Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Rescued from the storm

He’s our rescuer’ (Rescuer (Good News) – Rend Collective)

When I was a child, I used to love going to the beach for days out. I hated being on the sand, and I couldn’t swim even if my life depended upon it, but it always seemed beautiful and peaceful to me, even with all the noise around me.

Nothing has changed, I still love to visit the sea-side, the lapping of the waves, the colours and how the light hits the water; it is one of my most favourite places.

Have you ever just sat still in a place where you most desire to be, and then done absolutely nothing? We are told to be still by God; I have often bee still in a calm place, but I also have to be careful not to fall asleep.

Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10 NIV).

Most people have a preferred place they like to visit, and mine is wherever there is water; the sea-side, a river, or a water-fall, and they all captivate me, and then make me want to run to the loo.

Water is such a wonderful thing. We can splash in a bath, we can swim in a swimming pool or river etc. we can spray people with it, but it is also a very powerful thing.

We now have tools for cutting that don’t use metal blades or lasers, but they use ultra high-powered water jets. If you think pumping up a car tyre to 35 PSI is a lot, then think again; these machines use pressures in excess of 30,000 PSI (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_jet_cutter – accessed 21/06/19).

Water has both beauty and power, and the only one that can truly control it is God!

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place” ‘ (Genesis 1:9 ESV).

We know that God made the universe and everything in it, he even spoke to Job at one point about creation;

Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb… …  when I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt” ’ (Job 30:8 & 11 NIV).

I [God] made the sand and a boundary for the sea’ (Jeremiah 5:22 NIV – emphasis mine).

Water can also not be very nice to experience, like getting caught out on a sunny day when you have gone out without a coat and then the rain comes incessantly, like it will never stop, and we think “Is this how Noah felt?”

Rain though, is only part of it; storm like a tsunami / tidal wave, or sometimes they are called seismic sea waves, can be devastating. The raw power of the water can be overwhelming, engulfing everything in its path, and leaving behind utter chaos; people without electric, without proper sanitation, and even without homes.

Storms can be horrible!

We also suffer storms in our lives. Storms that threaten to overwhelm us, and take our focus away from where it should be, on Jesus.

Money problems can come without notice, the company you work for suddenly goes bankrupt, and all of a sudden the storm hits.

Family issues, where you argue with another family member, it gets heated, and one of you says something they really should not, and all of a sudden the storm hits.

You have an accident, and the doctor prescribes pain killers, your body gets used to them, and so you ask for something stronger, then stronger, and then you start taking drugs that are not prescribed, and all of a sudden the storm hits.

Unfortunately, storms happen in our lives, but it is what we do and where we turn that will make a difference.

When life falls apart, where should we go?

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans’ (Psalm 118:8 NIV).

It truly is.

I was not part of the church when a storm hit in my life, and yet the first place I went, was a place I had not visited for nearly 10 years, yet a place that I knew would be welcoming at that time of my life, a church; a place where I knew I could find peace, and be rescued from my storm, and ultimately, I knew that God would be there waiting for me. I know that Jesus never left me; it was I that left him, the Bible told me that;

I will never leave you’ (Hebrews 13:5 ESV).

God had said the same words to Moses, that he would never be alone, when he was leading the Israelite nation;

My Presence will go with you’ (Exodus 33:14 NIV).

When our storms hit, we may feel totally unprepared to deal with them, but all we have to do is call out to God, and he will rescue us.

To you LORD I call’ (Psalm 28:1 NIV).

And if we turn to God, and trust him, then he will help us;

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way’ (Psalm 37:23 ESV).

Life is full of ups and downs, and no-one ever said it would be easy, in fact Jesus said exactly the opposite;

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily’ (Luke 9:23 NIV).

So life is not always going to be roses, rainbows and fluffy teddy bears; life is hard, (Luke 9:23 & Matthew 10:38) we are living in a world that is broken, (Genesis 3) but the hope we have is eternal, (Psalm 39:7). Jesus is mighty and will save us and sing over us in love, (Zephaniah 3:17) and he will come back (1 Thessalonians 4:16) we just do not know when, so we have to be vigilant (Matthew 24:42) and in the words of the J Bass Ministries, ‘I know that Jesus will fix it’ (Jesus Will Fix It – http://www.jbassministries.com/j_bass_songbook_lyrics/jesus_will_fix_it_lyrics_-_j_bass_songbook_volume_1 – accessed 21/06/19). All we do know, is that he has promised to return soon (Revelation 22:12).

Storms come and storms go.

We need to learn to anchor ourselves to something rock-like, so that when they do hit, our lives will be in tune with the creator of the universe and we will not be traumatised.

Truly my soul finds rest in God… … Yes my soul, find rest in God… Truly he is my rock and my salvation… I will not be shaken’ (Psalm 62:1, 5 & 6 NIV).

Whatever storm comes our way, whenever that storm hits us, however that storm affects us, our lives, and the lives of those dear to us, we should remember the Rend Collective, and what they say about God;

‘He’s our rescuer… we will praise the Lord our rescuer’ (Rescuer (Good News) – September 2018).

In my desperation

He’s our rescuer
He’s our rescuer
We are free from sin forever more
Oh how sweet the sound
Oh how grace abounds
We will praise the lord, our rescuer

There is good news for the captive
Good news for the shamed
There is good news for the one who walked away
There is good news for the doubter
The one religion failed
For the good lord has come to seek and save

He is beauty for the blind man
Riches for the poor
He is friendship for the one the world ignores
He is pasture for the weary
Rest for those who strive
For the good lord is the way, the truth, the life
Yes, the good lord is the way, the truth and life (hey)

So come and be chainless
Come and be fearless
Come to the foot of Calvary
For there is redemption
For every affliction
Here at the foot of Calvary

Rescuer (Good News)

Rend Collective

C. Llewellyn / B. Hastings / B. Fowler / G. Gilkeson / Rend Collective Holding Account

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Father we thank you that whenever we need you, you are always ready for us. Lord we loo to you, maybe not as often as we should or could, but we look to you for strength to deal with whatever life throws at us. Lord help us to spend time with you, in your word, and talking to you in prayer, that when storm do hit our lives, we are in tune with you and are not shaken. God you are our rock, not just in times of trouble, but always. Help us to cling to you.

Amen

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Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Dear God… …Amen!

“Dear God” Amen’ (How to pray – Pete Greig – p1).

Have you ever been abroad on holiday with friends, and gone to a country where no-one in the group knows how to speak the local language? The only proper conversations that you will likely have during your stay will probably be with them, unless you meet others who speak your language.

I like to go to different places and explore the surrounding countryside, but I also like to learn some of the local language, even if it is only to say hello, please, and thank-you and good-bye.

Have you ever really tried to have a proper in-depth conversation with someone that speaks a different language?

I have; I remember once speaking to an Aunt who lived abroad, and was over in England visiting another of my relatives. I was having a conversation with her, using bits of English, French, sign-language, and even a little German. I soon became aware of the fact that she could not understand me properly, so I started to speak louder to her. My other Aunt, who was also present, then said to me;

she does not understand you, shouting at her will not help, as she will still not understand you, she speaks Spanish, she is not stupid”.

I thought that this statement was a little harsh until I started to watch other people also try to have conversations in the same way that I had.

But, whatever situation we find ourselves in, there is always someone that we can talk to, no matter where we find ourselves, and whatever language we speak. We do not need to go to their house, we do not need an internet connection, there will be no ‘face-time’, video call or text; the person that we can always talk to is God!

Wherever we are, we have absolute, direct access, ‘back-stage-pass’ if you like, to the creator of the universe. So we can talk to him anytime that we want to, we do not need an appointment, we do not need to schedule some ‘together-time’ we just need to call out to him, as David did;

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry’ (Psalm 40:1 NIV).

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer’ (Psalm 61:1 NIV).

But does God really care for us, or have surplus time for us?

Of course God cares for us; he even created us to like him;

So God created man in his own image… … male and female he created them’ (Genesis 1:27 ESV).

The Psalmist David also asked questions about God and his people;

what is mankind that you are mindful of them… that you care for them’ (Psalm 8:4 NIV).

God created you and me, on purpose, and for a purpose! We were planned and created.

We know that whatever we have done, wherever we are, God is also there with us;

Never will I leave you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

Jesus also told the disciples the same thing;

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20 NIV).

And even if everyone else in your family or circle of friends leaves you, you will never be truly alone;

the LORD will receive you [me]’ (Psalm 27:10 NIV – emphasis mine).

So we know that the creator of the universe, the creator of you and me is always with us, then having a conversation whenever we want, is not a problem. Is it?

So how do we really talk to God?

Do we need to get on our knees? No but it may help you feel humble about meeting God in prayer!

Do I have to close my eyes? No but it may help you concentrate on God.

What do I do then?

Well we go somewhere we are comfortable, and then we talk to God using normal language, we speak simply; we do not have to use a foreign language or archaic words, we do not have to use mantras or even speak with specific intonation;

More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of’ (Idylls of the King – Tennyson).

So why do we pray, and what is prayer?

The word ‘pray’ has is derived from the Latin language, and the root of the word is, precari, which means to ask in earnest, or to beg or to entreat, (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/pray – accessed 15/06/19).

We pray because life is precarious’ (How to pray – Pete Greig – p8).

Jesus taught his disciples to pray, and even to ask for their daily bread (Matthew 6:11), he also taught them that whatever the asked for would be done for them;

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer’ (Matthew 21:22 NIV).

That does not mean that we should all go to pray about what we want materialistically, we do not need Ferrari’s or luxury yachts; they may be nice, but they would also help us to lose our focus, and we should focus on God, we should not conform to the world (Romans 12:2), but be apart from it, live in such a way that we live in the world, but live as Jesus wants us to.

Prayer is a powerful tool, and George Müller knew this more than most people; on one occasion, he stood up and said grace in front of 300 hungry orphans, with absolutely no food to give them; he thanked God for the food that he was ‘going to give them’. Upon finishing saying grace, a few minutes later, a baker came in giving them bread that he had baked the previous night, and he was followed by a milkman offering them milk (How to pray – Pete Greig – p75 – alsohttps://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/church-history-for-kids/george-mueller-orphanages-built-by-prayer-11634869.html – accessed 15/06/19).

Talking to God in prayer should be like talking to a friend, chatting simply; but prayers are not always words;

Sometimes I imagine my prayers… … they’re not always audible’ (Anon – Sicangu Oyate tribal member – How to pray – Pete Greig – p20).

the Spirit helps us in our weakness… … the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings’ (Romans 8:26 ESV).

That does not mean that when we cannot bother with prayer that we should just sit there and groan. When we least fell like praying, that is when we should pray our hardest.

Cause you are strong when I’m weak, so I’m still standing, still standing on my knees’ (Standing on my knees – Sarah Kelly).

Basically, prayer is talking, about what you have done, what scares you, what angers you, what you need help with, asking for specific things such as people you know to encounter God maybe for the first time. We should also find time to thank God for the good things in our lives such as family and health, and also find time to praise him and worship him.

pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV).

We need to pray all the time, in the morning with thanks for waking up, during the day with expectation on chances to share the gospel, and in the evening with a thankful heart at the end of the day, and asking for more time to share Jesus with people tomorrow.

P.R.A.Y. – Pause, Rejoice, Ask, Yield. I’m not a big fan of acronyms… … but this particular one works’ (How to pray – Pete Greig – p3).

I remember speaking to a worker on a site in Derby about prayer, and he asked what he should say. My reply was simple, and I said, talk to God, in the exact same way that you are talking to me, he is your heavenly Father and just wants you to talk to him.

Prayer should be like talking to a best friend, it should be easy and uncomplicated;

You just say, “Dear God”, chat to him for a bit, and then say Amen’ (How to pray – Pete Greig – p1).

Prayer can really be that simple.

Pray to the One

The splendour of the King
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
He wraps Himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
And trembles at His voice

How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see how great
How great is our God

And age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the End
Beginning and the End
he Godhead three in one
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

How Great Is Our God

Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves

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Father we thank you for always being with us, we thank you that we can talk to you in prayer any time that we want, we thank you that you are on-call 24-7. Lord, help us to want to talk to you more, help us to be ready to talk to you more. Lord, help us to be better people that reflect you to the world.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Authority from God our Rock!

God my rock’ (Brenton Brown – God My Rock – God My Rock #3)

When you were young and you went on holiday, if you were lucky enough to go, did you play on the beach and build large, rambling, majestic sand castles?

Then later on in the day, did you watch as the tide returned, and relentlessly came in a destroyed you creation; hours of sweating and toiling gone with just a few small waves, as it washed away your masterpiece.

I used to try to stop this, I would collect stones and try to build a dam, or I would dig a trench around it like a moat on a castle, but eventually, the result was the same, annihilation for the creation I had worked so hard at.

That is why Jesus said;

everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand’ (Matthew 7:26 NIV).

As a builder, with many years experience, I could explain, and probably bore you to death in the process, all of the ins and outs of building something correctly, with a properly dug, deep enough, sure foundation with which to start, but I will not (yay!).

If you build wisely from a firm solid foundation, or if you listen to the word of God, and then practice it, i.e. walk it out in your day to day life for all to see, then you are like;

a wise man who built his house on the rock’ (Matthew 7:24 ESV).

The very nature of rock is solidity and strength.

If we plan something properly, then what we are planning will generally have a good foundation, a good start to the venture, and a chance that it may succeed. It certainly has a better chance that if we do no absolutely no planning whatsoever, and just ‘wing-it’.

Our Christian faith is a little like that. If we hear the word of God, listen to it properly, then ignore it until we decide to go to church the following week, or whenever we attend, the our faith is a little like the house on the sand, we will have no depth to our foundational knowledge about the gospel and Jesus, who gave so much for us.

People may ask us questions about Jesus, expecting a reply that may challenge them, or help them enter into a debate about your faith and their lack. But if there is no depth to our knowledge, then we may only be able to give a shallow answer that may not really give the person asking any information.

If we attend church, whatever denomination we go to does not really matter; what matters is that we are engaging with God and other Christians, and being present, ready to listen to the word of God, and hopefully hear God speak to us through the service, i.e. through the worship, prayers or message preached.

If we attend and listen, engage with others and God, and really ask him to speak to us, then, like a good cheese, we will mature.

We do not need to be advanced in years to be mature; I have heard relatively young people be very articulate and knowledgeable about the Bible and theology, and really engage the people that they are speaking to, pulling them into what they are talking about; pulling them in because they are so passionate about their topic, Jesus.

We also read that Jesus was so;

because he taught as one who had authority’ (Matthew 7:29 NIV).

And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority’ (Mark 1:22 ESV – emphasis mine).

For with authority and power he commands’ (Luke 4:36 ESV).

No one ever spoke the way this man does’ (John 7:46 NIV).

In our country, the law of the land has authority over all situations, and, if you break the law by stealing something, or by breaking-in to somewhere, or by murdering or trying to murder someone, or cause someone bodily harm etc. then the law will deal with you.

the law has authority’ (Romans 7:1 NIV).

But where does the authority of the law come from?

there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God’ (Romans 13:1 ESV).

God does not let our life randomly proceed; he has a plan for all of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). We may think that we get our job and subsequently the promotion with more pay and better terms, all from what we have done, but we should be careful in how we treat others. We may have had bad bosses in the past, but two wrongs do not make a right (this is life, not Algebra).

I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority, the authority the Lord gave me’ (2 Corinthians 13:10 NIV).

We need to live our life, so that when people look at us, they notice that we are generally different from the people around us. We should be different, and we are called to be different.

Do not be conformed to this world’ (Romans 12:1 ESV).

We should stand out from the crowd. We need to be the light in the dark place, just as Jesus said;

You are the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14 NIV).

And if we are to be the light, what do we do with our light, keep it to ourselves? Only share it with our friends? No, we put it where everyone can see it;

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden… … put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light’ (Luke 11:33 NIV).

We need to be able to show others who may not know Jesus, the way to Jesus. We know that he is the way to our Father God (John 14:6), but many in the world do not, and there are even many who have never even had a chance to hear about the amazing saving grace of Jesus and the gospel.

In the film Stardust (Paramount Pictures – 2007), a star (Yvaine played by Claire Danes) falls to earth and a love story ensues, but, ultimately just before the end of the film she recovers from a broken heart and says to her beloved (Tristan played by Chalie Cox);

What do stars do? They shine’ (Yvaine – Stardust – 2007).

So what should we do, for the world that is lacking Jesus, for the world  that may not ever have heard the amazing gospel message? For the person we work with who does not know Jesus? For our neighbour? For our family members?

What we should do, is shine for Jesus!

saltandlight copy

 

There’s a little flame inside us all
Some shine bright, some shine small
The rains will come and the waters rise
But don’t you ever lose your light
In this life you will know
Love and pain, joy and sorrow
So when it hurts, when times get hard
Don’t forget whose child you are

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine, gonna let it shine

May you live each day with no regret
Make the most of every chance you get
Let your eyes get wide when you look at the stars
With the same sense of wonder as a child’s heart
With the ones you love treasure the time
And for those who are gone keep their memories alive
Hold on to your dreams don’t ever let go
There’s a fire inside you burning with hope

There will be days when you want to give up
When the clouds settle in
But after the rain comes the sun
Don’t you ever forget

One day there will be no more pain
And we will finally see Jesus’ face
So until then I’m gonna try
To brave the dark and let my little light shine

This Little Light Of Mine (Addison Road – Stories #3)

Ryan Gregg & Jennie Stiefel

 

 

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Father we thank you sending Jesus to light the way for us, and to show us the way to enter into your kingdom. Help us be the light that is needed in this world that can be so dark. Lord this world needs you, we need you, help us to shine for you and guide others into your presence.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Shine Jesus, shine for Jesus!

whether there is truth in you’ (Genesis 42:16 ESV)

How honest are we as people, or even, how honest are you and I?

Do you tell ‘little white’ lies, or say, I only lied to protect them, to save them from harm or anguish?

There is no such thing as a ‘little white lie’. There is no lie that will protect, a lie is a twisting of events that happened, a lie is like a knife cutting into something, whatever it has cut will never be the same. When you lie, you have to create a collection of lies, each one slightly bigger than the previous one, a whole universe of lies that revolve around your initial lie; you also have to be very imaginative and clever to perpetuate the ‘lie universe’.

No! A lie is a lie, and a lie is sin!

When people tell a lie about something, they have to make up a bunch of lies to go with the first one. ‘Mythomania’ is the word for it.” (Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood).

I would say that everyone at some point has lied, whether for ‘best intentions’ to protect someone, or whether because they had done something that they should not have. Unfortunately, at various points in my life, I am saddened to say that have been guilty of both, on many occasions, but by the grace of God, I am a working progress.

I have recently read some very poignant words;

Never lie to someone who trusts you, and never trust someone who lies to you’ (Prakhar Sahay).

There is much truth in that statement. Generally we lie when we are afraid. Afraid that we have done something that we should not, and worried about being found out for whatever we have done; also if we realise that someone else is lying to us, why, would we ever trust anything that they would say to us. We lie when we are filled with fear, but there is a remedy;

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear’ (1 John 4:18 ESV).

If our life is filled with love, it will be filled with Jesus, and then we have nothing to fear, and as Jesus taught;

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32 NIV).

Some people say that the ‘truth’ is subjective, but what is it subjective to? The truth can only ever be, ‘the truth’.

But how ready are we for the truth? Do you really want people to be brutally honest?

Are you ready for a negative when you ask “Do you like my dress?”Will that answer ruin the night?

Are you ready for the negative answer when you ask “Darling, do you thing I have a beer belly coming” or will that send you into a downward spiral?

We have many issues in our lives. Many people these days have issues with how they see themselves. Girls think they are fat based upon ‘models’ that have a dress size of 0. Boys think they have something wrong if they do not have a six-pack or are slightly under-developed muscles, or are late developers.

Body image is a big thing, there are many ‘reality’ programmes regarding the issues, and they command huge audiences.

Lieutenant Kaffe said, “I want the truth!” and the reply from Colonel Jessep was “You can’t handle the truth!” (A Few Good Men – Columbia Pictures – 1992).

The Psalmist David knew what you should do;

The one whose walk is blameless… … who speaks the truth from the heart’ (Psalm 15:2 NIV).

We know that we should speak only the truth, but sometimes we are worried about what people will think, or sometimes we are worried how people will treat us after they know the truth we have been hiding, but;

the LORD hates… … a lying tongue’ (Proverbs 6:16 & 17 ESV).

God hates it when we lie, and we should be honest, because God knows what we are thinking, and what we are going to say, even before we have spoken;

Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely’ (Psalm 139:4 NIV).

So why do we lie? Is it because we are afraid? Is it because we think that people cannot handle or deal with, what we are about to say. If you are honest to, and the people with whom you confide in, love you as a Christian, then you should be able to tell the anything, even your dirtiest, deepest, darkest secret, that was previously known only by you and God, anything should be acceptable.

In the words of Paul, we should;

Present your bodies (mind, soul, everything, leaving nothing in the shadows) as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God’ (Romans 12:1 – emphasis mine).

If we are truthful in everything that we do, then there are no shadows in our life, no skeletons in the cupboard that could come flying out to harm us, our reputation, our families or relationships etc.

The Lord spoke to the prophet Zechariah, and in turn, Zechariah told the Israelite’s;

Speak the truth to each other’ (Zechariah 8:16 NIV).

Even Jesus came to the earth;

Came from the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14 NIV).

Jesus came to earth full of truth, and live the truth, spoke the truth, preached the truth. If it is good enough for Jesus, then it should be good enough for us, for as Jesus taught;

the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth’ (John 16:13 NIV).

Jesus, came, worked, lived, spoke, shone, and died in the truth. We too should live that light, we need to be the light for a dark world that needs saving, a world that needs Jesus, a world that needs us to show others a better way, a way of living in the light, no shadows, no skeletons, no lies, only truth;

If you hold to my teaching… … and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:31 & 32 NIV).

Light shines in Darknes - John - 1

 

Lord, the light of your love is shining,
In the midst of the darkness, shining,
Jesus, light of the World shine upon us,
Set us free by the truth you now bring us.
Shine on me, shine on me.

Shine, Jesus, shine,
Fill this land with the Father’s glory;
Blaze, Spirit, blaze,
Set our hearts on fire.
Flow, river, flow,
Flood the nations, with grace and mercy;
Send forth your Word,
Lord, and let there be light.

Lord, I come to your awesome presence,
From the shadows into your radiance;
By the blood I may enter your brightness,
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness.
Shine on me, shine on me.

As we gaze on your kingly brightness,
So our faces display your likeness.
Ever changing from glory to glory,
Mirrored here may our live tell your story.
Shine on me, shine on me.

Shine Jesus Shine

Graham Kendrick

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Father we thank you sending Jesus to help us realise who we are. You have given us so much, freedom, salvation, hope! Help us to also give, to give your light to the dark world that we live in. Help us to be the salt and light that is so desperately needed in this world. Give us courage daily to do this task, not for our sake, but for your glory.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Free! Available always! To anyone!


every perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17 ESV)

Being a Marvel fan, I tend to watch most of the films or television series. There is a relatively recent one called ‘The Gifted’ (Fox Broadcasting Company – originally aired 02/10/17) where many of the people that are the stars of the show are referred to as ‘Mutants’. D.C. refers to these people as ‘Metahumans’. But whatever they are called, are they really gifted? They may have certain powers, to create fire of bend metal etc, but are these really gifts that a lot of people would want?

John Newton (1725 – 1807) wrote the wonderful Christian hymn about a gift that is freely available to anyone and everyone who may want (or really need it), and all you have to do is claim it. Amazing Grace; and it basically tells us that no matter what we have done, or what we have lost, or how bad we think we are, God is never too far away to help us and rescue us; now that is Amazing Grace.

The greatest gift that has ever been given to anybody, did not consist of large perfectly cut diamonds, or smooth, perfectly coloured emeralds, or even large amounts of gold or silver; the greatest gift ever given, was a life!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NIV – emphasis mine).

Every good gift, every perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17 ESV).

When people buy you a gift for your birthday or Christmas, do they spend hours or even days choosing it, walking from shop to shop trying to imagine if you will like the gift? Maybe they do not, unless you have absolutely amazing friends, but still, probably not.

When my daughter was younger, one year she saved some of her money from her birthday, and brought myself and her mother a bar of chocolate each; there was nothing special about the chocolate (apart from it was Galaxy), she did not wrap it in amazingly coloured paper with bows or ribbons, she did write a long elegant letter telling of her love for us, but what was special was the way that she did it. Young as she was, she gave of her own, she did not ask for any help with this, she did not ask for any money, or anything for that matter, and she did it in secret, without telling us.

When God sent his perfect gift to us, Jesus, he knew exactly how bad we were as a race of people, and;

Just at the right time… … Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

God’s timing is perfect, and what he does is perfect, and the reason that the timing is just right, spot-on, perfect, is that he knows everything that we do;

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!’ (Psalm 139:1 ESV).

Yet you know me, LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you’ (Jeremiah 12:3 NIV).

There is nothing that we can do that God does not already know about. I know that may sound extremely worrying to some, but try not to worry too much, because there is also nothing that you can do that will make God love you any less.

God sent Jesus as a gift to the human race, Jesus would come and show us how we should live, and then, ultimately, he would die for our sins.

Ellis J Crum wrote about Jesus coming to die for us, he wrote;

He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay’ (Ellis J Crum – 1977).

So really what we should be saying, or rather shouting out to God, is a massive thank you;

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift’ (2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV).

The gift we get from God, through Jesus, is eternal hope for an eternal life, with Jesus. But the gift we get when we accept Jesus as our Lord, Friend, Redeemer, Teacher, Rescuer, Counsellor, Leader, Saviour, needs to be used.

We receive Grace and Redemption for our past sins, so we should also give others grace and redemption for what they have or may have done against us. In this way, just as Paul reminded Timothy in one of the letters written to him, we will;

fan into flame the gift of God’ (2 Timothy 1:6 NIV).

In his previous letter to Timothy, Paul had reminded Timothy to devote himself to public preaching, teaching, and reading of the scripture (1 Timothy 4:13), and he also reminded him not to do something;

Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you’ (1 Timothy 4:14 NIV).

Now concerning spiritual gifts… … … Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord’ (1 Corinthians 1 & 4-5 ESV).

You can go on-line and do tests to see what gifts you have, as you may not think that you have any, but we all have them, eternal life being the one most people think of, but you may be called to serve God and be a teacher or preacher, you may be called to serve God in a worship group, or with the youth of your church, or as an organiser, or a some-one who meets and greets people at the door, or a cleaner, a chair stacker, a person who hands out Bibles etc. every position is just as important as the person who stands at the front and preaches, but also pulls all the various elements together.

There are many, many ways in which we could each serve God, and you may not even feel ready or able to serve.  Remember that God does not always call those who are fully ready and equipped for whatever challenge is presented, but he will ensure that if he calls you, that you are equipped.

As I sit here writing this text, I know that the ability I have to write, is a gift from my God, a gift I cherish, the ability to say to others through this blog, what God has put on my heart.

Many years ago, when doing a Bible study as a teenager, we were looking at time, and something was said then that has stayed with me;

Yesterday is history;
Tomorrow is a mystery;
Today is a gift, that is why it is called the present

We all have gifts, and some are more important than others, but the most important thing of all to remember is;

the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23 ESV – emphasis mine).

 

Equips the called.jpg

I am broken at Your feet
Like an alabaster jar
Every piece of who I am
Laid before Your majesty

I will bow my life
At Your feet
At Your feet
My lips
So lost for words
Will kiss Your feet
Kiss Your feet

Oh the gravity of You
Draws my soul unto its knees
I will never be the same
I am lost and found in You

Alabaster

Rend Collective

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Father we thank you for giving us such an amazing gift, your Son. We realise that we do not deserve it, but want to live our lives like your Son Jesus did. Lord we want to be better people, and with your help and strength, we can try. Lord help us to be better day by day we pray.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

I’m coming back to the start – Chris Tomlin

Put on the new self’ (Ephesians 4:24 NIV)

Why should we need to put on a new self? Why should we need to change?

How many times have you thought “Oops, I should not have said that” or “Oops, did that really come out loud?” or “Why did I do that again?

If you are like many people, you have probably said one or more of those statements numerous times. Many people say things without thinking first, they engage their mouth without putting their brain in gear; in other words, they say the first thing that pops into their mind, which is not always a smart idea.

There have been many times in my life, and I would also presume yours, where I have thought “If only I could do that again, it would be different”.

But how many times in our lives have we been in similar situations, where the outcome is still the same, even though we wished to change it?

Many of us, if not all of us, do things in our life that we really should not. We sin!

A lot of people think that saying we ‘sin’ sounds horrible, it makes us sound like we are bad people. Which we are, generally speaking;

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 NIV).

I do not write this to shock people or to anger them; it is that I am simply pointing out that we are not perfect. There has only ever been one perfect person, that did not sin;

And being made perfect’ (Hebrews 5:9 ESV).

He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth’ (1 Peter 2:22 NIV).

we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin’ (Hebrews 4:15 NIV).

And not only was he perfect, but by coming to the earth, and dying on the cross, he also saved us;

he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him’ (Hebrews 5:9 ESV).

We may be people who have sinned, or rather that statement should really say ‘we are all of course people who have sinned, we are human and fail often’.

But when we go to God, and take him our failures and sins, what does God do with them?

Does God parade your sin around so that everyone can see? Of course the answers is no.

Does God ensure that you pastor and everyone at church knows every dark deed that you do? Of Course he does not?

Does God let people know through visions and dreams, how bad a person you are? Of course he does not do that either.

So we know that we do wrong in the eyes of God and the teaching held within the Bible, we know that we sin. But what do we do when we realise this?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9 ESV).

The Psalmist David also knew what he should do when he sinned against God;

Then I acknowledged my sin to you… … I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”. And you forgave me’ (Psalm 32:5 NIV).

Once when Peter was speaking in Solomon’s Colonnade, he said to those listening to him;

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out’ (Acts 3:19 ESV).

We need to come to God when we realise, or when some-one points out to us that we have sinned, and broken the laws of God.

Open confession is good for the soul’ (Old Scottish proverb – https://mtvchurchofchrist.org/wp/?p=137 – accessed 11/05/19).

But why is confessing our sin important?

It is true that God know everything that we do; he knows when we get up, and he knows what we are going to say (Psalm 139:2 & 4). God knows everything, but that is not the point.

To confess, we come nearer to God. It is humbling to speak out words saying that you know that you are not perfect, and that you have failed in some way; but, ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you’ (James 4:8 NIV).

Sometimes, verbalising something helps us as humans heal; sometimes actually saying something can take some of the pain away; and sometimes, saying something, can actually help you to come to understand why it happened.

But, by giving our burdens to God, because that what un-repented sin is, a burden; giving your burdens to him, means that you do not need to carry them anymore;

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened… … Take my yoke upon you and learn from me’ (Matthew 11:28 & 29 NIV).

We are free to carry on out life without the burden of sin weighing us down, free to simply be.

God will not hold a grudge against you for not being perfect, he will forgive you, (Psalm 32:5) some of your human friends might hold a grudge against you, and may never forgive you. God will also not stay angry at the sin you committed, (Isaiah 12:1), some of your friends may have trouble letting what you have done, go. God will not constantly bring up your failures or remind you of them, (Jeremiah 31:34) whereas your human friends might, especially if you have just annoyed or upset them. God will not even mention your sins, he has thrown them away (Psalm 103:12) or tread them under his feet (Micah 7:19), and forgotten them, (Hebrews 8:12) it is as if they never ever existed, (Isaiah 43:25); not so with many of your human friends.

But thankfully, God is not human; he is the creator and the sustainer of the universe, so we should be thankful that we have some-one to go to when we have sinned, some-one that is merciful and forgiving;

Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin’ (Romans 4:8 NIV).

So we can reboot our life whenever we have done something wrong, we do not need to wait for a special moment, or a special day, whenever we need to we can confess our sin to he who created us, and we shall be washed clean with his forgiveness.

I'm coming back to the start

 

Before I spoke a word, you were singing over me;
You have been so, so good to me.
Before I took a breath, you breathed your life in me;
You have been so, so kind to me.

When I was your foe, still your love fought for me;
You have been so, so good to me.
When I felt no worth, you paid it all for me;
You have been so, so good to me.

Oh the over-whelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.
Oh it chases me down, fights till I’m found,
Leaves the ninety-nine.
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still you give your-self away.
Oh the over-whelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

Reckless Love

Cory Ashbury, Caleb Culver, Ran Jackson

 

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Father we thank you for being so reckless as to let your only Son come to this earth, and to die for us. We do so much that is not what you want, help us to constantly come back to the start, to find you, to say sorry, and to reboot our heart, to start afresh, from the beginning, clean and new. Lord we love you, help us to love you more.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

I am!

I am the law… … prepare to be judged’ (Judge Joseph Dredd – Judge Dredd 1995 – https://www.quotes.net/movies/judge_dredd_6061 – accessed 03/05/19)

On television today, you can choose to watch programmes where people make a spectacle about virtually any part of their life, no matter how private or intimate. Jerry Springer and Jeremy Kyle have been allowing members of the public to humiliate themselves and their former friends for years.

Judge Judy has been on television for over 13 years, whilst Judge Rinder has been around and televised since 2014. People seem enthralled by other people’s problems, and how they deal with them.

Back in 1977, Judge Dredd first hit the comic shelves, in a comic called 2000 AD. The population of the time (around 2099) lived in a dystopian future in a place called Mega-City One, and he and his fellow judges had tough jobs, and they were ‘police, jury and executioner all in one. They were the Judges’ (Narrator – Judge Dredd 1995), although the death sentence was not widely used unless capital offences had occurred (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_Dredd – accessed 03/05/19).

In today’s society, with many people actively engaging in people watching, it is very easy to judge people without knowing anything about them. We judge people on what we see on their social media profiles, we judge them on random statements that we hear them say, we even judge them on their fashion if we do not like what they are wearing.

Why have we become such judgemental people?

Jesus said;

Do not judge’ (Matthew 7:1 NIV – emphasis mine).

So why do we, what right do we have to do it?

Even if we do not share the judgement with others, we still do it, but why do we do it?

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged’ (Matthew 7:2 NIV – emphasis mine).

We are far from perfect, and it is presumed, that we do not want to be judged harshly when our time on earth ends, yet we find it very difficult at times to stop from judging others, but yet again;

with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ (Matthew 7:2 NIV).

This is not a new problem. Thousands of years ago, the Israelite nation was not doing what it should. They had turned from God and his laws as given through Moses (Exodus 20:1-17). Joshua, Moses’ aide had risen to the occasion, to become the leader of the nation, and they still grumbled and disobeyed God (Joshua 7:1). Joshua finally died aged one-hundred and ten years old, and was buried, (Judges 2:6) and when his generation all died out, the Israelite nation again turned from God, and;

served Baal and the Ashtoreths’ (Judges 2:13 NIV).

So we are no different from the old Israelite nation. They did not worship God and do as they should have, and we do not do as Jesus taught us.

When writing to the Roman Christians, Paul reminded them;

Who are you to pass judgement… … Why do you pass judgement on your brother (or sister)’ (Romans 14:4 & 10 ESV – emphasis mine).

It is not our job to judge, God will ultimately judge us, and Jesus will stand with us, but we need to have a heart that is in tune with God, and the only way to have that is to live by the words inspired by God, written in the greatest teaching manual available today, the Bible.

We are not qualified to pass judgement on others. When Jesus comes again, things that are now hidden will be brought into the light, and our true hearts revealed (1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV).

Ultimately, some people will always judge us, but Jesus also reminded us;

Forgive and you will be forgiven’ (Luke 6:37 NIV).

There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy’ (James 4:12 ESV).

So we have to choose how we want to live. Do we want to live selfish lives where we pass moral and ethical judgements upon people that we hardly know, basing these entirely on what we see and hear, or do we want to live as Jesus taught us that we should, lights to an otherwise dark world?

Be the tip of a spear light, taking the light of the gospel into an otherwise dark world. Take the light of Jesus to people who without you, may never hear the life saving story of love and grace as embodied in Jesus;

Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another’ (Romans 14:13 NIV).

Jesus said;

I am the light of the world’ (John 8:12 NIV).

As Jesus was and is for all who turn to him, so let us be for others; not judging, critical or re-proving, but full of love, patience, kindness and graciousness, as God is to all of us who have turned to him, and accepted him as Lord.

Grace - John 1 v 16

I’m saying yes to You
And no to my desires
I’ll leave myself behind
And follow You

I’ll walk the narrow road
’cause it leads me to You
I’ll fall but grace 
Will pick me up again

I’ve counted up the cost
Oh I’ve counted up the cost
Yes I’ve counted up the cost
And You are worth it

I do not need safety
As much as I need You
You’re dangerous
But Lord You’re beautiful

I’ll chase You through the pain
I’ll carry my cross
’cause real love
Is not afraid to bleed

Jesus 
Take my all
Take my everything

I’ve counted up the cost
And You’re worth everything

The Cost (Homemade Worship by Handmade People #3)

Rend Collective

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Father we thank you for loving us no matter what we have done, and continue to do. Fill our hearts with your love so that there is no space left with which we can think about what other people do. Fill us with love and grace from you which we can the spill out to the people around us, and mhel make us more like your dear Son.

Amen