Monday, 17 April 2017

Is it REALLY all about the bunny?

WOW!! I've been staggered by the invasion of the BUNNY this Easter time - it seems to me that more and more and more and more emphasis is on eating and chocolate and so-called Easter bunnies.

I was gobsmacked last Thursday when Sue and I ventured to the supermarket to do our weekly shop to be confronted by signs everywhere informing us that IT IS ALL ABOUT THE BUNNY!!

This was the Thursday before Good Friday and many people refer to this holy day as Maundy Thursday - the day Jesus was betrayed by Judas and the time of His impending torture and horrible death on the cross.

So you can imagine my surprise and disappointment to see these signs, especially when I know deep in my heart it has nothing at all to do with bunnies but with the grace, love and mercy of an all loving all embracing God.

So what is it about Easter and Christmas that make so many people go out of their way to exclude the real reasons for the seasons and substitute anything at all to turn attention away from the holiness of the occasions and spend all their energy and dollars on things that won't last.

Surprising as it may seem the word EASTER does not appear in most Bibles - I think in the American King James version it does mention Easter in Acts 12:14 but that apparently is a variation of the word pascha which actually refers to the Passover - the feast Jesus was having with His disciples in the upper room before his trip the Gethsemane.

Also the word EASTER can be traced back to the old Saxon goddess Eostur - not sure what she was supposed to have done but it is something my atheist friends love to throw up at me to prove that we as Christians are completely "off the mark" in worshiping Jesus' death and resurrection when it is obviously a pagan festival after all.

This old goddess may have been a fertility symbol to some hence the bunnies and eggs etc. Absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the horrible and tortuous death of our Savior and Lord and what He went through for you and me.

All that aside I personally don't really care when or what particular day we set aside to worship and honour our Lord and consider exactly what He did for you and me on that horrendous day over two thousand years ago. The main argument for me is that WE DO celebrate, worship and praise our God for his great love shown to us through His grace.

Easter for me is a time when we can meditate on His word, reflect on His amazing love and actually rethink where we stand with the one who created us in His image.

Maybe for you it can be a time to rededicate your life to Him - have fun with the Easter eggs, and bunnies etc BUT above all else the MAIN point of all the Easter joy is a remembrance of Jesus and his mighty act of self-denial on that day way way back.

Of course resurrection day is the ultimate day for us to celebrate the life of our Lord - it was on this day that he rose triumphantly to knock death a fatal blow - this day above all others was THE day that Jesus secured for us a place with Him for eternity.

All we have to do is come to Him - confess our sins in humble repentance - ask Him to lead our lives and commit everything to Him. He did everything for us - all we have to do is to accept His gift of eternal life, free from the burden of sin.

So I say a HUGE thank you to Jesus for saving me and giving me a life where deep down, through whatever comes along, I know for certain that He will never leave me or forsake me as He has promised over and over again.

Take this life-changing step over this Easter break and dedicate your life to Him - come to Him right now where you are. He has promised that your life will never be the same again.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Confidence amidst persecution

Unfortunately in our world today, we as Christians, are going to be persecuted but hey! hang on minute! It's not just the world outside who is out to get us - very frequently it is our best friends, our family and even ourselves.

Persecution comes in all forms and types - we can be ostracised at work for our beliefs, we can even be fired! I recall with much clarity the case of the wedding cake decorator in the USA who lost her livelihood, home and business because she stood up for what she believed and she paid the price.

It seems to me that as the world cries TOLERANCE that it is only the Christians that have be tolerant. We need to show love to all and as Christians it is extremely hard for us to follow the worlds definition of that tolerance.

Tolerance originally meant to acknowledge others beliefs and differences which in fact we are told in the scriptures that is exactly what we are meant to do. (Galatians chapter 4.)

What the world now sees as tolerance is for all people to accept those beliefs as true and if you don't you are labelled as intolerant and in many cases can be prosecuted, fined and/or even jailed .

So what does God's word say about the fact that in this day we are being persecuted and actually hated by the world for our belief and acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

Jesus Himself said that we are to turn the other cheek and tolerate others beliefs. In Luke on the sermon on the mount Jesus said "blessed are you when others reject and even hate you for following me".  They hated Jesus in the same way, so we cannot expect any thing else but the same treatment.

On looking at it from this point of view, we cannot and will not get tolerance from the world out there towards our Christan beliefs because they hated Jesus long before they hated us.We clearly will not EVER receive tolerance from the world.

Sort of makes sense when we see it as Jesus puts it so plainly in Luke.

I was shocked, but I guess I shouldn't have been, when I read in our local newspaper just yesterday in the 'letters to the editor' column of this man's approach to Easter and what it means to him. He was very scathing in his letter and ridiculed Jesus as some fiction made up because, and I quote,  "astronomical observation has failed to detect him". He maintained if he did rise from the dead then obviously we should be seeing him in the heavens - I maintain we are!! Just look up!

He went on to say that Christians are living in a 'pre-scientific' world and that we should look at "facts and not myths". He goes on to say and I quote "If the Christians are right, we are all missing out . If they are wrong, they are deceiving themselves and the rest of the world with their message."

Yes! We are in a world brimming and bubbling over with persecution. What does Jesus say we should do when we are faced with this type of persecution? Take him to court and fight like crazy to clear the name of Jesus? Maybe personally have a 'dust up' and see who comes out the 'winner"? NO!

Jesus said we should LOVE our enemies and pray for them (Romans 12). It goes on to say not only should we do this but we have to provide for them as well. So there we have it - we can expect persecution in often HUGE ways, and how do we respond to such persecution? We look to Jesus and use His example - by love and by teaching often through example of what following Jesus has done in our own lives.

We have been told to go into all the world and preach the Gospel - teaching them in all manner of ways the truth about Jesus and what exactly following Him implies.

Our aim through all of this is to bring other people to the truth about Jesus and how His love, grace and mercy can set us free. It's not all about us and certainly not about us being vindicated or to be shown that we were right and they were wrong!

Lord as we enter another week, I pray that you will heal any broken hearts and deep wounds caused by all sorts of persecution. We realise that persecution of your people will certainly come to us. Help us by your amazing grace and the power of your Holy Spirit, to love others as you do and help us also to hold on to your example. Help us to be courageous and brave through these turbulent times and to remain strong and steadfast for you.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Embracing change

One thing about life as we know it here on earth that will never change is that change will happen!

Life changes ~ daily sometimes or so it seems. As we get older our priorities change as our circumstances alter ~ for example we may find ourselves alone after spending countless years caring for others or we may find ourselves jobless and maybe even unemployable.

Change is something most of us dread even fear, yet it is change that forces us out of our comfort zone - it is change that pushes us to do our best regardless of the circumstances.

What are you facing at the moment ~I know personally I am facing heaps of changes in my own life as I grow older. Some changes  for me have been for the better and some have been for the worse. Depending on how I look at it from my own little window of the my world.

Change is no respecter of persons. Change, no matter what it is has an adjustment period that can make or break you depending how dramatic that change can be. Change can rip us from our comfort and will force us to follow even if we keep on refusing to let go,  or change can be a welcome guest giving us confidence and flexibility.

Change can force us into an "endurance trial" often involving some mental anguish, heaps of worry and a "when will it ever end" sort of treadmill, which if not unchecked can send some completely over the edge.

Change can be great and change can be so so rewarding it can also be so very awkward. Change can require an adjustment period which can vary from minutes to hours to days to years. If we are in a time warp of not wanting this change to happen, time can seem so slow, yet for those embracing change it can seem like  a tornado of super-fast speed crashing into our lives and changing us for good.

Change in our lives can certainly impact us and indeed can effect all who are closely connected to us. We can learn from change and when change is forced upon us we have to learn very fast indeed!

As we get older this change can effect our bodies as well ~ for example change in our health or sleep patterns can have marked effects on our lives and these things can certainly change the very dynamics of our lives in dramatic and often hard to cope with ways.

We have choices here ~ we can embrace whatever changes that are happening in our lives and recognise them for what they are or we can resist with all of our might and often cause us endless years and years of pain.

Forced change, regardless of what it is that you are dealing with is often here to stay and we can flow with it or paddle against it depending on your resistance

The good news is that God has a plan for our lives if we can trust Him and allow change to grow us even if maybe in a different direction from what we first thought. Jesus said that all things work together for good for those who love and obey Him. Even change.

How is your courage and boldness when it comes to change? I must admit that my courage is somewhat limited when it comes to some changes occurring in my life.

I can't help thinking about Mary the mother of Jesus and what God's plan for her life actually meant. Her reputation would be shot and in those days, as is now in some parts of the world, she could easily have been stoned to death.

Her relationship with Joseph was be jeopardised. Her whole future was thrown into uncertainty. Then she had the terrifying responsibility of raising THE most single important child ever born.

Through all of this what was her humble response?  "I am the Lord's servant".  Whatever it took for God's will to be accomplished, Mary was willing to do regardless of the personal cost to her.

As followers of Jesus we all must be prepared for God to initiate extraordinary changes in our lives.

Let's set out this week to embrace changes and welcome the differences in our lives and may you have peace and encouragement as you face the ups and downs in your life.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

YAY!! Jesus Won!

Because of Jesus sacrifice where He actually killed off sin and death, anyone who aligns with Him can genuinely claim Christ as his/her personal Saviour.

Obviously sin and evil still exist in the world! Otherwise extreme evil like ISIS and terrorism wouldn't be here and we would all be living an idyllic lifestyle.

Evil does exist and will continue to exist until Jesus comes again.This unfortunately means we still have battles to fight.

This us what Spiritual warfare means ~ there are Christians and those who purposely pursue and persecute Christians ~Satan is alive and well and loves to "put the boot in'' where he can ~ even though Jesus has already won the Battle for us when he died for us on Calvary all those years ago.

On saying that, does that mean we have no further battles to face? Of course not ~we have to pick up our swords, put on our armour and set out to conquer and win the battles we have to face daily.

Every day we fight battles to limit the impact of sin in our lives and in the world around us. And speaking very personally ~ these battles can get pretty nasty indeed!!!

We can fight battles in our workplace!  When we get the cold shoulder or sniggered at because of our faith, or we can fight battles in our our own mind when Satan tells us that we can't possibly do this or that ~ and what Jesus did on that cross years ago just wasn't enough.

We can fight battles with doubt and hypocrisy ~ when we are even driving in traffic and someone cuts in on us ~something wells up inside of us and we are fighting a battle.

When we consider it all our battles can read like an adventure novel. The good against the bad ~ our impulses for bad can fight against our knowledge of what is right and good and how the Holy Spirit is leading us.

When you think about it, we as Christians have been given a mission from God. That mission will expose us to all sorts of dangers and apprehensions, doubts and fears, humiliation and scorn ~in fact all sorts of horrible risks.

We have other believers depending on us to carry out our God given missions and unfortunately we have an enemy who will stop at nothing to prevent us carrying on the mission and completing it.

Satan is definitely NOT God's equal! Often we may think that he is because the warfare we are involved in seems to know no end ~ it is an on-going trial by fire. But the fact remains that Satan's power has been trounced at the cross and his eternal doom is certain.

Furthermore in his ongoing guerrilla warfare against heaven, Satan is vastly over matched.

Because of our union with Christ, we do not have to fear Satan or anything that he throws up at us in the evil world we live in just as long as we are wearing the armour God has provided to us (Ephesians 6:10-18).

So yes! we are on a mission ~ a mission from God but He has supplied all we need. How will your story end? Will you be able to say "mission accomplished"at the end of your life? Will I be able to say that? Or will our old enemy celebrate our thwarted mission ~ or even worse, write us off as a "non-threat".

Please pray this prayer with me:-

Lord, I often get so confused about the power of darkness, especially inside of me which I know is lurking there just beneath the surface. I just know I'm not really in the place where you would want me to be.
I really want to be victorious for you in our walk together so please equip me to be so.
Please open my heart and mind to your leading ~ strengthen me for the battle which I know I will have to fight. Thank you Jesus Amen

God bless you this week as you pick up your armour and ready yourself for the battle.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Victory in Jesus

Its amazing isn't it how often we can read something and re-read it over and over again yet miss out on the point that it brings.

It was so for me when I read in 1 Corinthians 15:57 "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

How many times have I read this verse, agreed with it wholeheartedly yet never really let it affect my life in a very real way?

Many many times I have sat under ministry that tells me that through Jesus I can have the VICTORY ~ that I can face any situation and be content.

Did it really settle in my heart? Did I really believe it? Did I let Jesus be my Victor or was I more than content to try it on my own?

No one, not one of us can earn our place in heaven and please God by our works alone! No one can be victorious over sin and self without the saving love and grace of Jesus. It is ONE fatal mistake if you think you can earn your way into heaven by the works that you do - That somehow you can accumulate 'brownie points' with God by mere works alone.

But more than works and relying on God by faith through His amazing grace ~ to me it's claiming VICTORY over what this old world dishes out to us daily often hourly

Many times I have relied on God to see me though the most difficult times in my life but claiming victory though Jesus and walking daily in this beautiful gift in every situation is really possible and can be given to us through what Jesus purchased for us at Calvary when He took upon Himself our sins ~ our failures ~ our burdens.

To be set free from sin is amazing and wonderful BUT to walk in VICTORY with Jesus and have our old sinful nature replaced with Jesus' nature is truly Miraculous!

Jesus gave us so much at His death and the importance of His resurrection, that we would, in a way, be letting Him down if we didn't live in complete VICTORY on a daily basis to the very glory of God.

At His death, Jesus removed every obstacle that would stop us claiming true VICTORY and knowing the many blessings given to us.  True VICTORY is only through Jesus and we can claim this victory by walking close to Him day by day.

God says that we can have continual TRIUMPH in Christ ~ check out 2 Corinthians 2:14. This verse tell us that God's plan for us is to ALWAYS walk in VICTORY with Him. Not just sometimes but always!

We CAN have victory in every circumstance that comes along in our lives. Ask Him to give us this VICTORY . Through Jesus we can conquer our failures ~ we can be VICTORS with Him in every possible situation.

We can claim this victory that God obviously wants us to have. Paul claimed this victory when he said "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me". Paul walked in victory with Jesus and found Himself content in EVERY situation he found himself even in prison. Life can snatch our victory in Jesus if we let it ~ the thing is Jesus has already won this victory and by faith we can claim it as ours as well.

Paul also said that "we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us" - catch that "MORE THAN".  There is nothing the world can throw at us that we can't conquer through Jesus.

So, God bless you this week as we claim the VICTORY IN JESUS and through His strength and grace alone, be content and worry free as we mingle and contend with the world out there.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

God IS in the detail!

You know ~ our God is amazing! The older I get the more and more I see His hand in everything I do and all creation around me

For years and years now I have struggled on and off, trying to do the things and live the life that I figured was better for my family and me. Did it bring me satisfaction and fulfilling? In a way I can say that it has but in lots of ways sadly I can say that it hasn't.

Through all of my clever planning and thinking, my scheming and organising, things often went pear-shaped and out of all proportion.

Yes! things don't always pan out as we plan.

When I struggled with the little things in life ~ you know those little annoying things ~ those things that so easily ~ get under our skin, did I take them to God ~ did I hand them over to Him ~ Did I even trust Him to look after them and show me direction? NO! I didn't and why?

Because I figured that God had so much more to do in this crazy world that He really couldn't be bothered looking into the little often frustrating titbits of my puny life.

Let me tell you something that I found out ~ something really important and that is OUR GOD IS IN THE DETAILS of your life ~ he wants you to share EVERYTHING with Him. He is our Creator God ~ he knew you before you were conceived and he has a mighty plan for your life if you let Him.

When we are faced with gigantic problems ~ when our world turns upside down for no apparent reason ~ when a member of our family has cancer and is dying slowly and painfully ~ these things are huge and we pray BIG prayers and so we should ~ God has told us to bring them to Him and He in His mercy will see us through them. We may never be spared the pain ~ we may never see a miracle of wondrous healing as some have BUT He will give us the strength to see it through.

But, God isn't just a God of the BIG and GIGANTIC ~ I have learned that He is also the God of the little and of those insignificant things that beset us daily!

When you analyse it most of our lives are in the little things:- Where should we live? Which Doctor should I go to? I'm frustrated with sleeplessness ~ what should I do? Education for our kids ~ where do we go from here? When we get lost in the car.

All of these and heaps more are such LITTLE things when compared to what is happening in our world BUT God does care and He is here with us ~ even in the micro.

When you think about ~ when Jesus was on earth, he was interested in the peoples lives. He healed the sick, he touched the lepers, the ostracised, the unclean. He made a friend of those who were weak and looked down on.

Jesus was interested in people and their individual problems. he showed compassion in feeding the people ~ the little things that truly mattered!

Our whole lives are made up of 'little' things and God cares about us ~ and if He cares about US then he cares about the tiny, micro things that are in and make up our lives

I have learned a BIG lesson in the LITTLE things in my life.

Take EVERYTHING to God in prayer and trust Him to get you through it ~ I honestly am amazed by the way he has seen me though some of the THE most frustrating times of my life. He has shown me a way of escape, calmed my anxiety and helped me continue when I thought I had completely failed.

He will see you through ~ His promises never fail.

God bless you this week as you turn to Him in the BIG and LITTLE things in life

Sunday, 29 January 2017

About Face

I have been reading just recently in 2 Chronicles chapter 33 about one of the amazing turn-arounds mentioned in the Bible. It's well worth reading for yourself and to take encouragement for those of us who have family and/or friends who have abandoned God and pursued sin with a vengeance.

Manasseh was a direct descendant of King David and was crowned King of Judah when he was only twelve years old and his reign lasted for fifty-five years. Talk about a reign of terror - there was never such a wicked despot of a king to lead the people of Israel.

Manasseh is the epitome of wickedness and perversion unheard of in all the annals of history of the genealogy of ancient Israel and Judah combined.

He worshipped the Baals, the disgusting gods of the Midianites and the peoples that occupied the land prior to the Children of Israel.

Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah ~ the king who had worked hard to bring the people back to God ~ Hezekiah had torn down the idols and burnt the Asherah poles which the people were worshipping in the hill country. Hezekiah encouraged the people to turn to God and he re-built the temple and obeyed the laws of Moses and in turn the people followed his lead.

Manasseh on the other hand, constructed heathen alters in the holy place of the temple ~ he consulted spiritualists and mediums and fortune tellers ~ he ignored completely the God of his ancestors.

He even sacrificed his own children as burnt offering to the gods and he encouraged every sort of evil imaginable.

He also slaughtered many innocent lives including his own people and prophets of the Lord.

2 Kings 21:16 tells us that he shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from one end of it to the other. Moreover he caused the people of Judah to commit vile and evil sins that turned God against him and the people.

Ancient records also tell us that he probably killed the mighty prophet of God, Isaiah by sawing him in half from head to toe. Hebrews 11:37 says that many were 'sawn in two" and Isaiah was more than likely the very first to suffer this grisly execution.

So we can see that Manasseh's rule was one of terror and evil and he became THE very worst king in all of the history of Judah.

Yet God had other plans...

Manasseh had an amazing example in his dad ~ Hezekiah was probably one of THE most Godly kings in the history of Judah yet Manasseh couldn't care less about that because he loved himself and hated God and because of this he caused the entire population to turn away from the one true God who had saved them over and over again.

If there was ever a person destined for hell it was Manasseh. He was truly a hopeless case until God stepped in and we can read about an incredible turn-around in him and the people that he led.

You know ~ our God is so merciful. It is not His intention that anyone should suffer because of their personal sinfulness. God wants all of us to be saved ~ all we have to do is to come to Him and repent of our sin and turn away from temptation and trust Him to fill us with His spirit. He is the God of the impossible as we will soon discover.

As we read in Chapter 33, Manasseh "encouraged the people to do even more evil than the nations that inhabited the land before them" (verse 9)

Many brave souls were sent by God to warn him and the people to turn back to God but they were totally ignored (verse 10). I hate to think whatever happened to those poor courageous people ~ all for doing what God had asked them to do.

Strangely it was the barbaric and evil Assyrian army that finally opened the eyes of our evil king. They attacked Judah and took Manasseh in bronze chains and hooks and carted him off to Babylon. It was there that he came to his senses ~ enslaved to an evil king and people he cried out to God and humbled himself before Him.

God answered His prayers and he found himself back in Judah ~ You know God will answer your prayers too ~ sometimes it's not exactly in the way we think it may have been answered, but God loves us and the mercy he showed Manasseh is the same mercy He extends to all of us today.

Manasseh's rule changed dramatically. He destroyed all the idols he personally had set up and rebuilt the alter for the Lord in the temple. The people turned back to God and his reign ended up being one the longest in the history of the Israel.

No matter how bad you think you may be ~ how evil your thoughts, actions or motives, God wants to take control and change you as He did to Manasseh..

If our great and miraculous God can change someone like Manasseh, He can change you! God does not promise us a trouble and strife free life ~ all those wicked things that Manasseh did and all of those people that he murdered so brutally were not restored to life miraculously. No! there were scars aplenty!

Just like in our lives ~ we can't change the past ~ there may be scars and big ones at that ~ but like Manasseh we CAN be reconciled to God and our sins CAN be forgiven by our Father and forgotten by Him as well.

Many many families are broken and destroyed by sin and often they will never be mended. Yet many have come to Christ and been changed for the good for eternity. Scars of our past remain but in place of those there is reconciliation and undeserved blessings given by a gracious, loving and merciful God.

Manasseh's reign was horrific to say the least ~ yet at the end of his life, because of his repentance and obedience, God welcomed Him into his presence and God will do the same for us no matter our past and what we are dragging around after us.

If you have a past that you feel is just way too gross to come to God ~ please relate back to the story of Manasseh ~ come to God no matter what you have gone through ~ He is more than willing to bring you back to Him if you are truly repentant.

Also keep praying for those of your family/friends who may have turned their backs on God ~ Our God is able to do what we consider may be impossible. All we have to do is keep trusting in Him and bringing our family and friends to Him constantly.

God bless you this week as you turn your past, present and future over to the one who holds it all in His hands of love and mercy.