Shalom. May peace like a river wash over your soul and cleanse you from stress and anxiety and leave you focussed on the Author and Perfecter of your faith – Jesus Christ.
That statement should take a lot of heat out of our striving to grow in Christ.
Hebrews 121b And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
This encourages and reminds us that first and foremost our part is to stay close to Christ. The funny thing is at times Christ can be closer than we realise, because we don’t recognise him for who he is.
Luke 24 contains the Road to Emmaus journey where two disciples found themselves walking with Christ and unable to recognise him till he broke bread with them that evening. Their comments are revealing… “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Jesus has the ability to reveal truth in Scripture that does more than transmit knowledge and grow understanding. It can literally change a person. It changed these two from depressed walkers to impassioned runners.
Can you remember a time when scripture was more than simply words on a page, but a living two edged sword, able to separate bone from marrow?
For me it was a night that I spent reading Romans just after I’d moved to Auckland from Napier. Sitting in the grounds of St Johns College, the scriptures began to become alive and challenge me, encourage me and hold me with wonder as I came to a fresh revelation of Christ’s grace and mercy through the cross and my utter need and dependence on him.
I hope you have your Emmaus Road epiphanies in the coming week(s).
Shalom. May you know his affection and presence in times of busyness and stress.
The last few weeks has seen me doing a fair bit of travelling around the country. Now I love driving, so it’s not an onerous thing for me, but I really appreciate coming over the hill and seeing Whitianga spread out by the sea. It means I’m nearly home.
Having moved around a fair bit in our time in ministry, though not as much as some, it’s nice to feel like we have a base, a home, somewhere where we feel connected, accepted and loved. This is true of all people, we need somewhere to belong, we need a sense of being connected and we need people who love us. This, I believe, ultimately stems from our innate desire to be connected to God. The Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; enjoy perfect communion, relationship, intimacy, and belonging together. They have no need for anything, or anyone else, yet they want to include us. That’s why Jesus came, so we could be connected with God the Father as revealed through Jesus the Son and illuminated by the Holy Spirit. They are one, in perfect unity, yet distinct and separate, three personalities dancing together in a rhythm of absolute harmony. Yet they want us to share in this and Jesus invites us to be immersed into this community of triune grace and love. Literally he does… Matthew 28:19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
To baptize is to fully immerse, that’s why we completely immerse people in water baptism. It’s partly acknowledgement of a willingness to immerse ourselves into the community God has created expressed best through himself, Jesus and Wairua Tapu. The church isn’t perfect, never will be this side of heaven, but it’s perfect for people like us.
It gives us a base, a home, somewhere where we feel connected, accepted and loved. One of the reasons I love coming over that hill and seeing our town.
May you remember God loves you just the way you are. But He refuses to leave you that way, he wants you to be just like Jesus.
Shalom. May his Holy Spirit whisper to you the life giving words of God and as you absorb them into your spirit may they change from the inside out.
Discipleship is something every believer should be involved in. Both being a disciple themselves and helping to ‘make disciples of all nations…’ (Matt 28:19).
This is something that we should be serious about, something we should devote huge amounts of time and energy too; something that should be right up there in our priorities. The encouraging thing is; it often is. The challenge is that we can too often try to make it into something that resembles a college course or a university paper, a process that requires study, correct answers and a short exam. Now hear me on this… This might be a part of discipleship; courses of study and structured approaches have their place; but we are tragically misguided if we mistake filling our heads with knowledge equals discipling. It’s definitely part of the deal, but the deal is really about a relationship with Jesus. It’s about remembering that God loves us just the way we are. But he refuses to leave us that way; He wants us to be just like Jesus.
We learn to be like someone by hanging with them, studying how they do things, copying their attitudes, their reactions, understanding their thoughts.
I’ve read biographies of famous people, but that doesn’t give me confidence to say I know them, simply that I know about them. I’ve even met some mildly famous people and talked briefly, and I still wouldn’t say I know them well. But I’ve got friends who I can chat to for ages, sharing thoughts, ideas, secrets, dreams and really get to know them. Jesus invites us to be disciple this way as well.
I trust you discover the joy of time spent with Jesus in fresh and energising ways.
Shalom. Let God remind you that he created you to bear his image.
Isn’t it great to be alive? I don’t just mean breathing and walking and having a beating heart – that’s existing – no I’m talking about real life. The kind of living you don’t have until you find something worth dying for. The kind that comes when you know you have a purpose that goes beyond the immediate moment, when you have heard a calling that lifts your eyes up and over the horizon of this world and allows you to glimpse the next.
The life that allows you to take part in the actions and motions of this world confident and secure that your results bear fruit into eternity. For therein lies the catch, God has given each of us a person to be, while it’s true there are good works prepared for us to do. We need to remember why we’re human beings and not human doings. It is as a result of our working out the implications of being his children we find that it commands and urges a ‘doing’ that flows from being his son or daughter and we are all reminded to live a life worthy of the calling we have received (Eph 4) and there is both a unique calling each of us must listen to and a community calling we are encouraged to flesh out.
John 9:4 – (Jesus said:) We must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; night comes, when no one can work.
This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody…
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized Everybody wouldn’t do it. So Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
I address this note to nobody in particular.
I hope your week is full of blessing and that nobody helps you when you need it.
Shalom. May you appreciate and understand the depth of grace God gives and your true need for it and extend that same grace to those around you.
I was reflecting the other day on the thought in 2 Corinthians 4 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
Consider that we’re the jar and it’s what is inside us that makes the jar special.
In context, clay jars were used to contain pretty much everything, the modern version would be Tupperware. So because of their commonality, jars weren’t unusual to have around. In fact you wouldn’t look twice if you saw one.
People are pretty plentiful and often we don’t look twice at someone, but this doesn’t mean that we aren’t important. What it does say to me is we need to be ‘humble’ about ourselves. The fact that God chooses to use us out of all the jars available should be amazing to consider, further that we realise we aren’t the only jar He uses and alongside that, He uses some of those jars in different ways.
We’re not just jars though, we’re jars with treasure inside, though it doesn’t specifically say what the treasure is, simply that it’s treasure. So my treasure could be completely different to yours. Does that mean its better? Of course not! Whatever my treasure is, it’s my responsibility to allow it to shine Jesus through me.
Can you remember those Glade scent pots that freshened the air by allowing the scent to ‘leak’ out through the porous nature of the pots. That is a good picture to me of us with Jesus leaking out… 2 Cor 2 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.
To those who we bring death to, it may not be a bad thing as we may simply point them to aspects that they need to die to, or perhaps highlight their own bad smell that they’ve become used to (did you know that after about 10 minutes we can become used to smells that may overwhelm us at first). To those who we bring life to, it could be because there was no awareness that another aroma was possible, imagine what it was like for those people who discovered deodorant?.
So, if anyone tells you that sometimes being a Christian can stink, then simply agree with them, because there’s a scriptural truth in that.
Hope you have a smelly week and find that you are scent and sent by Jesus into your world to be different and full of grace, mercy and humility.