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December 2019

5 Dec – What Love Is

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“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction we are loved”.

The world has a view of love which is understood to be: an intense felling of deep affection or fondness for a person or thing. A great liking. This meaning is taken from the Latin and Greek words – eros and amore’. It is speaking essentially of a love of the worthy.

Love is also mentioned 735 times in the Bible. The word love in the bible has however a different definition. It is when someone is loved no matter what, even if totally unworthy!

1 John 3:16 explains love this way, “This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us”.

Look for yourself at Jesus as He loves the women who was sentenced to death for adultery (John 8:3-11), or the raising from the dead of the only son of a widow (Luke 7:11-15), of the acceptance of Zaccheus, the despised, thieving little man (Luke 19:2-10), or of the demon possessed, tormented man who lived in the cemetery, who Jesus loved and freed to live a new life (Mark 5:2).

Jesus is the same yesterday, and today and forever. How he loved then, is still how he loves now. It doesn’t matter if you think yourself invisible to everyone else, He still sees you. It doesn’t matter what you have or haven’t done; how successful you are or if you feel a complete failure. It matters not! Jesus loves you.

“Love was demonstrated to us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.(Romans 5:8)

The world’s “love system” says you are lovable if you are worthy in some way, but if you are broken, ugly, or bitter and twisted; if you are unpopular or even invisible to others then who would bother loving you?

I say that the world’s love system is failing, it is messed up, and it is messing people up. Both the rich and the poor, the popular and the invisible. The successful and the not so successful. The world’s love is not enough. It is second best and flawed and unable to make us whole.

But God’s “love system” is fully intact and transforming. If we believe that, or we desperately want that type of love, we have a decision to make. Which love will we seek after and earnestly long to know with all our hearts?

Jesus says you can know His kind of love. He says “You will find me if you seek me, when you search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13). Plus when you receive the love He has to offer you , you understand what real love is and it becomes far easier to be love others, as He sheds His love abroad in our hearts. (Romans 5:5)

Today may you seek to know and live in this love; and in knowing will you have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18-19)

 

 

 

 

4 Dec – Get Out Of The Box!

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Choosing to live “outside the box” that society, others expectations, our mindsets and the status quo put us in can be threatening. Many even find the freedom found living out of the “box” confronting. We can all very easily become accustomed to limits; to boundaries, pressure and rules and if truth were told we may be quite fearful and offended when others venture beyond the known norm too.

Yet the bible says that when we ask Jesus into our lives He takes off the limits and encourages us to step out of any areas of our life where we’ve been boxed in, and offers us freedom instead. He gives us the ability to choose; to grow, to discover and to really live. The battle is whether we will be brave enough to embrace that type of lifestyle and belief system, or whether we stay within the confines of the status quo and what is usual and expected.

Even the church and many of those who seek to follow Jesus and His ways can still remain locked behind walls of religion, rules and limitations in their thinking and expressions of faith. Instead of believing that all things are possible for the person who believes and that who the son (Jesus) sets free is free indeed, we have allowed circumstances, traditions, societal norms and the tactics of the devil to define and confine us to venturing only where it “seems” safe, normal, inoffensive and acceptable to the masses. 

However I sense that God wants so much more for us. His Word says so, the moving of His Spirit says so and the demonstrations of His miracle working power say so. If you look through God’s Word you will discover account after account of people who refused to live within the limits and expectations of their time. They pushed the boundaries of their faith, their race, their gender and their natural abilities.

One of the people whose “out of the box”  life is documented in the Bible is Abraham. He dared to believe God; forsaking the limits and acceptance of his time, family and culture in leaving everything he knew to venture forth into a land he did not know. He believed when all natural hope was lost of fathering a child to his wife, and He believed when God spoke and directed him on how to live. He chose to live out his life beyond limits and this is why God calls Him the “Father of faith.” (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:6; Romans 4:16)

Today  I encourage you to examine any limits or confining mindsets and expectations on your life. Are you locked into a lifestyle, thinking and system that was never God’s plan for you. If so, take some time to examine what these limits are and then ask God to set you free from them. 

Because one of the main reasons Jesus died and rose again is to release us from any bondage, limitation, weight or fear and to bring us freedom to live as the person He created us to be. “For who the son sets free is free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Jesus himself said these words; “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18)

“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” (Galatians 5:1)

Prayer: Jesus thank you for the freedom you offer me. Please help me to live beyond my own or other peoples imposed walls, or the system of the world so that I can truly live free in you. Help me to step out of the box today. In Jesus Name Amen.

3 Dec – Sterotypical

I’ve been thinking recently about stereotypes: a stereotype being a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

In my role as a pastor I am often confronted with facing people’s stereotypical and commonly held view of what a pastor and especially a woman pastor is and should be like. It’s amazing how many people have a viewpoint of what you will in their minds talk, look, dress, believe and behave like. Add to that the loud and often surprised exclamation of  “What! “You’ve got six kids”.

These views and expectations have often carried over to the stereotypical views and prejudice my six children have faced being pastors kids and the jokes, snide comments and teasing they’ve experienced. All this quickly enables one to see why stereotypes can be rather unhelpful.

I guess stereotypes eventuated because it can make people feel safe or more in control if they place people in boxes. Then they can feel like they know how to relate to people who are different from them or who are unknown to their experience or social circle.

However when we are too hasty to put people in our stereotypical box we can very easily fail to ever get to know them properly, or at all. Someone walks into the room and we subconsciously will be sizing them up and judging who and what they are by the way they look, dress, move and talk like. We can even make a judgement call by the company they keep or the family, job, home and area they come from.

Some stereotypes may be in fact quite accurate, but if we don’t, on making these estimations of a person, then leave the door open to really get to know them, we can easily dismiss or categorize people without giving ourselves the opportunity to know who they truly are. Plus if we meet someone and they have suffered under and from stereotypes all their lives you can be fairly sure they are going to be on the defensive and be protecting their true selves from criticism,; yours or others veiled comments and judgements.

Jesus however is a great example of someone who refused to label anyone. He saw their humanity; who they truly were and who they could also become. In contrast the religious leaders simply saw sinners; lowly tax collectors, prostitutes, the poor, sick, and forgotten.

No one dared be friends or visit a tax collectors house, yet Jesus invited them into his inner circle. (Luke 19:1-10)

When Simon the Pharisee was hosting a party that Jesus was attending a prostitute crashed their gathering and Jesus took the time to speak with her. Simon was horrified but Jesus asks Simon ,”Simon do you see this woman?” All Simon could see was a prostitute. What he thought he knew about her prevented him from seeing and knowing her at all. If he’d taken the time to get to know her maybe he would have understood what had led her to the life she lived and perhaps he would have been more compassionate and begun to see her as a fellow human being.

Jesus because of his refusal to stereotype people was actually able to “see” this woman. He saw her as a person, her worth, who she was created to be and he loved her, which led to her open display of pouring perfume upon Jesus” feet and washing and drying them with her tears and hair.

All of us desire to be known and to allow ourselves to get to know others without the stereotypes, expectations or judgements. Because when we do it makes room for us to love and be loved in such a way that brings freedom, changes lives and encourages people to step into their destiny.

Drop the stereotypes today. If you struggle under the weight of what others have thought or think of you then I encourage you to break open the box, shake the stereotypes off and ask God to help you peel back the layers and freely let who you really are and want to be shine forth.

If you’ve been guilty; as we all no doubt from time to time are, of making judgement calls and comments; of having expectations and failing to really take the time to get to know someone and who and why they are the way they are, then I recommend following Jesus” example. Forgo the comments, mindsets and failure to understand and perhaps imagine walking in that person in front of you”s shoes for a moment.

Then take the time to listen instead of talking, be compassionate instead of opinionated – always thinking you know it all and who everyone is, and instead ask God to help you “see” who is actually right in front of you and often has been all along.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring to God”. (Roman’s 15:7)

Prayer: Lord forgive me when I have been opinionated and made judgements about people without taking time to see them. Help me to break off stereotypes from my life and also not to place them on others. In Jesus name Amen.

2 Dec – Time To Regroup

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It’s at this time of they year when many of us can feel a little weary and the very thought of Christmas, celebrations and gearing up for the New Year seems exhausting. Which is why now is an ideal time to press pause, even if only for a day, to take stock of your life and to regroup.

The meaning of to regroup is to stop for a short time and prepare yourself before you continue doing something that is difficult: to stop and think and reorganize before continuing.

There are a few things we can do when we press pause and regroup;

1. Remember; Take the time to remember why you are doing what you are doing and also remind yourself of how far you have come. Remember what you have learnt along the way and what you’ve gleaned from your experiences to best move forward. Remembering is important because it causes us to reflect on the “why” and helps us refocus on what and who is really important.

2. Returning; As we remember it may cause us to realise we need to return to our purpose and why we chose a particular course in the first place. It’s okay to have to pause, assess where we have been heading and change tact or direction if we suddenly realise we’ve gotten off track or become distracted. Return to God’s initial call and word to you and then keep running your own race.

3. Renewal; More often than not renewal is more than just spiritual. It’s to renew our physical bodies by taking adequate time out to rest and enjoy life. It’s taking time to replenish and renew our emotions, thoughts, vision and reason for doing things and to renew our commitment to our purpose and those significant people in our lives. We all get tired at times but God promises that He will give strength to the weary. As we hope and trust in Him He renews our strength so that we can run and not grow weary and walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

It’s so easy in all the noise and busyness of life to forget or lose sight of what matter most. Which is why taking time to regroup is so vitally important. Otherwise you can find yourself a long way from where you ever intended to be in life and you can then suddenly look around you and wonder how you got where you never wanted or planned to be.

Today I encourage you to schedule in a “pause moment” so that you can unplug, assess where you are at and regroup if necessary so that you don’t end up forgetting or losing sight of what and who matters most to you in life.

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint”. (Jeremiah 31:25)

“Write what you see. Write it out in big block letter so that it can be read on the run.” (Habakkuk 2:2 The Message)

Prayer: Lord please remind me to regularly take the time to press pause so that I might check where I am headed and whether I have lost sight of what matters most.  Help me in the midst of the activity at this time of year to take the time to regroup: to remember, return and be renewed so that I might run my race well. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

1 Dec – Write The Vision

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A survey was taken asking people in their latter years what they would do differently if they had their life to live again. They predominantly said they’d…
• Reflect more
• Do more things that would last after they had gone
• Risk more

CS lewis said.. “you are never too old to dream a new dream”, and repeatedly you read God saying in His Word, “Make the most of every opportunity. I know the plans I have for you. That you would walk in the good works I have prepared in advance for you. To give you a hope and a future, that you might have full, overflowing abundant life. That your joy might be full, that you would have the eyes of your heart enlightened, and be complete in me”. (Eph 5:6; 2:10; Jeremiah 29: 11 ; John 10:10; 15:11; Eph 1:18)

Age is not the defining factor when it comes to dreams goals and having a vision for your life. You are, for God made us with a purpose, on purpose.

God has a plan and a purpose for us, but it’s our job to stop, listen and find out what that is, both in the big scheme of our lives and in the everyday. Yet most people don’t know their vision and can’t tell you their goals. They have no idea what they are heading towards. But I don’t believe that is God’s best for us. He always has a plan and Jesus revealed that in His life. He knew exactly what He was here for and had purpose in every day, every conversation, every journey and destination.

Alternatively when we don’t know what our live is about and where we are heading we will usually have no vision and wander aimlessly. The problem with that is when we are idle and visionless we can end up where we shouldn’t be and become more susceptible to falling into sin. A good example of that is King David and Bathsheba in the bible. When Kings went out to battle with their men, David for some reason decided to stay home and occupy himself looking at woman bathing on their rooftops. This led to him committing adultery, getting her pregnant and having her husband, an innocent man killed to cover up his mess. (2 Samuel 11)

Let’s not spend our lives being unclear or aimless. Take some time to write some goals; some big goals, but also some small ones as well. One of the greatest ways to build our faith is to see results in smaller areas of goal achievement, because smaller goals build our confidence to continue setting higher, bigger goals.

This week challenge yourself to set ten top goals for the next 12-18 months, with at least one big goal that will stretch you. Your highest expectation, which will need activation of mountain moving faith to achieve it.

Start by thinking about what you see when you think of your life; of the next five years? See beyond where you are at today. What is the strongest, biggest most constant desires and pull within you?

Write down these dreams and goals because they will then cause you to become focused, and focus is the number one key ingredient to achieving our big dreams and goals. We get what we focus on, good or bad because the Law of attraction and our faith go into operation.

When we get clear about our goals we give ourselves instructions to start looking for the ideas, opportunities resources, and relationships that line up with our personal goals. We start recognising these things being attracted to us, but we have to be clear and focused.

I encourage you today to take the 30 day challenge

• For the next 30 days, write your ten top goals once a day.
• Write them in the present tense
• Write them down and speak out them each day without looking back at what you wrote the day before. if you cant remember, thats okay, it’s just not all of your goals were that important to you.
• Stay focused on the ones that capture your imagination and motivate you to achieve
• Use a notebook

God wants is to live with a hope and purpose everyday. Start today and, “Write the vision and make it plain, that he may run who reads it .” ( Habakkuk 2:2)

Prayer: Lord please help me to take the time to write the vision and make it clear so that I can be focused and able to run towards all that you have for my life. In Jesus name Amen

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