Shalom. Let God remind you that his forgiveness is perfect and his grace is deep.
One of my joys of living in Whitianga is walking the beach and there are a few to choose from if you’re willing to travel. I generally walk the one just down the bottom of our hill where dogs are free off their lead all year round. Walking daily reminds me how much you can enjoy the little things going on… the small changes that occur daily that sometimes you don’t notice but after a while you do. This week I was reminded of that as I was meandering through the sand and following the footprints of those who’d been before me and I realized that their footprints, along with mine own would be gone with next high tide. I realised that’s how I should observe those issues in my life that mess with my ideals, my relationship with God and my desire to share Jesus. Let God wash it away and start afresh. Remember that God is the giver and redeemed of 2nd chances and 3rd, 4th, 5th…
His mercies are new every morning.
May God reawaken the passion for fresh beginning and the ability to be set free from past experiences.
Shalom. May you embrace truth, peace, hope and love; then allow these to fill out the sails of your faith as God’s breath blows them on your journey.
When Jesus encouraged his disciples to pray in Matthew 6 he said… “And when you pray … then he showed them a style of prayer. But the thing is, He expected there to be prayer. The challenge for many of us as followers of Jesus is that we think there is only one way to do it. Of course not! Prayer is simply talking to God and listening as well. It’s about engaging with God, focusing on Him, presenting our petitions, sharing our heart, revealing and acknowledging and interceding in our struggles and those of others, rejoicing in our triumphs, acknowledging our needs and more.
The Lord’s prayer reveals certain ways to approach prayer, but it doesn’t prescribe, constrict or define them. Pray anyway.
I hear people saying they’re not sure what to do, how you go about it, what words you should use. I hear God saying if you’re not sure how to pray, pray anyway.
I hear people saying that prayer is boring; or that it can go on too long or that God knows our hearts so we don’t need to; I simply hear God saying, pray anyway.
I hear people saying they’re too busy, they can’t fit it all in, where will we find the time. I hear God saying if you can’t find the time, pray anyway.
I hear people saying we need to be shown, we need teaching, we need to understand it better; I hear God saying, if you want this then pray anyway.
So it seems to me that we need to be praying more about more, more of the time. If you’re still not sure, pray anyway.
I hope you find the time to pray about this during your day.
Shalom. May you be aware of an ever increasing sense of God’s blessing that will leak out from you to others, as you seek to the blessing.
What is the church? Have you ever wondered that it just might be more than we sometimes think it is; yet at the same time, just what we suspect it is? Well, I do.
When Holy Spirit turned up at Pentecost and birthed the church, it was to give reality to Jesus statement that ‘you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the ends of the earth’.
Part of that involved us having worship, mission, evangelism, social action and community awareness and care as part of our DNA. We can’t be church if we don’t do those; we aren’t church if those aspects, those values aren’t reflected in our life. What we can discuss and decide on is how those things are to be fleshed out in our context, culture and life. What is worship? How do we engage in mission? What constitutes evangelism? What does social action look like? How do we truly care and be aware?
Whether we achieve our targets are up to debate, and I would argue, that if it’s truly God’s vision we seek to fulfil then we’ll never fully realise any of it as there will always be more to do and be.
So the church is something heavenly and eternal, beyond what we can see, it’s the perfect bride of Christ awaiting the groom to return. But it’s also just you and me; messy, broken and sinful people who have discovered that Jesus has something to offer them, something transformational and exciting, yet difficult and testing.
Something that will cost your life yet gives you your life.
So I’ve accepted that while we’re perfect but not yet holy (Hebrews 10:14) we’re not expressing perfection everywhere, but as long as we’re desiring to move onward and upward and seeking to better express Christ, his character and live that balance with grace, justice and love; then we can’t go too wrong. After all, Jesus has no back-up plan when it comes to sharing Himself and His message with the world – we’re it!
Hope you have a great week and find comfort, challenge and blessing in being part of Jesus best idea – the church.
Hang around for a coffee after our service, I encourage you too – why?…
The Purpose of Coffee Hour…
Coffee was always served at our church after the sermon. One Sunday our minister asked one of the smaller members of the congregation if he knew why we had coffee hour. Without hesitating, the youngster replied, “To wake people up before they have to drive home.
—Richard Blake, San Luis Obispo, California. Christian Reader, “Kids of the Kingdom.”
Shalom. May we all know a deepening sense of communion with one another through our bond and love in Christ Jesus.
Grace. What a small word for such a huge thing. Grace is God bestowing on us unmerited favour and allowing us into the fullness of relationship with Him; then continuing to forgive the further wrong things we do and on top of that encourage, nurture and grow us into becoming the people He intended us to be so we may achieve the things He prepared in advance for us to do. He never asks us to do it on our own; in fact He promised He would be with us; but it can’t be a passive response from our side. We must engage with Him and adopt disciplines that help shape the habits and attitudes that God desires.
This is because we often have the tendency to fall back into our old patterns of behaviour, we neglect the truth of being transformed in our mind (Rom 12); we can find it hard to think on good, honourable, noble, true things (Phil 4). Why, because so often we try to do it in our strength. We forget that in this journey of change, grace is required; the empowering, equipping, infilling and abiding presence of his Holy Spirit is the ‘secret’, the mystery ingredient, Holy Spirit is the embodiment of grace. We must cultivate our relationship, our awareness and our trust in the voice, companionship, guiding and prodding of His presence.
For me, this is one of the reasons I enjoy the gifts Holy Spirit can give us; it keeps me grounded in Him, it reminds me of His reality. It keeps me humbly aware that it’s not what I’ve done, but what He’s doing that allows me to give and bring glory to God. He demonstrates that nothing He does is for Himself but instead constantly points us to Jesus. To this end I enjoy the gift of ‘tongues’ or untaught languages; as it keeps me reliant on Him to discern my hearts cry; it is a private prayer language that helps me, but never do I feel it is something that makes me a better follower of Jesus; if anything I feel acutely aware of the need to deepen my own prayer life so that I am able to express my heart without needing to rely on this; but I don’t stress about it – why? – because grace covers my life, it gives me space to breathe and stretch, to explore and discover new things of God, without feeling hampered by rules, regulations and traditions that man has thought to be a good idea.
It is my hearts desire that all of us find this freedom that grace offers, this freedom of a Holy Spirit filled life, this joy of the scriptures coming to life as He illuminates them. May you find all of this becoming more evident each day.
Shalom. May the Spirit of God rest on you and flow through your life and wash away the issues that weigh you down needlessly, may you know the contentment in every situation that comes from a heart in line with His.
They say that change is the only constant. I beg to differ and would include our Trinitarian God in there as well, but it is true that change is always happening. I’ve read a few quotes lately that I thought were quite insightful, though they probably wouldn’t be quotes if they weren’t!
“Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.” Mahatma Gandhi
“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” Arnold Bennett quotes (British novelist, playwright, critic, and essayist, 1867-1931)
It seems to me that these are both good thoughts to hold as we continue on our journey both as individuals and as a church family. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but often we can have a pretty good idea, the key is to allow God to weave a bit of mystery to keep us excited and exciting, always dependent on Him and interdependent on each other.
Jesus addressed change when he encouraged us to, often, don’t be afraid. Rosanne Cash said that the key to change… is to let go of fear. The reality is change will always be with us. As we age, our bodies change, our broad mind and narrow waist trade places. We either embrace the change and look forward, or we retreat back to a time when life was better, or more familiar; those proverbial ‘Good Old Days’, when everyone was politer, the music was better, the food was nicer and you could still get service at a Petrol Station. Really, it’s crazy to try to ‘go back’ cause it probably wasn’t as good as you think you remember it to be. Why do you think we have many of the epistles written to address issues in churches, if things were so perfect back then. As I get older (it’s a slow process) I become aware not of the decreasing amount of time left, but rather an awareness of the eternity that is in front of me with Jesus. I believe the best is yet to come, so I’m not really focused on the past as much as the future, but I’m very aware of the need to live now, in today and be content.
“Remember change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.” R C Gallagher
I hope you embrace the changes that come along, while they may not always seem good, in God’s hands they’ll be redemptive.