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.









Saturday, 10 September 2016

Wolves in sheep's clothing

In our Aussie chat through Twitter on a Wednesday night we have been studying "The Sermon on the Mount" and we have all learnt/learning so much - God is speaking in very real and amazing ways to us.

My last blog on 'Worrying' was inspired by Matthew chapter 6 and today's effort comes straight from Matthew 7 from verse 13 where I read from my Living Bible:-

"Heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate! The highway to hell is broad and its gate is wide enough for all the multitudes who choose its easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.
Beware of false teachers who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are wolves and will tear you apart. You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by it fruit. You need never confuse grapevines with thorn bushes or figs with thistles. Different kinds of  fruit trees can quickly be identified by examining their fruit. A variety that produces delicious fruit never produces and inedible kind. And a tree producing an inedible kind can't produce what is good. So the trees having the inedible fruit are chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, the only way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit produced.
Not all who sound religious are really good people. they may refer to me as 'Lord,' but still won't get to heaven. For the decisive question is whether they obey my Father in heaven. At the judgement, many will tell me 'Lord Lord we told others about you and used your name to cast out demons and to do many other great miracles. But I will reply, 'you have never been mine. Go away for your deeds are evil.'

So who are these 'false teachers' that Jesus is talking about here and what is their role/aim in today's church?

Well I'm afraid they can be just about anyone - Jesus tells us that many 'religious' type people are actually false in their teaching and if we don't watch them they will lead us astray and sadly I feel many have been led astray already in this old world of ours.

Jesus also tells us that many of these 'false teachers' will stand out among us due to their "fruits" or what comes out of their mouths or what doesn't - NOW we have to be a tad careful here that we don't start "judging" we have to draw a line where discerning and not judging comes into this analysis.

Discerning what is false is, according to Jesus, obvious - These 'teachers' will tell us exactly what we want to hear and certainly not about God's judgement and what it will mean to the unbeliever. They won't want to get into unpleasant subjects such as these - no way! They would much rather talk about how and why we can relieve pressure form our lives in today's world. Human concern is their catchcry and it seemingly is beautiful and it is, but they deny that working of Christ in people's lives and the leading of God's Holy Spirit. Even denying entirely the sacrifice of Jesus on that terrible yet beautiful day over 2000 years ago.

These people are usually prideful with a life totally consumed by themselves. Denying the very authority of God that they spruke of so widely and vehemently that they delight in. 2 Peter 2:10 says (again in my Living Bible)

"He (God) is especially hard on those who follow their own evil, lustful thoughts, and those who are proud and willful, daring even to scoff at the Glorious Ones without so much as trembling"

Luke 6:39 says that "A blind man cannot lead another blind man can he? They will both end up falling into a pit"

That's exactly how it is when false teachers invade our homes, churches even our workplaces - they deceive us and then both of us will end up in hell for eternity! Their whole aim is to lead us happily traipsing along behind them singing as we go to the very beautiful and wide gate which ultimately leads to destruction - just like Jesus said.

So how are you feeling about your own Christian walk with Jesus? If you are truly following Jesus as one of his own, are you trusting Him daily?
Have you got evidence of the Holy Spirit living inside of you as Jesus promised you would have on accepting Him? (see Galations 5: 22-23)
Has your very nature changed? Jesus said we would be 'new' creatures upon accepting Him - Can others see a change in you?
Do you love others as Jesus has loved you? Now that's a biggie  - Jesus said by their love you will know them (John 13:35)
Are you being obedient to Jesus? Do you feel like you are becoming more like Him in every way.

These are 'signposts' if you like, pointing you to God the Father and knowing that you are secure in His love, mercy, grace and forgiveness.

So how should we react to others who are masquerading as sheep but are actually wolves prowling around seeing you they can deceive?

"Live and let live" is a popular cultural philosophy. If someone believes in something that you disagree with, the socially acceptable thing to say is  "whatever works for you is okay with me."

But that's not an option where God's truth is concerned. If you hear someone misrepresenting Christianity or the Bible, you are scripturally bound to speak up. God expects His redeemed people to be just as zealous as he is in defending His truth.

We mustn't let our lack of theology hold us back . It takes courage and boldness to be a follower of Jesus and sometimes we need both to confront a false teacher or a misdirected believer.

I pray this week that we will ask the Holy Spirit to guide our words and help others to understand God's truths.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Worrying

Corrie ten Boom wrote the following in her "Clippings from my Notebook". A journal she kept.
Corrie and her sister were imprisoned by the Nazi's for hiding Jewish people from the inevitable slaughter in World War 11.

"Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength - carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of ts strength."

Pretty simple but powerful words especially when put into the light of today's world with everything going haywire and topsy turvy.

Jesus, too, was pretty emphatic when He talked about WORRY in the Sermon on the Mount recorded for us in Matthew 6: 28-34. In our Australian Bible study on twitter on a Wednesday night we have been slowly going through the whole of Jesus' teaching on these passages and the whole 'sermon on the mount' is just so relevant to today.

What is worry anyway? Well before we go into that just lets say that worry is an exercise in futility - it achieves nothing, zero, nada! Worry refers to the negatives in life - it is images of what 'could be' and dwells on the emotions like nothing else can. Worry drives people to suicide, marriage breakups and the ruination of family and friends.

As we have progressed through our Aussie study we have looked at what Jesus actually says about worry and how he warns us of the sheer futility of it.

Jesus says in Mathew 6:25 that worry is wrong - He tells us not to worry about things here on earth - and not to be worry about our life and how we will survive not to worry about our clothes or our food because He has promised to meet our basic material needs.

That's fine I hear you say but you have no idea what we are going through at the moment or what lies ahead of any of us. I truly appreciate what you are saying and just let me add this. Not so long when our Granddaughter was born we noticed she had a very slight turn in her eye - as it turned out the slight turn in her eye was far more serious than any of us first thought. Since then we have discovered that she is almost blind in that eye and has numerous operations to remove tumours growing behind her eye and down through the nasal passage.

Were we worried?  Through this time we threw ourselves into the arms of our lord - and just let me say this - WORRY DOESN'T MEAN NOT TO BE CONCERNED! Of course we were concerned and we continue to be concerned as the outcome is certainly not cut and dried and it won't be for many many years to come.

But does worry help at all in a situation like this? - No definitely not - all the worry we do doesn't help one iota in the outcome of such uncertainty. There is a difference in concern and worry.

Concern drives us to prayer, and helping as much as we can - thinking outside of the box and being creative in ways to help carry the burdens - Worry on the other hand drives us to hand-wringing and heart wrenching - isolation and despair with no possible good outcome. If we let worry run it's course it will cause anxiety and eventually depression.

Worry is involved solely in the ME while concern is involved in the WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

Worry is actually a sin - it's because we have stopped focusing on God as ruler of our lives and throned ourselves there instead - We have become the MOST important person. - Worry is all about ME.

Worry has no end - its is a continuum - it is everlasting - we can't actually analyse worry - there is no answer - no final end - its like a big fat blanket thrown over our heads so that we can't escape  - so different to concern.

So here is the thing - if you are a worrier.  Each day is a gift, a real gift from God. In Matthew 6 Jesus says
1) Don't worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself.
2) Each day has enough trouble of it's own.
Pretty astounding words really.

If we worry and stew about tomorrow - where will it end? We have endless tomorrows - Jesus is saying here each day brings it's own set of crisis and if we start to think about tomorrow's crisis and the next day and the next day it will only add burden after burden to today.

Take each day as real gift from God and care for today's problems today - care about tomorrow's problems then not now. Leave tomorrow where it is - Tomorrow! God has promised to see us through and he will.

Sure, there are going to be horrible things happen: I remember so well when SueAnn was diagnosed with cancer - would have been so easy to have thrown in the towel - curl up in foetal position and 'will' the world away - becoming depressed and isolated in our own little world of sorrow. Would all the worrying in the world have helped us through this crisis? Definitely NO!

Of course we were concerned and we fell to our knees amid tears and heartbreak - but not worry! Concern and REAL concern was our cry - regardless of the outcome we had to pass through it and not make it a lifestyle.

So where are you on the 'worry scale'? Don't let worry define your life - God and he alone gives you the strength you need when you need it. He will give us all the strength we need to face each day - Live as God ordained each day - one after the other. let's not bound ahead, who knows what is just around the corner.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Denying what is Plainly Evident

Going through our bookshelves this week I came across the Family Bible and once again sat intrigued by the history of it all - the underlined passages by people long gone the little notes in the margins as 'prompts' for us to consider, grow and learn.

I was amazed as I turned the fragile pages just how loved this old weather-worn book has been over all these years. As my tears spilled onto the old pages I was taken back again to my childhood and the lessons learned from my Mum who has since gone to meet Her Lord on the 14th June, 2000.

She was an amazing and wonderful lady - full to the brim with grace, love and mercy - Her undying love for Jesus was and will continue to be a signpost and a lighthouse hopefully to my family and certainly to both Sue and me.

As I continued to turn the frail yet poignant pages to my surprise out fell two sheets of yellowing pages - one a poem written by my Dad in his old age - His spidery and shaky hand writing worsened by a series of strokes yet still able to delineate his words to get the full impact of what he was trying to say.

He had written a poem to his three Daughters-In-law and drew a comparison between them and Ruth of Old testament fame - His words were so moving and so so true. I was gobsmacked by their simplicity, their truthfulness and their sheer honesty.

The other sheet was written by my Mum - and as I sat there - her words rang so true to me that I could barely speak - Her tenacity in never letting go of God, no matter what, always made me tremble - her faith never wavered and she always spoke the truth. Never worrying what people would say or think.

Here is what she wrote just before her death and speaks volumes of the way she saw her Lord and how she felt about creation bursting all around her.

She entitles it from Psalm 14 verse 1

The fool has said in his heart there is no God! 

By Hilda May Mewett.

"All space is thronged with the witnesses that speak His holy name - All beauty in it's myriad forms - the stars and worlds that flame - that stream in ordered courses through illimitable space - the ant, the bee, the butterfly, the fine spun spangled face of spring, the harvest time; the miracle of birth; the instinct of the birds assembling ready to migrate.

How should they know the time, the place - the date?

Blind worms that work their purposes with tireless energy; the strength of roots - the surge of sap - and life beneath the sea!

And in the midst of all these things; a little foolish man stands up and cries "there is no God!"

What matter? For the plan of life goes on, in spite of fools - the seasons come and go - the trees put forth their leaves in spring - birds sing and flowers grow" 



In just these few paragraphs my Mum captured something that has a profound truth that nobody can deny - the truth that only God can create - only He could knit everything together in such a complex, amazing and incomparable way.

My Mum's thoughts resonated deeply within me - Why, the very existence of the universe screams to us that there MUST be a Creator God. The very design of the animals and birds, insects and mankind proves beyond any measure that the Creator God - just has to be a 'designer' God as well!

What does amaze me more and more as I get older is that this very God is a relational God - A God who wants to have a REAL and PERSONAL relationship with you and me - astounding and true!

Psalm 14: 1 points out dramatically that a person who denies the very existence of God is a fool - a very harsh word indeed but then what else would you call someone who goes out of their way to deny what is so very obvious from the very depths of the deep to the tiniest tiniest microbe, all there to prove that God is real and alive.

When you let your mind just stop and try to capture the enormity of it all is the very picture Hilda May was trying desperately to capture in her pointed words and practical solutions.  To believe in this amazing and real God of hers who had obviously changed her life so dramatically.

In Psalms 19:1 it says "The very heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork"

In Romans 1 Paul bursts forth with " For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made - SO THEY HAVE NO EXCUSE!"

God's existence is all around us screaming out to us that the God of the universe is our God too.

My Mum's amazing testimony about the very existence of God came home to me once again that our God, the Creator God is alive and still wanting to create! He wants to create a new life for you and me - a life filled with His spirit - A life of deep-down peace and joy - of forgiveness for others no matter what they have done to you or said about you.

Turn to Jesus today - Truly God and truly man - Accept His offer of forgiveness and start to live the life that He planned out for you originally.

My Mum's faith was amazing - so simple yet so true - The very same faith we can have by turning to Jesus today.














Friday, 5 August 2016

A new look at STRUGGLES

I hate struggling - I just wish life would go along so smoothly and that everything just fell into line like it should and there was no real problems to face - no one being hurt - no family breakups - no money worries - no job losses.

Often it seems to me that we lurch from one crisis to another in this world and we no sooner solve or seemingly solve one problem that another one looms on the horizon only to knock us down once again - so I hate struggles.

I hate it when my children and grandchildren are heartbroken over something that overwhelms them - I hate that we can't solve all the problems that come our way and I hate that I can't make our problems disappear entirely for everyone.

Struggles!! They overwhelm us so often that we can so easily give up the struggle. - We feel our life is just not worth carrying on, that our life really is just worthless

Often struggles are due to people. People who oppose our ideas. People who put us down, who dislike what we stand for and try all sorts of different ways to control or manipulate us.

Our very own negative emotions can dictate to us how we struggle with life and what the outcome can be in our walk here on earth.

If we give into these negative emotions and let them consume us and tell us that we are indeed worthless then we will eventually believe them and start to react accordingly. We give up on our struggles and let them destroy our families and our well being

In Philippians 1 Paul tells of his struggles and says that we mustn't be worried or afraid of any opponents that cause us to struggle because in the end it is they who will be destroyed not us.

It's a pretty comforting chapter really because it doesn't matter who or what opposes you and causes you to struggle it is actually a sign to them that they will be destroyed BUT you will be saved.

WOW!! So we shouldn't be intimidated by our struggles, or by those people or things that cause our struggles. Why? because it is a very BIG sign that you will indeed be saved through your very struggles.

Satan tries so hard to bring us down though our struggles. Our struggles which we take as so very hard and are eventually going to destroy us is actually a good thing because through them we know for sure that we will be delivered.

The struggles we thought were going to destroy us will eventually deliver us. If Satan was going to destroy us through our struggles he would have succeeded by now BUT NO! we are still here. Yes we may be struggling and Yes we may be wondering and doubting but Satan has no control over us not even through our struggles.

We need to move forward with God through our struggles no matter what they are.  Remembering that our struggles are sign that we are indeed fighting against a real power, an evil power in this world and through our struggles we gain our fitness to move forward with Jesus.

Through our struggles God will lead us to a greater level of faith and through that faith to an amazing hope a hope that brings us to the very feet of Jesus to claim victory over of the very struggles that are pulling us down at this moment.

So where are you with your struggles? Are they pulling you down and ready to destroy you. Or are you rejoicing in your struggles realising that they are a sure sign that you are fighting the good fight, prepared and ready for the battle?

God is preparing a great victory for us if we can fight to the end. The enemy is defeated! If he hadn't been then we would surely have fallen by this time but NO we are still here fighting on in the name of the one who saved us.

Let's take heart in our struggles and recognise them for what they are,  a sign that we are indeed in the great battle of the King.





Saturday, 23 July 2016

follow your convictions

Feel like a failure?  Ashamed to follow Christ?

The accuser is Satan - he is the one who not only tempts us but he accusers us night and day.

Praise God for the Holy Spirit - the advocate who is like the defender of a court case who takes the defence for us.

The Prosecutor Satan keeps bringing up your shame and drags it in front of you constantly accusing you and letting you know just how deep is your sin.

When we first come to Christ we realise through the working of the amazing Holy Spirit that we are indeed sinners in need of repentance and when we come acknowledging our sin, then He washes us clean through His sacrifice on Calvary.

That is our GUILT is washed away - God sees us a righteous because when He looks at us He sees what Jesus did to make us that way.

But SHAME is entirely different. SHAME is reliving our past - going back to it time and time again and if we keep doing this then we can pull apart our very faith that brought us to Jesus in the first place.

Many people have forgone the delight in Jesus to live a life of burdens and shame, unable to forgive themselves and thinking that they are 'just too bad' to be saved  at all. It's such a tragedy and so so wrong. God's amazing gift of salvation is free and holy and Satan wants to drag our faces in the dirt and mud of this world. He would do and does anything to distract us from the truth that God loves us with an all-consuming love.

Satan loves to do this, He loves to get our mind off the sin itself, which is freely forgiven if we repent, and keep our minds dwelling on ourselves and the shame. The longer we allow ourselves to wallow in our (forgiven) sin then the quicker we are to turn that (forgiven) sin into shame. And shame is what drives a wedge between us and God - jeopardising and endangering our faith.

If we dwell constantly on our shame we will eventually believe Satan's lie that we are failures and have travelled the sin path far too long to be saved. This is completely the exact opposite of what God intended for us when we accepted His free gift of salvation and repented of our sin in the first place.

God on the other hand will convict you of your sin. If you let Him deal with it then He will forgive you - if you let your sin shame you then your faith will suffer and you will wander away from the very one who gave His life to save you.

Conviction is the greatest gift that God can give you - its the time when he singles you out and sets your thoughts, aims and eventually your will.

Conviction is when God speaks to you. It's that very special time when you and God are in close contact. Satan has a very good reason to make us 'drop the ball' of our faith. He wants us to lose our confidence in coming to God in prayer and trust.

Jesus died so that we can do just that - He died so that we can boldly come to God - so that we can confidently know that God loves us regardless of what we have done or where we have been in our past lives.

If we trust God He will guide us through His Spirit on how to overcome our struggles. How?  By ceasing to focus on our pasts because what has been forgiven by God has been forgotten. We have been spun a HUGE lie by Satan that our past is still attached to us. Focus instead on the wondrous and incredible solution to the our sin crisis. JESUS!

Discover the strength that God can give us. Don't let Satan  try to convince us that we are defined by what we did or when we fell in our past which is actually shame - Guilt doesn't make us what we are but shame can make us believe that what we did is what we are,

You are not defined by your struggles - its in your struggles that God speaks to us. We can grow through struggles - God can make us free and when He frees us we are free indeed. Take heart and let's build on our past not wallow in it.

Friday, 1 July 2016

It's all in the Game

Facing opposition? Facing temptations right at this moment?  Feeling frustrated because you have fallen yet again? Aggravated with yourself because you have once again let God down?

You know Jesus has been there before you - He has struggled with opposition and He faced temptations just like you and me - Only difference is that He never gave into His temptations. We do and we do it ad nauseum over and over again.

Jesus understands where we are coming from - only He understands our frustration and aggravation when we fall. When we face opposition and everything seems to build up and overflow in our lives well guess what? The outcome is assured! It doesn't matter who or what is opposing us because we already know the outcome.

When we are in the middle of some acute attack on us it is so hard to realise that the end has already been written - again the outcome is assured if you have given your life to Christ.

When we are struggling with problems a lot of the time our very struggles are brought on by our insecurities and a lot of our insecurities are brought on by our desire to be 'liked' by the world. Our internal insecurities!

Through our life there are going to be tears. We are never promised an easy ride through life - we are going to be let down by others often by the people we love the most  - we are going to come up against huge opposition - BUT the outcome of it all is already written.

Paul writes in Philippians 1:28-30 says
"Without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved - and that by God. For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me."

So if you are struggling with whatever in your life please be assured that this is a good sign that God isn't finished with you yet. Struggling is all part of the life we have been given here - it's all in the game of life - a game that will give us joy and certainly pain.

So why do we have to go through so much pain and fall so many times in temptation knowing it is wrong and so hurtful to God? Well because it gives ground to relate to others so well. An empathy that can bring others to Christ.

Remember you aren't the only one in this 'game of life' who struggles with all sorts of sin and strife - Jesus struggled, Paul struggled and and through the examples of their struggles we can relate to our own. Jesus said "when the world hates you - well they hate me too." We can share in His struggles because He has shown us how.

Following Jesus makes us stronger - we may not think so because we still seem to fall for the same things over and over again - our vulnerability to sin always seems to be here with us. yet we are getting stronger in Jesus. How about this for a thought; that God allows us to struggle with opposition, struggle with continuing sin, struggle with our motivations and insecurities our doubts and depressions because all the while He is making us stronger in Him.

Is the game of life getting you down - grinding you into the ground - are you facing huge obstacles in the game? Are you just about to give up and hand it back?  Do your struggles seem insurmountable? Are you feeling defeated and alone? God has promised we are not alone - none of us. He has strength for the weary and deep down peace and joy for the faithful.

We ALL struggle with varying things - be it doubt, temper, insecurities etc etc. The great news is God's strength is available to all BUT you have to receive it. If you haven't done it already, ask him into your life right now, ask Him to take control and surrender all to Him.

His strength can you see you through the saddest and darkest of times. Jesus Himself went through probably THE most darkest of times when He took your sins and mine and dragged then up that dark hill and died horribly on the terrible/wonderful day at Calvary. So He knows what you are going through. He knows our struggles and our doubts.

Give them to Jesus; claim His promise and His strength to get you through.