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.











Wednesday, 22 June 2016

When everything seems like it is failing

When life throws us out and makes us feel like everything we have done has been so worthless.
When all around us is failing and we are losing our friends, our confidence and our security.
When we feel like God has abandoned us and we keep asking WHY?
When we feel like we can't go on - not even for another moment.

It's those very moments when we have nothing to rely on; when we come face to face with the big question

What do I really and truly believe?

Where in the name of goodness is God in all of this mess.

Feeling like this is not something new - not for you and certainly not for me.

Life can be so disconcerting it makes my head spin sometimes! Maybe when you have paid so much attention into building a life worthy of what you believe - maybe when you have put so much energy in training your kids and trying with all your might to give them a secure and encouraging future - maybe when you have given your all to your marriage and worked tirelessly to bring about successful and happy union yet it all falls in a heap - suddenly and inexplicably. WHY?

At special times like this we are NOT alone - God is never going to leave you alone NOT ever - so lift your head - break the chains that are holding your down and lean on Jesus.

Satan is trying so hard to destroy that very foundation of your life as you see it right at this moment - the evil one is using that very thing to come between you and God - BUT God may be able to use that very thing to make you and bring you into the place where He can use you even more and bless you even greater.

You may think that God has abandoned you but the good news is that He hasn't and He never will  - Although it is us that could abandon Him!! This is satan's plan all along to drive that wedge deeper and deeper into that little crevice of doubt and ill feeling to eventually try to separate you from the one who loves you the most and will be there for you through thick and thin.

God has never promised us an easy ride - He has never promised that we will be able to have everything our hearts desire and make every dream come true. It is us that places that pressure on our very beings not God.

We don't know the future - we never can - and we never will. Just when we think we are going along OK it is usually then that something tragic may happen that throws us into turmoil and confusion.

Hang onto God no matter what - that's why He has given us the beautiful gift of prayer - where we can pour our hearts out Him - He will refresh us and enable us to lift our hearts and heads to Him.

What an amazing couple of verses are these - let's not despair but give God the glory -  no matter what is thrown at us - or who has abandoned us. Let's worship God and lift our hands in praise to Him. Let's spend quality time with Him alone no matter what we are feeling and what we are going through.

Psalm 143:4-6 "So I am ready to give up; I am in deep despair. I remember the days gone by; I think about all you have done, I bring to mind all your deeds. I lift up my hands to you in prayer; like dry ground my soul is thirsty for you"

God bless you no matter what you are going through this week- remember we are all carrying burdens - the thing is, are we ready to give that burden to Jesus? Are we ready to share it with Him?

Will giving it to Jesus make our burdens disappear? NO! But he has promised to see us through to the very end.

Grab His promises today.



Saturday, 11 June 2016

Suddenly

Suddenly things can change
Suddenly life can throw us a curved ball
Suddenly our life as we know it can be over!

I didn't realise just how suddenly life can end until this very week when our neighbour and friend for 44 long years died so suddenly that really none of us could believe it.

living near this beautiful person was indeed a privilege and over the years we became even much more than neighbours we became good friends and travelling companions. Their house was ours and vice versa which I suppose was a good thing in the end because we were able to access the house when there were no signs of everyday life.

Yes! It has indeed been hard week for all concerned. Us as friends and neighbours and of course the family who are and will be for quite some time shocked beyond belief and suffering the on-going pangs of grief and sadness.

So where does that leave us? Well, it came home to us in a very real way that life is indeed transient. There were photographs of our dear friend taken just hours before they died, enjoying life and friendships completely unaware that their life would be taken in just a couple of hours time.

The death of someone we love and respect is just heartbreaking - each bereavement is set in their own context and emotions. There is the death of losing someone who has suffered for years with a terminal illness and there is, like our dear friend, a sudden and shocking unexpected and early death which immobilises us with sorrow and grief.

Love sort of pins us to wall sometimes - we are stricken with an emotion that we can't really explain when that person we love is suddenly taken from us and we become so vulnerable to sorrow and grief.

So what do we do - and what does God say about our grief, our loneliness and whether we should in fact hold off loving people because of the hurt we may one day feel when that person is ripped away from us?

When our loved ones die we can often beat ourselves up thinking we could have done this or said that and I wish I had only been there maybe I could have helped! But I really feel that God in His love doesn't want anyone to punish themselves over the death of anyone.

The Bible tells us a lot of times about joy and peace that is deep within those of us who have given our lives to Christ. God wants us to repent of our sins and start trusting in Him. Then when life overwhelms us and the waves crash around us then we can tap into the ever embracing arms of our Lord who is always there for us all of the time. He is waiting earnestly for us to call on His name.

Life for the Christian certainly doesn't mean living in a bed of roses or a nice little chocolate box type home. Life for us followers of Jesus is often hard and filled with the normal trials and tribulations of everyone else. The grief we feel is just as real, the hurts, frustrations and emotions are just as strong.

God did not spare His only Son but watched Him die a horrible and excruciating death for us and why? Because His love and mercy and not wanting any of us to perish but to go on living eternally with Him - the very Creator of our universe.

2 Peter 3: 9 says:- 'The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you. not wanting ANYONE to perish but everyone to come to repentance"

God does not want any of us to die not knowing Him and asking him into our lives to lead us. His plan for all of us is to come to a realisation of Him and get to know Him personally. We can accept his offer of forgiveness and love or we can reject Him entirely. The  outcome for us is exactly the same in  regards to death. We are all headed in that same direction. Unfortunately death waits for all of us.

Like our friend and neighbour death can come on us all quite unexpectedly and so suddenly that our friends and family are literally bowled over. The difference of course is that we have to make very sure as to where we are going after death and are we prepared for it to hit us at any time?

How do we do that? By asking Christ into our lives - being one hundred percent committed to Him. making sure that there is absolutely nothing that is gong to prevent you from being able to commit your life to Him. Maybe asking forgiveness for that someone who has been wronged or has wronged you.

Life is short! VERY short. None of us have any idea when our lives could be asked of us. Are you ready? Are you sure? Make it your priority to give your life to Jesus right now.






Saturday, 28 May 2016

The idol of 'ME"

I used to think that I was so rid of idols in my life!

Or so I thought!!!

What is an idol anyway - I have heard it explained that an idol can be anything! In fact an idol can be anything that gets in the way of God and you - that takes precedence in your life - that can be something/someone you just can't live without.

Some idols can be our addictions or our pastimes - they can also be our homes, our jobs, our hobbies even our families.

So where do we go from here? Well personally I have prayed and considered idols in my own life for quite a while now and I figured I had it all pretty much worked out. I realised that my idols can come between God and me and my wonderful God who loves me so much is a jealous God (if I can use that word in all sincerity) and He wants my total life often in all of its wretchedness and wants nothing to come between us.

I read with all honesty Colossians 3 and prayed that God would enable me to put aside all of these things that could come between Him and me.

"So put to death the sinful, earthly things, lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust and shameful desires. don't be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry. God's terrible anger will come upon those who do such things"

I realised that to follow God I would have to put aside all things that came between Him and me so I tried not to be greedy for the so-called 'good' things in life.

So all these things I faithfully tried to out aside and worship Him alone.

It was just recently that I have realised that I have left ONE big idol out of my cleansing and that BIG idol is ME!

"ME" probably the biggest idol of all - talk about not seeing the elephant in the room!!

The idol of "ME" can be so so deceptive. "Me" can creep up on us often without our even knowing it.

"ME" likes to control our own will and whatever else we can grab hold of. I found I liked responsibility and being noticed - I liked to influence others - I liked to be in control of every situation I found myself.

When I look back on my life I can see just a few instances where I have not been in control and master of my destiny - taking responsibility of my choices and decisions.

The moment I came to the ultimate conclusion that having "ME" in my life was a real problem and such a huge idol I am astounded as the patience of God that He never gave up on me.

What is so hard is letting go of control and letting God take it. Handing over the reigns as it were to Him can be so hard and scary because for years that is all I have ever known - "ME" in control of ALL situations that impinge on my life.

It's really scary letting go and learning to live again in Jesus - handing everything over to Him and obeying Him to the utmost degree and learning afresh what it means to actually REALLY live by faith.

I have finally come to the very same conclusion as to what God has been saying to me over all of these years to remove "ME" that wretched idol sitting there brazenly on the throne of life and putting God in His rightful place as Lord of my entire being.

So how do we remove "ME" the idol? Well can I say it is not going to be easy. "ME" will not willingly give up the throne - he may have to be dragged screaming, biting and punching but with God's real help he WILL be removed.

It will get easier, for once we have named and identified "ME" as the BIG idol in our lives then when we do falter God's amazing Holy Spirit will encourage and support us.

"ME" is not hidden any more - I have identified him and know his little tricks to ursurp the rightful King and re-gain his control. God is the ever faithful Warrior and He is there beside us helping us to press on to victory.

So how are you with idols - Have you identified any at all? Who do you give glory to?

Are you like me with a BIG "ME" idol lurking there in the middle of the room yet unseen by you?

We need to be willing to hand everything over to God - even  your own personal "ME"





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.