Monday, 6 December 2010
The story of Christmas is a story of missed opportunity!
Although it was heralded by angelic choirs, the world, the innkeeper and the setting into which he came i.e. Israel, did not recognise who he was.
Even Mary and Joseph, did not fully recognise who he was and what was taking place!
It wasn’t something that was soon rectified either!!!
Lk 19:44 ‘…you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you’ NIV
After 33+ years of God being manifested in flesh, the last three being confirmed by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jerusalem still did not recognise him as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Salvation of the World.
At best they thought he was a prophet (Mt 21:10-11), at worst they were already plotting to crucify him.
But when you think about it, God has always made a habit of turning up in ways that challange us to recognise him
Even today, we as Christians need to be aware of the danger.
Jerusalem was blinded by religion; we can be blinded because Gods visitation does not come according to our doctrine (seen this over last few years with some of the controversy over certain revivals)
But also because Gods visitation comes in ways we don’t recognise
· Jacob, who wrestled with God in human form
· Balaam’s donkey. Spoke accoring to circumstances
· Elijah – God not in the wind, fire or earthquake, but whisper
In Bethlehem he was not recognised either because he came in a way that was outside their mind-set and tradition.
This Christmas be open to how Jesus wants to come to you.
Have eyes to see 'Emmanuel', the 'God with us'.
Friday, 19 November 2010
The ability to stand out, get noticed, have an effect, is something that at times we all yearn for.
We see it in our society with our designer label culture. The most expensive labels are believed to portrait a greater kudos and significance. Or maybe it is the significance we feel when we hang around a certain crowd of people, where we gain a signifigance through association. How about the significance we gain through achievement that pushes us to work harder, run faster and climb higher.
I was reading the journey of Isreal in the book of Numbers chapter 21 about how they would go from place to place, repeatedly setting off and camping, setting off and camping.
Then it says these words, 'From there they continued on to Beer, the well where the LORD said to Moses, "Gather the people together and I will give them water."' Num 21:16
The name Beer, apprently means 'well'.
However, before there was a well (Beer) dug there, what was the place called?
Could I suggest that before it was a well it had no name. It only found its signifcance from what God did.
I wonder what a difference we would make if instead of trying to make a name for ourselves through our success stories, achievents or circle of friends, we found our significance in what God has done for us?
When you have got a moment, think about it.
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
What are you walking through at his moment?
Pain, depression, testing, temptation, failure? Divorce, rogue kids, work problems, bereavement, sickness, financial pressure?
We are all walking through something.
I wish it could always be like the first three verses of Ps 23.
· Without want, green pastures, the smell of fresh mown grass and spring flowers.
· Quiet waters, gentle bubbling brook, the little water feature in the garden trickling gently.
· A restored soul that is emotionally balanced; a mind that is untroubled and without stress and worry, and a heart that is at peace with itself and all others.
· Walking in the confidence of right standing with God, with no un-confessed sin or wrong attitudes. A boldness of not only knowing you are in the right but enjoying the benefits of seeing the right thing worked out.
I wish we could always walk through things like that but you can’t.
Not even King David, with all his money, power, influence and charisma could always walk through good times.
It says of him in Acts 13:36 that he served God’s purposes in his generation, yet even obedience to God’s will didn’t ensure that he always walked in good times.
In Ps 23:4 he walks through the shadow of the valley of death.
It’s a great phrase! It says to me that he walked though the very depth of despair with the worst scenario hanging over him like a great black shadow.
However, we can all be encouraged by two words
Tough times come to pass.
What ever you are walking through will come to pass.
You may need to walk through it but don’t need to dwell in it
Why? Because v4 tells us the God who was with you in the blessing, in the green pasture and by the still water is with you now, ‘I will fear no evil, for you are with me’.
Not only that but he has his rod (Heb. Stick – for fighting i.e. club) and his staff (Heb. Support).
His strength and protection, his support and encouragement.
And they ‘Comfort me’.
‘Though I walk through…… I will not be afraid’.
Why? Because not only is God with you with power and support, he has a different ending for you.
Remember, what you ‘go through’ is not your ‘go to’!
Psalm 23 ends with, ‘I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever’.
Not only is the ‘go to’ better than the ‘go through’, even the ‘go through’ has got its perks!
a. v5 ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies’
On Sept 2nd 1945 on board USS Missouri Japan unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces.
Before the Allied command a table was set on which the documents were laid out and the Allied officers were seated.
The Japanese had to bow before the Allies to sign the papers.
b. v5 ‘You anoint my head with oil and my cup over flows’.
Often we can only appreciate this at holiday times when oil used to cool the skin in hot climates and protect against wind and sand.
Oil eases and removes friction.
Even as you ‘go through’ God makes sure that not only have you got enough to soothe your passage, your cup is full can over flow for other as well.
c. v6 ‘Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life’
· Note the certainty ‘Surely’ Without doubt! Not to be questioned. To be absolutely relied on.
· Note the constancy ‘Shall follow me’. Wherever you go, God’s goodness and love will follow you. You can’t escape it.
The Hebrew has to do with running after (usually with hostile intent).
God is so determined to bestow his goodness and kindness upon your life, that he aggressively pursues you to do it.
Live in the expectancy for him to catch you!!!
Note: ‘will follow me’ means when trouble comes it is a sure sign that G&L are sure to be on its heels.
So to conclude
I have learned that God never wastes a hurt.
Wherever you are walking today, you are going through because you have a go to.
Remember that though you are going through it there are some great things you can expect and enjoy.
Friday, 16 April 2010
As most of you will know, there are two main words in Bible for time – Chronos: which is often related to hours and minutes and Kairos: which many have interpreted to apply to time as in, opportunity, right moment, appointed time or season.
As I was returning from overseas following a time away on ministry, I was thinking about time as it related to my own fellowship in Cardiff and the things that God is doing among us at this time. Things promised and things anticipated. As I thought about God’s time of promising certain things (Chronos) and measured it in relation to his time of fulfilment Kairos, I realised that there is a third time that is vitally important and that is the ‘meantime’.
I realised that how you handle the ‘in-between time’ when God ‘says’ and when God ‘does’, will determine whether you get a very mean time, that is full of pain, frustration, doubt and negativity or you get on with what is needed in the meantime so it stays a dreamtime.
As I was sitting on a plane over the Atlantic on Maundy Thursday my thoughts were naturally focused on Easter and I realised that I would not be the first to be challenged by the ‘meantime’.
• Peter wanted to go back to fishing. Often while we wait we get tempted to go back to how things were before, but how could life ever be the same after three years with Jesus. Do you want to go back to the mundane of what was or still choose to believe for what can be?
• Women wanted to tidy up the loose ends i.e. they wanted to anoint his body for burial. Do you want to neatly bury the dream and cover over the steps of faith you have already taken?
• Thomas, full of doubt that the situation could change, wouldn't believe unless he touched the wounds. Do you ever get to the place where it just all becomes too much to believe for and you wonder’, ‘Did God really say’?
• Two went to feed their flesh at Emmaus (means a Place of hot springs). Maybe visit the casino (Romans would surely have taken advantage of the hot water spa), have a few drinks and pick up a couple of ladies of the night. I don't know but I’m glad Jesus made sure they didn't get there.
Do you begin to feel sorrow for yourself in the ‘meantime’ and feel ‘you deserve it’? Don’t be like Esau who sold what could have been for a bowl full of self-pity stew.
But actually the good news is that although their reaction to the ’meantime’ was not good they learned great lessons of faith so that the next ‘meantime’ would be different i.e. between ascension and coming of the promise of the Holy Spirit.
This time they didn’t doubt, look back or accepted it would never happen.
Now we find that ‘When the day of Pentecost came, they were ALL TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE’.
No one missing; no one had to be fetched back from the lake.
Whatever your ‘meantime’ keep a right attitude and it will become the ‘set time’ for His promises to be fulfilled. Be there when it happens!
Thursday, 25 March 2010
As I read the story again. I was taken with v46 in a totally new way.
'Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city'
Before we even get introduced to Bartimaeus in the story we read that Jesus came to Jericho and Jesus left Jericho.
He came, he left. The problem is we are not told what happened while he was there!
Maybe there are some lessons in this that we can learn from this:
1. Maybe God thought it was none of our business.
If he did he would have told us but he didn't.
I think we can learn from this that some stuff that God does is not our concern.
How often do we feel we have to comment on what God does when it is not our business.
It can lead to judgement and critisism because we assess what God is doing 'there' afrom the perspective of him doing it 'here'.
2. Maybe it was because he didn't want what happened in Jericho to detract from the point he wanted us to glean from the healing of Bartimaeus.
It could be that in Jericho crowds got saved but God's emphesis for us is to realise that even a blind begger sitting in the gutter in a standing, moving, throng of people never goes unoticed by him.
In days when we can easily be taken with the spectacular and the spin that is so often placed on events it is good to continiuelly see God moving in the small things.
We need to be reminded that nothing or noone goes unoticed with him.
3. Maybe it was because God wants us to realise that the opportunity to realise his visitiation needs to be seized because his presence is not always easily found.
He came to Jericho and he left but Bartimaeus grabbed his opportunity as Jesus passed by.
I wonder how often we have missed the presence of the Holy Spirit bringing us opportunities because we havent recognised his visitation? Maybe we were busy with other things, maybe we were focused on the busyness of life, maybe we were resting from the pressures around us.
Like at Jericho, he came and he went and now like then his passing through has no effect. However, Bartimaeus new it was his day. He heard that it was Jesus and began to call out for God's attention. Even when others tried to silence him he kept on shouting. He wasn't prepared to let God's presence pass and let it go to waste.
Trusting you have many encounters with the Living God this week.
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
'Moses my servant is dead' (Joshua 1:2), was God's opening words to young Joshua as he began his task of leading the people of Israel.
Not the most encouraging word to initiate a young leader.
However, of course God knew just what he was doing.
When God takes you on into his promises and his purposes, we all need to be reminded that the past has gone, i.e. Moses is dead!
Why? Because we all have a tendency to want to stay in our past experiences.
The Israelites were no strangers to this kind of thinking.
When they were faced with challenge on their journey to the Land of Promises, they often looked back to the past experience of onions and garlics of Egypt, even though they would have eaten these foods as slaves.
Now they faced another challenge for a new day as they entered into the land that was before them.
It would have been easy for Joshua and the people to look back to Moses bringing 10 plagues against their enemy, or Moses lifting his staff and seeing the Red Sea part so they could cross, or Moses striking the rock and bringing forth water, or Moses going up the mountain to receive God's expressed instructions to this fledgling nation.
So God reminds them, 'Moses, my servant is dead'.
Now the Israelites were not the only ones who could tend to look back.
In the NT we have three of Jesus 'A' Team, Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. They see Jesus reveal his glory on the mountain and immediately Peter wants to build a shelter. He wants to put up a structure around his experience.
Jesus, however, saw that what had happened was not to be kept as a past experience but was the springboard for the next thing God would have him do. He came down the mountain and exercised his authority over evil spirits that were destroying a young boy (Lk 9:28-43)
Let me encourage to move on from the comfort of what you know and take a step of faith that is wholly dependant of the God of the now.
Be encouraged by what God has done in the past i.e. 'As I was with Moses, so I will be with you'
But don't stay there. Step out, step up into God's promises for your life
Friday, 15 January 2010
As we begin 2010 I pray your heart is filled with hope and faith for your preferred future this coming year.
However, to step into your awesome tomorrow with any accuracy of knowing where you are headed means having a right perspective of where you are right now.
In Mt 3:13-17 we have the account of Jesus baptism and his release into the reason that he had come. If you look at this passage you will see some lessons to help you to realise the importance of standing in the right place as you begin this coming year.
v14 Jesus comes to be baptised - John asks "Why?".
Surely any concept of Jesus needing to repent, washed, buried etc. is false as he was "...without sin" Heb 4:15.
So why does Jesus say it must be done to "fulfil all righteousness?".
(Righteousness = Right standing; To perform completely what is right)
Please note the following: -
1. At this time John was God's highest authority on earth Matt 11:9-11 "...none greater".
2. To fulfil all righteousness Jesus must be in 'right standing' or 'Standing in right place' and submit to this 'higher authority' = i.e. under John.
3. The moment Jesus stands in right place, the moment Jesus submits to right order:-
a) The heavens are opened = Resources made available.
b) The Holy Spirit comes upon him = Power.
c) A voice comes from heaven = God gives affirmation, affection and confidence.
To do the things God has called you to do and to be the person God has called you to be this year it is vital you are standing in the 'right place' to receive God's resource, anointing and affirmation.
So where are you standing today?
Are you standing right?
In submission to leaders/church/employer/family/Word?
In right relationships?
In the Star Trek series before they ever set on on Warp factor 5, Captain Kirk's command was always 'Get a fix on our position'. If you don't know your starting place your journey will be flawed.
Assess where you are standing today.
If its not the right place to get receive God's resource, anointing and affirmation than reposition yourself.
He is willing to show you where to stand so that every blessing for 2010 can be yours.
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