Compelled

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all…” [2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV]

Photo by Spiz

Photo by Spiz

It’s a funny thing about love. When we are loved, it brings a sense of security, confidence and stability — giving us the freedom to look outside of ourselves. When it is absent from our lives, we are more easily plagued by fear and mistrust — our hurts make it hard to reach out to anyone.

And I’m just talking about the love of our families, spouses and friends.

The love of God takes it to a whole other level. His love goes so deep that He was willing to die to have us with Him in heaven. That kind of self-sacrificial love does more than give us a feeling of safety — it compels us to pass it on to others. This kind of love can’t possibly be kept to ourselves.

Over the centuries this love has driven people to travel through hardships, face beatings and even death, in order that more may know about the love of God for mankind. It’s the reason preachers preach and pastors shepherd their flock. It’s the reason us writers write and singers sing. It’s why people work to feed the hungry and clothe the homeless. We can’t keep it to ourselves.

It’s just like Jeremiah says — if we try to keep quiet, keep His love to ourselves, it burns like fire in our bones (see Jeremiah 20:9).

What is it you feel compelled to do for the gospel of Jesus today?

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Published in: on 15th April, 2013 at 10:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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I Can’t

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan  is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”  The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” [Judges 6:15-16 NIV]

Photo by Adem Kader

Photo by Adem Kader

The story of Gideon is such an inspirational one. Here is a man who is hiding away to do his work, but God chooses him to lead the Israelite army to a great victory. Straight away we see the message that God can and will use anyone, as long as we are willing. And Gideon is willing — after asking for and receiving confirmation several times. But that doesn’t mean God made it easy for him.

The Midianites joined forces with a number of other eastern armies and so a vast enemy came against Israel. Gideon called all the Israelites together to march against the Midianites and thirty-two thousand (32,000) men joined him. Gideon might have thought, ‘with this size of an army, maybe we stand a chance.’

But then God said, ‘you have too many men to go up against the Midianites.’ As if Gideon wasn’t already petrified enough and feeling as though he wasn’t good enough to do the job. Now God wanted to make it even harder?

In obedience however, Gideon offered the men a chance to go home. ‘If you’re too scared, you may go.’ I reckon Gideon himself would have liked to take up that offer, but he didn’t. Twenty-two thousand did though (that’s a lot of scared men!), leaving 10,000 to stay and fight.

But even that was too many for God. He wanted the miracle to be obvious. I wonder if Gideon thought God might be crazy, but again he obeyed. After another whittling down, there were only three hundred (300) men left. The perfect number to defeat a gigantic, terrifying enemy according to God. And defeat them they did.

Do you ever feel like God is stretching you too far? Asking too much of the little you have? Well, be encouraged. With God on your side, you can accomplish anything He asks of you. Just trust Him and obey.

Published in: on 1st April, 2013 at 9:43 am  Comments (2)  
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My Easter

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” [Colossians 2:13-15 NIV]

Photo by Chris Cummings

Photo by Chris Cummings

What is Easter to you? Is it a time of visits from the Easter Bunny, delivering enough chocolate to last a year? Or is it a time of family gathering together and celebrating life?

There is nothing wrong with these things, but for me Easter goes way deeper than that. For me Easter is about my Lord and my God — Jesus Christ, who came to earth to bring a new way of living. He took the place of the passover lamb, forever redeeming us from our sin. He delivered us from sickness and oppression. He set us free in the fullest meaning of the word. And he gave us keys to live by and tools to equip us in navigating this journey of life that is not always simple or easy.

For that, I give Him my whole life.

And so, this weekend coming, first and foremost in my mind will be that journey Jesus took to the cross, the sacrifice He made for me.  I hope that you, too, can find new life in Him. I pray His blessings upon you this Easter.

Published in: on 26th March, 2013 at 7:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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True to Self

“If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” [Galatians 6:3-7 NIV]

Photo by Steve Ford

Photo by Steve Ford

I love this piece of Scripture. How many of us compare ourselves to others all the time? Either in the positive — thinking we are doing much better than them, or in the negative — thinking we are nowhere near good enough. Both of these, when stripped back to their roots are based in pride. The sinful kind of pride, a kind of self-deception.

But according to this passage, we should not compare ourselves to others, but only to ourselves. We need to be able to look at ourselves with honest scrutiny, admit our faults, acknowledge our strengths. Then we can work on improving our weaknesses and use our gifts and talents to produce fruit in our lives.

The warning comes at the end of this verse. Because if we cannot be honest with ourselves, though we might fool others into thinking we are something we are not, God sees all. He knows our heart and He cannot be made a fool of. The way we sow into our lives and those around us, is the way we will reap, whether we live a life of pretense or not.

What kind of lie have you told yourself about yourself lately? Perhaps it is time to admit the truth and make a change.

Published in: on 18th March, 2013 at 10:25 am  Comments (4)  
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Remembering

“When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” [Deuteronomy 5:10-12 NIV]

Photo by Andrew C.

Photo by Andrew C.

When I listen for the heart of God behind these verses, what I hear is that He wants to bless us, He wants to see us prosper and live lives free of sickness and hardship. He wants the best for His children, just like we as parents want the best for our children.

But there were some rules to follow to make sure all went well, again in the same way we set boundaries for our own children. When they step out of those boundaries, we step in to discipline. God does the same.

Above all of that though, the thing that God desires the most is our love for Him. That is what we are created for. He wants to be the first thing on our minds of a morning and our last thoughts at night. In the Old Testament He constantly urges the people to not forget Him.

Because He knows, when the going gets good, we easily forget all that He has done in bringing us this far, and then it is not until things go wrong that we remember Him again – but usually with blame for letting us get hurt. If we keep being grateful for all He’s done, loving Him in our day-to-day happiness, even when things are smooth sailing, we touch His heart and more blessing flows.

As a parent, I know how I feel when my kids act as though I never do anything for them. It hurts. But when they give a simple hug and a ‘thanks Mum,’ it makes me want to give them more. How about you?

Published in: on 11th March, 2013 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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No More Striving

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” [1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV]

iStock_000011934301XSmallWe spend so much of our lives striving for approval, whether it be man’s approval or God’s. In fact, some of us wear ourselves out doing so. The problem is that man’s approval is fleeting at best while God’s approval cannot be earned at all — we already have it.

So then, all our efforts to gain acceptance or favour are in vain, a chasing after the wind as Solomon would have put it (see Ecclesiastes). The only thing that matters is whether or not we have love.

What does that mean? Well I think, since God is love, basically if we have no relationship with Him, we have nothing. We can do all the good in the world, be the smartest, wisest, strongest, most amazing person in history, but if we do not have God’s spirit dwelling within us, it is all worthless. Meaningless.

I figure that life works best and is simpler if we just rest in God’s love and live out of that. No more striving. And what a relief that is!

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” ‘[1 John 4:8 NIV]

Published in: on 4th March, 2013 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friend to Friend

‘He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”’ [Numbers 11:11-15 NIV]

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Photo by Yogee B

I love reading how Moses talked to God and I think it holds a key to prayer. Moses didn’t approach God with quiet supplication, and ‘Lord, if it be thy will’ kind of sentiment. He came before God with his emotions on his sleeve. He told God precisely how he felt, even in an accusatory fashion — ‘if this is how you are going to treat me‘ — and instead of being struck down by lightning as some of us might expect if we spoke to God like that, God answered his request.

Even a few verses down, God tells Moses He will feed the Israelites meat. Moses didn’t just say ‘thanks God, looking forward to it.’ He replied more along the lines of ‘yeah right, there aren’t enough fish in the sea to feed this lot.’ Again, he wasn’t struck down, but he was challenged not to doubt the hand of the Lord.

I guess it all comes down to relationship. In Exodus 33:11, it says that God spoke with Moses face to face as one speaks to a friend. If we as Christians have a true revelation of our right-standing with God and our Father-child relationship, we would be bold enough to come before Him with our hearts bared, and speak to Him honestly and openly. That, I believe, is how God wants it to be.

Published in: on 25th February, 2013 at 10:56 am  Comments (2)  
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Not Mine Anyway

“‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers…Even if someone is not redeemed in any of these ways, they and their children are to be released in the Year of Jubilee, for the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.'” [Leviticus 25:23 &54-55 NIV]

Photo by Patrick Hajzler

Photo by Patrick Hajzler

When I read these passages recently, it made me think of the old medieval feudal system. In those days the nobleman held a large estate, his castle and grounds being the central community. Everyone living on his lands were his tenants and provided produce to keep his household running. I’m sure they were able to keep some to live on for themselves, but nothing actually belonged to them.

In the same way, the Lord was telling the Israelites that everything belonged to Him and that they were His tenants. Perhaps many of the medieval lords were tough on their tenants, exacting more tribute than was really necessary out of greed, and forcing them to live in penury.

But our God has never been like that. He was a generous king and promised abundance to His people. They were only required to give their first fruits to honour Him. And they were not to be possessive of their land or servants.

What a simpler lifestyle that would be. No more striving for ownership of things that will ultimately stay behind when we pass on. If we stopped grasping at possessions and allowed that God holds all in His hands, maybe we could relax and enjoy life a little more. And more so, as His children, all that He owns is at our fingertips for the asking.

What are you grasping onto today, that you need to release back to Him?

Published in: on 18th February, 2013 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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One Glance

“You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.” [Song of Solomon 4:9 NIV]

Photo by Loredana Bejerita

Photo by Loredana Bejerita

I believe in love at first sight. If it is possible for God, creator and ruler of the universe, then it is possible for anyone. We are, after all, created in His image. Although, with God it was more like love at first thought.

Just imagine, at the first flash of inspiration, the first idea of the creation of YOU, He was already in love with you. YOU stole His heart and it can never be reclaimed, no matter what reasons you might try to use to convince Him otherwise. He is completely smitten.

‘I’m not worthy,’ you say. He believes you are worth enough for Him to sacrifice His Son on the cross. He laid down His life to win your heart.

‘I have done terrible things,’ you say. He shakes His head with a compassionate smile. ‘You are forgiven.’ His love is big enough and strong enough to wash over every wrong.

‘I am ugly,’ you say. And He says you are beautiful beyond description – perfection. (See Song of Solomon 4:7)

‘I am not enough,’ you say. If you give Him a chance, He can make you more than you ever dreamed possible. That is the power of His love.

So, the next time you feel down about yourself, remember this: from one glance of your eyes, God lost His heart to you forever. Love Him in return and you will never be the same.

 

 

Published in: on 11th February, 2013 at 10:16 am  Comments (1)  
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‘They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”’ [Luke 24:32 NIV]

Photo by Frederick Hippsley

Photo by Frederick Hippsley

Two of the disciples walked along the road to Emmaus, sad about what had happened to their teacher, Jesus. He had been their inspiration for a number of years now, and he had been suddenly ripped from their lives in a hideous tragedy. Without recognising him, a man joined them and started explaining Scripture to them, unfolding the fulfilment of prophecy. They received revelation straight into their spirits, even though they didn’t know it was Jesus himself who spoke to them.

It made me happy to think that even now, thousands of years later, we still receive revelation in the same way. Don’t our hearts burn within us when the Holy Spirit teaches us? Doesn’t new knowledge and understanding reverberate through our entire beings, just like it did for those men years ago.

I love that we can recognise this experience and even identify with it. I love that our God never changes and although Jesus is not a physical presence with us, He still ministers to our hearts in the same amazing way.

What new revelation have you received of late? Does it burn within you?

Published in: on 4th February, 2013 at 10:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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