Saturday, 26 July 2014

Little Miss Giggles

Luke 18:27

Jesus replied, "What is impossible with man is possible with God."

Can the impossible happen?  Short answer Yes - I know for a fact it can - I would have thought it was impossible for me to change - In fact I reckon I got to the stage where I didn't want to change I was happy, or so I thought, with my life until BAM! God changed me - I can't believe how I used to be.

Was I really like that and loving it?

When you read the Bible there are heaps of impossibilities happening - most of them mind blowing.

Although the biggest impossibilities happen in the lives of ordinary human beings I'd reckon - lives changed dramatically and permanently by the Spirit of God. Things that cannot be explained and quite frankly a bit hard to explain to the world at large out there.

Consider the case of Sarai who was to have her named changed to Sarah - an amazing lady of exceptional beauty, wealth, poise, self-assurance and grace.

Married to her half brother Abram (wouldn't happen today) Sarai was wealthy in the eyes of the world - beauty and wealth couldn't hide the fact that she was sad because she couldn't have children.

She would have been well into her sixties by the time Abram was called by God to 'go to the land flowing with milk and honey' the promised land that was later to become the home of the 'chosen' people of God - Abram and Sarai's descendants.

She was in her 'golden years' you could say and God had promised her a son - she is excited - she plans - she waits and waits and waits - still no son.

Decades pass so Sarai decides to take things into her own hands - after all it's impossible now for her to conceive - she is well into her eighties! She convinces Abram that time has run out!  it's impossible now. So she gives her maid Hagar to Abram and Hagar bears Ishmael and the rest is history.

We leap ahead fourteen long years, Ishmael has grown and he and his Mum are pretty entrenched into the family - Ishmael is Abram's heir, Ishmael MUST be the promised child of God BUT.... God had other ideas.

The amazing and impossible happens - God pays them a visit and tells them to get ready for a baby bundle, start choosing boy's names because this time next year you and Sarai will be bouncing a baby boy on your bony old knees! IMPOSSIBLE!

Sarai was 99 years old and Abram 100 -  impossible! - what do they do? - they laugh at the lunacy of it all. They laugh because it is just too good to be true and I guess they laugh because it JUST MIGHT happen!

Sarai laughed into her bony wrinkled hands her shoulders shaking with laughter at the very thought of bearing a child at her age. Hilarious on one hand, fear on the other, hilarity doubling her over turns to nervous giggles of apprehension at the very might and in the very presence of Creator God.

God works at accomplishing the absurd, the impossible, the unbelievable and sure enough by the time the year is ended, Sarai and Abram are changed forever - God even changed their names to Sarah (Mother) and Abraham (The Father of a multitude).

Their names aren't the only things God changed in that miraculous year, He changed their minds, their faith and how they looked at the impossible. He also changed Sarah's definition of trust in God - She trusted Him from then on - In His time not hers.

We so easily jump ahead of God - we tire of waiting on Him - how many times have we taken things into our own hands just like Sarai did those thousands of years ago, often with disastrous consequences.

Yes our God is a God of miracles - a God of the impossible. We can read about them all scattered throughout the Bible - from Sarai to Paul's amazing and impossible conversion.

What is impossible for man is possible only through God - He needs our complete surrender. All around us in this world is sin, sorrow, war and problems all of which are Satan's domain - BUT God is the God of the impossible - He is still on His throne, doing the impossible, changing people's lives and changing them for good.

If we surrender to God completely then like Abraham and Sarah we will become strong in faith, giving glory to God, because we trust in His amazing and often impossible ways.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Princesses, Princes and Paupers

Hypocrisy! Even the word sends chills down our spines.

Don't you just hate hypocrisy?

I have heard many many times when talking about my Christianity these words (and I guess we have all been on the receiving end of them at some stage) "I don't go to church - it is full of hypocrites"

You know - I have come to realise that they absolutely correct - Basically we are all hypocrites - none of us truly are what we say we are - we are sinful and disobedient to God - we have all fallen short of His standards and it is only through his grace that we are saved in the first place.

Cliff Knechtle wrote and I quote "We are all either trying to hide our bad sides or we try to make them look good. But deep inside we all know that we fall short of living the way we should. No one can escape the charge of 'hypocrite'. No one except Jesus who is the only one able to live to God's standards"

So, to the "I wouldn't darken the doors of the church because of so many hypocrites there" I say "We'd gladly make room for you there is plenty of room for us all." We don't offer "Christians' to our friends and neighbours we are offering the CHRIST.

Jesus is the only one who can really see the condition of our hearts  - what's really lurking there under the masks we love to put on.

Twice now I have seen churches ask people to leave because they didn't come up to some standard - I have heard sermons on how we should love everyone including the un-lovely, the left-out ones, the prostitutes and homeless, the drunkards and drug affected, which is wonderful and sounds just like Jesus until it actually happens!

What about the convicted murderer, or the paedophile, those who are addicted to pornography on a grand scale especially child pornography - what about those?

It's time's like these that our true colours are exposed and our hypocrisy can be seen by the world.

Being a grandfather of five I can certainly understand reticence on the church in admitting these seekers, heaps of things to consider, especially the safety and well-being of children which I am sure God would want us to consider very carefully.

On saying that, the question I am left pondering is this "How would Jesus have reacted to this type of situation?" Honesty on the part of these people can lead to exclusion from the church and ostracism from the membership. I am sure that we could come up with what is acceptable to God and to the church without having to resort to expulsion.

With God there are no 'grades' of sin - he hates sin especially hypocrisy - Jesus died to do away with sin - our sins are cleansed once we through faith claim the gift God offers us through his awesome yet amazing grace. ALL sin is cleansed through Christ's sacrifice regardless of what that sin is. NO sin is TOO GROSS to be forgiven.

Yes of course we have to be careful but at the end of the day, Jesus saves and satisfies. He and He alone took on the burden of our sin be it hypocrisy or Paedophilia, murder or offence, He and He alone was the only one worthy enough to pay that price. What right have we got to define who is admitted to His church.

So who are you when  it comes to hypocrisy the Princess or the Prince? - Looking really good on the inside, able to preach a WOW of a sermon that has the people out of their seats and all gung-ho ready to go?

Or are you a Pauper, which in fact we all are! We are all Paupers in the eye of God - all needing change and deliverance from our sins to make us into Princesses and Princes in the 'real' sense of the word. Royalty living as Jesus lived, loving EVERYONE as Jesus did, accepting and showing His grace, mercy and love to all.

Hypocrisy is an evil, sneaky and deadly little sin and one that won't ever be tolerated by a just God.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Jumping in muddy puddles

Peppa Pig just LOVES jumping in muddy puddles! - Makes me wonder just how many of us like doing the same?

Muddy puddles come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes we don't just love jumping in them but we wallow in them as well.

The muddy puddles of taking offence and hanging onto that offence is probably one of the biggest muddy puddles we will have to encounter in our lives.

Taking a guess, I would suggest everybody - every single one of us has at some point taken offence at some stage in their lives, some HUGE and some slight, regardless - offence is offence.

Some of us get so offended with others that we carry that offence or resentment for the rest of our lives. In other people the offence is hardly noticeable, they seem to able to brush it off like water on a ducks back.

Other people can put up with the most pointed offences, even personal attacks, bullying etc and can, even though they may get hurt in the process, recover quite quickly and seem to overlook it all and carry no spite at all to the offender.

So why do we get offended and what does God say about the 'wallowing in offence' that some us are prone to do?

Offence usual happens when someone says something to us, about us or about our family that we interpret or perceive to be insulting, wrong or just plain nasty! We could be blamed for something we didn't do or something we failed to do and so we take offence.

We could interpret someones actions to be negative to us, to be inconsiderate or even plain thoughtless towards us. Anything can make us offended.

So offence can be pretty dangerous - it can isolate us from people and friends but more importantly it can isolate us from God and have a real impact on our very salvation, depending on how we cope with the offence and what we decide to do with it.

Some of us even become offended with God; blaming Him for not taking into consideration all of the 'things' we have done for Him, or "I gave my heart to God and look what happened' syndrome.

We can see that offence is so wrong - in Matthew 18, Jesus tells us just how solemnly He looks at the sin of offence "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of sea" Jesus said of those who committed offence.

So what do we do when we are offended - should we reach for the millstone or do something about it?

Whether your offence is towards God or towards other people, the way you handle it can either make you  bitter and twisted or make you stronger and strange as it sounds the stronger you get the more humble you become.

Humility is the key to getting over offence! The proud find it so difficult and prefer to wallow in the mud of offence and unlike Peppa they don't just like 'jumping' into muddy puddles, but rather wallow in the mud of offence until it gets into the very pause of their inner beings.

Such people live in bitterness and anger, preferring confrontation with others and being the 'victim' in all situations. God can't work with people like this; there is no room for God to grow this person; there is no room for such people to reach out to God either.

Where there is bitterness and offence, there you will find, frustration, unforgiveness and all sorts of envy and strife.

Alternatively with God working in your life there are the gifts of love, humility, patience, kindness and self control as mentioned in the Galatians 12.

Maybe as you have read this, you, like me have been reminded of your past relationships and some of the offences that may have occurred with them. Are there any that need to be 'put right'?

If you have been 'convicted' of some offence in the past or present, make sure before you do anything to ask the Holy Spirit to guide you through and to make your thoughts and your tongue pure before Him.

Ask God to give you the wonderful gift of humility; a humility that will see you accept what the other says even though inside of you it may feel offensive. Ask God to give you patience and endurance and to offer that person the wonderful gift of your real love.

It's definitely time to step out of the muddy puddle, clean yourself off, and like the prodigal son, come back to the Father. your relationship with him will be amazingly fulfilling; your relationship with others will never be the same - you will start to see them through the eyes of Jesus.

Stay quiet before God and allow Him to show you what you should do. Big blessings to you as you continue to grow in humility, forgiveness and in the handling of offence.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Keep a Zip on ya lip!

Ever shot your mouth off and then been very sorry? I have - it seems to me that I just maybe the King of sticking my foot in it - will I ever learn??

You know, God in His great and mighty wisdom gives us a few very plainly worded and choice pieces of advice on how to stay out of trouble, be humble and keep it "zipped" when dealing with all sorts of problems.

It is so easy for us to say what is on our minds, whether it be gossip or confrontation with another. So easy yet can be so evil. We can offend with a word - we can ruin a reputation with a sentence.

When Paul wrote to the Romans he pretty much summed up the very heart of God when he said "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another." (Romans 14:19)

We should make it our priority to build others up - not to tear them down - to encourage others not to put them down and to build confidence in others not make ourselves look good at their expense.

Now on saying that, the very last thing I want to do is to 'preach' at anyone concerning this because to put it plainly, I am the very WORST at taking this on board myself.

Forgiveness is probably one of the biggest hurdles we will ever face in this regard. Confrontation, anger, taking/giving offence and unforgiveness - all hard stuff to cope with and all very much out of line with how God wants us to live our lives.

Makes me wonder how many of us would want God to forgive us in the same way that we forgive others - not many I would imagine, and yet this is how God will forgive us.

Luke 6:37 states "Forgive and you will be forgiven" and again Jesus says "And forgive us our debts in the same way as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 6:12).

Couldn't get any plainer! - God will only forgive us if we are truly from our heart have forgiven others. The way we forgive is the way we will be forgiven.

We can live our lives in Christian fellowship, we can be baptised and say and mean the 'sinner's prayer', yet if in our hearts we haven't or can't forgive then Heaven will not be opened to us. God will say "depart from me - I never knew you" and why? Because we have refused to forgive and therefore cannot be forgiven. Strong words but true.

Forgiveness is usually denied to other people who have hurt us or who have been hurt by us but it is important to note that forgiveness can be withheld from us by ourselves. Yes, we can get to the stage where we cannot forgive ourselves. God has forgiven us; we can then forgive ourselves. Pretty Schmick eh?

All of us need to deal with the unforgiving spirit living in us now while we are here - it will be too late to deal with it once we are facing eternity.

Pride is another little sneak that can stop us from offering or asking forgiveness. Especially when the person we are so-called asking forgiveness of is someone who has hurt us yet they see it in reverse! They see it as us hurting them, yet the reality is that it is us who have been wounded by them.

God knows our hearts, He knows and understands our pride but also knows just how much Jesus paid for our salvation. On the cross Jesus cried out to God to forgive his mockers and not to hold it against them and guess what? God expects us to try to reconcile with everyone, even those who we feel are unjustly 'blaming' us for the problem in the first place.

I recall a person whom I feel unjustly blamed me for a lot of things that happened in our past - this person lashed out at me - I was told I was rude, selfish, egotistic, narrow-minded, mean and more. My first reaction was to try and defend myself, pointing out that it was him not me that caused the problems in the first place - I was the victim not him!

Would that have helped? Not at all - when we 'defend' ourselves it only makes the unforgiving spirit even more unforgiving - offence overwhelms both sides - we need to put a plug in it and try to listen to their arguments coolly and as calmly as possible. Reconciliation must take top priority.

We may have done nothing wrong but when it boils down and we get to the nitty gritty it is far more important for us to do as God says and 'humble' ourselves and reconcile if possible than to go out of our way and make things even worse just to prove ourselves correct.

So where does that leave us? Firstly I feel we need to 'button up'. Proverbs 12:23 states
"Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity" - and believe me calamity will strike - so we need to keep our tongues well under control.

Finally we need to be motivated by the love of God - His type of love never fails us. In Romans 12:18 Paul writes "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone". We need to do everything we can to be reconciled with each other and if that means humbling ourselves and forgetting our pride, so be it.

God go with you as you forgive and become a "Peacemaker" in the name of Jesus.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Nightmare on Straight Street.

Ananias was a great old guy - dedicated to Jesus and I imagine, living a pretty isolated life. After all every Christian in Damascus wore a target on their back and was open to persecution.

But first lest flip back to where the story begins..

Saul, later Paul, had just witnessed and condoned the murder of Stephen - the Godly new-elected 'deacon' of the first church - Stephen a man filled with the Holy Spirit was stoned to death for 'offending' the Pharisees and church elders because He preached Jesus, crucified and risen again for the salvation of the world.

Good old Saul liked the fact that here was yet another of those new fangled  "Christians" finally out of the way and a good job too.

That obviously spurred Saul on because in the next scene here he is with new vigour chasing down Christians, throwing them into prisons, torturing and murdering them - nice guy.

On the way to Damascus a miracle occurred and Saul was miraculously transformed by the sovereignty of God who halted his plans in one fell swoop.

Here we find Saul, the Chief opponent to Christianity being transformed into it's primary proponent! - In the process Saul was rendered blind, not only by the blinding light that accompanied his conversion but by the awesome power of God.

Lead by his friends to Straight Street, here he remained for three days, blind and not eating or drinking - I guess in a state of shock! - God had literally taken him and shaken him out of his so-called piety and told him exactly what was going to happen.

Meanwhile back in Damascus, here was Ananias virtually in hiding and I can imagine' so too was his family - They had obviously heard that Saul and his cohorts were on the march, rounding up Christians and turning them over to the authorities.

So in hiding they stayed - fearful yet trusting God. Then out of the blue a message from God Himself!!

"Get up and go to Straight Street, find a guy named Saul of Tarsus, lay hands on him so that he can receive his sight" GULP...

"Did you say Saul of Tarsus?" I can hear Ananias say - "that same Saul that has been rounding up the Christians? - I have heard of this man - he has done much harm, Lord, he has come here on the authority of the Chief Priests to arrest us!"

He must have been thinking as I hear his heart beating...

"Oh No! this is a nightmare" - "Straight Street - that's obviously where all the Christian persecutors hang out - I will be going straight into the lions den - I may as well stick my head straight in the lions mouth!" - God has got confused or forgotten what this terrorist has done - I can't put myself in this position!"

Poor Ananias, showed a bit of weak faith here - didn't trust God implicitly - A bit like me actually, when I put myself in his position, knowing what he knew, I figure I would have asked the same question, maybe even ignored the command.

But Ananias was told by God "Go! I have chosen this very man to carry my name to the gentiles."

Ananias obeyed, right to very letter - he went to Straight Street, I can just imagine him knocking on the door - so timidly, fearful yet strangely confident knowing that whatever happened, God was with him.

He found Saul, broken and contrite, blind and confused - Ananias did what he was told to do and Saul received his sight, when something like 'scales' fell from his eyes.

Saul immediately went about his mission and spent days with the disciples in Damascus, and I assume Ananias was there as well, but here Ananias's story ends - he fades from the picture.

Ananias's role is small but vitally important to the whole event. A man who questioned God, maybe going as far as to correct God but was obedient in the end.

When you think about it, Ananias's obedience launched the greatest ministry of all times - millions of people have come to know Jesus as their Saviour and Lord.

When I think of Ananias and his act of obedience it sort of puts into perspective all small acts of obedience by God's people - even when those acts seem so contrary to human understanding.

We never see the big picture, we only have to rely on and trust God implicitly as Ananias did. God will never let us down.

So Ananias's "nightmare on Straight Street," brought in a such huge harvest for God and turned his personal 'nightmare' into a dream fulfilled; greater than he ever knew.

Obedience to God no matter what the cost.  We are called to simply trust and obey His word.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

The BIG Shake!

I have read lately from 1 John and in Chapter 2 and verse 16 it says (in the expanded version of the Bible)

"These are the ways of (all that is in/associated with) the world: wanting to please our sinful selves (the desire/lust of the flesh), wanting the sinful things we see (the desire/lust of the eyes), and being too proud of what we have (the pride of life/possessions). None of these come from the Father, but all of them come from the world."

Now reading all that - I started to think WOW! that's me - I'm proud, I desire things of the world and I want to please myself - where does that leave me?? I pondered.

I can tell you where it leaves me - open to the BIG shake in our lives - when the waves batter us down and the wind blows our little teepee to the far outreaches.

Pride and wanting to please oneself:  horrible, sneaky, crafty and so evil! -  These need to be rooted out of our lives. If not they can eventually destroy us.

We often come to Jesus on the basis of what he can do for us rather that for who He is.

Many have come to Jesus and gone to church for years and even prayed the sinners prayer yet when they have gone through the "Big Shake" in their lives become resentful of God and have the "I prayed and asked God to do this and he didn't" attitude.

These are folk who are serving Him for what he can give them - Mark 4:16 type people.

God never promised us an easy ride in life all we have to do is to trust Him wholly.

When bad things happen in our lives, we get the BIG shake up and we can't cope - things go haywire and we lose our focus on Jesus and look to the world to fix things.

It's so easy to blame God in these circumstances, we forget what He has already paid for us to be free. We also forget what our future would have held for us had He not saved us. We see through the eyes of the word - not through the eternal eyes of God.

Once we have given our lives totally to Jesus we are not our own - we have been bought with a HUGE price by Him - we are the apple of His eye - the pearl of great price - so in that context we cannot 'blame' Him because we are not ours anyway but His!

When we have that attitude we cannot see our true circumstances and our faith in Jesus is weakened if not dead already.

BUT... when we are truly His, completely and utterly then nothing can come along to give us the BIG shake. Our lives can't be smashed on the rocks of doubt and despair.

Yes we will be often confused and possibly a bit bewildered, especially if we look at our problems, grief and despair through the eyes of the world. Very often God does not answer us in the way we expect - it is then we have to pray - "I trust you Lord even though I don't understand."

Jesus paid a HUGE price for our salvation. We should never fail to acknowledge this and to trust him more and more each day - even in the little things that distract and often infuriate us to the point of frustration.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12 how he had pleaded with the Lord three times for a problem to be removed and the answer he received?

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" What an amazing answer!

God's amazing grace is sufficient for us as it was for Paul - if none of our prayers are ever answered in the way we want, then let us like Paul be content with that awesome promise that "His grace is sufficient" - That is enough - in that we can be content.

Nothing can shake us - nothing can alarm - no frustration, grief or anxiety can take hold and destroy us .
His Grace is sufficient.


Sunday, 11 May 2014

Please get me out of here!

Oscar was an Orange tree! he wasn't just an ordinary orange tree he was a tiny tiny orange tree - in fact he was so tiny that with the naked eye - you could hardly distinguish Oscar from the tiny seed where he had spent a happy few months all curled up inside safe and warm inside the hard pod.

He had hardly known his Mum and Dad because they had lots and lots of other little oranges all growing on the big tree that he had known as his home - so they didn't really have enough time to devote themselves to his welfare and his alone. But an orange tree he was!

He was pretty chuffed about being a orange tree - after all there was not many or his siblings that even had the remotest chance of growing into an orange let alone a tree!

So here he was - hand picked by the farmer placed in a big warm shiny room, with lights and warm moist soil - he could literally feel the warmth generating through the hard shell of his seed pod and he could feel the life stirring in his body.

He had tried for weeks to burst though that hard casing and he was a bit shocked when one day he did just that - he immediately set down the tiniest roots to grab onto the warmth of the soil and it felt so good - I am a tree - just like my Mum and Dad YAY!

Every day the farmer would arrive and give him nice warm drinks and feed up the soil which gave Oscar more and more nutrients. he was even more excited when one day he noticed that he had grown a leaf, then two then three - life was getting pretty exciting for Oscar the orange tree.

So, as the weeks went on Oscar grew and grew and he noticed that there were other trees just like him all around.  He also noted that the roots he was sending into the warm soil along with those of his friends were becoming quite crowded and getting a bit uncomfortable.

One day the farmer came and exclaimed that it was time he was separated from all the others and transplanted into a special garden called a "pot" where he could grow stronger. Oscar was excited but sad to be leaving his friends - still, he was very willing to go.

The new garden 'pot' was pretty special - heaps of warm soil and stacks of room. It was a bit of a shock at first but he soon got used to the idea and he was beginning to grow stronger every day.

The Farmer came in one day and said 'Now mate, its time you were pruned back a bit and a special graft will be put into your stem so that you can grow the best oranges in the land" - Oscar was shocked "cut back and grafted - will it hurt?" - And yes it did hurt but in the hands of the Farmer, Oscar felt safe and confident and soon the new graft was busy feeding from the nutrient filled sap that was being supplied.

Not long after this - Oscar, the new graft and his Garden pot were shoved on the back of a truck and whisked off to the markets to sell. All the other trees in the back of the truck were wondering what ever was to become of them but Oscar was excited to find out where he was destined to go.

Off the truck, loaded onto a wire trolley, wheeled into a big open room, sprayed with a big old hose and shoved together with his mates. A sign saying "$14 special" strung around his juvenile branches and he was off on his adventure.

A couple of hours passed when a young boy arrived with his Mum. "Mum, can we buy one of these trees - please Mum?' "Charlie - they are orange trees - what ever will we do with an orange tree - our backyard is so tiny!" But Charlie insisted "Please Mum I would love to have an orange tree" - Mum finally relented.

With that Charlie picked up Oscar's garden pot and carried him off to the sales assistant. Oscar was shocked again - "I don't want to go with him - I don't want to go!! I DON'T WANT TO GO". But go he went.

When they arrived home, Charlie didn't really know where to plant his new tree. Mum insisted that it not go in the garden - "Take it outside, maybe somewhere near that old park near the river she suggested".

Charlie and Oscar wandered off - Charlie armed with a shovel, Oscar scared out of his wits.

Down to the river they went and Charlie dug a deep hole - the soil was wet, dank and smelly. Charlie  shoved Oscar in and stomped around the hole with his boot and left. So there was Oscar - alone and very scared.

"I don't want to be here - I REALLY don't want to be here" sobbed Oscar. Night fell and it was the spookiest place to be - night animals came around and sniffed at Oscar - the river rose and fell, owls screeched and big water rats scampered by.

The next morning came and Oscar's leaves had been eaten by some grub - the river had washed away some of his soil and he was all alone.

Then the heat came - one of the hottest days in his living memory - no shade - just the sweltering on-going heat, then the wind came - a hurricane! Oscar was sure of it - he grasped on for all of his might. He could feel the smelly wet soil weakening but he hung on with all of his might.

"Get me out of here!" he screamed Put me in some place away from the sweltering heat and the windy storms" But no-one came - even Charlie had seemed to forget all about Oscar so the only thing he could do was to hang on tight and send his roots down deeper and deeper into that dank old soil and drink the from the floods that often swept around his feet and tried to erode his soil.
Then after a few months a strange thing happened....

Oscar found that the more adversities he faced the greater grew his stability - he grew and grew - nourished by the river and his roots grew strong and deep until eventually even the some of he biggest and fiercest of storms could not topple Oscar from his precarious place by that river bed.

As the years went on Oscar produced some of the juiciest and best oranges in the district - The winters were freezing but Oscar's fruit was the sweetest. His fame grew far and wide - birds made their homes in his lofty branches and people would picnic underneath his shade and eat the delicious fruit he provided.

So what can we learn from Oscar the Orange tree?

Many Christians are not happy in the place where God puts them - they run from church to church looking for acceptance. If they are not recognised or encouraged they become offended and so easily blame others. They become blind to their own character faults and flaws and are not prepared to accept that God wants them to be refined and matured in Him through that very pressure that they felt they were under.

If we just stop running from spiritual resistance, our own root systems would have a chance to become deeper and stronger and our own fruit would become plentiful and sweeter. We would mature in Him and not become weak and stunted and finally uprooted by the storms and traumas in life.

Citrus growers everywhere know that the colder the winter the sweeter the oranges:  we need adversities to grow and mature - to strengthen our resolve in Him; to cement our faith and reliance on Jesus.

God also prunes us and grafts His Spirit inside of us so that whatever happens we can grow strong in Him - grasping onto the promises of his unending love and faithfulness.

Verse 3 of Psalm 1 describes such a person who has matured in Him. "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth it's fruit in it's season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper"

So what sort of tree are you? Are you easily offended? Are you ever ready to find fault and criticise. Maybe you feel alone and left-out of church, the ministers or leaders don't recognise or encourage you?

Have you ever considered that God has planted you in this place at this time? - He knows that you will grow in Him if you can withstand the adversities thrown at you which will make you strong and mature in your Christian walk of faith.

Put your hand in His; trust His judgement and leading - not yours.

God bless you as you glorify Him and delight in the place where He has planted you.