Monday, 6 June 2011
Read Joshua chapter 7
“We do everything in our power to ensure that we will never see the face of God, but God does everything in His power to ensure that we will – aren’t you happy that God is so much more powerful?” – Louie Giglio.
What is your prison? The thing that holds you in, restricts you and ultimately affects the way you act. In a Christian sense, this is the aspect of your life that is stopping you from getting closer to God, or growing in Him. The characteristic stopping you from becoming the person God wants you to be, or the issue preventing you from reaching your full potential in Christ!
It’s the thing in your life, in you, that is crippling your spirituality!!!
A prison in your life, or the bars holding you back can be a number of things: things you have chosen to do or continue to do, things that have happened to you that was out of your control, bad experiences or events from your past that raise up unforgiveness, grief, guilt, resentment – feelings that aren’t from God. These things hold us back, they become the bars that restrict us, we let them get hold of us and start controlling the way we live.
In Joshua 7, we see how Achan’s sin affected Israel – the rest of the Israelites weren’t even aware of the sin that had crept into their camp and it had resulted in them losing the battle against the city of Ai, who they would have normally crushed. This all came from the people’s disobedience towards God and breaking the command that He gave them (v.1), this had crippling affects on Israel. The same goes for us, things that happened long ago, things that we thought wouldn’t bother us, things we have done or do. Things we have hidden away because we didn’t want to deal with, or maybe because it was too painful; also secret sin – habits or acts we keep furtive that bind us to darkness. These things cripple us, they restrict us from being the child of God we are meant to be, and just like Israel we are weakened!
The thing Joshua did though was go before God, he threw himself facedown in awe before the Lord, in sorrow and anger (v.6) but regardless he sought God in that situation. And what did God do? He reveals the problem to Joshua (.10) and tells Joshua why Israel can’t stand against their enemies (v.12). Notice that God doesn’t give Joshua a vague answer but makes him aware of the exact problem (tribe to clan to family to person). Then God orders Israel to purify themselves of their sin and God strengthens them again.
Like Joshua and Israel, you need to go before the Lord and allow Him to search you – let His Holy Spirit open your eyes to the sin or hurt that is crippling you. Have faith because God will reveal things to you and prompt you about certain things that are spiritually disabling you. Then like Israel, give it over to the Lord and purify yourself of it – God is more than powerful enough! No matter the struggle or hurt, Jesus forgives us and heals us. He lifts us up again and helps us in our area of need.
Some things may take time and open old wounds, but the Lord wants to heal you and bring you freedom from those disabilities. Go to our heavenly Father and know that He loves you and wants you to be the amazing person He made you to be, free of the evil and corruption of this world.
Romans8:39, “There is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Be comforted by how powerful Jesus is and that nothing can ever keep you from Him! Know that God WILL forgive, heal and restore you – give it over to Him and leave it with Him.
Monday, 30 May 2011
Luke 10: 27 … “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, strength and mind” … “Love your neighbours as you love yourself.”
This command is said by Jesus to be the most important and very often we give it a little tick on our Christian checklist and continue on. What does it mean to love God with all you’re heart, soul, strength and mind? Is it putting Jesus above everything else in your life and making Him Lord of your life? Is it doing everything you do for God, as acts of worship? Is it obeying the commands given to us in the Bible?
In Revelation 2, Jesus is speaking to the church in Ephesus, through the revelation He gave to John. Jesus starts off by commending them for all their good works, their perseverance in tough times, their intolerance for evil men, their endurance for the name of Christ and not growing weary. This seems like quite an excellent church, well run, enduring, holding on to truth and the name of Jesus, not allowing the influence of evil to penetrate their community. The Ephesus church must have been feeling quite pleased until the BUT came. Jesus rebukes them for leaving their First love. Could they have missed the mark of the greatest commandment given to us? Their actions and deeds in the church were great; they followed the teachings in the Bible and stood strong for their beliefs, however when the heart behind these actions, the heart behind the church, was examined they were found to wanting. Could they of been to concerned about the works of the church? Were they too busy and in this lost their First Love? The end result for the church in Ephesus is that they don’t exist today, a warning given by Jesus if they did not repent and give their hearts fully back to him.
This was quite a scary letter given to the church, showing the importance of where our hearts are while we go about our works. We need to examine our hearts all the time and not get caught in the trap of ‘the more work we do and busier we are the better.’ Love supersedes all the works, gifting and experiences – love is there till the end. We are told in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is the greatest, that it never fails and that we don’t gain much from our actions without love. Jesus loved across race, across culture and across divides. Jesus loved the lonely, the hurt, the outcast, and even those that were considered hard to love. Importantly though, in all that loving and in all that work that Jesus did on this earth, He didn’t forget His Father and He stayed connected to God through love – perfect, pure, unconditional love.
Maybe that’s why Jesus responded when asked what the greatest command was, saying it is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. The second most important commandment being that we are to love others as you love yourself.
Through loving Christ and ensuring our hearts are sold out for Him, it will overflow into our lives, be it in works, outreach, or any daily thing. The love of Christ cannot be kept in when Jesus is our First Love, it would be like trying to put a lid on an erupting volcano, that lid is going to go flying.
Examine your heart daily; be careful not to get caught up in works or just making God another piece of your life that finds its place on Sundays, in a scheduled quite time, or a weekly ministry. God doesn’t want to be a part of your life, He wants your life; for whoever loses their life for the sake of Christ will find it (Matt 10:39).
The war was won by the love of Christ, which is available to us to bring transformation in our lives and to be used by us to transform this world.
Love is kind, patient, never jealous, never boastful, never proud or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered and it doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. Love rejoices in the truth, it is supportive, loyal, hopeful and trusting. Love never fails! (1 Corinthians 13).
We are not worthy to gather up the crumbs under his table, however we curse him, ignore him, turn our backs on him and reject him over and over again. Yet God accepts us for who we are. In fact, not only does he accept us but he specifically chose us for His divine purpose!
“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you” (Isaiah 43:4)
Why is it then that we struggle to accept others; when the God of the entire universe is able to call us “precious”, “honourable” and even offers us His unconditional love? Us, the ones who hate people based on colour, language, social status and any difference that makes people uncomfortable.
In today’s society we are finding it more and more difficult to accept others because we have become so conditioned to thinking the way the world wants us to think. We constantly judge others according to worldly standards: the clothes people wear, how much money they have, what they look like, the material possessions they have, where they live, their disabilities, language, race …
Often we are afraid to be seen with certain people or to show them acceptance because we are afraid of what others might think of us or that we ourselves may be rejected!
Jesus came to earth to live among us, so that He could show us the way that we should be living as people of God. He wasn’t afraid to reach out to lepers, tax collectors, the demon possessed –people who in those times were seen as being a disgrace to society, the lowest of the low. Jesus embraced them all with open arms.
In Luke 16:15 Jesus says “you are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your heart. What is highly valued among men is detestable in Gods sight.”
So if we, as children of God, want to follow his example by showing love and acceptance towards all people, we need to start changing the way we think. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”(Romans 12:2). We need to start seeing other people the way that Jesus sees them and to “stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment” (John 7:24). No matter what the social norm is around you toward a person, type of people or even race; we need to, as Christians, stand up for the rejected and downcast.
“Therefore as Gods chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14)
If you do this you will truly be living for God and you don’t need to worry about what others think because God is on your side and He will never leave nor forsake you!
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
So go out and love as Christ loved; even if you might not understand a person or their ways, or even if they irritate and aggravate you. Rise above the differences and love, you are able with the help of the Holy Spirit. All people are loved by God, and He wants all to be saved; don't turn them away because they don't fit your 'mold'.
*with help and insight from Kirsty Tapson
*with help and insight from Kirsty Tapson