Monday, April 3, 2017
Saturday, February 25, 2017
In my opinion, the biggest life changing question asked in the Bible can be found in Matthew 16:15, Jesus arrives in the region of Caesarea Philippi. He asked who the people thought He was. The disciples said John the Baptist returned, Elijah, Jeremiah or another prophet. Clearly the people thought whoever this Jesus person was He was under the authority of God. The reality was He was not recognised for who He really was, the Son of God and The Saviour of the World.
Jesus then turns to His disciples and in Matthew 16:15 says, "who do you say I am?" At this point Jesus is recognised as Messiah and Son of the living God and on this foundation Jesus said, "I will build my church". This question at this point changed everything, Jesus' suffering on the cross and His resurrection was close and that God's Kingdom was ever closer.
This question is as powerful today as then. "Who do you say Jesus is?" And that's why I struggle to call myself a Christian, as I learn more about Him. Christian for some people is used to describe someone who loves and follows Jesus. For others it is more a label used to describe a life style, a type of person, a type of music, something ticked on a demographic form or a type of insurance. I remember a musician talking about a particular conference and describing it as very 'Christian'. Almost as you would describe the Motorshow being very automotive. The funny thing is, I went to that very conference the following year and ran into the same chap and I have to say it was very 'Christian'. It's very surreal being sold Christian motor insurance!
The point I'm trying to make is that this word Christian seems so far removed from that moment when Jesus asked that question to His disciples, "who do you say I am?" It's not enough to stick a label on ourselves and call ourselves a Christian, but do we know and acknowledge who Jesus is. He wants to have a 'real' relationship with us and see our lives changed so that we can live life to its fullness.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Monday, November 21, 2016
I read this devotional today that contains a lot that is perhaps hard to accept but nonetheless seems to get to the heart of grace and faith......
I suppose there has never been a marriage between two honest, self-examining people that at some time has not reached a seemingly irredeemable low point. There have been moments in my own marriage when the wall between my wife and me seemed too high to hurdle, too thick to break. We found it hard to muster hope. It was not easy to be confident that somehow the barriers blocking our oneness could be removed. . . . Too many unhappy spouses claim promises that God never made as their foundation of hope. They trust that if they do all they can, God will change their spouses into the loving Christians they should be. But a reason to live never consists of a guarantee that “Things will get better” or that “God will save your husband and help him stop drinking.” The hope of the Christian is far deeper than a mere change in someone else. The hope of the Christian is inescapably bound up in the grace of God.
It would be easy to quote a few verses from Hebrews (especially 6:18–19), and speak glowingly about the sure hope in Christ that serves as an anchor for our souls. But if you are plagued by chronic despair that results in a “Why bother” attitude, then prayerfully consider the following.
The Lord has not promised to put your marriage together for you. The hope of the Christian is not that one’s spouse will change or that one’s health will improve or that one’s financial situation will become good. God does not promise or rearrange our worlds to suit our longings. He does promise to permit only those events that will further his purpose in our lives. Our responsibility is to respond to life’s events in a manner that pleases the Lord, not to change our spouses into what we want. Even if we respond biblically, we have no guarantee that our spouses will respond in kind. Though they file for divorce or continue to drink or nag all the more, there is reason for us to persevere in obedience.
Certainly if both partners build on the foundation of hope and strive earnestly to live biblically, even the worst marriage can be turned around. Either way, there is reason to hope. This reason is bound up in the grace of God.
In God’s presence, there is never cause for despair. Our spouses may not do what they should to restore our marriage to happy, fulfilling relationships. But if we remain faithful to God, pouring out our emotions before him, renewing our commitment to seek him, trusting him to guide us in our responses, then he will sustain us through our trials and provide rich fellowship with him. There is reason to go on. There is hope. God’s grace is sufficient.
—Dr. Larry Crabb
Monday, October 24, 2016
Dare to dream.....but be prepared for some unexpected outcomes.
Following the very powerful prophetic dream that was shared with us at WAVC yesterday I was, once again, challenged by the quality of our relationships within the church generally.
Matthew 5 is always a challenge :
“‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
Matthew 5:23-24 NIVUK
But when we realise the extent to which a real sign of the quality of our relationship with Jesus is our attitude towards, and relationship with, others it opens up new and challenging areas for us.
Attending worship, reading the bible, prayers and other Christian paraphernalia become secondary if we are not striving for God honouring relationships and doing what is within our power to fix them when they are broken.
In our series on the Letters to the 7 Churches in Revelation Jesus spoke some very hard truths to His Church. Many of these were extremely hard to swallow. It would have been very easy in the face of these to throw your dummy out of the pram and go elsewhere, somewhere easier.
However, and this is where it gets harder, the only avenue Jesus presents to the people, on every occasion where He highlights a weakness, sin or failing is........ acceptance of His words and repentance!
After our worship service I was reminded by someone of words I had said in church ( and this person was reminded of them by their non Christian partner who happened to be there when I spoke) , " it's easy to love the loveable " so that is never the test of our obedience! I am always challenged by the words of Glen Kaiser ( former lead of Rez Band) - " the person we love the least is the full extent of our actual love for Jesus".
Like the dream that was shared at church, this quote does not give the option of hiding behind so called 'spiritual activities' whilst leaving broken or breaking relationships untended.
I am so thankful that, following extremely tough words from Jesus in the letters, there is always a way back to the experience and reality of His awesome grace - through the doors of:
2. Sorting it out ( the fruit of repentance)
"Let them who have ears, hear what the spirit is saying to the church."
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Sunday, October 16, 2016
“After Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the LORD.”
2 Chronicles 12:1 NIVUK
How accurately this statement reflects a weak tendency in us that has remained constant over the generations?
When we want or need something or feel weak or fearful we 'turn to God' but when we have what we want or feel content we begin to form an identity based not on intimacy with our Father but based on what we do ( yes, even what we do in the church) or we subtly shift our confidence away from God to 'things' or even to our own abilities.
How often do we hear ' she or he has 'never been closer to God' than when they have hit a crisis point? On one level that is great and God promises to meet us whenever we turn to him with integrity and in repentance or in genuine need. However we must let that experience beg questions of what was going on in our walk with Him before that point....
There will usually have been symptoms that were ignored, excused or brushed under the carpet. Things like less and less fellowship in house groups, less desire to pray together with fellow Christians, less reading of the bible and often, ironically more work for the church or God as we like to persuade ourselves...
When we do this then even our so called 'Christian work' becomes like 'filthy rags' because it tends towards idolatry. It begins to replace God in vital areas of our lives. The growing void created by the distance in our intimacy with Him is filled by fine sounding 'good works'
Do we spend more time or place a greater priority in DOING FOR God rather than BEING WITH Him?
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