me Peter - Three times you denied me Peter.
One time do you love me Peter? - Two times do you love me Peter? - Three times do you love me Peter?

Can you just imagine Peter:-

Don't count me out just yet Lord - I Love you Lord - I know I denied you but please don't count me out - I know I am weak - I know I have failed in some pretty spectacular ways - I know you gave everything for me - I know I let you down horribly.

Jesus came back each time with "feed my sheep - feed my lambs" - Peter was forgiven - as we can be too.

THREE was a pretty big number for Jesus and Peter - Three times Jesus prayed in that garden - three times he found His disciples sleeping - three times Peter denied his Lord - three times the rooster crowed - after three days Jesus rose again.

Friday they hung Him on the cross - Saturday a strange silence must have filled Jerusalem and so much more than just the passover festival - Sunday AMAZING Sunday when he rose from the dead and conquered the grave - killed death in one awesome blow that blew Peter sideways with confusion, love and gratitude.

Never again would Jerusalem be the same and never again would Peter deny His Lord. Yes! he may have taken a sword in that garden and mutilated the high priest servant's ear - he may have been sleeping on the job and yes! he may have gone fishing to try to come to terms with what had just happening in that empty tomb but now? Now he saw the real JESUS - he saw what it was all about - he saw himself and Jesus saw him and Yes! he would never be the same Peter again.

So Peter - the denier became the preacher extraordinaire - the encourager - the humble servant. Peter wasn't worried about succeeding although he did succeed - he wasn't worried about security although through Jesus, that was just what he received.

No! through all of this Jesus' example to Peter was submission - Just as Jesus submitted to the will of God so should we and so did Peter.

We are not called ever to submit to our sin - our struggles - often our overwhelming doubt or our insecurities but we are called to submission - submission to our Lord. Peter saw how Jesus suffered in submission to the will of God. JESUS our perfect example!

Jesus example of total submission to God is truly the only example we should follow - He can't use us when we are consumed with our own lives when we walk with a worldly swagger knowing our lives are pretty good - NO! he can only use us when we are broken down - when we can see where we have failed - when we are broken and pliable.

Will you follow Jesus today? - Are you ready to give Him all? Are you ready to put denials behind you and follow His amazing example of total submission to your Heavenly father?

What Jesus did for us on that cross enabled us to live our lives in complete surrender to Him. Will you trust Him to take your life in submission to Him?

My prayer for us this week is that each of us will come to a point in our lives where we are ready and willing to submit to the will of Jesus to give Him complete and utter control of our lives so that we can be an example as He was an example for us.

God bless you as you step out with Jesus this week.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

When God shows up!!

We know deep in our hearts that God is with us all the time - He never lets us go as we have been banging on about in heaps of our blogs over the years - God's promise that He is with us and He will hold us through the darkest of times is probably THE most precious promise that I have ever encounted in my whole topsy turvy life.

But when God shows up in the middle of nowhere in the middle of hurt and floors you with his presence it can sweep you off your feet that He is actually here with you - the ever-present God - the "NOW" God - the ever-faithful God.

I was floored recently when God challenged me personally about things in my life that I had taken so much for granted as being 'just me' things that I felt I couldn't possibly change - things that had been with me for so long and been part of my very makeup and personality.

Then God showed up!

The God of the impossible showed up out of nowhere and changed me yet again to make me more like the person He wants me to be.

The 360 degree turn around can often make our heads spin and  a " Oh my goodness look what God can do" sort of tsunami affect on our puny lives which we may have thought were travelling along pretty well.

Then God showed up!

You know our God is a portable God - He is with us all the time - it is just that we don't often acknowledge that fact or even trust that He can change our lives to the degree that He can.

Emmanuel - God is with us is the very name God gave JESUS at His birth - why do you think God the Father gave such a name to his only Son - why? because that is exactly what Jesus is - HE IS WITH US! God with us - JESUS!!

In the middle of NOWHERE the shepherds heard the glad tidings of the birth of Jesus - In the middle of NOWHERE Moses stumbled upon a burning bush which in turn changed the face of Israel forever - In the middle of NOWHERE Abraham was promised he was to be the father of a great nation and In the middle of NOWHERE Philip boarded a chariot carrying an Etheopion official and overwhelmed him with the good news of the  coming Messiah.

In the middle of NOWHERE God can change you as He has changed so many - Do you believe this?

God has been with us all along - He is here - He was there when we went sailing along on our own - He was there when we almost gave up - He was there when we lest expected him to be - He was there when we got bowled over in temptation - He was there in our doubts and confusion and He is here now just waiting for us to open our eyes and see who and what was here all along!

Our God is the God of the impossible - When he shows up in our lives He can change us and change us for good.

God has been with us all along - He will never ever leave us but it is always in His timing not ours! It will be in His timings when we get blessings seemingly out of nowhere.

I have come to a point in my life where I actually look for blessings from God knowing that He is indeed a God full of surprises and I know He will literally bowl me over with the "Out of Nowhere" scenario.

It is really interesting and really amazing that He can bring our very destiny and blessings out of nowhere! When everything appears against us - even ourselves in our fallen state and in our weakest faith times when our doubts and temptations get the better of us - out of nowhere He can bring us into a fulfilling and maybe even the brightest times of our lives.

How many times have I asked myself and have heard many people ask when things go pear-shaped "where is God in this?" Thing is - He is always here - He is not passive - He is active with a capital A".

God often works in the background but He IS there moving in the most unlikely and amazing ways.

Start looking for God in the everyday - in the mundane and the ordinary. He is there and He will sustain you.

God go with you this week.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Holding onto God when it it would be so much easier to let go

When you can hold onto God even when you are hurting, when you can hold only Him even when you can't see the forest from the trees, that is the very moment when you know deep in your heart that Jesus is Lord of your life.

Today in my blog I want to make one point very clear and this point is "don't ever let go". You may not feel like you are winning but don't ever ever turn back - its those very moments in your life when  you need Him just that little bit more.

These trials that have come your way - these times in your life when you just can't seem to get your head above the water - when the tsunamis of life seem to overthrow you at every move - these may be the very moments when God is growing you for him. Don't give up now!

Many many times through the word of God many people have not let God go - I can think of Jacob -- troubled by the prospect of seeing his bully brother Esau after all those years of being apart - Jacob was so old by then - 4 wives at least 13 kids - making his slow progress back to his homeland and terrified of meeting Esau - what was he going to do?  Then the wrestling match.

He met an angel of the Lord down by the river bank and there they wrestled until morning broke - can you imagine!!

This Angel visitant said - "let me go for the morning has come" and Jacob said "I will not let you go unless you bless me."

Get those words?  I will not let you go! - Jacob knew that this person had the real power to bless him - the real power to control his life and he was determined that he wasn't going to let this guy go without a blessing.

We should be like this - we have to hang on tight to the one who saved us - letting go of our past and stop holding on to things that don't last - these worldly things that we hold so much store against - they won't help us. They won't ever save us.

We desperately need to let go of our past, let go of what people say and where we have been and who we have been with - let go of these things that because Jesus has paid the penalty.  These things, whatever they may be in your life - we can't keep hanging onto them thinking that somehow they will save us because they feel oh so easy and so easy to control.

You may never know where God is taking you  - but holding onto God is the only way to see us through the myriad of times. We don't know where all these trials and experiences on life are taking us but we just need to hold on and hang on regardless - trusting in Him to make us more and more in His likeness every day, every minute and every second regardless.

I have prayed many many times - Lord: I don't know about you - my faith is small and my unbelief sometimes overwhelms me but I want to hang on to you because you and you alone are the only one who can see me though. You found me - you hid you - you saved me and you are coming back for me and I know deep in my heart that one day I will live with you in eternity.

You know it's so often in our struggles not in our successes that God will really show us who we. Who we really rely on.

We are going to have a lot of struggles as we go through life - we will never really completely know God and when you think about it we may never really know ourselves. But through it all our inadequecies and our lack of confidences we MUST hang onto God even when it seemingly is so much easier just to let go.

God is not just the God of your victory but the God of your defeats - the God full of grace and truth is the God of your loneliness and insecurity.

If you feel like I did that God couldn't possible make anything of my messed up life - God couldn't use my mistakes and make them holy and usable for Him then think again - my message is God loves you, he can use you - I pray that you just get a glimpse of what God can do for you.

Don't let go of God - Don't even think for a second that He is far to big and holy to be bothered with you - He loves you regardless of what others say about you and how you feel inside about yourself.

God wants you for His own and through  the precious blood of Jesus He has claimed you for the Kingdom if you have given your broken life to Him through that amazing sacrifice that paid the penalty for your sin and mine.

Please don't ever let the world tell you that their way is so much easier - take the narrow way to Jesus - His way is best - His way is sure - His way is so so secure.

God bless you this week as you hang on to Jesus

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Jesus and the doggy bags

Love this amazing story of Jesus and the twelve disciples on the shores of Galilee. We can read all about it in John chapter 6.

Jesus had had a pretty trying day - he had cured a grossly paralysed man at the sheep gate in Jerusalem where this man had been lying around for 38 years for some kind person to help him into the a pool which was called Bethesda in the hope that he would be cured.

Jesus saw the man, had huge pity for him and healed him there and then - pretty awesome, incredible and astounding really, but the thing was it was on a Sabbath - the day of rest and the Pharisees those hierarchical hound dogs for the law were waiting for Him knowing that he would trip up and do something they could 'get him' for.

They 'pounced on Jesus when they saw that He had dared to heal on the Sabbath and interrogated him - Among other things Jesus 'laid it straight to them and told them how it really was, saying:-

"I'm not interested in  crowd approval. And do you know why? because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God's love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the Authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rival and ignoring God?

Well that must have thrown them a curved ball because they sort of didn't know what to say, so Jesus climbed into a boat - more than likely one of the disciples boats, and sailed away across the sea of Galilee.

Exhausted He sat down on a grassy hillside surrounded by His disciples and looked out to see a huge crowd who had followed Him - 5000 men, women and children. He immediately said to Philip "Where can we buy enough bread to feed these people"?

Now, Jesus knew before hand exactly what he was going to do - He said this to Philip to test him - Has Jesus ever done the same to you? - If so how did you react? has a seemingly insurmountable problem floored you to the extent that you want to give up? I know I have and I know Jesus has surprised me over and over again.

What we see as insurmountable to Jesus is really nothing - Can you just imagine what was going through Philip's mind right then? Now that was a huge insurmountable problem - "Jesus expects me to feed all of these people? He must be joking? - His answer to Jesus sort of says it all. "Two hundred silver pieces wouldn't be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece!"

Just then Andrew, Peter's bother came up - obviously hearing the conversation between Jesus and Philip and announces he has found a lad with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Good old Mum must have packed her boy's lunch - Don't you just love caring Mums and dads?

Andrew was sort of aware that Jesus was the saviour - the true God - the Messiah and he sought of knew that Jesus could have worked a miracle and yet he too erred on the side of caution saying to Jesus "But that's just a drop in the bucket compared to all these people!"

Are you a Philip or Andrew when it comes to trusting in Jesus?

Philip, gobsmacked at the enormity of the problem at hand - Andrew sort of trusting that Jesus could do something but not quite sure if He really really can or not. Remember that these two had just witnessed an amazing miracle and heard Jesus rebuking the Pharisees and telling them that He indeed was the Messiah.

Jesus told the disciples to organise the people to sit down on the grass - and be sort of crowd control managers because He knew what was about to happen. He knew that the people needed feeding and he knew that it could quickly get out of hand if not organised.

Jesus knows what we are about too! He knows what makes us tick, our motives, our heartaches, our panic-stricken moments, those times when our fears overcome our faith, when we falter in our trust to him and rush out to do our 'own thing' often only to fall on our faces.

Jesus took the lad's loaves and fishes and broke them up and fed the people orderly and quickly - fed them until they had had enough - they were filled each and every one.

You know our God is an unlimited God - He knows what and when we need it - It's always, always in His time not ours.

After they had all eaten He told His disciples to gather up the left overs - I guess you could call it the very first doggy-bag incident - 12 baskets of food left over - 12 baskets!!

God doesn't do anything half hearted - nothing is wasted with our God.

The people looked at Jesus and said "surely this is the promised Messiah - right here with us in Galilee"

Can people look at our lives today and know who Jesus is? That after all is the very purpose of our lives - to reflect Jesus - to make others aware of His amazing love to us and his miraculous saving power.

Love this chapter so much because it is just jammed full of amazing miracles and true signs of Jesus redemptive power to save.

After the bread and fishes incident, the disciples climbed in a boat and headed for the distant shore but Jesus was left behind because he had slipped off on his own to be by himself for a while. A huge storm blew up and in the middle of the night in a fierce gale He came walking to them on the water and once inside the boat they immediately reached land in the exact spot where they intended to go.

The next day, when the crowds, realised hat Jesus had gone followed Him across the lake. I must admit I love this next bit and the Message Bible puts it so, so well. When Jesus saw right through the crowds He said:-
"You've come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs - and for free."

Jesus knows why we do things why we say things, nothing is hidden from Him. He told the crowds not to waste their time striving for perishable foods but work hard for food that sticks with you and nourishes your lasting life.

Jesus said "I am the Bread of Life" whoever eats of this bread will never hunger again.

Jesus is our bread of life - yours and mine - if we truly partake of Jesus as the TRUE bread who came down to earth to save us then we feed on Him and we have eternal life.

My prayer for all of us this week is that we all feed on the Bread of Life - Jesus. And through this amazing transformation of our lives we will catch a glimpse of the overflowing feast of love that He has in store for us - we can even take the doggy bags home to share with all we meet.

Amazing and awesome is our God - God bless you all this week.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Stay the Course - Keep going no matter what

I've been reading James in the Bible and our church has done a whole series on the book just recently. I have been so convicted about some things and others I have found to be extremely difficult.

To be completely honest the verses I have had trouble coming to terms with are James chapter 1:1-4

Here they are according to THE MESSAGE:-

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."

A Gift? A Sheer gift? I really don't want a "sheer gift" of any type of trial thank you. I am quite happy being me in my world.

Another version says - "Count it pure joy when trials come your way" even the Children's Bible says "You should be very happy, because you know these things are testing your faith."

Amazing, incredible, astounding! So what is James really saying here? That we should be overflowing with happiness when we lose someone very dear to us, or our job, our home is burnt to the ground or our marriage just exploded in front of us?

No not at all! - My mind goes back to the story of Mary and Martha and Lazarus. Mary and Martha implored Jesus to come and heal their bother Lazarus but Jesus stayed longer and didn't go when they directed him to. Lazarus died.

When he did turn up at Bethany and saw just how distraught Mary and Martha were at the loss of Lazarus what did He do? He didn't put on a happy face, No! he wept.

When Jesus faced the cross and all that it meant, He did it with crying and tears, He was sorrowful not joyful. James doesn't mean to imply that we should deny our emotional pain, he doesn't mean to paint on a happy face and deny we are screaming out in pain. So what does he mean?

What James is saying here is to realise that because of your trauma, whatever it is, that your "faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours."  Our faith is truly tested when we have hit the wall, when disaster hits us like a mac truck.

James goes on to say that we shouldn't try to get out of anything prematurely, which I am assuming that means that we can get out of things before they have run their true course.

Looking at it humanly, I can see why people run away. People run from the their marriage, their family, their jobs and their churches when things get out of hand but that is not what James is saying and saying very plainly. DON'T even try to get out prematurely don't even consider it.

That's when the "consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides" comes in.

These often horrible and unexpected challenges can hit us broadside from the most obscure areas and usually at the most inopportune times. Not that I feel there is a good time for any trial to hit us!

When things are going along Ok - when the world is as it should be, when things are all rosy in the garden then there is really no pressure to test our faith. In these times it is easy to have faith and go along with all the usual platitudes and using all the right Christianeze language.

It is only when we are put under pressure that the real test of our faith comes to the fore and our faith-life will be "forced into the open" as James puts it in the Message Bible.

But we don't like who we are under pressure - we would so much prefer to be our own people in our own comfort zone but guess what? We can't pick the amount of pressure we will be under when the tidal waves hit. It's not so much that they hit us but who we will rely on when they do.

Will we be master of our own destiny and rely on ourselves to heal the problem? Will we maybe run away and 'take a break' from the world to make the current disaster disappear?  Or will we use our faith to rely, trust and obey our Master Jesus Christ.

Will we use His example of perseverance under pressure or not? It is our very faith in God that is being  tested here. Another way of looking at it is that we may not even know if our faith is genuine until it stands up and is counted under pressure of trials, cyclones, tsunamis or whatever.

It's so easy to say "I trust God" heaps of people "say" that but really it is not until we are placed under severe pressure that the genuineness of our trust is proven. Afterwards when the tidal wave has passed, which may take years, you will know for sure whether the trueness of your faith is sure or not.

The awesomeness (in the true sense of the word) is manifested so strongly, when James commands us to trust God and rely on His hope and joy, yes JOY, in the middle of extreme trials.

Matthew 16 says "if anyone comes after me let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me."  Deny in this context actually means to be prepared to lay down their very lives for Christ, taking up your cross simply means taking everything the cross means to you and showing that to the world around us no mater what we are gong through personally.

If the cross of Christ means hope, faith and trust to you, then let's turn that cross into a sword and become real warriors for Jesus. When you consider what Jesus did on that cross, how He turned that wooden, terrible yet wonderful cross into a sword and smashed death in one blow, then we can surely use our cross and make it a sword of life, felling disaster and trials.

Monday, 29 February 2016

One step at a time

Ever built a wall - our neighbours built a wall between our properties years ago and just this month it has decided to become our very own "leaning tower" with incredible cracks and 45 degree angles but amazingly is still standing - just goes to show just how well built it must have been,

Good old Nehemiah built a wall too - convicted by God to re-build the walls of Jerusalem after he, along with many who were exiled to Babylon, returned to Jerusalem to re-build the city walls in around 440BC.

They had a pretty tough time of it - with heaps of opposition and lots of drawbacks the walls finally were finished.

Nehemiah was prime leadership material. He risked his life when he first approached King Artaxerxes, the wild and notoriously violent king of Babylon who already had avenged the murder of his father Xerxes by killing the alleged perpetrator Artabanus and his sons.

He was a wild king and usually not known for his compassion and understanding but here we have Nehemiah, the cup-bearer to the king approaching him, after much prayer and fasting, to get permission to return and build the walls of the city.

Nehemiah had a vision that he wouldn't forsake but more importantly he had God's leading and he also had the guts to take that BIG step. So with God and his goal on board he achieved the seemingly impossible.

Re-building the city walls must have seemed like an impossible task at first, but see how the work proceeded and how Nehemiah organised everyone to work on their own part - taking little steps and little bites of the cherry they received their reward.

Everyone did their own job. One chore at a time - one brick at a time - one stone laid upon another's foundation - not looking at how their neighbours were progressing - just concentrating on where they were working and giving their part of the wall their 100% concentration.

When their section of the wall was complete to their satisfaction, each worker was then able to move on to another section where the work was moving slower or was more complicated and so together they were able to complete that section.

And so it moved on and on until the wall was completed. Did they have troubles? Did they have persecution? Oh Yes indeed.

Many of the workers were called upon to act as guards to curtail the advancing snipers and neighbouring armies that were just as determined to stop the wall from being built.

Like Nehemiah and his crew when they first looked at the job at hand we are stunned by the enormity of  making a difference for Christ in this topsy turvy, violent, crazy, cruel and seemingly always fierce world.

But looking at it through the eyes and wisdom of God nothing seems impossible. I reckon we need to approach this huge task the very same way that the wall-builders of Jerusalem approached their seemingly impossible job. One task at a time.

What tasks are you involved with for Christ at the moment? Maybe helping at a youth group, a retirement home or teaching Scripture at school. Do your job at hand as unto God - do it with all your might and power - give it your very very best.

Don't compare yourself to others who look like they are doing the 'lions share' of the work - don't look down on others that seemingly do less than you. Concentrate on the job at hand and do it well for Jesus.

When it is done, then move onto the next task and then the next until a difference is actually made.
When Jesus left earth and went to Heaven to be with His Father He left the handful of His followers with a gigantic task which was building that great soul-winning church.

When they started they must have been overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the job at hand - then like Nehemiah's crew they were persecuted and the persecution was extreme and often very gruesome, yet they built their church piece at a time.

The members were scattered due to the intense persecution, but were they silent? Of course not. They spread the Gospel of the Good News of Jesus across the globe.

Paul wrote in Acts 20:24 "I don't care about my own life. The most important thing is that I finish my work. I want to finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do - to tell people the Good News about God's grace." (ERV)

Notice Paul didn't say "I don't think I will ever finish this job" or "Oh NO! Peter is doing a far better job than I am"  or even " I'm running out of time and so much to do I will have to work faster and smarter". None of those - instead it was  "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" 2 Timothy 4:7 (ERV).

Paul didn't see the end result of his work for Jesus - He was just content to work where he was commanded and go where he was sent.

That is what Christ commands of us just one step at a time - obeying his commands working within His will exactly where he has placed us.

So let's take a lesson from Nehemiah, Pray hard and often and keep your nose to the grindstone. Don't be swayed by what people are saying or doing.

Worry about obeying God just where you are and give everything you have to the project at hand.
Let the Lord take care of the rest.

God bless you this week.