Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Demolition Day

Time is up now is the time - right now - no more delays - demolition day is upon us!!

Right now is the very time God is demanding our utmost devotion. Heart and soul - in all respects - in toto - utterly and totally.

Jesus didn't die for lukewarm devotion - He didn't die to share His life with anything or anyone else!

What idols have you got lurking there - This had me thinking really hard and I know God wants to change all of us bumping us out of our lethargy and making us His Warriors and new creations in Him.

This is a new day - a new time - the old has indeed passed away and the new has come in Jesus - we need to know for sure that there are no idols not even ME in there anywhere - we need to live our lives wholly and solely for Him.

When we think of idols we can't help thinking about wood and stone images set up and people falling down and worshipping them - sort of the like the golden calf in the wilderness all those years ago.

There was a god of the Philistines mentioned in the Bible - Dagon was it's name - fierce looking thing - a fertility god I think it was - huge beast of thing.

The Israelites had been defeated by the Philistines and they had captured the Ark of the Covenant (God's very presence) and had lain the Ark in the temple of Dagon - I guess it was like a trophy for these poor deceived people.

The next day the huge idol was found lying prostrate before the Ark - so the dutiful people hauled it back up again and there it stayed throughout the day BUT the next day it was once more lying prostrate before the Ark. This time however, it's head and hands were severed lying on the podium in front of the Ark.

Then of course there is the amazing and gobsmacking story of Elisha and the prophets of Baal and their contest on Mount Carmel - such a dramatic example of the power of God and His intolerance of anything or anyone that comes before Him.

Of course idolatry extends to far more than the worship and of stone and wooden idols - our very lives can be idols that we place in front of God.

We are living in uncertain times and more and more I am aware of how fragile life can be and I want to live for Jesus - he is far more than words on page or some history book written and studied - he is far more than just a story and because he is who he is - he deserves far more than lip service from us who call ourselves Christians.

God needs to be EVERYTHING to us - far more than our dollars -  far more than our families - far more than anything that we put in front of Him.

Idolatry lives inside of us - in our heart region - our very souls need to be controlled by the only ONE who can change us. Our Hearts need to be where God  is - We need to be singing from the same page as Him - He needs to change us radically and permanently - to rid us of any and all idols that lurk in our lives.

Idolatry ultimately leads to rebellion against God and he will not ever tolerate it - we can't be serving our own aims and goals and still be called his servants.

Surrender control to God - Now is the day to say Yes to Him - He needs to control everything.

So today is "Demolition Day" - the day we demolish anything and everything that comes up before Him that isn't dedicated and sacrificed to Him.

Let's look deep inside our hearts and souls and give to God complete and utter control handing everything over to Him - no idols of any sort.

What is honestly controlling your life right at this moment? maybe unforgiveness, maybe jealousy, maybe self-centredness, maybe pride, maybe money, maybe family, maybe job security - the list continues.

The Bible screams out to us of the sin of Idolatry and that God and He alone is the only one worthy of our worship. Idolatry robs God of what is rightfully His - His place in our lives - He will not tolerate second place.

My prayer for us all this week is that God will show us through His grace and mercy just where our idols lie and will give us the boldness, strength and courage to demolish them entirely and permanently from His throne.

God bless you as you embrace Demolition Day in your Life - and may His peace and joy reign in your life as you live for Him.




Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Trembling Hands

Ever been so nervous and anxious that you can hardly stand?

The sweaty palms, the unsteady legs, the trembling hands, the light headedness just to name a few of the symptoms.

Yes!  nervousness and anxiety can be a real problem. Especially if you are concerned and worried about things that are really not in your control

Fear of going to Hell for example can be a prime subject to get even the most sincere Christians feeling a bit woozy!

Some people turn to God out of a fear of going to hell - In my view that is a distorted view of faith - Fear is NOT faith! In fact I heard once the fear is faith in reverse. Fear and faith are opposing forces.

As Christians we should have a holy fear of God without being frightened of God. If we are frightened in our walk with Him, it makes me wonder what are we actually afraid of? The answer to that is generally Hell - Some can be very frightened of Hell and it consequences.

Walking in fear with God instead of in Faith with Him is actually believing in something other than God and that something is more than likely a fear of going to hell.

People walking in fear of going to hell and trying their utmost to live Godly and/or holy lives are actually trying to earn their own salvation and not really trusting in God at all. Fear can lead us into a dark place and as we know God is not the author of darkness but the King of light.

Timothy 1:7 says "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind".  Fear doesn't sound like God to me at all - Fear reduces our faith in God making us focus on the situation and keeping our eyes off Jesus altogether.

Satan is the author of fear - He loves to hit us where we are most vulnerable and if our fear of hell is where our weakness lies then that is exactly where he will aim his artillery.  The devil will lie to us and his lies are focussed on telling us that we need to act on our own because we can't trust God to be there - or is God really there?

So come to Christ because of your faith not because of your nervousness about going to hell when you die. Yes! there is a hell that's for sure, but we need not worry about it ever, if you have faith and love for Jesus.

Faith as a little child has faith in their Mum and/or Dad. A child-like faith, no matter how small or weak. Actually weak faith is the very time that God can use us - in our weakness then we are strong because in our weakness we rely on Him and Him alone.

Having fear instead of faith is like looking and walking into a huge tunnel that only goes deeper and deeper into the darkness - faith on the other hand tells us we are going in the wrong direction - turn around and see the light - you have been looking and walking in the wrong direction. You won't see the light while you are focussed and concerned and worried about stumbling along in the dark.

Living in fear of going to hell makes us rely solely on our ability to be 'holy' or to gain God's approval by the amount of times we can withstand temptation, Or mount up 'brownie points' by helping others and knocking ourselves out working for the church.

Faith tells us the exact opposite - there is absolutely nothing we can do to make God love us more than He does already - there are no amount of good works that will gain us entry to heaven - no amount of 'holiness' on our part will open the gate to God's glory.

All that is required of us is simple trust in the God who saved us through the sacrifice of Jesus and then live according to Ephesians 5: 8-16 - Grab a new version or a plain English version e.g. The Message - tells us plainly and simply.

So if you came to Christ mainly based on your fear of ending in Hell then you are more than likely trying to earn a way in with Christ - there is absolutely no way you will be able to 'earn' your way into Heaven.

Let's put that notion to bed once and for all - Put aside your fear of hell and it's consequences, come to God and repent asking Him to 'help your unbelief/doubts.

In Mark 9 we have the story of the young dad bringing his mute son to Jesus - (I just love how The Message Bible puts it) - the young dad said to Jesus

"If you can do anything, do it. have a heart and help us!"
Jesus said "If? There are no "Ifs' among believers. Anything can happen."
No sooner were the words out of his mouth that the father cried. "then I believe. help me with my doubts!"

Sort of says it all doesn't it!

So what can we take away today - Fear is not faith! and faith is not fear!

Jesus died an agonizing death why? to pay for all of your sins - the past, the present and future.

Trust in Him as He trusted in His Father to always do what it right and good.

No amount of things and/or work will get us into heaven. It is only through faith that we will gain access to God.

I trust you will be blessed as you pray the prayer that young Dad prayed all those years ago. "Father, I do believe, please help my unbelief and doubts"

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Mind the Gap

Ever stopped to consider just how many 'warnings' there are that surround us every day?

There are hundreds of different warning signs - you just have to walk down a main street to spy just a few - from pedestrian crossing signs to watching our health and safety - they are everywhere.

When visiting overseas, you have probably been warned hundreds of times when getting on and off trains to "mind the gap" - why it's even plastered on tee shirts!

We are warned to take life easier or risk a heart attack, then we are warned to get more exercise or risk the same. We are warned to work smarter not harder or risk getting overrun by a more cost efficient company.

We are warned when we lose too much time from work that we can't keep doing this - "Take this as your final warning!!" We are warned not to eat too much fatty foods and watch our calories.

We are warned not to venture to close to the edge or warned that there is a hazard on the road and 'keep clear'. And so the list continues. Heaps of 'warnings' often for our own benefit.

The Bible is also chock full of warnings. Beware of falling away from serving God - Jesus said "Count the cost" Luke 9:62 and so we should! Beware of forgetting God,  Deut 8:11, Beware of hypocrisy, Mark 12:38. And again the list goes on - many many warnings and 'bewares' listed for us and also many examples throughout the Word of God.

There is one major warning that stands out in the Bible and one we should all heed to our peril. As sure as there is a heaven there is a hell and we should all sit up and take notice to the warnings given.

Please don't be mislead here - heaven isn't for 'good' people, kind, loving and giving and hell isn't for 'bad' people who aren't  kind, loving and giving. That is such a wrong message!!  The Bible clearly teaches that there are none righteous no not one! that includes you and me - no one - none - nada!!

A lot of people just can't bring themselves to believe in hell.

"It's so easy to believe heaven but I don't believe God could create a hell" I was told just recently after I had completed an on-line Bible chat. "How could a so-called perfect God create a  place like hell?"

Well, I reckon a loving God had to create a place like hell - Why? Because if 'everyone' went to Heaven when they died, many would be forced to worship a God they didn't believe in, serve or worship while on earth. Then Heaven wouldn't be Heaven. there would be no point.

Satan rebelled against God and so do we when we totally ignore Him, doing our own thing, having no regard for what Jesus did for us and rejecting the Gospel entirely.

Believe me when I say that the day is coming when we will answer to God for what we've done. God loves us so much He doesn't want any of us to perish or slip away from Him - He loves YOU and because He loves you so much He wants you to repent of your sins, confessing them to Him.

There is absolutely no salvation from Hell without repentance and forgiveness.

So here we have this HUGE warning from God -  to avoid Hell - Repent of your sins, ask forgiveness, turn around and follow Christ.

Good works alone will never gain us a place there.

So please do MIND THE GAP! - It's a perilous place to be. Make sure you surrender ALL to God.

God bless you this week as you consider again complete surrender to Christ.







Saturday, 23 May 2015

Make my life a prayer


Ever been in a situation where you  feel your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling - no-one is there - you feel nothing and all is silent?

I have - and it's very disconcerting to say the very least.

Many leaders in our churches and well meaning friends take a leaf out of Job's friends and point out to you that God has sent this silence. God is really pointing out that maybe you have sinned and turned away from Him and now it's really up to you to fix the problem.

Some may tell us that we get no answers to our prayers because we are simply overwhelmed with guilt and it's fairly and squarely our own fault. We are afraid and self centred and have no real faith in God.

Then others may say it's because of our deliberate and continual sin that's stopping communication with God.

When we look at Job's three friends we can see those very points leaping out at us and basically what they were saying can be correct, sin is wrong very wrong and nothing will ever change that.

If we continually sin and feel nothing, never asking forgiveness, never repenting just expecting God to automatically forgive us, then we are doomed never to feel the gentle touch of the Lord or experience the confidence He gives us of being one day eternally with Him.

So it feels like God's not listening when we pray and we seem to be getting nowhere?

It's so easy to say God isn't listening to our prayers because we are disobedient; it's so easy to say rid ourselves of guilt and keep asking God for forgiveness, over and over again.

It's so easy to accept that I must have sinned so badly that God has cut me off from His blessings - I must repent and keep on doing so.

I feel the answer to our problems is not so much as we have sinned and have to go looking for that illusive problem from way back when,

It's not so much as we are consumed with our guilt and therefore separate from God, It's simply in the word "feel" - think about for a moment.

The question I had to ask myself was - How do I expect God to answer my prayers?

Do I expect God to answer me in a set way? Should I 'feel' something when I pray? If so what should I 'feel'? If we expect God to answer us with feelings then often we will be mightily disappointed.

Of course God can do anything, but praying to Him just to feel good or to get some sort of warm and fuzzy, then it's no wonder he doesn't 'seem' to answer.

Of course God answers our prayers - thing is are we listening? I feel God mainly answers us through His word. Read it and draw closer to Him - feel the words as you read ask Him to reveal Himself through them.

God doesn't turn His ears off and turn away from us - it is more like we are not listening properly when He does answer us.

My suggestion: (and only what I have learnt myself) Get familiar with His Word and He will speak to you through it.

Another problem of seemingly unanswered prayer is giving up on God - our prayers for deliverance of some problem, family, illness, you name it, often never sees results. So we give up.

My mind goes back to Paul. He prayed and prayed that he would be delivered of a problem that was obviously holding him up in his ministry.

Paul was given the answer 'My grace is sufficient for you'. In other words what I have done for you is enough for now.

Often we don't ever find out what the long-term answer will be - we need to accept that God's grace is indeed sufficient for us and learn to trust Him with the solution.

So instead of questioning God, giving up on Him or feeling our prayers are just going nowhere, let's get closer to Him by reading his word, asking Him to reveal Himself there. Let's grab hold of the promise that indeed His Grace is sufficient and that His will for us is perfect.

As we go about this week, let's pray that His will be done in our lives. let's be aware of Him in every situation we find ourselves, knowing that He hears our prayers regardless of how we are 'feeling'.

Let's dedicate our very lives to Him and ask Him to make them a prayer for Him so that everything we do, say and think brings Him honour.

God bless you as you step out with God this week. My prayer for you is that you experience His closeness regardless of your feelings, doubts or insecurities.  








Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Believing the Lie

Its so easy to tell a lie - white or black depending on which school you went to I surmise.

God of course doesn't tolerate lies of any sort - deception included - we can so easily fall into the trap of deceiving our friends and loved ones, letting them believe this or that when in actuality we are a completely different person on the inside to maybe what we have shown them  on the outside.

So lies and deception, in my opinion, go hand in hand and as such is certainly not tolerated by our God and King.

All lies including deception need to be forgiven by Christ, then only through His amazing grace and the work of His Holy Spirit can we ever even HOPE to live and love as a true Christian, pleasing to God and obeying His commands.

Satan of course is the Father of lies - he loves to deceive and condemn us constantly and in perpetuum.

The thing is, we can fall for his lies over and over if we don't keep on by faith basking and washing ourselves in the promises of God.

God is a loving and caring God. 1 John 3:1 "How great is the love the Father has LAVISHED on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

Notice the word LAVISHED - how awesome is that word! - Not a little bit not even a copious amount but God has LAVISHED His love to and on us.

His amazing love goes from everlasting to everlasting - why else would He have sent Jesus to die for us?  Why not let us die in our sins hopeless, useless and worthless?

Yet, God loved us SO much that He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins. The only one good enough, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God - taking away the sins of the whole world.

We know this!- the Father's love is boundless and free, yet so many of us believe the myth and the lie of Satan that we are simply not good enough for God!

If you are anything like me, sin comes so easily and so often. All it takes is the Tempters quiet little voice whispering sweet lies and deception in our ears for us to fall and if we do it often and repeatedly we will eventually believe his lies that we cannot be a Christian because of all this continual sin.

Jesus didn't die and the Father doesn't LAVISH His love on us for nothing! He didn't do all of that just to maybe give us a six million to one shot of 'squeezing' into Heaven.

He also knows that we are so so weak and that we can fail so often. That's exactly why His forgiveness is eternal and daily. We are weak and can hardly stand without Him yet we can be strong and steadfast but only by standing on His promises.

I wrote a blog recently titled "Deliberate Sin - Forgiven or Not?"  Here is the link.
http://itsbygracealone.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/deliberate-sin-forgiven-or-not.html
In it I have described my thoughts on sinning deliberately. Read it if you will.

I truly believe that Jesus died for ALL sin - those in our past, our present and future. BUT if we can deliberately sin and feel no remorse, or repentance, not asking for forgiveness, then I also believe that we have condemned ourselves and there really is no way back for us.

So here we have an amazing, loving God, LAVISHING His love on us. His is an intimate love, a sacrificial love that blows out of the water Satan's lie of "I'm not good enough for God".

God loves us no matter what we have done, who we have been with or whatever sins we have committed in our past, our present or in our future.

Thing is - we need to come to Christ, openly and honestly. He is not a Law Enforcement Officer wielding a big stick, forcing us to capitulate. He is loving, He is gracious and yes! He is also just.

So again I would reiterate that Satan is indeed the Father of lies and deception, he loves to throw our past at us, he loves to accuse us and tell us that we are no way worthy of a loving, holy and just Father. When we stumble and fall, which we all do, he loves to throw us the line "there you go again - How can God love you?"

So please take heart, we, none of us are perfect and we won't be until that mighty day when Jesus comes again to take us to His perfect home.

Don't "believe the Lie" - there is nothing that bad that we can't bring to Christ - absolutely nothing.

God bless you this week as you come to terms with the unfailing and on-going love of God.

My prayer for you is that you bring your sins, failings and foibles to God, lay them all unwavering at His feet, trust in Him to forgive and forget them covered eternally by the saving blood of Jesus..

























Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Downwardly mobile

Well: we all know about "Upwardly Mobile" - the definition of which the English Dictionary describes as "(of a person or social group) moving or aspiring to move to higher social class or to a position of increased status or power."

WOW!! so to be "Upwardly Mobile" we need to move up through the social classes to become richer and more powerful - exactly what the world out there loves to teach us so so often.

With a background in Human Resources, I have seen "Upwardly Mobile" in action - it never ceases to amaze and astound me. It's all in the way you present yourself, your social background, who you 'mix' with and of course your inextinguishable ambition.


Being 'upwardly mobile' is a pre-requisite for challenging those who seemingly have 'made it' to the top - whatever 'the top' may be. For ladies the 'crashing' of the glass ceiling is another 'must do' experience for the upwardly mobile female and proving 'girls can do anything' to many 'chauvinist male upwardly mobile' men.

So often in today's society of eyes on the goal, success at any cost type world, being upwardly mobile is integral for success and security for the future.

We instil being 'upwardly mobile' to our children very early in their upbringing, challenging them to succeed to push on regardless and never to accept second best.

So the word "DOWN" really has no place in the Upwardly Mobile's world or future.

"DOWN" is a word reserved for losers - it should be avoided at all costs and even if you are feeling a little 'down' you dare not show it lest the person directly beneath you on the never-ending ladder will pull it out from under you.

"DOWN" is a word that reflects on everything it touches - like down-hearted, down-trodden and downfall. It's a sort of 'says-it-all' word with connotations of desperation and depression. Something Upwardly Mobile wants nothing to with at all!

So looking at the words UP and DOWN from a world's perspective, UP is the ONLY direction to go. UP denotes GREATNESS  - DOWN  denotes FAILURES.

So how does God see us with our UP'S and DOWN'S? I was reading Philippians 2 and being "Upwardly Mobile" sort of flies in the face of what Jesus is teaching us here.

Philippians 2 screams at us that if you want to be truly great, then the direction to go is DOWN. Jesus taught us that self-will needs to be thumped on the head and self-abandonment needs to be the measure that we determine our success.

Paul continues in Philppians 2 to explain, in no uncertain terms, that the ONLY way to become great with God is to actually move down - become the servant, the downtrodden, the anonymous one.

Jesus, the servant of all, is the only example we can look to. Here we have the Creator of the universe, coming 'down' from his glory, becoming a helpless and hapless baby in a dirty stable and from then on it was a life of descending.

He had no home, he was mocked and ridiculed, he was spat on, he was found guilty of blasphemy and died a cruel and criminal's death - probably THE worst death in it's day. Hardly UPWARDLY MOBILE.

Jesus: the very highest in creation came DOWN to serve the lowest - Philippians 2: 7-8 "He (Jesus) made Himself nothing, but taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross."

After Jesus died he could go no lower - the one who possessed everything became nothing - He became 'DOWNWARDLY MOBILE' to the glory of God the Father who exalted Him above everyone and everything.

Please don't take me wrongly - God really has no problem with his children bettering themselves - he loves to see us succeed BUT....

What concerns Him and breaks His heart is when our UPWARD MOBILITY bolsters our own self-importance. Building ourselves up to the point of pushing our own plans, schedules and programmes with no thought of God, living life as we please in our own worlds of self-indulgence.

Of course God knows that self-indulgence only leads to self-destruction.

James hits the nail on the head when he writes "Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up." Humility, putting others first, purposely standing aside and letting others take the limelight - all things that God loves.

Making ourselves lesser and making others greater is foolishness in the eyes of the world yet God asks us to LOSE so that we may GAIN. God will honour us if we deliberately SMASH our selfish ambition, He will honour us if we LOSE our obsession to be in control, he will honour us if we actually LOSE our life in Him because He promises us ETERNITY!!

Being DOWNWARDLY MOBILE with God is certainly not easy - it can be unsettling to say the least BUT actually is the THE very highest calling we can ever have.

God bless you this week as you address being DOWNWARDLY MOBILE with God. Let Him be your guide as you submit to the challenge that Jesus Himself put out there and which Paul so clearly defines in Philippians 2. 



















 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Broken Jars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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