Monday, 26 January 2015

We say "God bless you" and Heaven weeps!

Listening to Keith Green's amazing song "Asleep in the Light" really stirred me up as I was having my morning jog just recently.

There I was enjoying the stillness, if humid, early summer morning here in Australia - ear phones in and my Nano Pod on 'shuffle' jogging away like I have done countless times before, when this song, which I might add, I must have heard at least fifty times, started to play.

As if for the very fist time the lyrics seemed to come alive and reverberated through my brain.

The song itself is pretty ancient but the lyrics remind us that Christ comes to our doors so often. He comes in the guise of many and varied people - we may see these people at our front door, in the supermarket, at church or at work in fact anywhere we go Jesus may present himself to us, through them.

We so often turn these folks away saying - "God bless, be at peace" or variations of this but do we actually mean what we say - and can we back it up?

I continued on my way but those lyrics kept haunting me throughout that day and when I eventually joined a prayer and praise group that next Saturday morning through Twitter, as I usually do, I found myself actually tweeting those very words "God bless you - May God's peace be with you". Must admit I was shocked!

How glibly those words rolled off my keyboard - how trite they sounded after being convicted of their TRUE meaning. The very phrase sounded so flippant, off-hand, brassy and yes! even rude.

How can we as so-called Christians sound so 'real' yet be so hypocritical. The very phrase "God bless you" is so well worn it becomes worn out when we don't really mean what we say.

Not only that but I honestly believe that it can become an affront to God and a major sin.

I truly believe that God puts people in our paths on purpose then leaves it up to us to reach out to that person no matter who he or she may be.

The ways we reach out can be so numerous as will be the many and varied people we are trying to reach.

I believe that some of these people can come as a mighty big shock. Reaching the so-called unreachable, the unlovable, the friendless and the lonely. The busy office worker, the check out chap, the unflappable secretary, delivery driver and (here is a hard one) your enemy!

Jesus was a "REACHER" - He touched the unlovely, the ostracised, the lonely and the sick. Mark 5 tells the story of how Jesus reached a demon possessed man - chained due to his violence, yet was touched by the Son of God and became a Warrior for Jesus.

In Romans 12, we are even called to be Jesus' hands and feet, reaching out to people just where they are and in their need.

Now, at this point I am certainly not recommending that we disrespect people or annoy them in any way but all I am saying is that we, with the Holy Spirit's leading, connect with people around us. This may be as simple as a smile or a helping hand.

John 13:35 says "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another"

The presence of love for others even 'unlovable' others in our lives is a sure sign that God is changing us by his Spirit. With Jesus' Spirit inside of us any words of hope, encouragement, love and patience from us can and will make a huge difference.

Sometimes words of love and encouragement and putting ourselves 'out there' can mean a BIG sacrifice for us, but that is exactly what love does - it puts others first and ourselves last.

After learning this amazing lesson for myself I can now say "God bless you" in it's true meaning.

How are you at reaching out? How many personal stories are out there that you will never hear? How many hands are reaching out to you that you wouldn't even know about unless you make the first point of contact?

Pray this prayer with me:- "Dear Lord, I'm not really good at 'reaching out' but I know that with your help I can be courageous even bold for you. Please give me a loving and sensitive heart. Help me to love as you do and help me to see others as you do. Please help me to show love where it is needed most."

God bless you and may God's peace and joy reign in your life this week as you strive to show "Jesus type" love to everyone with whom you come in contact.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

When a couple of seconds are enough

We have certainly come a long way - just a mega second and WHAM! we can capture in nature what people have been trying to do since the dawn of time - from cave paintings to oil paintings man has tried to do everything to convey our world to others.

By using computers, and amazing cameras, it just takes a split moment in time to capture the grandeur of nature or even the enormity of space and preserve them forever.

When I think of time in seconds and what can happen in that mega short time it makes me stand in wonder how in such a short time a situation can turn into a catastrophe or something amazing can happen to change the face of world and its peoples.

For example;-

It only took a moment in time during the final stages of World War 2 when in August 1945 the atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The devastation was horrendous and 129,000 people were horribly killed and many hundreds of thousands more left permanently mutilated and terminally ill from radiation illness.

It only took a moment in time for Neil Armstrong to make that final step on to the moon in 1969 "one small step for man - one giant leap for mankind" - The EAGLE landed and Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took a stroll on the moons surface - forever changing our world.

It took only a moment in time in 2002 for a terrorist bomb to explode in Bali killing 202 with a further 209 injured.

It took only a moment of time for two hijacked planes to hit the World Trade Centre on 11th September, 2001. They were a series of four co-ordinated attacks that left 2,996 dead and changed the way the world viewed terrorism.

It took only a moment in time for the Wright brothers to take flight in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, N.C and to change travel, and aviation for the world forever.

It took only a moment in time for the first person to be injected with a miraculous vaccine invented by Dr Jonas Salk in 1957 to counteract the deadly and debilitating effects of Polio that had killed and maimed 1000's of people worldwide.

It took only a moment in time for the Berlin Wall to be opened for all in November, 1989. The wall had divided the country and it's people since 13th August 1961 causing many 100's of deaths and 1000's of family break-ups.

I could go on - hundreds of thousands of amazing events that have changed the way we see our world. Some incredible and awesome some devastating and disastrous.

Regardless of what you may personally think of Jesus of Nazareth or whatever you may believe about Him - He too changed the world.  He came as a baby over 2000 years ago, lived just 33 years, a sheer moment in time compared to the history of this old world, and then He died as a criminal - crucified on a cross, nailed there humiliated and scorned.

BUT WOW! what an impact this humble carpenter had on our world. Jesus' remarkable life has changed so many people in so many ways the list is inexhaustible it just goes on and on infinitum.

We can see so many changed lives today because of this amazing man - so why?

Is it because He left so many good teachings behind Him? Or maybe He paved the way for child care, or caring for women, maybe freeing the slaves? No there is far more to Jesus.

Jesus, is God - He was there with the Father since creation. He was there when sin via Satan entered the world, He knew that sin needed to be punished - every single person who has ever lived on this earth has sinned - There are no 'good or bad' sins - all sins are the same - SIN!

Romans 3: 23 "For ALL have sinned and fall (way) short of God's Glory" (Parenthesis added)

Jesus knew that because sin needed to be punished that everyone everywhere were doomed to eternal separation from God and doomed to be separated from the very place that God had prepared for His followers.

Jesus took that punishment for us! - That is why He went up that hill to Calvary - that is why He underwent the scorning, mocking, whipping, slapping, crown of thorns and finally nailing to that dreadful, but amazingly beautiful cross.

Then in a moment of time He rose from the dead - smashed and pushed aside the big old rock that was blocking His way - nothing could stop the glory of the Lord  - nothing could stand in His way - He rose a Victor - killed death forever and in so doing paved the way for everyone to find a way to Father - incredible? Yes and all in just a moment of time.

All we have to do is to accept that gift of Jesus - the incredible gift of forgiveness since that awful/beautiful day when he offered His life for yours and mine.

If you haven't done so before - offer your life to Him today - ask His forgiveness and invite Him through the Holy Spirit to take up residence in your life right now. And in a moment in time your life can change dramatically.

Yes, Jesus changed the world radically and permanently - He certainly changed my life and I know He can change yours as well.











Sunday, 4 January 2015

'Cause I am LOVE

God is LOVE!

How many times have we heard that - seems like forever to me - BUT have you really stopped to consider what that REALLY means?

First let's look at what a typical 'world-type' view of love could be:-

I Googled "what is love" and searching through the countless answers, and ignoring all the sexual gratification answers about so-called 'true' love, the following ones just about summed up what generally the world defines as LOVE.

"The strength and depth of Love is the level of self-acceptance each person has for themselves"

"Love is being able to compromise - learn to love yourself then you can love someone else"

Then there were these little pearlers:

"Love depends on how open, honest and exposed each individual is willing to be"

"Love is 50/50 - we are joined together as a team and we pull the load together - it's all about give and take"

I can certainly see where they are coming from but true love is so much more than "self acceptance" or "learning to love yourself".

In good solid marriages, openness and honesty are great attributes as is compromising in sticky situations, but LOVE certainly doesn't depend on them alone.

Let's look at what God defines as pure love and then we may be able to get a picture of what REAL love is.

God's love is an "all-sacrificing" love - There is no compromising with God - He loves us just how we are. He wants us to love as He does.

God's love to us doesn't depend on my ability to 'love' myself before I can love Him back nor does it depend on my openness and honesty before He will love me.

God's love isn't a 50/50 deal - giving and taking - I give to you and you give to me sort of arrangement. His love is unconditional - He gave His everything even before we even knew Him - He loves us THAT much.

God gives us 100% love - pure love - and that's how He wants us to be - 100% committed to Him and 100% committed to our marriages not just on a 'give and take' arrangement.

To love like God is being totally committed to Him and to our loved ones here on earth - no compromising, no asking "what do I get out of this". Putting ourselves last always thinking others better than ourselves, no slacking off - always putting them first.

God sent His only son to die for you! That in itself is such an amazing show or sign of one hundred percent love - God gave us that much while we gave him nothing in return.

God never stops loving us - we often try to run from God - Jonah did and we all know how he ended up - Gods love will never give up on us - not ever!

I know I personally tried running from God in a way - I liked the idea of a God who forgave and loved no matter what - so I figured I could do as I please, so I did. With disastrous effect. That's not giving Him one hundred percent love - That's "I'll do as I please and you will love me anyway" type of love.

We have to come to the point in our lives where we hand everything over to God - holding nothing back just as he did for us, trusting Him with our lives - God is pure love. He will not let us go and He will never leave us.

So how do we react to that type of love?

We can react with APATHY - "Thanks mate - that was great - I will give you a call next time I want something"

We can react with GUILT "I can never repay that gift - I am such an unworthy person"

God doesn't want us to love Him when we 'need' Him or feel 'obliged' to love Him back. He wants us to trust Him to obey Him - to tell others about Him and to reverence Him.

Reverence for God is so important - I was in church this morning and I noticed during the worship service people talking to each, feet up on the chairs in front, yawning and generally showing no interest.

A love for God and a true reverence/fear of God go hand in hand - you really can't have one without the other.

Isaiah 33:6 says  "He (God) will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure"

We can see here that the very 'key' to salvation is a healthy fear of God - a reverence in acknowledging his awesomeness, might and power.

God's love is pure love - He gives us one hundred percent love. A love like that demands a response from us - a reverent and awe-inspiring response - a "TRUE-LOVE" response.

What's going to be your response to the great and wonderful love of God?






Saturday, 20 December 2014

Stepping into the next moment

Life can be a trial. Things happen constantly that keep us ever vigilant ever watchful ever on our guard.

Maybe life is a bit hectic for you, things can so quickly get on top of us; life has so many twists and turns.

We often may wonder where is God in all of this. When our family seemingly falls apart; siblings quarrel and fall out, losing a job, maybe a separation, even divorce -  life just seems to throw up so much turmoil that having faith and following Christ can seem worthless exercise.

Even our own countries seem in a continual state if upheaval - horrors abound everywhere and no matter where we turn we can see life is often so cruel and heartless.

No wonder many of us are just so tired and despondent. No wonder we often feel weak often too weak to even try to understand what is happening.

Tears come easily and there is pain inside sometimes too painful to admit or talk about. We feel knocked down and broken.

As this next year approaches, many are concerned even worried:- will there be more devastating disasters? Will our families cope with added burdens and worries? Could we be faced with relationship breakdowns? Will my job hold or will it too be 'restructured'?

REAL concerns, REAL worries often to the point of us losing the fight, losing the inner fire to just keep going.

We really have no control over most of what is going to happen in our lives during this next year and often glibly saying "hand it over to God" can sound and actually be a bit trite, especially when everything has gone pear-shaped and we are feeling pretty much at the end of our rope.

I personally have found I have needed to train my brain, heart and soul to concentrate and FOCUS on Jesus every minute of every day.

We need to pick ourselves up, even when we are losing or have lost the fight, and take one step to Him. Focussing on Jesus, gives me the strength to carry on, even when things look their darkest and Satan tries his level best to beat us down.

If we accept God's gift of his Holy Spirit, and FOCUS on Him, He will step into all of our troubles and forge a way through whatever mess we find ourselves. Even when temptation is trying to smash down our fortress doors, God can be our Defender and Champion.

Focussing on God in every situation gives me the strength to cope with life's problems - problems that we all have - some HUGE, some would-be soul destroying ones.

Jesus goes before us like a guide, giving us confidence and courage to venture where we felt we couldn't possibly go or cope with problems we thought we couldn't possibly deal with.

I know from personal experience, that getting back up and taking the next step with Jesus, and FOCUSSING on Him gives me the strength to face one more day.

Through it all, there comes a certain 'calm in the ache' I can't properly explain. Joy and peace may be a bit extreme but deep in my soul there is a certain 'lifting or guiding' a feeling of not being alone.

We don't have to be the ones to see how this mess will all pan out - we don't have to walk alone through it all.

God controls the future; the past is gone, whatever happened there is gone too, God knows the future, you don't - He is the one who moves us on.

So here we are on the brink of 2015 - what will occur? I have no idea! but there is a certain confidence in me because I truly believe that God has gone before me, He has visited, if you like, all of my tomorrows, all of the impossible circumstances I will find myself and also all the many blessings.

God wrote the story, He know the end from the beginning, by FOCUSSING on Him this year we can move ahead with confidence, His arms surround us helping us take that "next step".

May God go with you as you take the next step, no matter how rickety, with Him - May He enfold you with His love.

Please have the most amazing Christmas and may 2015 bring you confidence, love, joy and peace as you worship and serve our Jesus our Saviour.






Sunday, 7 December 2014

Souvenirs


We all like to collect souvenirs - places we have been maybe - little trinkets of mementos of people who have meant a lot to us and places that have touched our lives.

Photo albums, books, letters tied with ribbons, nick knacks of all descriptions - yes! souvenirs can be important to us.

Christmas time is a lovely time for many - filled with family, laughter, food and fun BUT unfortunately for others it can be a time of intense pain and heartache. Yes, Christmas time can be a lonely horrible time for many.

Many many families are broken - parents and children's relationship smashed beyond reconciliation, siblings not on speaking terms or parents divorced, separated or estranged. This can be the norm for countless hundreds of people. So sad, tragic really and unfortunately the pain is very very real.

These feelings can be some of the 'silent' souvenirs we carry about with us. Souvenirs that so many of us don't want to collect but are thrust upon us. Often to burden us for ever.

Every so often we take out these silent mementos, often when we are alone and re-live occasions and feelings, - a broken or wounded heart, thoughts of 'what may have been', an accusation that has left us overwhelmed, a regret here, a tragedy there.

The loss of a child, a spouse, a parent or a sibling. Our silent souvenirs are all there, waiting for us  just to 'scratch the surface' of our lives and they come bubbling to the top to remind us again of a past hurt or grief.

So souvenirs can be lots of fun, nostalgic and loaded with great memories, but as you can see some souvenirs give us the feeling of emptiness - nothing left - just memories, token threads, lying in the middle of our broken hearts and lives.

So what's in your treasure chest of souvenirs? I know I have dragged mine out often and sorted and counted them - set them apart and re-lived many sad experiences and regrets.

So what do we do with these souvenirs - do we have to have keep re-living them, dragging them out and re-hurting ourselves.

Jesus wants to take our souvenirs - it's as simple and straightforward as that - of course that doesn't mean that miraculously we will stop thinking about our past hurts or current tribulations. We won't automatically find amazing solutions to mend broken hearts and families.

But God has promised to "work all things together for the good of those who love Him. who have been called according to His purpose."

This is an amazing promise, A promise to give us hope and light at the end of our tunnel of despair. With this promise we can rest assured of His great love, a love that will never let us go, never fail us and give us the assurance and confidence we all need to "get on" with our lives and press on with Him.

In Philippians 4: 6-7 Paul writes "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Notice how this passage emphasises the 'peace' of God - this peace can be so easily 'tapped' into. How? By trusting Jesus to do what he says.

We need to give our broken lives to Jesus - not only our lives, but our broken hearts, broken families and our broken relationships. He is ever ready to take our grief also - His promises are sure and true.

Psalm 55:22 says in the Message Bible version  "Pile your troubles on God's shoulders - He'll carry your load, He'll help you out."

How about that! Jesus is more than willing to allow us to literally 'pile your troubles on God's shoulders' He wants to take your burdens - no matter what they are - nothing is beyond His help - nothing is too hard for Him.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 states among other things to "Trust the Lord with all your heart". Just maybe we could start to see our troubles, grief or whatever as the perfect way to start trusting God with all of our hearts and then we may be able to see that God is indeed bigger than all of them put together.

So, taking one step at a time and praying for God's word to guide us, we can hand all of our 'souvenirs' to Jesus. We ask Him to take our burdens, whatever they are, and trust/depend on Him to do what he has promised.

God bless you this Christmas - may you be filled with the peace of Jesus as you submit to Him as Lord of your life.






Tuesday, 25 November 2014

There's no denying!

William Tyndale was strangled and burnt at the stake in 1536 for heresy because he dared to stand up for Christ and translated the Bible into English.

Pastor Saeed Abedini is currently in his 3rd of an 8 year sentence for daring to tell others of his faith - Saeed , a former Muslim converted to Christianity and set up house churches in Iran.

Persecution like Saeed's and even further to Tyndale is pretty much unheard of here in the west, but in my opinion we should be warned - it will come our way and sooner maybe than any of us can expect.

Just recently, tolerance for such things as homosexuality, is rife and there are laws afoot that make it a 'hate crime' to voice your opinion on what the Bible plainly teaches.

Here in Australia, scripture in schools is being 'outed' as 'cultish', outdated, fairy tales and fantasy. Many schools have had to make a choice between allowing scripture or facing a backlash of media scrutiny and parent protest.

I can see in the not-to-distant future it will become a crime to voice your opinion on Christianity and doing so could lead to prison sentences simply for taking a stand for Christ.

We can't allow ourselves to be persuaded to 'water-down' our faith; to compromise the very grace of God that saved us just so we don't 'offend' someone in the community.

Jesus himself warned His disciples of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees - an act which ultimately led to His death on the cross.

We have to be so careful and be so aware of hypocrisy in our own lives. Would we be prepared to confess our Lord Jesus when we are under pressure?

Pressure for us, as those living in Christ, will certainly come to us if it hasn't already; whether it will be severe persecution or social rejection, we as Christians will have to give an account to our peers at some stage.

The BIG question we have to ask ourselves is "How will I react? Will I confess Jesus or will I deny Him? This very question is not some 'airy-fairy-pie-in-the-sky' question - It is deadly serious!

Jesus Himself warns us that our very eternal destiny hangs on this question. If we deny Him under pressure then we become hypocrites; saying one thing then acting another: all hypocrites will face God's judgement!

In Matthew 10:33 Jesus says "But...whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father in Heaven" (New Living Translation)

Even unto death we have to confess Jesus before all people: and I truly believe that there is coming a time, and sooner than we think when we will have to do just that - Are you prepared? am I?

I believe too that even our sins are an act of denial of God. We so often deliberately sin, turning our backs on God and doing the "I did it my way" thing! How dare we!

God never turns His back on us, not ever and yet we so often fall for Satan's tricks and feel we can do it ourselves; we get offended and put out; we try, ever so hard, to confirm to the world's standards, when all the time, God's grace, mercy, forgiveness and love are extended to us constantly.

Yes: denying Christ can take all sorts of forms; whether it be our sins of rebellion or failing to own His amazing name.

Jesus recognised that our words and deeds can have a huge bearing on how we are spend eternity: we would be so foolish to simply ignore or shrug off as inconsequential His mighty words of warnings here in Matthew.

We must make a choice and once made to 'stick with it' even in the face of potential persecution, imprisonment or even death.

God bless you as you speak out for Jesus; Make His name known to all and let the world know where you stand.




Friday, 7 November 2014

Indescribable

Do you like me rush around and get into your day, hardly thinking about just how amazing 'the day' actually is?

When you think about it here we are perched on a spinning giant ball hurtling through space at a rate of half a km every second - we are spinning at 1,675 km's an hour.

That borders on the bizarre really - freakish even - when you actually take time to analyse it.

We are the only planet in this huge amazing cosmos that supports life - lunging through the atmosphere, circling a gigantic fiery planet big enough to fit 1.3 million 'earths' in it's vastness at 108,000 km's an hour.

That is totally  mind blowing - when you stop and actually think of our sun - it's huge; amazing - spell binding - a fiery ball of gas and plasma which can blind us if we look at it for any length of time.

The sun is the very centre of the solar system and here we are hurtling around it at incredible speed and yet the very force of our spinning creating 'gravity' which keeps our feet on the ground. We don't appear to be spinning and we feel we are on a firm footing and yet we are actually rushing at incredible speed.

You can't possibly feel that all of this just happened to fall into place - the balance of the universe alone is enough to make God real in every sense.

The Bible says in Romans 1:20 that we have no excuse WHATEVER in not knowing God. - the whole creation screams at us of a Creator God -  God: awesome in power, majesty and might Our God that you can see in everything.

God has revealed Himself plainly in creation: he created you and me - we didn't just evolve - we were created uniquely and divinely not just some accident in space spat out in an explosion of molten fluid and gases.

God created and we sinned - we were the ones who turned our backs on Him - He has always been the same and will be for eternity - This old world of ours will gradually teeter and spin out of control BUT God will remain - Yesterday, today and for eternity.

You have really got to to hear this! - God loves us - you and me - He sent His own Son to bear the punishment which should have been metered out to us - Our punishment - not His - Our sin - not His. He took our sins and killed them stone dead on that cross all those years ago.

Its totally and utterly crazy that God; the creator of this amazing spinning universe had His own son punished for us and why?

Because he loves us that much - The very God, the Creator God, the majestic God, the awesome God, loves you; actually LOVES you.

He loves us and wants desperately to have a personal relationship with us: again, how spellbinding is that!!! - the very Architect of the Universe wants to have a personal relationship with you!!!

We have to make a choice here; Gods wants desperately to forgive your sins  and have that personal relationship with Him BUT you have to choose to accept Him.

Thing is - when we actually stand before our Mighty God we only have one plea and that is JESUS - He paid my penalty for me - He paid the price that should have been mine. When God looks at me He will see Jesus - Will you be able to say the same?

Today, even right now you can KNOW for sure that when you die you will spend eternity with God. You need to get alone with God and accept His amazing offer of forgiveness and let Him change your life.

Begin this awesome walk with God - You will never be the same again - even in the bad times He is there with you.

The God of the universe LOVES you! - He wants so much for you to come to Him.

Don't delay there is nothing to delay about! - You can know today for sure that Heaven is yours - It's time to stop, think and act. Today is the day of salvation.