O’God, You Are My God

Anything in our lives can become our God. An object, a person, a pastime, a campaign, even a ministry, all have the potential to consume the affections of our hearts.
The Bible says…”Hope deferred makes the heart sick”. When the affections of our hearts are captured by anything other than God, our hope is in that thing and in that, our hope is deferred and our hearts get sick.
This is very different from enjoyment. ‘All good things come from God’ and ‘Our Heavenly Father knows how to give his children good gifts’. All that I am given, I am given to enjoy…and enjoy I shall. But, I must remain on guard about what consumes the affections of my heart and what I place my hope in!
Today, I ask the Lord as the psalmist did…

“God, search me and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts, and show me if there be any grievous way in me.”
And then, I rely on HIM, to…

“Lead me in the way everlasting”
We are told that “we cannot serve two masters” because naturally, “we will hate the one and love the other.” This tells us something important – of course on earth, I can work for two masters quite happily, but here God is not talking about the practical, He is talking about the HEART, and God’s call, His first commandment to us, is to love Him, our Lord God, “with all our heart, soul, mind and strength”. Whilst we can ‘love’ and enjoy in an earthly sense, the things of this earth, when it comes to our hearts, we are called to love with all consuming affection, one thing and one thing only…
Him!
May we be able to say today, and may it be wondrously true, of all of us who know Him, that…
“O’God…you ARE my God!”
X x x

How’s Your Wise-o-meter?

After talking to a friend and advising them to be wise and avoid a certain situation, instead of placing themselves in unnecessary harms way, it got me to thinking about the words from Matthew 10…

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

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Being wise is very different from paranoia. The latter is fear based and irrational, the former is faith induced, based upon a knowledge of the reality of who we are, where we currently reside and who our enemy is.

The minute we were adopted and redeemed by Christ, we became aliens to this world (John 17:16) and in that, everything changes for us. I sometimes refer to the Kingdom of God as being upside down and back to front – We are called to forgive when hurt; bless when hated and give out of lack, not abundance. What we once regarded as innocent, may not be now?! What we once thought was acceptable, may not be now?! And, what we once considered wise, definitely may not be now?!!

So, we are called to be…”wise as serpents”. Why serpents? Here’s what I found…

“The prudence of the serpent is specially apparent in the quickness of its perception of danger and the rapidity with which it escapes from it”

“The serpent is a very sharp sighted, cunning creature, and uses various arts and stratagems for its own preservation, and especially of its head; and is so far, to be imitated by the followers of Christ….to not expose themselves to UNNECESSARY dangers: and to avoid all snares and TRAPS that are laid for them.”

God was instructing the disciples….

“…to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies”

“…to conduct themselves with common sense in avoiding UNNECESSARY danger!”

My question to you and myself tonight is…
How’s our wise-o-meter? How rapidly do we sense danger and unnecessary traps? As a disciple, do we consciously avoid situations that could give advantage to our Enemy?

Good news is, if God calls us to be something, then He supplies us with the means to live it. His word says in James…

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to ALL without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

May we be encouraged to take advantage of this wonderful promise and constantly ask for more!

God bless x x

Think Again!

I learnt a few valuables things at the funeral of a homeless man today, that made me…think again.

Firstly, everybody is somebody….
The man was an epileptic, schizophrenic, homeless alcoholic.  He was aggressive and argumentative at times and so, he was hard to handle at times.  He walked about alone and refused any real help out of his situation.  But, as I watched his mother and father, sister, cousin and niece crying their eyes out today, I realised that everybody is somebody to someone.  Underneath his fragile broken shell, he was somebody’s son, brother, cousin and much loved uncle.

To God, we are ALL somebody!

Secondly, brokenness does NOT negate love….
There was complete openness today with regards to what the man had struggled with.  Everyone was fully aware of the way his mind, health and addiction had deteriorated and caused him to become one of life’s outcasts.  But, whatever he had succumbed to, however he had seemingly failed in this lifetime, regardless of his addiction and no matter the pain it had caused his family, it did not prevent his family from loving him.  Oh, how they all loved him.

Our brokenness does NOT prevent God from loving us!

Thirdly, we’re somebody’s somebody….
There are many mixed opinions regarding feeding the homeless.  Should we, shouldn’t we?  Do we just become a crutch for them, enabling them to feed their habit?  Are they my ‘neighbour’ or is that just a Christian brother or sister?
Even though feeding the homeless is what I do, I too have battled with mixed feelings on the subject at times. Am I really making a difference as I give out a cup of tea and a chicken curry?  I believe that today, God showed me a new perspective which has smashed any doubts to pieces.
The man’s family were so grateful for what we did for him. “Thank you, thank you, thank you” they said over and over.  Often, families are the last people that can help in a situation like his.  It’s too close, too painful or their help is simply rejected.  It seemed to bring them great comfort to know he had at least been looked after in even the smallest of ways.  And that got me thinking.  If I had a daughter, a son…if YOU had a daughter, a son…and that child, after years of nurturing suddenly went off the rails, and wound up ‘out there’, in the big wide world alone, far away from you, wouldn’t you want to know that they were being cared for?  No matter what they had done, no matter how low they had sunk, no matter how helpless you felt, wouldn’t you be praying every night that someone, somewhere was helping them?  Wouldn’t you want to know that wherever they were that night, someone, somewhere, would be willing to lay all judgement aside and just feed them, clothe them?  I have no children, yet I can tangibly feel a parental desperation in my heart tonight at even the imagining of such a situation. Whatever terrible course their life had taken, no matter how much I couldn’t help them, would the desire that they were being cared for ever go away???

God as THE Parent of all parents, sends US, calls US, asks US, to love His children…wherever they are, whatever they’re doing.  You, me, we may be the only somebody that somebody’s got!

– We are of infinite value to our Father.  He sent His only Son to die in our place so that we could be reconciled to Him.
– Our brokenness doesn’t surprise God, faze Him, daunt Him or offend Him.  It doesn’t put Him off.  While we were dead in our sins Christ died for us.
– God created ALL of us – “ALL things were made through Him and without Him was NOT ANYTHING made that was made”.  Whilst our rebellion and rejection of Him does hinder us having a full, reconciled relationship with Him, it does NOT negate His love for us!  “For God SO LOVED THE WORLD, that He sent His only Son…”

So the next time you think you’re not good enough…think again!
The next time you think, I’ve done too much…think again!
And…
The next time you think someone else isn’t worth it…think again!

 

Accompanying Jesus

“Soon afterward, Jesus went on through towns and villages, preaching and bringing the good news (the Gospel) of the Kingdom of God.  And the twelve apostles were with Him.  And also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had been expelled; And Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager; and Susanna; and many others, who ministered to and provided for Him and them out of their property and personal belongings”.  Luke 7:1-3

I encourage you to meditate on these few questions for a moment using the women written about here as an example…

– Do I minister to Him?  What a question that is!!  Do I start my day ministering to my King, enquiring of HIS needs for this day?  Or, do I only enquire Him of my own?!
– Do I come before Him and ask “What do YOU need of me this day Lord; How can I assist YOU?”
– When did I last put my own comfort before His needs?  When did I cross the road to avoid a person, not open the front door, not answer the phone, stay in bed, not help someone, not provide for someone etc etc…?

– Are my property and belongings open to being used?

– Am I providing for Jesus with the sacrificial surrender of my life/my body, to be used as and when HE chooses?

– Do I consider that it is Jesus himself who shares the Gospel through me?  I don’t have to strive to deliver a ‘good speech’ to someone, I only have to deliver myself up to be used by Him, resting in the knowledge that it is Him that binds up the broken hearted and opens the prisons of all those who are bound.

What are His needs?  Well, St Theresa of Avila says this…
“Christ has no body now on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours. Ours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good”

Within the truth of God’s self-sufficiency, we, as His children and representatives, have been chosen to carry and manifest His presence to the people of this world.  The ministry of Jesus, when He was walking this earth, is the very same thing He is doing now.  In the time when the verses above were lived out, the women accompanying Him ministered to Him and the apostles in a very practical way – food, money, shelter, washing etc.  We could wrongly believe that Jesus doesn’t have practical needs today.  He does.  He needs us to be available….to give of ourselves, our lives and our hearts, to such a degree that our first thought in the morning will be “How can I minister to YOU today Lord?  How can I accompany YOU today as You seek to touch the lives of those You love?”

This has really challenged me, encouraged me and stirred me up and I have once again been brought back to the simple truth….
My life is not about my own needs.  And neither is it about everyone else’s.  My life is about HIS needs first and foremost!  In accompanying Jesus and ministering to Him, myself and everyone else’s needs are taken care of.  Yes, God’s Word says that I should ask, that I should make my specific requests known and of course I need to look to God as my provider and love my neighbour and take care of the poor, the lost and the oppressed..but…if I were to really listen to what I pray about, even in my prayers for ministering to others, would they be more about me and my needs, than His???

God Bless x

Ignorance is NOT bliss…its bondage!!!

I’m a woman who walks in victory.  I’m born-again, saved and definitely a new creation.  I march onwards every day, taking Kingdom territory in God’s strength.  I put on my armour, resist the devil and I hope in what is unseen.  I do my best to keep my mind on what is good, noble and just.  I think on heavenly things and keep my mind stayed on Him.  I learn what it is to be content in all circumstances and I’m not surprised when trials come upon me.  I don’t live in the pain of my past anymore and have received massive transformation of my heart.  I’m gentler, softer and more loving than I ever knew was possible.  I’m conscientious, caring, kind and count others more significant.
And, I really believe in the fact that I have been given right standing with God through Christ.  I mean I believe it!  I will not be convinced any other way.  His blood has covered me.  His grace over my life is indeed an ocean and I am overwhelmingly, thankfully, drowning in it.

I am all of those things and I am also…

Incredibly broken, full of weakness and beset with failures.  I fall short every day.  I muck up as soon as I get out of bed and I often let people down.  I sometimes inadvertedly watch the wrong thing and stumble. I often say the wrong thing at the wrong time, in the wrong way.  I stupidly sometimes allow my flesh to get the better of me, I still have areas of sins that I’m struggling with and I can be totally selfish instead of loving.  I sometimes judge instead of being merciful, I can condemn instead of being gracious, I get irritated instead of being patient and I can definitely think I have the answer instead of simply loving by listening till the end.
And, no matter how much God has transformed my heart I can still suddenly have a ‘hard moment’.  No matter how much I believe in who I am in Christ, I can still forget.  No matter how much I trust God, I can still have moments of fear and doubt.  Oh yes, there are days indeed, when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!

This is the reality of who I am.

As a receiver of grace, a beautiful bride, a precious daughter and a committed disciple of Christ, I am not one or the other…I am BOTH!!

I am all of the things mentioned in the former paragraph because of my utter awareness of all that is mentioned in the latter!  I have come to know, that ignorance is not bliss, as the world would have us believe…but that it is bondage!

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin”.
Roms 7:17-25

Three times Paul mentions the ‘sin that dwells within’.  Paul did not shy away from that fact and neither should we.  He did not hide it or deny it and I think you will agree, it definitely did not diminish his faith!

In fact, Paul boasted in it!…

For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out”. v.18

“… Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. 2 Cor 12:9&10

To look at what dwells within us, is not a sin.  To acknowledge the full complexity of our brokenness, weakness and failures is not a sin and it is not a lack of faith either.  It is a gift from God!  The world is in denial of these facts and the cover up is devastatingly leading them to hell.

Ignorance is not bliss…it is BONDAGE!!

To see clearly is the blessed gift of truth and it is only the truth which sets us free.  It is a merciful gift to be able to lay our all before God and cry out… “Search me, and show me if there be any grievous way in me”.  Of course, it is is true that we are new creations in Christ, that the old has passed away, that we’re dead to sin (the power and penalty of sin) but, along with that, like the mighty apostle Paul, we are beset with weaknesses and there is a sin that dwells within that cannot be ignored.

But, as one young lady in our community group said… “We just feel we can’t talk about that”.

How often are we rejected, scorned, or crushed by others because we dare to be honest about what we are contending with whilst being a lover of God?  How often are we made to feel like we have no faith because we shared the fear and doubt which is having its way with us today?  How pathetic are we made to feel when we go to someone, asking for help because that wound from the past – you know, the one you thought was dealt with – is haunting you all over again…and your sister or brother just tells you ‘in love’ to get over it?!!  How often, have we not had our pain or our struggles, our doubts or our fears listened to and acknowledged, but instead had them brushed over with a quick fix ‘spiritual’ answer?

How often has that happened to you and sadly, how often have you been that person to another?  I know I have experienced and been both.

We have grown afraid to be victory and weakness; faith and failure, mistakenly believing that we can’t be both.  We are afraid to be real in the face of criticism or lack of sympathy.  Christianity is often played out too harshly.  We fail to see, when reading Gods word, the depth of brokenness of the characters which He used to bring the Good News in the first place.  They were not perfect people.  They did not live struggle free perfect lives.  They dealt with sin and weakness all the time.  Peter denied Christ.  Paul said he ‘does what he does not want to do’ and was given a thorn in the flesh to prevent him from becoming conceited (which must have been lurking round the corner!) And as for doubting Thomas…well…it took Jesus to shove His wounds in the brothers face for him to believe.  They were not a group of perfect people, they were a group of forgiven people.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin”. Hebrews 4:15

Jesus came and took on the form of a servant, He was tempted in every way, so that when He stood in the gap for us, He would understand all that we were going through.  He isn’t a lofty God, abstract and detached from reality.  He doesn’t look at us and go “Oh my gosh, you’re dealing with that!!”  Let His way, be our way!…towards ourselves and towards each other.

Walking in victory is not the absence of our weakness, our frailty or the sin that dwells within…it is in fact those very things that escort us into total dependency on God. They are the blessed vehicles that draw us into deeper humility and the vessels used to display the Glory of God!!

Paul’s story doesn’t end at the acknowledgement of what lied within, and neither does ours.  It always concludes with a “Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ!”  Paul was not condemned by the sin that dwelt within or the weakness of his flesh…

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” Roms 8:1

But it starts with us first not shying away from all that we are or from all that your neighbour is.  Contrary to what you may have believed, ignorance (the lack of knowledge) of what lies within, will only ever keep you from walking in full victory.  You will never understand the fullness of what Christ has done for you, unless you know the fullness of what He has, and is, saving you from.

So hide no longer dear friend and don’t encourage another to either!  Our Father knows everything.  He knows exactly when we fluff up, He knows the motive of our heart and He knows the word we’re going to speak the very next time we open our mouths.  He knows what you struggle with and what wound causes you your greatest distress. Though He is doing a work on your heart to bring them it line with His love, He loves and accepts you just as you are right now.  You cannot separate who you are, God doesn’t and He doesn’t expects you to either.

He accepts you fully and His power is made perfect in your weakness, so let it be so.  Stop trying to hide it and stop listening to those who are perhaps encouraging you to hide it, or, who are brushing over your pain…Perhaps you have a thing or two to bless them with, in your honesty?
Be real, be honest, be boastful…of what it is you truly contend with in your walk with God, so that He can be given ALL the glory. 
Allow God to crawl down and be with you in the darkest places of your soul, character and actions and see just how quickly He will turn your greatest failure into His greatest success!

It takes real bravery to ask God to show you.  It takes courage.  It’s also uncomfortable, sometimes painful and mostly just darn ugly but…you get freedom no other way. 

At the end of Psalm 139, being shown if any grievous way be in you, is unfortunately the prerequisite to being led on the way everlasting!  Awareness of the sin that dwells within only ever frees you, it does not condemn you!
Our loving Father spent so much time in Psalm 139 laying a foundation of verses to tell us that He knows everything about us so that when it came to us taking a good look at ourselves, we could do it with confidence.  His eyes saw our unformed substance.  He doesn’t condemn us for who we are…so let’s not condemn ourselves or another.

It’s not a coincidence that in this earthly life, the ultimate gesture of feeling free in oneself, is to run naked, arms wailing in the air, squeals of delight pouring forth.  A bit like this…

credit to the Guardian.com

So run…run naked! 
(Spiritually people….SPIRITUALLY!!!!!!!)

Yes…run naked before your God, before yourself and before others.  Hide no more, but embrace all that you are, so that you can accept all that He has done for you on the Cross.  Run naked and embrace your ‘wobbly bits’/‘ugly bits’/‘broken bits’, knowing that those same things that others scorn you for, are the very things that will glorify Him when He empowers you to overcome what is humanly impossible.

“And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account”. 2 Cor 5:3

“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed”. Gen 2:25

My “God LOVES Ugly” Moment

Today I have ceased from resisting your love.  I don’t want to fight it anymore…indeed, I cannot.  I can no longer whisper ‘I love You‘ with one breath and resist You in another.  Your love is the highest form of love.  Above it, lies no other.  Today I accept that you did for it me.  You did it for them, but today, you showed me that you did it for me.  Today you showed me my worth to you, my infinite value.  That caused you to die in my place.  Today you showed me my ugliness and made me utterly grateful for Your grace…how deep, how wide.  Today I accept the fullness of the beauty of the Cross, knowing that in it You have made me beautiful.

“I praise You…for I AM wonderfully and fearfully made.  So wonderful are Your works, my soul knows it very well” Psalm 139

Thank you Christa…you wrote the words which speak out the history and future of my heart today.

http://christablack.com/