And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. - Genesis 24:63
Sometimes when reading about the lives of the great characters in the Bible we are overwhelmed by the amazing things that happened to them. How God moved in their lives, how God spoke to them. Often we wish our live could have more of that tangible Divine dynamic.
This verse tucked away in the account of the first meeting between Isaac and Rebekah seems so simple yet its so profound.
Isaac did the basics he took time out of his day to meditate on God and pray. It doesn't matter how we cut it or what excuses there are basics to the Christian life that we just can not jump past or never graduate from.
It is amazing how we will choose anything but meditating (focused time) on God and his greatness, even choosing to worry.
Check out this short video from one of my recent messages about meditation & worry.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Today I read a thought provoking post by Pete Wilson titled "Why doesn't anybody talk about sin?". In it he quotes an article written by Scott McKnight which asks some great questions about Grace & Holiness
"To many, sin has fallen into grace. What does that mean? When we talk about God’s grace, we are assuming the reality of sin—that we are sinners and that God has forgiven us. But in our language today, sin is not only an assumption—it is an accepted assumption. And not only is it an accepted assumption—it also doesn’t seem to matter.That generation’s lack of zeal for holiness has produced a trend: acceptance of sin, ignorance of its impact and weakened relationships with God, people and the world."
It’s as if we’re saying, “Yes, of course we sin” and then do nothing about it.
Widespread apathy toward sin reveals itself in the lack of interest in holiness. Your grandparents’ generation overdid it—going to movies, dancing and drinking alcohol became the tell-tale signs of unholiness. Damning those who did such things became the legalistic, judgmental context for church life. So your parents’ generation, inspired in part by the ’60s, jaunted its way into the freedom of the Christian life. Which meant, often enough, “I can do whatever I want because of God’s grace.”
I get the problem. But Paul in his letter to the Roman church nailed this once and for all. After describing God's amazing gift of grace he then says:
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?2 By no means! - Romans 6 v 1 - 2
Grace is the true motivation and pathway to a life of holiness. Rules and regulations can not save us, our only hope is Grace.
If grace makes sin easy then we have missed what grace is. Grace is the most amazing unbelievable gift we could not even imagine in our wildest imagination and it arrived at the door of a person who did not deserve to be in the same country as it.
If that does not make me run from sin nothing will.
By the way Scott McKnight has written one of the best books I have ever read on the subject of grace. Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of Us
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
John Stott pastor, theologin and evangelist went to be with Jesus today.
He started following Jesus after hearing a sermon based on Revelation 3:20. He wrote later about that experience:
"Here, then, is the crucial question which we have been leading up to. Have we ever opened our door to Christ? Have we ever invited him in? This was exactly the question which I needed to have put to me. For, intellectually speaking, I had believed in Jesus all my life, on the other side of the door. I had regularly struggled to say my prayers through the key-hole. I had even pushed pennies under the door in a vain attempt to pacify him. I had been baptized, yes and confirmed as well. I went to church, read my Bible, had high ideals, and tried to be good and do good. But all the time, often without realising it, I was holding Christ at arm's length, and keeping him outside. I knew that to open the door might have momentous consequences. I am profoundly grateful to him for enabling me to open the door. Looking back now over more than fifty years, I realise that that simple step has changed the entire direction, course and quality of my life."
A faithful servant now with his saviour.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
For me, one of the most difficult events from the life of Abraham is how God tested him in relation to the life of his son, Isaac. (Gen 22)
How could God as Abraham to kill his son, his only son as part of a test?
It all seems so brutal?
First he tells Abraham the plan, then Abraham has to organise the trip, then travel 3 days with his son knowing all the time what was coming. Just how do you spend 3 days on a road trip with your son knowing what you have to do at the end of it.
Abraham's obedience and all out love for God is totally unbelievable.
Thankfully at the last second, with the knife in Abraham's hand, God calls him back from the brink and provides an alternative sacrifice.
As I read this story the parallels with God and His Son just shout from the page. As Isaac seemed to willingly submit to his fathers will even carrying the method of his sacrifice on his back as Jesus was to do so many years later.
Only one difference, Abraham was spared the excruciating pain and grief of his son being sacrifice. But no one called out at the last minute to save God the Father from His pain. There was no other substitute. I will be forever grateful that Jesus were willing to endure the cross and God the Father the grotesque pain of watching His Son be tortured and killed.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Heb 12 v 2
Monday, July 25, 2011
Loved this pic posted by Scott Hodge.
When we talk about our humanity as Christians we tend to think of it as something to be destroyed. I think I prefer to see it as something to be redeemed.
Since the fall of Adam humanity as it was, like the whole of creation, has almost been unrecognisable.
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. - Romans 8 v 19 - 23
But then came Jesus, fully God yet fully man. A human the like the world had not seen since creation. The second Adam.
Here to restore our humanity as he intended it.
Monday, July 18, 2011
The Bible says that Lot and his family LINGERED in Sodom when called out by God. (Gen 19 v 16)
Even in the short glimpse of this place we get in the Bible it wouldn't be a place I would want to visit let alone stay. It seems very dangerous in so many ways. But even after God performs a miracle to see his daughters saved from possible rape, this guy instead of fleeing with God's messengers he LINGERS!
This is defined as: To be slow in leaving, especially out of reluctance.
On first read it seems bamboosiling to me that this horrible place such a hold on Lot and his family. Why the heck would he want to stay there!
Then I am confroned with the truth about myself.
Even having been confronted and captured by God's amazing, uncompromising, gift of Grace. Which has pronounced me innocent and rightious before God I still choose to hang around sin.
Although by God's grace I have been freed from my slavery to sin and have the power of the Holy Spirit with me to overcome it. I choose to LINGER in and around it.
I hang around my need for afirmation which, once received, can feed my pride.
I dwell on others faults and failings and can harm them with gossip.
I meditate on my own weaknesses birthing anger deep inside as a defence mechanism.
If I linger too long in the wrong place the tentaticles of sin can seem to stretch towards me.
So I try to listen to Paul's advice to the church at Philippi:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, THINK about these things. - Phil 4 v 8
Today I choose where to linger - with Christ!
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Abraham as a great man of God gives me some comfort. He tells me that great men of God still doubt. The man held up by the great Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia (Gal 3 v 6) as a man of faith, needed reassurance.
God had given him a great promise that his descendants would number more than the dust on the earth. (13 v 16)
Abraham had heard God's promise but yet later he was back before God saying are you sure about this God. Surely this many descendant thing starts with one and time is ticking. (15 v 2)
God had promised him a country that would belong to him. (13 v 17)
Again he doubts and asks God for confirmation. (15 v 8)
The great thing is that God can handle doubt better than we can handle it ourselves. Doubt is an opportunity for God to give you assurance.
Abraham's doubt drove him back to God and far from beating him up for doubting he gently confirmed the promise.
Don't be scared of taking your doubts to God. We see doubt as failure, God sees it as an opportunity to show his faithfulness. Fundamentally, doubt is a process that should bring us closer to God, rather than the reverse.
I have just started a new reading plan on YouVersion based on the like of Abraham.
Already I am getting a fresh perspective on the greatness of this man and his Godly character.
Faced with conflict with his nephew Lot he put his relationship over his rights. Faced with the difficulty of feeding their animals. He allowed Lot to choose the land he wanted to live in before him. Lot chooses what he thinks is the best land for grazing and Abraham just accepts it and trusts God.
But just after he gets ripped off God speaks to him and gives him the most amazing promise.
The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward,15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you." - Genesis 13 v 14 - 17
Time and time again we see Abraham building altars to God along his journey. Showing us again and again that his focus was on God first. Getting something from God far outweighs getting something from man.
Later we also find that even though Lot had chosen the "best" land and walked away, Abraham didn't think twice about going to rescue Him when he was captured at the battle of Siddim (14 v 12)
Then we find that on his return from rescuing Lot and winning the battle the first thing he does is tithe to Melchizedek the King and Priest of God.
Honouring God was more important than holding on to his rights, doing what was best for his business, winning an argument or having more money.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. - Genesis 12 v 7
God showing up in Abraham's (Or Abram as we at this point) was a huge thing. This was no voice from heaven this was God showing up and giving him a promise in person. This was something that he always wanted to be fresh in his memory and the memory of others. So he builds an altar to remember.
I've never had Jesus stand in front of me and promise me anything but I know that in many situations and circumstances he has shown up for me through His Holy Spirit.
A Word of comfort in times of tragedy.
A Word of faith in times of doubt.
A Word of encouragement in times of doubt.
A Word of direction in times of confusion.
But too often I move on and forget too quickly.
The Hebrew word for Altar is "mizbe'ah", from a word meaning "to slay".
So Abraham was building a place of sacrifice and remembrance.
Paul carries this on in his letter to the church in Rome:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. - Romans 12 v 1
For every time you have shown up in my life God, I say a humble thank you, help me never to forget your unbelievable mercy and grace that you have shown me and I put myself on the alter to die to myself again so I can find abundant life in You.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Just needed to remind myself of what God is to me today:
Billy loves you, O Lord, His strength.
The Lord is Billy's rock and Billy's fortress and Billy's deliverer,
Billy's God, Billy's rock, in whom Billy takes refuge,
Billy's shield, and Billy's salvation, Billy's stronghold.
Billy calls upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and Billy is saved from his enemies.
Psalm 18 v 1 - 3
Humbly, Thank you!
Friday, July 08, 2011
Very often in life we can be faced with real disapointments.
Let down by a friend.
Not getting the promotion I expected.
No getting the university place I wanted.
We can even be disappointed by those nearest and dearest.
Even in church disappointments can be close at hand.
Why did God not heal me?
Why was my prayer not answered?
Why did they choose that person for that ministry instead of me?
Real questions with real disapointments.
How are we supposed to handle disappointment.
I read the following post by Jon Bloom at Desiring God that just blew me away:
"Joseph Barsabbas was disappointed by Jesus. Joseph was a candidate to replace Judas Iscariot as one of the Twelve, but when the lot was cast it “fell on Matthias” (Acts 1:26). I’ll bet that was a blow.
The Bible never mentions Joseph again. But tradition says he later became the Bishop of Eleutheropolis (32 miles southwest of Jerusalem) and died a martyr. Assuming that’s accurate, imagine what Joseph may have learned about disappointment and how he might have counseled a disappointed young disciple twenty years later."
Please read the rest of the article here.
This guy was not disappointed by a family member, a friend or pastor he was disappointed by God. He didn't walk away when his opportunity to be one of the "Big" 12 he faithfully served his master with everything he had even giving his life.
Thursday, July 07, 2011
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God. - Jude 20 & 21
Each and every follower of Jesus has a huge responsibility to their selves. To build THEMSELVES up in their faith.
Yes our community of believers can play a vital part in that growth and leaders in that community have a deep responsibility to nourish and equip disciples but the heavy lifting in our journey of faith must be done personally.
Pastors, mentors and friends can point the way, clear the path and encourage each step but they can't walk the journey for you. Each step we personally take in joy or pain creates a history with God on which we build our trust in Him.
The reason he has chosen to put the Holy Spirit in each and every one of His followers is to help us on our own personal and individual and unique relationship and spiritual journey.
Opportunities that will help us BUILD OURSELVES UP abound we just need to stop blaming others for our spiritual stagnation and discontent and embrace just some of them.
- Attend a local church regularly
- Get attached to a small group and develop friends
- Read God's Word often
- Follow a reading plan on a daily basis
- Speak to God often
- Attend courses arranged by your church
- Invest in attending conferences with great teachers
- Speak to God often
- Study the Word of God, Ask it questions
- Find a friend who is a little further on in their journey and ask question.
- Listen to sermons via podacsts
- Speak to God often
- Watch sermons by great teachers via the internet
- Read blogs by great teachers
- Read books recommended by people you trust. Then jump onto a website called Amazon. They have a few.
- Serve others in a ministry in your church.
- Speak to God often.
- Go on mission to another country and serve people in need. (I can guarantee you its transformational)
- Share with others what you are learning.
- Enrol on a teaching programme through a college, residential, correspondence or even online.
- Oh and speak to God often.
Build YOURSELF up in YOUR Faith.
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
This made me fall over laughing. (By posting it I'm not making a comment on homosexuality so don't get all upset - I just thought it was funny)
HT: Leading Smart
I often call myself a follower of Jesus.
We sometimes as the question: What would Jesus do?
Christ is our supreme example.
His Spirit guides and councils us every day.
First and foremost we are called to be imitators of God!
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Eph 5 v 1
But the writers of the New Testament also suggested that we imitate great men of the faith.
Paul even told the believers at Corinth to imitate him.
And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. - 1 Cor 11 v 1 (Also 1 Thess 1 v 6)
The Church a Thessaloniki were congratulated for imitating the churches in Judea.
For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches. 1 Thess 2 v 14
In John's letter to his friend Gaius he contrast two people, Diotrephes & Demetrius.
Diotrephes who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 3 John 1 v 9
Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. 3 John 1 v 12
And he encourages Gaius to imitate the good example of Demetrius.
Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. 3 John 1 v 11
Follow Christ, Imitate God and imitate great men of God!
Copying can be a great thing!
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
One of the things we often get asked at MKCC is when is our prayer meeting. If everyone who asked that question actually attended our corporate prayer meeting then it would quite possibly be the largest gathering of our church life. Unfortunately it isn't. And so many of the people that ask about a prayer meeting never or rarely come.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the question is asked from a position of lack. A lack of personal prayer in our lives. We don't talk to God personally but maybe if we have something corporate we can attend and that will help us. But a lack of personal prayer will kill off our corporate involvement in prayer.
I read the following over at Desiring God. The question is not Where to pray is not the issue. But whether.
It goes on to quote J. C. Ryle
I dare not lay down too strict rules on such points as these. I leave them to your own conscience. You must be guided by circumstances.
Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed on a mountain;
Isaac prayed in the fields;
Hezekiah turned his face to the wall as he lay upon his bed;
Daniel prayed by the riverside;
Peter, the Apostle, on the housetop.
I have heard of young men praying in stables and haylofts. All that I contend for is this, you must know what it is to "go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen" (Matthew 6:6).
There must be stated times when you must speak to God face to face, you must every day have your times for prayer — You must pray.
J. C. Ryle, Thoughts For Young Men
Monday, July 04, 2011
Msrk Sherratt preached a stormer at MKCC on Sunday and the response has been amazing so far. God is really at work. Here is an entry he posted recently on his blog on the same subject: Forgiveness.
"How can we love someone who has caused us so much grief? How can we move past the offense to forgive them and love them? Full of questions and with anger (even hatred) in our heart, bitterness takes hold. Craig Groeschel on page 115 of “The Christian Atheist” shares the following:
“The root of bitterness grows in the soil of hurt that has not been dealt with properly. Unknown to me, a root of bitterness started to grow in my heart. Roots absorb and store, and my heart absorbed and stored hurt, anger, hatred, and thoughts of revenge. Love keeps no wrong, but bitterness keeps detailed accounts.“
God’s command for us to love others sincerely just as we love ourselves does not allow room for bitterness and hatred. In love, we are to forgive one another and lift each other up so that we may experience the grace of God:
15See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Heb 12:15
Bitterness defiles. Forgiveness liberates and elevates.
Craig Groeschel in chapter 6 shares his battle with unforgiveness and bitterness towards the man who molested his sister and others. There was a lot of anger. There was enmity and hatred. Craig shares the “reluctant” path he traveled to forgiveness:
Recognition – He recognized and was convicted by the Holy Spirit of the destructive force of bitterness in his life.
Prayer – “God, I pray you work in his [the molester's] life.”
Forgiveness – Colossians 3:13 “forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Forgiveness is not easy. But it is needed. Unforgiveness can destroy us and those around us. Bitterness can grow and defile many.
Who do you need to forgive today? Are you being defiled by a root of bitterness?
On page 122, Craig Groeschel concludes this chapter with the following paragraph:
“We Christian Atheists can rationalize as many excuses as we need to avoid forgiving. We Christians, however, can find in God the sheer strength to battle through the feelings of anger, hatred, and bitterness, and fight our way back to the cross. That’s where Christ forgave us. And that’s where, by faith, we can find the ability to forgive those who’ve wronged us.”
My prayer today is for each one of us to be convicted of any unforgiveness we are holding on to. May God help us to turn our hatred into love, our bitterness into forgiveness…that no one should miss the grace of God.
Forgiven people forgive!
Saturday, July 02, 2011
EMMANUEL'S STORY a video from People of The Second Chance.
Tomorrow Mark Sherratt talks to our church at MKCC about the subject: I believe in God but wont forgive part of our Practical Atheist series.
I believe passionately in forgiveness and grace but this short true story of forgiveness rocked me to my core.
Graphics | Joel Robertson | fourthcrown.com
Sound Score | Jack Shocklee | shaeshoc.com
AD/Crew | Jesse Gregg | twitter.com/jessegregg
2nd Cam/Crew | Brandon Bray |
Producer | Sarah Seaton | twitter.com/sarasea33
Director/DP | TK McKamy | igoby.tk