Shalom. Allow God to rise you up and allow the Spirit of the Lord to set you free.
Monday and Tuesday saw me in Waikeria prison helping a friend with Gospel Concerts for the inmates. On Sunday I’ll be in Rangipo, then over the rest of the week visiting Hawkes Bay, Manawatu and Whanganui prisons. If you’re interested in learning more then come on Friday 18th October and hear Nicky Moran give a concert at our place of worship.
I’ve been reminded that the most common prison people find themselves incarcerated in is the one on their own head… bound by unforgiveness, bitterness, anger and regret.
The best way to break free is for Jesus to set you free. It’s as simple as asking him to help and then daily seeking him and remaining in his grace.
The key is to recognize his voice whispering amongst the noise of other voices clamoring for your attention. Learn to discern that voice and tune into it. There may be times he speaks through circumstances, other times his written word, other times his spirit, other times through people… but he will speak.
I pray you succeed in hearing his counsel, heeding his advice and accepting his discipline.
Shalom. May your life be rich in relational wealth and prosperous in deeper discipleship.
We’ve been called to bear fruit for Christ, not be religious nuts.
Good fruit grows when the tree is healthy and things are in balance, it grows as a result of the tree being a tree and it bears fruit in accordance with the type of tree it is. So what the tree does is bear fruit by being a tree. The being must always precede the doing. In our Christian journey, we are each encouraged to bear fruit by remaining in Christ (John 15:5).
Therefore if we aren’t bearing fruit – which is shown in our character (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) and also in our relationships (impacting and influencing people to consider and decide for, or against, Christ), then the question begs to be asked – Are we really living a Christian life?
NONE of us can give excuses about not bearing fruit – we MUST!
The only way we can is by cultivating our relationship with Jesus – being a disciple.
Luke 9:23 “If any would come after me, they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow me”
Another way of considering this fruit is to ask what are our values. A very important and often ignored aspect of life, values define the moral structure upon which our life is lived, it is the filter through which our behaviour is affected. There are differing levels of importance in our values; the most important are core values. They are the non-negotiable things in your life that you will not compromise – when Christ enters our life that is supposed to cause a profound and definite shift in these core values. The life and ministry of Jesus abounds with value statements and show us the filter, or core values that Jesus lived his life through. Eg.
“I have come to do the will of the one who sent me”
“The first shall be last and the last shall be first”
“Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me”
“Love one another as I have loved you”
The gospels are full of them. The sad truth for many people is they don’t know how; in a cognitive way; to define and express their values and as a result go with the flow of society which is increasingly self-centred
and isolationist. At it’s base it could be summed up by “The pursuit of my personal happiness at the expense of everything else”.
There’s a saying – “If you don’t stand for something; you’ll fall for anything.”
It’s good to stop and also ask yourself what your core values are…
Are they working out in your life? Where’s the fruit?
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.
2 Cor 4:7 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
The Cracked Pot
A waterbearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it. While the other pot was perfect, and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the mistress’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to her master’s house.The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream: “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”
“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in her compassion she said, “As we return to the mistress’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my mistress’s table. Without you being just the way you are, she would not have this beauty to grace her house.”
Be a cracked jar for Jesus his week and leak out over others and I trust you discover the joy of time spent with Jesus in fresh and energising ways.
Shalom. With God all things are possible, and in God may you also find them beneficial and permissible.
Repentance is important to a Christian. To repent means to change your direction, to change your mind, to change your lifestyle, your habits and your relationships. Unless these changes have taken place in your life, you have never really come to know Jesus Christ. Repentance, true repentance, is followed by a transformed mind and life. It’s a radical thing.
Grace is, I believe, a really good sign that repentance is at work. Not that you freely accept grace and see it as a free ticket out of your sin and a pardon for bad behaviour – What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6.1-2)
Grace holds us in wonder as we realise the immensity of forgiveness that has been awarded us and further realise we don’t deserve it and then realise even further that regardless of that we are truly free!!! Grace is the act of God that we respond to in thankfulness and gratitude, it begets an attitude of amazed appreciation for what God has done and propels us to a desire of wanting to show God the depth of that gratitude by living lives that bring Him glory; not because we have to, but because we want to. We don’t view it as a free ticket, but as an invitation into a lifelong journey of growth, discovery, joy, suffering and servanthood.
We are beginning to understand grace when we can honestly be satisfied with whom we are, warts and all…
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12. 9-10)
Grace doesn’t always change us, but it always allows us to change. Grace is a gift, given to us from God, and often in relationships, it’s the best gift we can give others. Grace gives us room to be ourselves, it doesn’t excuse bad behaviour, attitudes or language; it helps us find the strength to face it and the wisdom to repent of it.
I hope that you have a grace-filled week flowing from repentance as Christ continues to complete the good work He began in you.