- Paupers have a poverty mentality – knowing my true identity destroys this.
- I need to leave the prisons of the past, especially unforgiveness, behind.
- Forgiveness rewrites my history – I no longer live in past bondage.
- I can live by my God-given name, not wrong labels.
- Ban insecurity! Act like royalty, encouraging others.
- Relationship with God comes first, then obedience.
- God created me for glory.
- True humility is strength restrained, not weakness.
- I need to give honour regardless of whether I feel it is deserved.
- Commit myself to other believers – be family.
- Bring justice with courage and power.
- Live bravely.
Friday, 22 July 2016
Thursday, 21 July 2016
It was all very, very fair - as long as they trusted God and did what he said. As long as they accepted what they were given.
And what immediately struck me - although First 5 concentrates on God's generosity, which is another important lesson to take away from this whole 'given the Promised Land' theme - is that God put BOUNDARIES in place. And how good it is when I accept the boundaries which God has given me. That I am 'content whatever the circumstances', as Paul says.
Circumstances which may, as I reflected yesterday, come as a result of my own sin. It is no good 'backtrading' and living with regrets for my behaviour: I can only go forward, because: "...we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:16 - 19)
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
BUT this verse caught my heart this morning: Numbers 33:55. God says to this Israelites, just before they are about to enter into the Promised Land: "But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live."
This was actual advice. The native inhabitants worshipped idols, not God, and God knew that the Israelites would wander away from him if they allowed the inhabitants to remain. This did, indeed, happen: man's fallen nature meant that the Israelites disregarded God's wisdom, with unhappy results.
The idea of killing and destroying the lives of others is abhorrent to us, especially at this present time of war and trouble around our world, of an influx of refugees into other countries, of waves of racial hatred and distrust towards those who are 'different' from us, but this is a picture of what happens when - not even IF - we allow sin to stay resident in our lives.
If I substitute 'sin' for 'people', then the Contemporary English Version reads like this:
"If you don’t force out sin, it will be like pointed sticks in your eyes and thorns in your back. It will always be trouble for you,"
I confess my sins of unforgiveness and bitterness, yet keep dwelling on the relationships and situations where I sinned.
I haven't 'forced out sin'. For God is a good God, loving and compassionate to all: as He says about himself when he appeared to Moses, he is : "“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness," I haven't believed that God has taken my sins away farther than the east is from the west - that is, to infinity and beyond.
I haven't trusted Him and His saving grace. I have relied on myself and do not truthfully claim that 'Christ is enough for me'.
"Christ is my rewardAnd all of my devotion
Now there's nothing in this world
That could ever satisfy
Through every trial
My soul will sing
No turning back
I've been set free
Christ is enough for me
Everything I need is in You
Everything I need
Christ my all in all
The joy of my salvation
And this hope will never fail
Heaven is our home
Through every storm
My soul will sing
Jesus is here
To God be the glory
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back
No turning back
The cross before me
The world behind me
No turning back
No turning back"
Monday, 28 March 2016
The answer to the doldrums is, though, praise and positivity and prayer and perseverance in studying the words of God....
Sunday, 6 March 2016
We acknowledged, too, how hard it was for her as she tried to build new relationships, organising her wedding so that her family could enjoy the day without having to stress to ensure that all happened as it should. She worked incredibly hard to include everyone and make sure they had fun. And, in all the excitement of her wedding, she knew that she would be entering a stressful life period of change of friends, home, job, country....
Wednesday, 2 March 2016
than[n] the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among[o] his brothers.” The commentary says: “The patriarch describes him as attacked by envy, revenge, temptation, ingratitude; yet still, by the grace of God, he triumphed over all opposition, so that he became the sustainer of Israel; and then he proceeds to shower blessings of every kind upon the head of this favorite son. The history of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh shows how fully these blessings were realized.”
Tuesday, 23 February 2016
Here is a lie, from Ann Voskamp:
"By Grace, today I fast from the lie that my calling
isn't great enough because God isn't calling
for people great in skills, schooling, or spotlight -
He's calling those simply great in community,
in confession, in communion, in courage, great in Christ.
Today I will do ordinary things with extraordinarily great love.
We repent of wanting to be great
*instead of loving greater.*
#Day12 #PeopleofTheCross #LentRepentRefresh [ Free Printable Devotionals for #40Days:http://bit.ly/TakeBackLentFreeDevotional ]
Wednesday, 3 February 2016
And from Michelle, about what is really important in life:
Staying - When we stay in the valley and become honest with God something remarkable happens
The last SATURDAYS post talked about God redeeming even the darkest parts of our story. I love that idea...God turning despair into hope, Night into day, dark into light. But often the idea is a lot easier than the execution. How do these dark-wait-days become redeemed? How can we practically find God in them? Have you asked these questions? I know I have!
Perhaps it begins when we stop trying to turn on the light ourselves. Of course it's only natural to look for light in dark places. When my dad got sick I wanted to find ways to alleviate the pain and shock of it all. No one with any appetite for life initially enters a difficult season by saying, "Oh yeah baby! Bring it on...the more desolate the better!" Nope... We initially want out! But skipping across the top of pain does not allow us to be present with it, which is what brings healing.
While I believe being present with pain is the best way through it, often I need to learn how to do that. In the case with my dad, the only thing I really knew was that I didn’t like it. I wanted things to go back to the way they were. I dreaded the journey ahead for him, my mom, for everybody. So, secretly in my heart, I tried to find a light switch to turn on. I wanted to illuminate this path and find something better, but there was no light switch. (Now, before anyone corrects me, don’t worry, I already know Jesus is the light of life...I don't need a reminder) Since I could not find a way to illuminate that path, I groped for a door and looked for a way out, but every door opened to the same reality. I was so frustrated and overwhelmed. But God had a plan, He still does. And one of the gifts of such sacred darkness is that there is no escape.
To find the light of Christ we must be willing to journey the dark, solemn places of our soul that rise up and question the goodness of God. Job did that and he wasn't scolded, he was actually reminded of God. Perhaps some would say, we shouldn’t question God’s goodness, or that we should trust him more. Well, that’s a good idea and when you meet someone who has that figured out, let me know. I have tried bringing my “should” or “shouldn’t” self to God. It doesn’t work very well, because it isn’t my real-self. I don’t need God to love the person I should be, I need him to love the person I AM. Nothing discloses the real-me more than moments of desolation.
I suppose that’s why raw honesty works best...at least it does for me. In that hotel room near Stanford sometime around 3 am I could cry out, “God, I don’t like this! I’m overwhelmed with sadness and disappointment. I don’t trust you to be good right now because the pain and shock I feel eclipses much of what I’ve learned about you....or at least what I've come to believe. If you are who you say you are, please come and meet me here.” …And he did, and he brought his goodness with him. Like Job, I wasn't scolded in his presence, I was reminded.
So I asked God to open my eyes to what was real and to see His goodness in it. As I came across a garden at Stanford I was reminded there is a Gardener that grows beautiful things from dirt that holds seeds; and the soil bed of our hearts are being prepared, all the time, for sacred work and beauty. Walking through the many waiting areas God gave me eyes to see past the medicine and notice the sleepy sojourners in waiting rooms, unforgotten by the One who is high above it all. He's the one who remembers our waiting condition and keeps us present before the Father even when we can't do so ourselves (Rom 8, Isa 55:8-9). He collects our tears and carries our sorrows (Ph 56:8). He does it while we work out our disappointments with Him, with our story and with ourselves.
It takes time to make room for such soul-space. Silence and solitude are key. In them, the many screams from this crazy roller-coaster can be silenced. His still small voice finds an echo that carries its way to the canyons of our dismay. And while we wait in the basin of darkness, we learn to die. We loosen our grip on what we must have, who we must be, the things we must accomplish, and we simply begin to rest in who we are and what we’ve been given. We become present with ourselves and, if we invite him, Jesus shows up too. The sinner dines with Holiness and in the power of God’s loving presence, we are changed.
I am slowly learning to let the Light of Life love me in honest visitations. This, after all, is our inheritance. Let us receive it with…joy.
Become silent for a moment. Stay quiet long enough to notice what's rumbling in your heart and mind?
What honest plea might you have for God?
Practice trusting Him by voicing that plea before him. Set your 'should' and 'shouldn't' aside and dare to speak what rises up.
Let the Light of Life love you in the darkness and hold you present before Himself.
Hear Him say, "Oh beloved, show me your face, let me hear your voice. For your voice is sweet and your face is lovely. There's nothing in your story that I have not seen and remembered."
Tuesday, 2 February 2016
I'm going through a little Bible plan by a (previously unknown to me) writer called Nicole Reyes.
"Recently, I was speeding down a flight of stairs and had the brilliant idea of skipping over a couple steps for sake of time. Let's just say it wasn't my finest moment. Thankfully, my tumble down the stairs only left me with a bruised knee and a bruised ego. And I guess a funny story that still makes me laugh!
Beyond the laughter, there is a lesson: Each step to our destination is an important one. If we try to skip over necessary steps, it will only lead to unnecessary pain.
There’s no shortcut to becoming more like Jesus and fulfilling your God-given assignment. There’s no secret out there that will put you on a fast track to success. There’s no in-crowd that can get you out of simple faithfulness. There’s no magic pill to avoid daily taking up your cross in order to experience Christ’s resurrection power.
There’s just the next step. Jesus is always faithful to lead you to the next step. He illuminates your path through His Word, through the counsel of the Holy Spirit, and the wisdom of others.
It’s never a question of whether or not there’s a next step. The question is: will you take it?
The next step will most likely require courage, humility and discipline; and it will always require faith.
Peter's next step certainly required faith! In Matthew 14, Peter is sailing across storm-raging waters with the disciples when in the distance he spots Jesus walking on water! And when Jesus invites Peter to join him on the water, Peter has a choice to make. Will he stay in the comfort of the boat with his friends or will he take the audacious step out of the boat and onto the water to be with his Savior? Peter chose the way of daring faith: Peter not only stepped on the water, but he began to walk on it as well! With one simple step, Peter’s story took a dramatic and miraculous turn!
Your next step matters. Just like Peter, without it you will never experience God's power at work in your life! The next step is always worth taking. So take your next step. Don’t put it off. Go for it! Jesus is calling; He is beckoning you onward!"
I pray for Syrian refugees when I see the work that our dear friends' daughter has done, rescuing people from the sea as they arrive on a tiny Greek island. Or when I see other friends posting about Europe's reluctance to take in the homeless and the stranger.
I ponder as I read many, many thoughtful posts from Christian writers. Thank you, Proverbs 31 Ministries. Thank you, Bob.
And it was today that Bob's words rang most true, among the encouragement to godly living, the inspiration to begin each day afresh in loving God and others.
Bob talks about the grieving he is going through after his wife, Lyn's, death from from cancer. He quotes a story from a missionary to India, Paul Hiebert: "Yellayya, a village elder who had come to faith in Jesus, came to Mr Hiebert to report that children were dying in his village from smallpox. The elder said that the other elders in desperation had sent for a diviner who told them that the goddess of smallpox was angry. To satisfy this goddess and stop the plague, the village would have to perform the water buffalo sacrifice. Further, every family in the village would need to contribute toward the purchase of the buffalo. The Christians refused to do this. After much pressure however, many Christians were about to concede, planning to tell God they did not mean it. But Yellayya refused to let them contribute. However, now one of the Christian girls had come down with smallpox. Yellayya came to Mr Hiebert to ask him to pray for healing of the girl.
The missionary wrestled with this because, being from the West where we do not really deal with this realm of spirits and healings very skillfully, he was not trained nor experienced in this kind of prayer. (btw, you may be able to find this article online, "The Flaw of the Excluded Middle." The article counsels a balance avoiding either extreme of secularism or Christian animism.)
Anyway, Mr. Hiebert joined in a prayer meeting for the sick child.
(Still with me?.....)
A week later, Yellayya returned to say that the child had died. Hiebert felt thoroughly defeated, "Who was I to be a missionary if I could not pray for healing and receive a positive answer?" But a few weeks later Yellayya came again with a sense of triumph. Hiebert asked how he could be so happy. The elder replied, "The village would have acknowledged the power of our God had he healed the child, but they knew in the end she would have to die. When they saw in the funeral our hope of resurrection and reunion in heaven, they saw an even greater victory--over death itself--and they have begun to ask about the Christian way."
Glory! For me the capstone is Hieberts comment: "I began to realize in a new way that true answers to prayer are those that bring the greatest glory to God, not those that satisfy my immediate desires. It is all too easy to make Christianity a new magic in which we as gods can make God do our bidding."
We prayed fervently for Lyn to be healed from acute leukemia in 2000, and God chose to overcome the power of that illness. To God be the glory! In 2015 we prayed fervently for Lyn to be healed from esophageal cancer, and God chose to display our victory through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God has loved Lyn so much -- and trusted you and me so much -- that He has chosen to display an even greater glory than healing. He has shown, through your faith and mine, that Jesus has defeated death through His resurrection. And that is the greater glory, and for that I am glad! Even as I weep now, I am profoundly joyful. Thank you for journeying with us. May your hope be renewed as you reflect on the powerful witness of Lyn Perrin Rasmussen."
True answers to prayer are those that bring the GREATEST glory to God. And, sometimes, that glory is to show our faith in Jesus.
I ponder these words as I negotiate the tricky minefield of relationships at work, as I seek to live humbly, love mercy and do justly. Often, in teaching, I err on the 'justly', seeking 'justice' for the children I teach, trying to show them the right way to behave. Often, I feel as if I am light on mercy and love. Often, I am tempted to first defend my corner when challenged, rather than taking the humble path and admit that I could be wrong.
So I will aim, again as I begin a new day, to focus on God's glory.