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Examining Biblical Scripture

Enter His Courts with Praise: Preparing for Ministry in 2017

To prepare ourselves for the New Year 2017, we need to be prepared for whatever God has for us – for tomorrow, for 2017 and beyond, even into Heaven.

We cannot underestimate the power of Praise and the value of Worship in preparing, strengthening and equipping us for All He has for us to do.

“Pray without ceasing…” (1Thessalonians 5:17) includes praise. This is expressed through our attitude to life and in our way of being, as well as from particular words and songs to God. To celebrate our faith, we praise our God in all circumstances and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Then, through that capacity to Love which is God given through His Holy Spirit, we love our neighbours as ourselves (Luke 10:27).

It is my firm belief, that in order to love completely, we first need to learn to accept and love ourselves. This is not as automatic or as easy as it might appear. Most of us have aspects to ourselves we shun. Learning to love ourselves as God loves us is a journey for most of us. (My book “Free to Be” offers my experience and insight into that process, using scripture, prayer and reflection.)

To love God is also a process: one of becoming more deeply committed and more deeply familiar with God as Father, with Jesus His son, and with the comforter, the Holy Spirit. We discover through studying the Word of God, through the fellowship with other believers and by prayer.

When love for our neighbour springs from our love of God, we follow as Jesus the Master leads. He taught us that the poor would always be with us but that nevertheless, we must care for them and for widows, orphans, prisoners and the lost. However, when we lead from ourselves, we can make unwise choices and end up serving our neighbour but not in ways that are best for him. Even Jesus did not heal all people, but only for those whom God led him to.

As we praise the LORD and as we pray to Him, we draw into His will and His power.

We lift our eyes and hands to Heaven in praise. We sing, dance, play a musical instrument as part of praise. Whether alone or in company, there is always opportunity to praise. Through it we release anointing and sense His presence to lead and guide us. Praise brings with it joy, and is a weapon against depression, oppression and stagnation.

As regards worship, it is often a deepening of thanks and celebration that we express as praise. Through worship we express reverence and enter into that deep place of intimacy with God, that helps us to hear His still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).

Whatever style or form of expression our worship and praise might take, we will give glory to God and lift ourselves and those around us. As we enter into 2017, let us enter into His courts (Psalm 100:4) and be ready to hear His call for the days ahead.

May each and every one of you find peace, joy and love this Christmas as you prepare for all the LORD has in store for the year ahead.

God bless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Examining Biblical Scripture

How Do I Become More Powerful?

Recently, a friend of mine who loves the LORD was searching for an answer…

“With all the power of GOD within me, how do I become more powerful?”

She was searching because, like most of us, she is aware that the power of Almighty God, creator of the universe is within her and yet she is also aware of the weakness within herself. Some weakness springs from a lack of confidence, some from inexperience. Most I think, is pinned to fear. I’ll come back to that in a moment…

What an excellent question it is! My friend’s question raises the point that, although we believe in Jesus and the resurrection power that resides in us through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), we often feel weaker than we ought. Why is that and how can we overcome, so that we an be and do all that the LORD GOD has for us?

I think we are held back by fear: a fear of man. I’ve experienced this and I believe most of us have. I’ve even written a book about overcoming fear called FREE TO BE. I overcame fear a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t occasionally creep back into my life, trying to wreak havoc, delaying me from taking hold of the promises of GOD.

If overcoming the fear of man is the battle, what gives us the strength to fight it? Do we simply launch in? Is it the fighting that makes us braver and stronger?

No. While the experience will strengthen our faith and our authority, what makes us more powerful is not to defeat fear, which is the enemy, but to surrender to GOD.

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

I am convinced that how we become stronger is not by more strain, but by our surrender.

It is, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.” (Zechariah 4:6)

It’s simple, profound and not always easy to do. Perhaps it is one of our greatest challenges, because we live in a busy world with many demands on our time and attention. But when we are determined, we can surrender.

******

Brief Testimony:

Over the last few months, I have been yielding. To Surrender to God’s timing and purposes has given me rest in His scriptures and a deeper faith. He will – and He has – come through with the answers and opportunities that I need in order to fulfil His will and my destiny. I have become stronger and more confident as I have become more patient, more relaxed, less busy and less intense. And I have been abundantly blessed. Nothing that has needed to be done has gone undone, and everything that is important has been attended to. But with one difference: I am the better person, as the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) have been growing stronger in me. I have witnessed God’s blessing and opportunity.

******

In 1 Chronicles God tells David he will not build His temple, but his son Solomon will.

1 Chronicles 22:9 David tells his son that he will be a man of rest from war. The word “rest” is key.

In verse 19 he says, “Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God. Therefore arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy articles of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the Lord.”

It is not by training or fighting that Solomon would be prepared. He would grow in strength by seeking the LORD.

As for us, we build within us a sanctuary of prayer and praise through resting in Him. The result: we grow stronger. He may lead us to encounters and experiences that will indeed train us through experience, exercise and practice. But I suggest that, essentially, the building of the sanctuary within us comes from our surrender of our will, our heart, and our might to God, spending time with Him in prayer and resting in his scriptures. Let us discover the power of God that is already within us through surrender.

“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

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Examining Biblical Scripture

What Are Your Scriptures

bible-verse-joshua-1-9Everyone who walks with Jesus has Biblical scriptures that speak to them personally, more deeply than most. For example, one of mine is, “The Joy of the Lord is (my) strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

This scripture is one that goes deep into my spirit when I meditate on it, and allow it to transform my perspective and my choices, in fact basically allowing it to lead me.

We all have scriptures that “jump” out at us. Those, when focused upon, can deepen our walk and lead us into new places (spiritually and in our character) as we follow our Lord Jesus.

What are your scriptures? What pieces have you felt drawn to memorise? Or what texts have others given you as you met in Bible study or prayer?

It is important to fellowship with others for many reasons. We are commanded to do so. One of the many blessings is that others can speak into our lives with Bible verses that help us in difficult times. When we learn to stand on those scriptures, they speak, and lead us into a deeper revelation of our relationship and our Call from GOD.

Another of mine is from Isaiah 61:1-3.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Jesus read this in the temple and sat in the empty chair, and stated he is the fulfilment of God’s Word (Luke 4:21)

I am not saying through claiming that scripture as personal to me that I am fulfilling God’s prophecy like Jesus did. But by taking personal ownership of that text however, I am aware that part of my Calling is to do as specified in Isaiah 61:1-3 and I have the authority to do so.

Today, I proclaim: “This is the acceptable year of the LORD.” I’m not even sure what that means. But with various world situations bringing international tension, namely: the inevitable Brexit of the UK from the EU; the United States’ federal election bringing the strangest situation in memorable American history (that being that two extremely unpopular leaders are the candidates vying for the presidency); UNESCO declaring Jerusalem is only a heritage site for the Muslims; the utter political and civil disaster in Syria which has prompted world wide despair over refugees of war and economics, the world is in a state of controlled chaos and is on the brink of exploding.

What will God do in this earthly environment? I don’t know. But according to Matthew 25, woe to many and let’s ask for the days to be short.

When we have a Call of GOD on our lives, we need to be sure we live it out. My Call is to write to others and to encourage them.

Today I’m saying two things, one instruction for you personally and one declaration which is borne out of scripture.

For you, I’m saying: seek out, record and meditate on your personal scriptures.

Of Scripture I’m saying: This is the acceptable year of the LORD; the day of vengeance is at hand. (Isaiah 61:2)

Every blessing as you meditate on God’s Word, grow in His likeness and follow His plans and purposes for your life.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Take Nothing for Granted

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV)

Our faith is strong, our commitment true, so why read, study, pray and praise daily?

We need our lay our dependence totally upon him. As we journey, and go deeper into the purposes God has for us, the way is uphill… not only invigorating, challenging, awesome, but also debilitating, full of the unexpected, and – at times – painful.

We read the Word to discover Jesus and our way to walk; we’ve become committed and know Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, so what is the need for daily refreshing?

We study the Word to show ourselves approved; so once we know the Bible, why do we continue to review it?

We know and trust God’s sovereignty; so why refresh His mind with our prayers? Why are we called to pray without ceasing? (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Because sometimes the Way is stormy and hard, to be full of the Spirit and the Word of God is not only the best way forward, but even the only way forward.

God is all-knowing; he knows we are thankful. So, is it really necessary to praise Him and thank Him frequently?

The answer is a clear and resounding “Yes!” because of the battle between the flesh and the spirit. When I pause from the habit of reading, studying, praying and praising, my flesh rises up and all-so-quickly, my frame of mind shifts from hope, faith and love to worry, despair and fear.

In the battle between flesh and spirit, the weapons of the Word and prayer guard my heart and mind. To walk in His Spirit is freedom, and to do so requires repeated and continual surrender. Yes, I have been saved and am born again (John 3:7), but the process of sanctification – of becoming purer and more holy and loving – will continue for the rest of my life.

As a follower of Jesus, my life’s work is to grow deeper in love with him and to share that love. The flesh cannot do this. So, to pray and praise, to read and study enables His Spirit to fill me. More of you, Lord, and less of me is the heart’s desire of Believers.

So we to study and live, surrendering our flesh; we draw closer and closer to the person God has created us to be: in His image. That’s why taking nothing for granted, we read, study, pray and praise.

Come Holy Spirit, fill us to be more like you. Prepare us for all you have for us, so that we may overcome every obstacle and rejoice in all circumstances.

 

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Total Surrender

“Not my will but yours…” (Matthew 26:39)

Do you know you are called by God, Creator of the Universe, to make a difference in this world?

Has He told you a specific Call?

In my case, I know my role but not my Calling. I am a Watchman. Like Nehemiah, I am to stand on the wall, look out for any danger, and pray.

I don’t know when, how, or even if an attack will come, but I am to “be ready”: to look and to pray.

Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to wait for action. You may be waiting for some specific thing to do. That specific Call may come, but the most important step toward it is simply to surrender.

Surrender to the Call unconditionally. Surrender even to the possibility that a specific Call may not come.

In this “Me” climate of society, we are programmed to receive attention, to be important; we may feel overlooked or unimportant without a specific, huge responsibility being given to us. But huge responsibility is born out of real pain, character development and isolation. There is nothing romantic in being called to serve. It is a long, tough, sometimes lonely road that only some have the strength of character and endurance to face.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, on that night, before he was arrested he prayed first, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me”. Later, he released, surrendered and said, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” to his Father.

We do not know exactly when Jesus knew the Call to crucifixion. We know he asked for that cup to pass. But in the end, he surrendered his will to the Father’s. And all humanity was given the opportunity, through that surrender, to be saved.

You may be called to something specific. Or you may have to hunt for your purpose as I did, and it may be general. But how will you ever know a specific Call, unless you seek your role – the identity and purpose of your personality + God’s gifting in you – and grow in that first?

You may be like Samuel, whose mother bore him to give him back to God for full service. You may be like Anna, who waited a lifetime until Jesus was born, and she was given to prophecy. Or you may be like countless of us across the generations who are called to live our lives as role models to a dying world.

The Call may be huge, or it may seem tiny. But in surrendering to God’s Call, seeking out your identity and purpose suitable to who He has created you to be, you will be ready to serve.

That’s a Calling in itself, and a first step to receiving a specific job or role in His kingdom.

Are you ready to be who God created you to be?

Sometimes, in myself, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41b) and my role is simply to allow Him to perfect my unconditional surrender.

Go with God this week; bless Him, bless others and receive His blessing.

This particular post is crying out for dialogue. Through the website, post your questions or comments so that we who share can learn from one another, how to seek out the role that is perfect for who God has designed us to be. It took me three years of searching simply to discover my identity in Christ as a Watchman. I’ll answer your queries about how I did that and look forward to hearing from you.

God bless.

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Living in Community: The Fellowship of Believers

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

Community is the single-most important aspect we need as people to function happily. Community provides a sense of belonging, an opportunity to give and to receive. It provides the source of human interaction and love that we thrive on.

Even God lives in Community: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Having moved to a foreign country on three separate occasions, it is the sense of Community that has enabled me to settle in.

For the practicing Christian, what is the most obvious source of Community? For the Fellowship of Believers (Acts 2:42), the opportunity where love, companionship and camaraderie is available most readily is the organisation called the Church. The Church is not a building but a body: a group of living, breathing people who engage in relationship so that each is protected, encouraged and challenged to grow more like Jesus.

I’d love to challenge and encourage you the reader, and myself: are we in Community?

For me, Community means an environment where I can share my heart, give of my love and grow with others. Being part of Community takes time and energy, consistent availability and the willingness to form personal bonds. Community is cross-generational, accepting and challenging, involving face-to-face encounters and a shared sense of place and purpose.

Why does Community matter? It matters to us because we are created for relationship and it matters to others, because the world will know us by our love (John 13:35).

Sometimes, I confess, I avoid Community. Writing is isolating and demanding at times, so I simply put my head down and focus on the screen. But in truth, I must reach out, risk and engage. That’s a part of my calling, and my make-up as a human being requires it. Otherwise, negative thoughts and feelings find their way inside me and limit me.

Let’s make sure we are in Community, so that we can be lifted up in our difficult times and lift others during theirs. When circumstances don’t allow face-to-face encounters, let’s reach out on-line or by phone. If our situation prevents us from attending a church group, then let’s find another way to experience reciprocal Community. It’s so important for our continued growth and to encourage the growth of others.

END NOTE:

If you like the sorts of things I share, I’d like to invite you to have a look at www.sarahtunwordsandvoices.com and look at the Blog. Sign-up for the Watchman on Alert newsletter too, if you’d like something emailed to you personally. It’s free and designed to prepare you for God’s Call.

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Jesus: Light of the World

Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12)

Taken literally, I am drawn to the opening of Genesis, “Let there be light.” (Genesis 1:3)

I realize, Jesus is declaring it was He who called for Light to come into being.

In John 1:1-5 is written, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

When we are pressed to identify why we believe Jesus is divine, and not only a good or wise man who taught good principle, we can use these scriptures to say, ‘Jesus believed he was divine. So, was he a madman or a wise man?’

Those who have not yet been drawn will have some information to digest in their process.

Ready: Scripture says, ‘always be ready to give an account’.

Set: Prepared to share your faith with scripture and experience to back you up.

Go: Each day brings opportunity for divine encounter. Will you ask for yours?

 

 

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Examining Biblical Scripture

From My Will to Holy Spirit Will

My strength or Holy Spirit Strength

“…I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 20:17)

We have surrendered our life and our will to God. We want to utter His prayers and do His works, based on His will and not our own. Jesus said we can move mountains if we have faith. Bathed in prayer, we can walk in the Spirit and not in the Flesh.

But how can we be certain we are praying the prayers of the Holy Spirit? How do we pray God’s prayers and not our own? Is there a ‘ceiling’ above which our prayers do not rise, unless they are prayers inspired by the will of the Father?

I’d like to suggest a strategy that works for me, to help me be ‘less of me and more of God’ in my day-to-day walk.

1) ‘He who waits upon the LORD shall renew his strength’ (Isaiah 40:11)

As I wait in a quiet place I find God joins me. As I make room for Him, he shows up to inspire and to lead me ‘beside still waters’.

2) ‘All scripture is God-breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

As I sit, reading and re-reading a passage of scripture, those words become alive, guiding me and inspiring me. Through the Word of God I hear the Will of God on a daily basis.

3) ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:13)

Expecting God to speak or to move through my prayers and my actions creates in me humility and hope. I can’t make Him do as I please but I can expect Him to respond to the prayers and intercession He has anointed me and inspired me to pray.

4) ‘Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness’ (1 Chronicles 16:29)

When I pray in tongues, when I sing or dance as led by God’s encouragement and freedom, I begin to lose myself in worship and adoration. When that happens I am beginning to enter into a private place with the LORD where He draws me close, speaks to me and leads me in His way everlastingly.

5) ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.’ (Matthew 7:7-8)

Breakthrough comes when we wait, spend time with God’s Word, expect Him to come, and worship Him. This is not a formula but a promise.

If we want to ‘live and move and have our being’ in Him, we need to commit our way to Him and He will give us the desires of our heart. Meditating with Him will draw our desires toward Him and His will can be done on earth in and through us, His surrendered servants.

Ready: Decide to spend quality (and quantity) time daily with the LORD

Set: Choose a time and space that will ensure freedom from distraction

Go: Start tomorrow: Commit your way onto the LORD and He will direct your path

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Examining Biblical Scripture

What is Worship

Let us praise GOD:

“Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (I Chronicles 16:29)

A la sha bat, shabat. Sa ba tal a ka bala ka ta ba la… (tongues)

Oh God, you are my LORD. Glorify Your name, forever.

Worship unto our King, the ultimate King of Glory.

You know, worship is for the King of Glory, to raise Him up, to lift Him up, that He may be glorified.

It is not about ourselves, but about Jesus, about the LORD Father, about the Holy Spirit who inspires us and guides us.

There are wonderful worship songs, and there are beautiful songs that inspire us and comfort us. But these are not the same.

Praise songs lift up God and thank Him. Worship songs dig deeply into our souls (minds: will, emotion, intellect) and our spirits (heart = newborn spirit). We praise and we worship to expand the Kingdom, to bless our Lord, to sing with the angels.

Worship is not about us. Songs about us are brilliant to help us to grow, and to explore or express our pleasure of Him. But worship is all about God and His glory, to bring heaven down to earth, to raise the presence of God into our midst. It’s not about us at all.

So, when we worship as a group or congregation, may we let go and let God lead us. Instruments and voices together, raised up to give him praise and thanks, letting go of what we look like or how we sound, all for the thanksgiving of God – this is the worship we long to offer to Him. Let us do so together, let us do so in solitary, let us do so, that He may be glorified in the earth and the demons be disbursed. Amen.

Ready: Make room to worship God, even alone at home.

Set: Make God the center of your attention.

Go: Raise your voice, movement, all of your focus and worship Him.

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Examining Biblical Scripture

You are an Expert

“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.” (Proverbs 22:29)

What have you got in your hand?

“Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’” So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.”” (Exodus 4:1-2)

Moses was prepared for work he did not know he was ready for. But God knew he  was ready.

An expert is simply someone who has been through the fire, has come out singed but alive, and smarter than s/he was before.

That’s my personal definition. Most of us then, are experts on pain, fear, anxiety, hope, faith, and ourselves. I am an expert on Me.

One thing I’ve learned is not to save an idea or a ‘pearl’ for a time in the future. If it has come to mind, then it’s needed today.

Share. Another pearl will come when it’s needed. You can trust that. As you use this pearl – share it, use it for yourself, or give it as an encouragement to another, from its use will spring more pearls.

Use what you have today, and allow your imagination, creativity, faith and skills to develop new insights that will be useful tomorrow.

Spend wisely but generously. Generosity will be returned to you.

Ready: What idea have you been sitting on, waiting to use it at the perfect moment?

Set:  Take that invention, story-line or wise saying that you have and start to build upon it.

Go: Find a platform and share your creativity. Allow others to enjoy and benefit from your experience, wisdom or discovery. Trust another new idea will come your way, just when you need it. In the meantime, you’ll develop relationships and experiences from using what you have today.

Knowing what you have is the beginning of breakthrough. Allow it to happen by using what you have.

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Examining Biblical Scripture

The Sowing and Reaping Principle applies to Building Business

In Matthew 25:14-30 we read,

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, whocalled his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done,good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’”

Jesus gave us a number of parables to teach us to sow into our lives in order to reap. Sow love, reap love; sow kindness, reap kindness. I’ve discovered a reason for my slow progress in my business is that I have not been following that principle, and have been reaping slow growth because I have saved most of my earnings rather than use them toward further business growth.

I want to be a good steward of all the LORD provides. But there is such a thing as too much diligence, and I seem to have been practicing it.

Several months ago I led a conference, and was well-paid for it. I tithed the earnings and saved the rest, to use when necessary. But necessary came – petty costs actually – and they went without my using the money I had. I didn’t purchase some software I needed, because I was being frugal, too frugal.

Now, I’ve not accomplished a step in my business that needed the software. I thought I’d manage without it. But instead, I’ve stalled in that department, and only now have I realized I’ve wasted time in order to save a small amount of resources.

God will provide the resources we need as we do the work He calls us to do. Being a wise steward means spending wisely, not wastefully. Spending not-at-all is not good stewardship. I’ve learned this and share it, so that you might avoid a pitfall I fell into.

Ready: Consider your resources, be they financial, people or ability/skill-based. In your mind assemble, tally them up.

Set: Decide how best to maximize the use of your resources now. Don’t ‘save for a rainy day’. The LORD knows the weather forecast better than we do.

Go: Purchase, hire, apply your money, people and skills to the work at hand. Allow your business ideas room and opportunity to grow.

 

Bless you, your business and your relationship with the Almighty Provider.

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Becoming like Jesus

How to become like Jesus:

As Believers in Christ, we are always “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Through Christ, we understand we have the victory. But why then are we so often failing at living as Jesus lived: fully free, fully surrendered, fully empowered by Father God? How do we become like Jesus?

As the New Man, we have the authority and power of God in and through the humility and service of Jesus Christ. What does this mean? It means we live in the purity of Christ: pure power and pure humility.

First, the thoughts and responses that are negative within us are dead, not a part of who we are in Christ. Only the pure, only the life-giving emotions and thoughts are alive. When we surrendered our old selves to Jesus, we were reborn and became ‘the new man’. It is therefore possible to ignore the tug from negativity and simply allow it – and those dead thoughts – to stop, no longer to have influence in our lives or relationships. The New Man is well and can inhabit every fibre of our being, if we will allow him to. We must turn our back on the old man; he’s dead and his influence is only as strong as we allow him to be resurrected.*

Through this new life, demonstrated by this new man, we have prosperity, power and the presence of God in our lives. Joy fills us and we live in grace and purity toward others. As we grow in perfection, ‘being perfect as your father in heaven is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48), we live a balance between the two aspects of God’s character in us: authority and humility. There is no condemnation in Jesus as we learn to walk as the New Man, sometimes failing, sometimes overcoming, always persevering in our faith.

It is overdue for the body of Believers to live in the fullness of the new man, to thrive, rather than only to survive, to live in all the joy and fulfilment God has for us. Can we allow ourselves to live in the same freedom that Jesus had? Free from fear, free from worry, free from shame? We can. Let us do so, together. Let our lights shine brightly to the glory of our God.

Jesus gave up his will for the sake of the father. He waited on God’s will and for His timing. He followed God’s guidance in where he would go, what he would do, to whom he would speak. Can we be motivated to do likewise? As we surrender our agenda and our fears, we will recognize in us the freedom and the servanthood of Christ in us.

Let’s be grateful for all we have and all we are becoming.

My prayer is that, just as Jesus poured out himself for the sake of the father and for mankind, so too will we serve others with gladness and a pure heart, discovering the joy in absolute surrender and the power in absolute faith.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)

Ready: Look at Jesus.

Set: Study him.

Go: Lose your grip by letting go.

Surrender to receive more of Jesus, with more energy, more joy, more purpose and more fulfilment. Ultimately, our lives are dedicated to God and He knows the way we take. When He has tried us, oh! How we will shine like gold.

 

*Thanks to Graham Cooke, for his insights on the New Man.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Standing, Still

“Be transformed by the renewing of your minds…” (Romans 12:2)

The process of becoming uncluttered continues as we seek to grow more like Christ.

Have you ever stood on a mountaintop and recognized how far you’ve come? Why not try it right now. Just stop, imagine yourself on top of a mountain and look down at the ground you’ve already covered. Even though you may see other mountaintops, remember that you are looking from the top of one right now.

Being the New Man (see:http://laruspress.com/larusblog/blog-larus-walk/blog-wholeness-inner-healing/walking-in-the-new-man-permanently.html ) and becoming the New Man are both accurate descriptions of our journey with Jesus today. By grace we are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8). The old is past, the new has come. And yet, we are working out our salvation and our sanctification; the process of becoming like Jesus is both instantaneous and gradual. Outside of God, can anything else be this paradoxical?

In our spirits, the job of becoming the New Man is finished through faith and the sacrifice of Jesus. Yet in our minds we are processing, receiving, discovering, and being transformed. What if it can be as simple for our minds as it is in the Spirit to become what we are meant to be in Christ? What if we can be transformed into the New Man in an instant?

We have prayed and have asked God for help. Perhaps you have asked, ‘What shall I do to bring You glory, Lord?’ Inevitably, we come to the end of ourselves and say, “I don’t know what to do!” The heart of the problem is that we are trying to do what cannot be done in our own strength.

Charles Swindoll, author and minister writes in, So you want to be like Christ?, “Our purpose, like that of Christ, is to serve others, not to cloister ourselves away in order to hoard up spiritual treasures for our own enrichment.” (W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, P/O Box 141000, Nashville Tennessee 37214 (c) 2005, p68)

And so, as we mature, we want to give, to enrich others’ lives as God has enriched ours. But is it in our own humanity that we are trying? Although it is very difficult for us to give up trying in our own strength, we must. When we strive, we make a little progress. Truthfully however, when we yield our efforts to God, then we finally are ready to serve Him.

How do we get to the place of yielding? We stop doing.

In Psalm 46:10 the word says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Yet as Rev. Swindoll puts it, “Most of us find this command extremely difficult to obey. Any who have tried to do so quickly discover a perplexing truth: we can’t stop striving on our own.” (p 60)

It may seem ironic, but until we are able to STOP trying, we are unable to serve. It is when we spend time alone with God, just as Jesus did time and again, that the solitude fills our spiritual reservoir, and then we are ready to give out to others in God’s strength. We must allow ourselves to rest in Him as Jesus did, to unclutter our minds, and to cease our activity. Only then will we be ready to consider deeply God’s word, and to pray, to listen and to allow ourselves to be still. Only then can our minds really join in fellowship with God and operate in the service to His people that we long to do, and which our spirit already enjoys.

Ready: Be alone and be still

Set: Be still and listen

Go: Be still. Wait for God’s direction. His voice is often a still, small voice. Wait. Listen. Follow.

As Jesus did nothing other than what the Father told him to do, may we go and do likewise.

 

One sure-fire way to find clarity of mind is to rest in scripture and consider letting go of any insecurity you may carry.

 Sarah Tun: Free to BeFree to Be offers you just the structure and strategy to go through the letting go process:

see and buy US: http://laruspress.com/free-to-be-defeating-insecurity-transforming-relationships-building-character

buy UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Free-Defeating-Insecurity-Transforming-Relationships/dp/1554527317/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1407125539&sr=8-2&keywords=sarah+tun

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Declutter your mind: Is it Time?

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Ephesians 4:17 – 5:33)

Decluttering your mind:

In this revelation of himself, he <Jesus> is showing you the importance of knowing where you come from, where you are going, and who you are. It’s one of life’s greatest tasks, to gain clarity on all these matters, because your work, your relationships, and your entire life will be shaped by that clarity. (from Worknet, Geoff Shattock, Issue “Son of Man 19”, January 19th 2015)

Clutter is the enemy of the mind.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify. Simplify.” He lived nearly 200 years ago. What would he make of the clutter that arises out of the gooey mass of internet and social media?

I am learning to declutter. In one sense it has been a single decision and I aim to adhere to it stubbornly. In another sense it is a process which may take some time. But I can already see rewards that are coming from it. More time to write, less stress, more quality time with family.

I have a mug that has a 1950’s style image of a housewife in an apron and wearing a big smile. Her coiffed hair is perfect. The caption reads, “A clean house is the sign of a wasted life.” Well, be it a clean house or a clean inbox the result is the same: industry for its own sake does not yield ultimate satisfaction. Fulfillment comes from running the race set before us as individuals, creating, exploring, endeavouring to fulfil our calling, our purpose in life. Perhaps for some, but I believe it is for relatively few, that purpose is met through being tidy.

Reducing or eliminating entirely the ‘unnecessary’ is a first step in decluttering our minds.

As I read So You Want to be Like Christ by Rev Charles Swindoll, the content of the book triggered in me the following list of ways to avoid clutter:

1) Work on one project at a time.

2) Finish what you start.

3) Know your limitations.

4) Start with a clean slate – even if that means letting go of some unfinished work or great ideas. Take a fresh start instead of playing catch-up with incomplete tasks or ideas.

5) Be an expert on YOU. An expert is simply someone who has been through the fire, has come out singed but alive, and smarter than he was before.

6) Set your face like flint and focus – looking forward (not back) to your goals and objectives, taking on one at a time.

If you want to be changed, you have to go beyond the revelation of what you want to be. You have to set your face like flint and go forward, focused and determined to be changed, different from who you were in all things, and changed into who you recognize you need to be. Real change is recognizing a new perspective, taking it around the corner with you, and not looking back.

I quote from Swindoll’s book, “Too much clutter in your mind leaves insufficient room for devotion to Christ.” (pg 39) Too much clutter prevents progress. To grow we need to move forward with a pure heard and a clear and focused mind.

So, even before working on our projects, let’s spend quality time – on a regular basis – with God. He’ll enable us to choose which project, and where to start. And more than that, He’ll remind us what the project and all of life is about. Then our work will be purposeful, fulfilling and enriching for ourselves and for those around us too. For with God, all things are possible. Our experiences, our lives, our relationships will be richer for our involvement with and surrender to Father God.

Ready: Spend real time with God daily. Learn to listen and to follow his direction every day.

Set: Be determined to live in the new discoveries you’ve made, living in the light of new wisdom and revelation from the Lord.

Go: Yesterday and tomorrow have concerns of their own. Though there will inevitably be setbacks, you can keep a decluttered mind as you focus on the direction you are heading today. God is in the still small voice: Wait for it. Listen to it. You can count on it!

One sure-fire way to find clarity of mind is to rest in scripture and consider letting go of any insecurity you may carry.

Sarah Tun: Free to BeFree to Be offers you just the structure and strategy to go through the letting go process:

see and buy US: http://laruspress.com/free-to-be-defeating-insecurity-transforming-relationships-building-character

buy UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Free-Defeating-Insecurity-Transforming-Relationships/dp/1554527317/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1407125539&sr=8-2&keywords=sarah+tun

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Persevering Beyond the ‘New Year Resolution’

“it’s time to change my life,” you say

and diligently strive to live

but then you wake up and realize

everything’s come as it always was

and life is dead as forever you long

to be different but remain always

the same.

How do we keep going in our efforts for change, making this New Year different from all the others?

If you want to be changed, you have to go beyond the revelation of what you want to be. You have to set your face like flint and go forward, focused and determined to be changed, different from who you were in all things, and changed into who you recognize you need to be. Real change is recognizing a new perspective, taking it around the corner with you, and not looking back.

But it isn’t sheer will power that keeps us going.

Two scriptures:

I find the following two scriptures particularly helpful in encouraging me to persevere:

Romans 12:2 and Philippians 3:12. The first is the theological basis under which faith in God gives us the right to expect transformation, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)

The second is the ‘how to’ mind set, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12 NKJV)

More than our efforts and more than scripture to help us, it is the Holy Spirit – God working in and through us – who draws us into living as the New Man that was born the moment we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. God’s Spirit leads us, guides, convicts, comforts and gets us to the finish line.

Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. Ultimately, change comes supernaturally, through our God-given faith along with our commitment to surrender, follow and persevere.

There are several things that can prevent us from continuing in our new walk.

1. One huge lie is in the short check list of things to do. The truth is that following a little list of errands means becoming distracted from your purpose and goal to live in the light of God’s wisdom and strategy for today. Moments lead to days and days lead to years. If you hope to fulfill the purposes of God, be wary of the little to do lists… they can become dictator. Your timing for the day is a huge part of following God’s will for your life. Surrender it, and wait to see what happens next!

2. Distraction. Whether it is technology, our children, or keeping order in our households, there are things that will always call upon our time and attention. Discernment as to what is God’s path comes with time spent with him in prayer and in the Word. While the internet offers huge opportunities to connect with a wide range of people, relationships take time to deepen. While our children need our help and support they also need to develop age-appropriate autonomy (see: http://sarahtunexaminelife.blogspot.ca/2015/01/living-in-free-fall-part-3-parenting.html ); sometimes what they seem to need from us will take us away from the path God wants for us and we need to say ‘yes, LORD,’ even if it means saying ‘no son/daughter.’ No paperwork or housework can’t wait; enough said on that aspect I think.

3. Habits. All habits die hard; some harder than others. Saying ‘no’ to a habit – whether good or bad – is a necessary part of permanent change.

4. Sugar! Once the initial energy boost wanes, sugary drinks and candy make us sluggish and drowsy, and also lead to poor concentration.

5.  Hurry. The mental and spiritual process of transformation takes time. There’s no need to rush, and in fact, rushing can lead to mistakes that in turn tear down our confidence and faith. Allowance for our mind to grasp all the nooks and crevices of new revelation takes time, focus and attention. When feeling forced to rush, I try to do the opposite: I take time to read God’s Word and to hear God’s voice in my heart, to recalibrate my connection with Him.

6. Noise. There are all kinds of noises in life today. In particular, consider the ‘noise’ that clutters our minds; let’s instead reach for solitude, quiet, and stillness, where is the opportunity to deepen our thoughts, to reflect and even to journal. Listening to and familiarizing ourselves with our innermost questions, concerns, hopes and ambitions helps us.

7. Unbelief. Faith comes from God. It comes from hearing His Word. As you make time to study (2 Timothy 2:15), as you surround yourself with others of faith, as you ask for more of God’s gift of faith, He can build. For example, He may draw your mind to the miracles of the past which will encourage you to move forward into your future with hope and determination.

As you live in faith, knowing what Jesus has done on the cross and desiring to walk like him, there will be hindrances. But these enable us to strengthen our desire and our resolve. One day at a time we will be changed into his likeness. We will, by his grace and power, become what God has placed in us to be, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts’ (Zechariah 4:6).

 Ready: Be determined to be changed and then surrender it to God.

Set: Be wary of distractions, be diligent and give God room to grow you.

Go: Know: “He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

How to Prepare for the Kingdom

In this life, we seek to minister to others, don’t we. Have you ever considered what we’ll be doing in heaven? Or in the New Earth? I believe it’s time to prepare for the future today, and to prepare our children.

Are we in the Last Days? Are we seeing the signs before the Tribulation comes, before Jesus returns, before we see a New Heaven and a New Earth? I think so. I believe so. And each Believer has a role to play in these days, and in the days ahead – far ahead into eternity – when we have new bodies, when a new earth and a new heaven have been ushered in, where the light shines so brightly that there will be no need of sun or moon.

And Larus Press is dedicated to watching the signs, studying the word, and sharing insights with you, the reader, so that you can grow into your role in eternity. In order to know our role we need to see ourselves as Father God sees us, and begin to step into that reality today. Then we can be ready for all He has intended for us from the beginning – until now and for eternity.

Ready: Seek the Kingdom of Heaven, that suffers the violence of spiritual warfare (Matthew 11:12). Seek His righteousness, in purity and love toward God and one another. Seek Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Allow yourself to deepen your relationship with the Holy Spirit, who comforts and convicts us in our faith.

Set: Dig deeply into the Word of God yourself. Meditate on scriptures that jump out at you. They are your words, from the Father of Creation. They are for you to chew and swallow, to feed upon, for your spiritual awakening and deepening.

Go: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Walking in the New Man… permanently

The New Man

What is the ‘new man’? How can I walk in the new man every day, all day, forever? I’m saved by grace, but don’t I have to work hard to be a Good Christian? The answer is simply, “No, you don’t.”

“Give me back my stuff,” said Jesus to Author and Prophet Graham Cooke in a personal encounter.

What is stuff? Stuff is the anxiety, worry, anger, hostility, fear, bitterness, resentment…. Stuff is all of the negative thoughts and feelings that are not a part of the Kingdom of God. They are dead, as dead as Jesus was on the cross. And they belong to the Old Man, the man you were and the man I was before accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. The old man is dead (Romans 6:6). The new man lives (Ephesians 4:22-23) and we can allow him to reign in us, by the power of the blood of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit.

We can discern the thoughts and the feelings of the old man versus those of the new man easily enough. Negativity is from the old man. Whatever is not holy, heavenly, delightful, life-giving is not the new man’s thinking or emotion. The fruits of the Spirit which are: love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, faithfulness, self-control, are linked with the thoughts and feelings of the new man.

When Jesus died he took all of our stuff, so that we wouldn’t have to carry it anymore. When we fall into negative thought or emotion, we are taking back what Jesus died to overcome; we are taking back the stuff he died to have, so we wouldn’t have it anymore. He wants us to live in the new man, and let him keep the stuff of the old man.

Although the old man rises up inside of us, we don’t have to allow what is dead to be resurrected. We have the authority and the power to reject the dead man. It is not true that it is a part of us.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Recognizing the old man as dead and that his negative emotions and thoughts are not actually a part of us is an understanding that comes to the transformed mind. We are no longer ‘dead’ in our sin. Saved by grace, we have access to the thought-life and emotional life of Heaven.

The old man, as cited in Romans 6:6 is, “crucified with Him,that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

Continuing, “For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:7-11 NKJV)

Meditate on this. Allow it to sink into your mind and spirit, to transform you from the inside.

Paul’s reference to sin includes thoughts and emotions that are not life-giving.  They are dead, just as we were dead before we knew Jesus. And we do not have to accept them as a part of us any longer. Instead, we choose to turn a corner and to walk full of the newness that life with Christ offers.

The new man is described as, renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” and we are to ‘put him on’ (Colossians 3:10). Now, “The new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24 NKJV) is described as, “as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12) is the person we have become through salvation, whether or not we realize it. We no longer need to walk in the futility of our minds but we have a new mind. Saved by grace we no longer live in despair or darkness except by ignorance.

Becoming Christ-like isn’t about wrestling with our bad habits to overcome them so we can behave more “Christian”. Becoming like Christ is living in the new mindset we’ve already been given supernaturally. We are not only saved by grace, but we are also sanctified by grace. And so let us with this information, walk in the new man, leaving behind the patterns, habits and trappings of the old man. Let us run the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1) with joy, peace, faith and love, knowing the old stuff is false and the new is our true identity, already accessible. We are alive in Christ. So, let us help each other to walk in that new life, knowing the old has passed away and the new is here to stay.

Studies in the world have proven that we will often manifest what we expect. Let us expect a life free from strife, filled with joy, and moving toward the Kingdom of Heaven which has come down to Earth and has already saved us from sinful selves so that we can live in the freedom of our true selves, free to be the people God created us to be.

My favourite scripture is this:

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14

Ready: Take time to unclutter your mind and discover who you are in Christ.

Set: Choose to be resolute. Trust and surrender is letting go of hard work and doubt. It is tenacity at it’s best. It is hope and faith in action.

Go: With faith and focus like flint and with a face to match, I’m going forward in the knowledge and love of Christ, to be the new man, full of God’s grace, truth, hope and joy. Please, will you join me?

 

One sure-fire way to find clarity of mind is to rest in scripture and consider letting go of any insecurity you may carry.

 Sarah Tun: Free to BeFree to Be offers you just the structure and strategy to go through the letting go process:

see and buy US: http://laruspress.com/free-to-be-defeating-insecurity-transforming-relationships-building-character

buy UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Free-Defeating-Insecurity-Transforming-Relationships/dp/1554527317/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1407125539&sr=8-2&keywords=sarah+tun

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Parenting is Tough, Jesus is our Role Model

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

When I look at Jesus I see a man of infinite patience. I see the Son of God who loves me to no end. I see the Father’s face and am moved to tears of gratitude, joy and hope. I am safe in love, mercy and peace.

When I look at myself in the mirror I do not see Jesus, but I know I am Jesus to my child. And I want my child to see the Jesus that I see: daily, hourly, moment by every precious moment.

Parenting is tough. How do I represent God to my son, so that he will grow up full of love, and into a follower of Christ?

Many children want two things: to please and to have their own way. Often, these two desires are not compatible. When we parent our children, we have the responsibility to guide them to truth and responsibility, and to enable them to enjoy the life they’ve been given. Whether in joy or sorrow, pain or pleasure, we mirror God and His universe to them. We want them to grow, knowing they are imperfect, they are loved and they are to love.

I’ve asked myself many times, ‘Am I getting this right?’ How, as a parent, do I lead my child to Christ, to be a confident person, humble before God?

Ready: First, I pray. Pray when the child is in the womb, that s/he will grow into the person God has created. Pray and let your child see you praying for her, for your family, friends, colleagues. Pray for your city, country, world. Pray that you will have strength to parent your child wisely, and with compassion, strength and integrity.

Set: Next, enjoy. Play, challenge, encourage. Build his sense of right and wrong, his knowledge of Father God, his delight in others and in you, his parent(s). Discipline when necessary, with both firmness and gentleness.  Be consistent in your expectations, follow through with your promises, be tender when he fails and kind. Know that one day, in the fullness of time, you will want this person to be your friend.

Go: Be confident in your calling, even when you feel full of self-doubt. Jesus, by his Spirit, is within you and surrounding you with love. Love covers a multitude of weaknesses, both yours and your child’s. Know that just as Father God has led you this far, He will never let you down. Lean on Him, be strong for your child, and take courage. Your child will grow into the man or woman s/he was created to be.

My son and me: Photo

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

How is it that Jesus is the only way?

Jesus is the son of God (Matthew 1:18). He is the Word of God (John 1:1). He is the immaculate conception (Luke 1:30-35). He died and rose again from the dead (Mark 16:6).

We who follow Christ know all these things to be true. But each of these facts may not convince a seeker who wants to believe that good people go to heaven and that those who’ve never heard of Jesus but are faithfully religious in their culture will ‘be saved’.

How is it possible that only one person can be the gateway for a relationship with the Creator of the Universe? How is it that Jesus is the only way to God?

Only one person was able to defeat death, so that others could piggy-back on His triumph, and be forgiven their sin and regain the relationship with God that was always intended. That one person had to be pure, so that others could attain that purity through their faith in him. That person could not be the son of a man, because any who are the son of man have inherited the sin of mankind, through Adam. That person happened to exist outside of time, before the world began, when he spoke words and the elements came into being and obeyed his voice.

Jesus was a baby, then a boy, who became a man. Before time and before he was born in Bethlehem, we know the Word of God existed because he spoke and there was light, and life. But his name wasn’t Jesus. His name was Word.

There is so much to grapple with in trying to understand how Jesus is the only way (John 14:6). He said it and so it must be true because he would not lie. But how is it true?

The theology of the truth of Christ’s power is not difficult, but it is profound. The reality is that no one else has the right to save. Adam forfeited the world God had given to him, and his immortality, to Satan when he disobeyed God’s will; God allowed Satan to tempt Jesus so he – and we – could see for ourselves he would not be tempted or tricked into disobeying God. Jesus did not inherit sin by being born in sin, nor did he become sinful through disobedience. Further, as he was totally surrendered to God, so he was a perfect model of surrender for us; he even surrendered unto death, the most painful form of execution in history. Then he rose from death to complete the task of enabling us to have eternal life.

Jesus has claim to be the only savior because he was the only one who walked the walk of a savior. He was only able to walk that walk because he was totally surrendered to God. And he was the only one able to be totally surrendered because he had the Spirit of the living God inside himself, speaking and working through him to do the will of the father.

When you witness your faith in Jesus, know the theology of who Jesus is. It isn’t particularly whether he was fully man, fully God or a mixture that needs to be resolved. What matters to the unbeliever is where Jesus got his authority. He was perfect, and so the ‘buck stopped with him.’

Ready: Know the why’s and how’s of your faith in order to answer questions intelligently and with the authority God has already given you as one of His children.

Set: Prepare your testimony and be ready to give an account of your faith.

Go: Live, love, laugh, knowing God has set you free from your sin and seeks to save others through who you are and how you live. You may never be drawn into an argument, but in case you are asked, you’ll want to be able to explain answers to the profound questions of salvation by God’s grace.

God bless. See you next Thursday. In the meantime, how about investigating another of my blogs:

refreshing lifeA Life Examined is a woman’s view of life as it unfolds. It is a more secular viewpoint and so can be a useful tool to offer to others who don’t want ‘God talk’ but who do want a healthy, sincere perspective on life as it unfolds.

 

 

Manitoulin LighthouseLife from the Lighthouse shares what I learn from God when I manage to listen.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Does the Church need the Holy Spirit at Christmas?

It is Christmas! It is the day that so many of us around the world have marked to celebrate that Love came down to earth, to set us free from the despair in our own sinful lives.

Nothing can minimize the huge blessing that was the arrival of baby Jesus, nor does the amazing significance of his death and resurrection have any equal. Jesus came from on high and was baptized into ministry at the age of thirty. He did only the will of his Father, and all that he did, he did through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Does the Church need the Holy Spirit at Christmas? The Need for God’s Holy Spirit Anointing is evident at this time in our history. The Church needs the Holy Spirit at Christmas and every day.

In Bill Johnson’s book, Dreaming with God, he makes it abundantly clear we need the Holy Spirit to fill us, in order to live the life the LORD has for us. And Geoff Shattock of WorkTalk Weekly says, “your work consists of these same energy consuming characteristics, and you will need the same Spirit to equip you. Please don’t be tempted to believe that you can work in any meaningful way without the sense of the Spirit being upon you, anointing you and sending you” (post date: 8th September, 2014)

For far too long, far too many believers have been walking out their lives in their own strength and power. But we see in God’s word that Jesus was equipped for service through the power of the Holy Spirit:

Isaiah 61 and Luke 4 read:

“The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me, because He has anointed Me…” (NKJV)

With the call and responsibility as Believers in these times, can we afford to think the Spirit is no longer available, is dormant or is only a connection point at the moment of salvation? No, the Spirit is active in and through you, and is available to the level of your faith, study, and willingness to receive. He is the power and the presence of Father God. He rested upon prophet after prophet in Old Testament times and filled many a believer in the New Testament church. We need him now, in these challenging and surprising times, no less than at any other time in history.

We need an awakening, an activating, an infilling of the Holy Spirit throughout the Body of Christ, as it was with the Apostles, as it was in the New Testament church. We need the Spirit of God actively working in us in order to function effectively for God’s Kingdom in these End Times.

Recently, I moved country, and the process hasn’t been easy. God’s adventures are never dull; there are so many blessings I’ve experienced through the people I’ve met and the challenges I’ve faced since the beginning of the process to move from Canada to Spain. But I have failed many times, particularly as a parent in these last few weeks, and I know I am only as ‘good’ as the Spirit who dwells within me.

How do we receive Holy Spirit’s power? We seek, ask and pray. What do we do to safeguard ourselves from the occult? Know the Word and the fellowship of other believers. How can we trust it is God working in us, rather than Satan? We shall know by the fruit our actions produce. The fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, Patience, Faith and Self-Control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Ready: Seek deep intimacy with the Father. Ask Him for a baptism of His Holy Spirit, because the power of God resides inside you, and is meant for leading, guiding and equipping you in your walk through life.

Set: As you ask in Faith to receive God’s Holy Spirit power, wait. As a Believer, the Spirit is already within you. Ask God to make you abundantly aware of His presence within and around you. Pray for His protection if you feel fearful, and trust He hears your prayer.

Go: Do you recognize your need? Do you experience God meeting you? In the power of the Holy Spirit, follow God’s lead to live, to witness and to minister to others to whom God will lead you.

In subsequent weeks I plan to dig into more depth about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

May this special day marked on the calendar be the beginning of deeper intimacy with the Father and His Son, through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

When is it the time to witness our faith?

Sharing our Faith

When is it the right time to share our faith with unbelievers?

Recently, I heard David Wilkerson preach. It was a clip from You Tube, broadcast on Revelation TV. 

In essence, David said,

“When was the last time in church you felt the conviction of God, drawing you to repentance, drawing you closer to Him, drawing you?”

It’s so easy to live our lives day-by-day, as though we have all the time in the world to get to know Jesus.

But we haven’t.

And neither do our friends.

As the world spins around, anti Christ forces are pulling hard, and media, education, politics, and much of western society is speaking such anti God propaganda that it’s closing minds before they’ve even had time to consider Creation and the Creator.

I had the experience of losing a friend to cancer well before her time. Thankfully, she was a believer. But it taught me, the time truly is short and not to be taken for granted.

I don’t believe we are all called to be Evangelists. But we are all called to be ready to give an account of what we believe and know of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. (see 1 Peter 3:15)

When is the time to witness our faith? Now. And always. With meekness, gentleness, shamelessness and confidence in Christ.

When is the time to draw closer to God. Now. And always. With meekness, gentleness, shamelessness and confidence in Christ.

Ready: Prepare your testimony. How did you find Jesus? (How did he find you?) What difference has he made to your life? Why are you talking about him now?

Set: Pray for God’s occasion and calling, for you to speak on behalf of your faith in Him.

Go: Know the Holy Spirit of God resides in you, and will give you the time, the audience and the words to speak.

“Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” (Acts 5:20)

 

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Jesus: Baby, Son of God, God

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14)

How do you celebrate Christmas? Is Jesus at the center of it? How do you show your focus to him?

It will be only days before the majority of the world celebrates the birth of a baby in a stable whose name was to be called, Jesus. The Christmas Season is upon us, and I for one choose not to ignore it.

Some Christian organizations celebrate on the 25th of December, some on the 6th of January. Some do not like to celebrate either of these dates, because it isn’t the actual season of Jesus’ birth; others reject the commercialism that has come to symbolize Christmas, and so for the sake of their principles, they ignore the occasion.

”As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15)

I enjoy the principle of Christmas. I know the date was chosen centuries ago, to fall on the last day of a pagan festival to try to draw those pagans into Christianity. But still, I enjoy the nativity and all the modern lights and scenes that depict the night of the birth of the son of God.

I don’t like the commercialism of Christmas. I love the carols, but not the modern songs that talk about snow drops and reindeer and which seem oblivious to the reality of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the Saviour of the world. I can take or leave a tree. But I don’t like to ignore the beginning of the life of the Word who became flesh.

READY: Choose how you will mark the birth of Jesus. Make it your own festivity, for you and your family, in your own way.

SET: Prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus in your own unique way.

GO: Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in a new and personal way to reflect the Christmas Season that manifests your relationship with Jesus, Saviour of the World.

 

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Prayer that bears another’s burden and leads to victory

Have you often wanted to help someone who is suffering, yet have felt helpless? Have you ever wondered, ‘How can I help my friend who is in pain?’

Do you know that you have the power to help anyone who suffers?

Distress is painful to experience, but it can be equally painful to observe from the sidelines the pain of a loved one. Those who follow Christ know that we are to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Though we may feel powerless to help someone else, we know the power that does help, which comes from above.

Prayer moves mountains and heals the physically and emotionally sick.

Prayer changes your heart and the hearts of others.

Prayer determines our course and touches the course of Heaven, when we pray the LORD’s prayers.

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:31-34)

As we mature in our personal prayer life, a natural shift begins to take place: We begin to ask more for others than for ourselves, trusting God knows and satisfies our own needs. As we pray, we are bearing others’ burdens in the Spirit; likewise,  when we share our needs with others, we are sharing our burdens. Doesn’t God love it when we knit ourselves together, bonding in Godly love and support for one another! (Psalm 133)

Ready: Who do you know who’s need is great and who perhaps God has laid on your heart?

Set: Find a verse that supports the needs of this person. (Bible Gateway will help you to find the location or specific wording of any verse.)

Go: Commit to pray for this person and allow God to lead your words. WAIT to hear what God will say, and how He’ll lift the burden. Trust that, when it lifts, God has done the work that needs to be done, through your prayer and your love toward your ‘brother’. Then, you can praise God, trusting, with faith, that the work has been done.

Bless you for your love. Trust that love is a gift from God and that, in the Spirit, it is powerful in the pulling down of strongholds.

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

How to pray without ceasing

What is prayer?

Prayer is such an amazing tool and gift. Ultimately, it leads us to the throne room of God. Prayer elevates our thinking and reveals God’s perspective to us. It is the means we use to fight and win against the enemy. But until we dig, reflect, relate personally through prayer and worship, and allow ourselves to be broken, we cannot grow to be the spiritual warriors God has created us to be.

Romans 1:9-10 is just one of many scriptures that shows the effort prayer takes:

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.”

In the end, Paul did get to Rome.

Have you experienced profound practical results directly through your prayer life?

If you find prayer yields less than you hope, rest assured it isn’t because God is absent. You can deepen your prayer life. While it starts with determined effort, through reading the Bible and giving yourself a quiet space and personal room for calm moments of reflection, it doesn’t really blossom until you connect with the Holy Spirit, does it?

You can’t demand the Holy Spirit meet you, but you who have the Holy Spirit inside you, can expect Him to draw near. Everything in the Word that Jesus says about God’s Spirit promises intimacy. God hears our prayers; His Spirit is willing and eager to meet with us.

Let’s look at an issue I have experienced to show how close the Holy Spirit is to us…

Ready: My young son’s spiritual maturity is very much a heart issue for me. I earnestly seek God’s will for his life and pray protection over him daily. I don’t say a prayer and leave it at that. But nor do I repeat the same prayer over and over, because I believe God hears me the first time. I don’t presume and let the issue drop.

Set: I pray daily for my son: for his growth, through the issues that arise in his life, lifting up the challenges and situations he faces, and for his future as a Godly man. The words of my prayers change, but my heart’s desire does not. I also yield my prayers to God, asking Him to reveal His heart for the child, and His timing in the experiences that will teach and grow the boy.

One example of praying without ceasing is covering my son in prayer: for his safety, his maturity, his relationship with God, and his personal identity. I trust God hears me and I allow Him to touch my heart and to guide my prayers, as I surrender my will and my son’s life to God.

By the time he’s 21, my son will be a man. I still won’t stop covering him in prayer, but as now, the prayers will be adapted according to the needs and circumstances he faces, and based on God’s leadership and not my own.

Go: Now, is it your turn to sit with the LORD? Time to talk with Him, and to praise Him for the unfolding of answered prayer.

Earnestly seek Him, His will and His way, and He will reveal Himself and the ways in which He needs you and your prayer life to grow.

Sunrise 1

 

Seek a quiet place to pray.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Why will the Poor always be with Us?

Why are there poor?

Jesus said, “For you have the poor with you always…” Mark 14:7a.

Did Jesus mean we are to care for them all the more? Or to recognize we can never rescue all of the poor? Or does this mean something else completely?

Recently, I was reading the children’s Bible to my son and, in its simplicity, I was suddenly struck by the notion that, like Lazarus, the LORD carries those who have lived wretched lives on earth; they experience comfort and wholeness after their earthly lives have ended.

The LORD, who exists outside of time, knows the purpose for all events and all of our lives. Perhaps the poor exist for themselves to be redeemed in the next life, and for the rich of this world to discover their own wretchedness in the next.

Ready: We are to value life, this life, irrespective of what our standard of living is. There is a place for all of us after life on earth, and those who are wretched in this life will be comforted in the next.

How this all works theologically remains somewhat of a mystery to me, as I know that Jesus came to save us all from our sins, and that none of us can see the Kingdom of God except through him. We must be born again by faith in the Son of God, just as Jesus said himself in John 3, if we are to have eternal life. BUT perhaps those in abject poverty are: in their humility, in their suffering, and in their despair, more aware of God, unlike the rich in their prosperity and distraction.

After this life, there is another that goes on for eternity. Perhaps, though Lazarus suffered in this life, God was using the suffering as an opportunity for the wealthy to love and to give. God honoured the poor man into eternity, for his suffering; comfort came to Lazarus. But pain and shame came to the rich man who saw nothing beyond himself while on earth.

Set: If we who have much honour the poor who have little, we are able to be grafted into the honour given to the poor man.

I wonder if this is how God sees the value of suffering? Certainly Jesus suffered on behalf of us all, but perhaps in His wisdom, he gives some of us more opportunity to suffer or to be a comfort to others in this life, in order to grow us for the next.

How will we move forward knowing the poor we will always have with us?

  • We will love, in word and deed.
  • We will acknowledge with respect and humility.
  • We will give as we have been provided for.

And then perhaps we may share in some of the Glory that comes through suffering and hardship.

Go: love, live, enjoy and give.

 

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