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September 2018

21 Sept – How can we know God? (The basics Pt 2)

knowing god

Most of us know the saying, “Keep it simple!” But how often do we get too clever for our own good, and end up complicating things. Whenever I find myself in a “pickle” and unsure of the what, how, and where in life, God usually reminds me to get back to the basics with Him. It is the best way I find to remain close and aware of Him.

The basics of Christian life can be expressed in a simple “wheel diagram”.

The diagram shows four spokes: prayer, study, service, and community. Two of the spokes – prayer and study – are vertical and have to do with the relationship between us and God. (See yesterday’s post for 1.Prayer)

2. Studying God
It would be a strange God who could be loved better by being known less …. If we love God knowing a little about him, we can love God more from knowing more about him: for every new thing known about God is a new reason for loving him.”

We study then, that we may know God better, and as a result love Him more.

But how do we study God? What means do we have for finding out more about him? How do you find out more about anyone? You spend time with them, and take the opportunity to find out about them through whatever means possible. Especially if its someone you are interested in dating or like the look of.

Nowadays most of us can “study” people through different means, We can examine their “likes”, statuses, their profile information; what their preferred music, movies and favorite pass times and places are. Yes that’s called “social media stalking”. We then catch up with them again and spend time together talking and discovering more about the other person.

We spend time with and study God in a similar way. You could call it having permission to be a “God stalker” with all the positive connotations. We hear about Him, what He is like, then we begin discovering Him for ourselves. We can sit quietly, listening in our hearts, learning to hear His voice; we read the bible, hear about other people’s spiritual journey’s and stories; and listen to preaching and teaching.

Studying God is at times a little like being a new parent where you can just sit enjoying gazing at their little face, hands and feet. There is no conversation, but just being with and spending time with them you learn a lot. Likewise there are times with the Lord where you don’t have to do or say anything, it is enough to just be with Him, for “In being there is knowing Him”.

God wants us to study Him and for us to want to continually know Him more deeply. He doesn’t want our relationship with Him to stay at the same level, or worse become superficial.  He even says to fix our mind on heaven and to seek Him out so that He can share mysteries and great and mighty things with us.

Take the time today to study God because, “If  you love God knowing a little about him, you can be sure you will love God even more from knowing more about him”

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:16)

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

Prayer: Lord I want to know you more and to take the time to study and get to know what you think,  what you like, what pleases you and what touches your heart. I want to know you more and for you to know me. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

 

20 Sept – Back to basics (Pt 1)

back to basics

A while ago I came across this diagram of a wheel with 4 spokes that represented the basics of the Christian life. Attention to the basics of  living  in a relationship with God is the best way to grow, remain close and be aware of Him for a lifetime. When we find ourselves in confusion or a spiritual slump, getting back to basics will help us to be on solid ground again.

The basics can be expressed in this simple “wheel diagram” and careful attention to these basics of living  in a relationship with God is the best way to remain close and aware of Him for a lifetime. When we find ourselves in confusion or a spiritual slump, if we can get back to basics of our Christian walk we will find ourselves on solid ground again.

wheel

The wheel shows four spokes: prayer, study, service, and community. Two of the spokes – prayer and study – are vertical and have to do with the relationship between us and God. The other two spokes – service and community – are horizontal and have to do with the relationship between us and other people.

These 4 spokes are basic ways in which the power of God and a relationship with Him can be brought into our daily lives.

When all four spokes are in place, our lives are steady and well balanced. When one or more spokes are damaged or missing we get out of balance and off kilter and our life and relationship with the God becomes a rather bumpy ride.

1.The first spoke on the wheel is Prayer.

Our goal is not “to pray,” or even “to pray well,” but to know Him and to grow in our personal relationship with God.

There is a lot of material on how to pray, when to pray, where to pray, how often to pray, and so on. It can become overwhelming: But in actual fact prayer really is very simple. It is a matter of loving God and being loved by him, of speaking (if it is a necessity) to God and letting him speak to us. It’s not so complicated after all.

“God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’(Acts 17:28)

The basics of our relationship rest in the understanding that He is all around us. When we invite him to share our life He is in us, and we are in Him. Life with God is about knowing Him and being close. That friendship motivates us to stay close, not wanting to “Do, say or think anything that would offend Him”

Prayer can be like two old friends sitting on a park bench who’ve known each other for 50 years. They absolutely enjoy each other, and they enjoy looking at the park. They don’t feel like they have to say or do anything. They just enjoy being together.

In our busy, doing world the biggest battle in prayer is that we will ask ourselves “Shouldn’t I be doing something?” The answer is No, we can just enjoy being more aware of Him. Everything flows out of that place and space and whatever He may ask of us to bless others then flows from the overflow of our hearts.

God takes pleasure in us, and He wants to be wanted and the greatest way we can love Him is to receive His love, and not forget or overlook Him in our daily lives.

Determine to get back to basics today and to practice those things that will set you on a solid and sure foundation for life and your relationships with God today. 

Prayer: Lord thank you that that I can come to you and simply enjoy being with you. I don’t have to do anything. Help me to wait and listen; not to the sound of the outer world, but to the quietness and peace that is found in your love. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

19 Sept – Stay connected

vine and the branches

One of my favourite passages in the bible is from John 15 in the bible, about the vine and the branches. It relates to Jesus being the vine and us remaining vitally connected to Him like a branch so that all His power, goodness and the essence of who He is can flow freely into our lives – like a branch connected to the vine.

Part of this passage talks about the fruitful and unfruitful branch and how the unfruitful branch is “taken away” whereas the fruitful branch is pruned so that it can produce more fruit. However on further investigation this week I discovered that the words “taken away” don’t necessarily mean that when we are unproductive in an area of our lives God (the gardener) is instantly displeased and content to cast us aside or discount that part of our lives.

A better translation of what Jesus taught is that when we are unfruitful in an area or experiencing a season in our life where we are feeling like nothing is happening, that God doesn’t “cut us down” or forget about us, but as a lovely Father He “lifts and props” us up and carefully tends to us until we do become fruitful. Just like a gardener lifts a branch up to the sun and fresh air that has fallen down onto the ground where insects and moss can cause it to become weakened, our loving Heavenly Father also picks us up, cleans off our wounds and tends to us until we become fruitful under His patient and loving care.

It’s also important to remember that God is never, it seems in a hurry. Where we would be tempted to pull up and cast aside an unproductive tree or plant after an extended period of time of fruitlessness God is faithful to perfect that which He has started in us no matter how long it takes. We are His masterpiece and He never ever gives up on us, even when others or we give up on ourselves.

Some parts of our lives may have been squashed down or beaten about but that doesn’t mean we will never see anything good happen in or through our lives. Wherever we have seen loss, disappointment, limitations, or feel robbed from in an area God says, “don’t give up, just draw near to me”, for He is the great restorer of broken hopes and dreams and His plans for us are always good.

Today instead of discounting yourself or giving up allow God to lift you up and to strengthen you in the light of His power and love. You were created to have a fruitful amazing life and when you remain connected to Him He becomes your power source where all things become possible.

He promises that He will complete that which He started in us, and when He says something He will use all of heaven’s power and resources to bring it to pass.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns”(Philippians 1:6 NLT)

Don’t give up on yourself today even if you feel unproductive or forgotten about. Allow God to lift and prop you up and trust in His loving kindness and goodness to cause amazing “fruit” to be produced in your life.

“I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father.He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruningevery fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. The words I have spoken over you have already cleansedyou. So you must remain in life-union with me,for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine. “I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you.” (John 15:1-5)

Prayer: Lord I put my trust in your loving care today and trust that you will lift me up and to help bring out the best in me in every area of my life. In Jesus name Amen.

18 Sept – I will give you rest

rest 2

To Rest – something that most of us aren’t particularly accomplished at. The Hebrew word used in the bible for rest is “nuach”, meaning to rest, settle down, to be soothed or quieted.

God says, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)
It’s no accident that God created the world and then had a day of rest. He created rest, and He created mankind in His image to desire times of rest and enjoyment.  Unfortunately  our own desires, fears, inadequacies, and striving can inhibit that “nuach” (true rest) God created us for.

We get things out of balance so easily. Either people pursue rest to the point of laziness, or they refuse to rest to the point of exhaustion and illness. Either way,  true rest eludes many.

In an age where we have developed time saving technology in an effort to save time and money, why is it that so many  of us are burnt out, depressed, exhausted, and restless? Many even claim to be too busy to rest.

Or is it that we don’t actually lack time to rest, but rather that we need to discover what true rest is? Is it that we don’t need another time saving gadget, but to discover the rest that Jesus gives?

What does the person playing video games or watching show after tv show have in common with the person who works nonstop at having their home or yard perfect and/or spotlessly clean? Both are looking for true rest. One in the inactivity of the tv or computer, the other trying to achieve rest in activity. Neither at the end of the day will be fully satisfied or at rest.

Sin has caused an imbalance. It has distorted rest. We either lead restless lives driven by countless hours of work and ambition, or we withdraw into laziness.  Many fear stopping because in stopping they must face their deepest thoughts, pain and fears.

None of this is the joy-filled rest, or “nuach” that God planned for us. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 6:1-7, we accumulate all the things we could possibly desire, yet we are unable to find satisfaction in it. We cannot enjoy fully what we have because we haven’t discovered lasting joy and rest in God.

Jesus gave us the antidote to all this restlessness and calls us to come to Him and enter the rest He gives. He says cease from your constant toil and labour and take on His ways,  which are not burdensome. (Matthew 11:28) This rest is a rest that remains with us whether the circumstances  are wonderful or terrible. That sort of rest in Jesus is not dependent on circumstances, it is personal and is a result of being accepted, forgiven, loved, and protected. It’a a rest which comes with the knowledge and discovery of who we are in Jesus and how much we are loved and accepted by Him. This rests frees us to enjoy life right now.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. (Matthew 11:28)

Today how will you respond to Jesus? For He’s asking you to come to Him and rest.

Some of us may need to respond by making time to pursue the joy of God’s creation and all He has created for us to enjoy. Other’s may simply need to take some time out to ask for forgiveness for trying to find satisfaction in constant activity,  striving for order and perfection, or accumulation of possessions.

Whatever the case may be, take some time today and seek to enter His rest.

Prayer: Lord please help me to be more balanced and to remember to take time out to rest today. Thank you that you lift all my burdens and give rest to my soul. In Jesus name Amen.

17 Sept -Let the Word do it’s work

god's word

We are surrounded by a world which is full of amazing and wonderful things, but alongside these wonderful things are also some elements that are not so great, or beneficial to us. The question is, “How do we avoid getting caught up in the not so great elements, and how do we stand apart from them?”

Jesus gave us the answer to this question in a prayer he prayed just before he was crucified, rose again and ascended to heaven. He said in John 17:16-17, “Father, I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth.”

Sanctify means to be separate, and Jesus was saying we are to be separated by the truth, and that God’s word is the truth that will separate and keep us.

When we first come to know Jesus we become a new creation, separated spiritually from the kingdom of darkness and born anew into the kingdom of God. (Colossians 1:13) However if we don’t continue to grow in our relationship and knowledge of who we are in God and in His Word, we can continue to live as we did before. We may be separated from spiritual death, but still be physically and mentally connected to our old way of living. As a result we often continue to live in fear, lack, bad habits, sickness.

Primarily because we can’t separate ourselves from an old habit or lifestyle without separating ourselves to something stronger. But God and His Word will. God and His Word are one, and He is stronger than any other force in the universe. If we choose to put into our relationship with Jesus and spend time reading and studying God’s Word, then His Word’s will separate us from the poverty, anxiety, sickness, hatred and fear that we used to belong to, and which the world is immersed in.

His word will separate us from the evil and negativity around us. We don’t have to stress and struggle to do that, for the Word will do it for us. All we need do is read it and then allow it to remain and abide in our life, and it will do it’s transforming work.

Jesus said, “If you abide in me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7)

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

Today I encourage you to take some time to talk and listen to Jesus and to read His words in the Bible and allow it to do its work.

Prayer: Lord thankyou for the power of your word. Help me to immerse myself in your truth so that it will separate me from all the negativity of the world, enabling me to live the life for which you created me for. Let the Word go to work in me. In Jesus name Amen.

16 Sept – Out of the shallows

deeper 2

There is a Latin maxim, which says, “True breadth is achieved through depth”. Much like when you travel to a different country and instead of trying to see and experience everything, you only choose a few places and see them well. This strategy is, I think far better than attempting to see everything at once, and becoming so exhausted that each place you visit just blurs into another so that you can’t really remember anything in particular when you return home.

We can experience this dilemma in every area of our life; in our relationships with God and others, our education, experiences and our life in general. We can settle for experiencing things in a hit and miss way, never really discovering our passions, abilities and the depth of wonder around us, or in God the creator of it all because we lack the time and commitment to go deeper.

Seeking depth means we lighten the load; we make our life simpler and less complicated; we choose to focus on those things that are truly worth our time and effort. We choose less, so that we might go deeper!

Today I encourage you to examine your life and assess whether you are just skimming the surface in your relationships, your experiences, and in your pursuit of Jesus? Are you merely paddling around in the shallows in your education and the exploring of the world around you, never really being inspired or excited by what you see because there is no depth to your discoveries.

The choice is ours everyday whether we come out of the shallows, in order to dive in deep. To expect and pray as Paul prayed when talking about going deeper in God – “so that I may know Him (Jesus) (becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely and in that same way experience the power of His resurrection which overflows and is active in believers”. (Philippians 3:9-10 AMP)

Prayer: Lord please help me to prioritise those relationships and pursuits that are worth going deeper in. Most of all help me to go deeper in you, so that I might know you fully. I want to come out of the shallows and dive in deep. In Jesus name Amen

 

 

 

 

15 Sept – Little by little

little by little 2

At times God’s work in our lives is sudden and instantaneous and it’s great when He moves in our lives like that. But more often than not, there is a process – and it’s in the process that God works on our character, our strength, our patience, our faith, and on who we are and how we see ourselves.

Some days may not feel like we are progressing or succeeding, but if we stay consistent and look at our lives and growth over time, like plotting on a graph, it would, if we are remaining consistent reveal a definite line or curve slanting upwards; with ups and downs along the way. We grow and progress most often little by little.

God outlined the little-by-little principle in the account of the Israelites story in Exodus 23:29-30 when he said,  Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land (NKJV).

Real strength and growth come in our lives as we consistently do the things that make us grow and reach our goals. If it’s fitness, we exercise regularly, preferably every day. If it’s to eat better, we choose to eat well everyday. If we want to excel at playing an instrument or become proficient at some other skill, it is in the daily practice that we will find success and accomplishment. It we want to draw closer to God, knowing Him more and building our faith, then we spend time with Him and read His word everyday.

We just don’t do these things when we want to or feel like it, but constantly, following the little by little principle.

If there is something that you wish you did more regularly, try doing it every day, on a regular basis. Write every day, pack a lunch every day, go for a walk or exercise in some way every day, read every day. Spend time with God everyday, read and listen to His word everyday. Pray everyday. A little bit everyday and it get’s easier, until suddenly one day you find yourself seeing results.

Today decide to begin practicing the “little by little” principle everyday in the pursuits that will help you to become the person you were made to be.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)

Prayer: Lord, please help me to begin the daily process of doing something everyday toward growing and being who you made me to be. Help me to be consistent as I keep increasing my faith, skills and knowledge of you and what you have planned for my life. In Jesus name Amen

14 Sept – Head winds

headwinds

Today while out for my run I struck a head wind. It was strong enough that I needed to lean into it to keep going. I don’t particularly enjoy facing a head wind because it makes everything harder and increases the output of energy needed to get to where you are going considerably. However running into a head wind does have it’s benefits and life lessons for when we choose to not give up because it’s too hard. When we instead choose to lean in and keep going we will eventually turn a corner and no longer face the wind. Often instead that same wind becomes a tail wind, which pushes and almost propels us forward to our destination.

The same can be said for our life and those seasons when we are facing a struggle or pressure, resembling a “headwind”. Sometimes the “head wind” of circumstances is so strong we can feel overpowered. But those winds I have discovered are the ones I’ve learnt to lean in on Jesus for. It’s those head winds which have helped me to understand that “when I am weak He is strong in me”, and that as I long as I keep moving in a forward direction I will be okay.

 But he answered me, My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)

If, as on my run I refuse to give in to the “head wind,”  then the very things which previously pressured and even appeared as disappointments or a heartache will end up being, (once we turn “the corner) that which propels us forward, just like a “tail wind”. That disappointment, broken heart, failed relationship, financial difficulty or battle with sickness or loss – all these are like a head wind, but when we overcome them we are so much stronger, wiser and able to stand on our last victory over them to go higher and further in life.

Today if you are facing a “head wind” I encourage you to keep going. Don’t give up, but lean in on Jesus and receive His strength, knowing that the very thing which you feel pressured or discouraged about now will more than likely be that which God uses and works in you to propel you forward into your destiny.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

 “Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and his demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything! So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles,[c] fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!” (Romans 8:37-39 TPT)

Prayer:Lord thankyou that you make everything work out for my good and that many times the things which causes me trouble will be the very things which, when I stick with you, will cause me to triumph and overcome. Help me today to remember that when I face “head winds” to lean into you and to keep moving forward until I “turn that corner”. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

13 Sept – Passport to heaven

heaven passport

Knowing God is much the same as been given a passport and permission to travel. We get an invitation to experience things that are mind blowing and quite simply supernatural. God doesn’t want us to simply read and hear about heaven, but to experience the substance of it now. All limits are off, and the possibilities in knowing God and where and what we can explore with Him are endless.

Jesus has given us an invitation to belong to His family, and welcomes us into His space and Kingdom. We are given an a mandate to explore His “country,” that we all belong to when we accept Jesus Christ to be the centre of our lives.

Yet just as all have the ability to apply or may already have a passport, many people are choosing to not venture forth or ever use their “passport.” They choose never to experience the weird and the wonderful; the unearthly and supernatural things of God. Instead we can all become content to simply sit back in our comfort zones and therefore miss the heavenly places Jesus has invited us to experience with Him.

Ephesians 2:6 and Colossians 3:1 say that we were, “made alive together in Christ and He raised us up and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That if we are raised with Christ, we are to seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. So Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” 

But just reading and being educated about a foreign country is not the same as living and experiencing the substance of that place.

God wants us to experience the reality, splendour and awe of heaven. We belong there. We are “called out” to be part of heavens reality and function. It is not a place we just go to when we die, but a place we are invited to experience, and asked to take our place in now.

It’s time those of us who know Jesus use our invitation – our passport into the heavenlies, and to then share it’s wonder and reality with those who don’t know yet. Because it‘s not just important for us in this time, but for all those who are crying out for truth. Plus if it’s our job is to bring heaven to earth shouldn’t we know and expereince all about heaven now?

Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find mature.” (John 10:9)

Lets not settle for the familiar, but be courageous and step out in faith into heavenly adventures, knowing He is there!

Prayer: Lord I want to know all about you, and the things of heaven. Help me to see and experience heaven now and to lay aside the thinking that I have to wait until I die before I can explore heaven when you say you are the door.  In Jesus name Amen.

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