Grateful because…

Because I sat in church today

And in front of me were song lyrics celebrating Jesus Christ's resurrection

His victory over death.

 

Because I sat in church today

And to the left of me were my son and daughter-in-law

A blessing from God.

 

Because I sat in church today

And to the right of me were my daughter and son-in-law

Both following Jesus.

 

Because I sat in church today

And behind me was my wife, playing with my granddaughter

Both made me smile.

 

Because whichever way I turned

Gift upon gift upon gift upon gift

That's why.

 

Easter Sunday 2016

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Why doesn’t God…?

Why doesn't God heal me / my wife / my mother-in-law?

Why doesn't God make me more successful / give me more money / let me find my dream job?

Why doesn't God get rid of those antisocial neighbours / unpleasant colleagues / rude people?

Why doesn't God [enter your current concern / worry / struggle / burden / gripe / pain here]?

You get the idea. The stuff that bugs you / really hurts you / gets you down / causes you serious anxiety is different to my stuff, and changes over time, but if we're believers in Jesus Christ we all ask the Why doesn't God…? question from time to time.

I'm here to tell you that there are only two possible answers, whatever the stuff / trouble. And they both relate to the F-word.

No, not that F-word.

Faith. In God.

Because although God may want to answer my prayer / grant my request, I need to excercise the faith that says He is good, He's my Heavenly Father – and that I need to ask Him. The Bible says He knows what I need before I ask – which implies that He expects me to ask. And if it applies to what I need it applies just as much to what I want. He wants me to come to Him in faith, relate to Him and speak with Him – rather than just sitting back then complaining that I don't have what I want. It puts the emphasis on Him instead of me.

Equally, He may know that it's best for me not to get what I think I want. He may want to grow something else in me, grow some more faith in me, by putting up with my troubles / disappointments / failures and exercising the faith that says He Knows Best and that He Plans Something Better.

Hard to do? Absolutely. Easy to write in a blog post? Totally. True? I think so.

What's your question for God? Bring it to Him – along with the F-word.


This post was prompted by my wife's godly wisdom in response to my bemoaning something not to my liking.

 

 

It’s OK for Christians to be anxious

No, really, it is! I found it in the Bible. OK, so it's in the New Living Translation, which is a bit of a paraphrase but is my favourite for general reading. I find it often brings out meaning I would miss from the NIV, which is my standard “proper” translation. And I tend to find The Message a bit, well, distracting somehow. It, too, has its moments of clarity but I don't like reading chunks of it.

So back to the being anxious thing. Here it is:

You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.

1 Peter 4:2

Told you. While some may quibble with the translation, I doubt many will dispute that it is a good thing to be anxious to do what God wants, what with Him being Creator And Lord Of All and everything.

Apologies if you you were expecting controversy, heresy or some other aberration at which to be outraged. I don't actually think worry is OK at all (I'd go so far as to call it a sin – yikes!). Have a read of this post of mine on that topic and then come back here for the rest of today's deep insights.

There's another verse about doing God's will that I've always “liked” (in the traditional, rather than Facebook, sense):

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Philippians 2:13

(And that one's from the NIV, as that's the version I learnt it in back in the eighties when doing Navigators Scripture Memory.)

So I would thank God for that verse and comfort myself with the knowledge that no matter how badly I seemed to be doing, or however unfruitful my life was, He was at work in me so that I'd want what he wants and then go out and do it. Methinks, however, that I've been somewhat passive and not playing my part. Because Peter says I'll be anxious to do God's will, not just sitting there waiting to be inspired to want it. And he also says:

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.

1 Peter 4:7

Earnest. Disciplined. Prayers. I need to ask God to bring this about in me. I need the power of the Holy Spirit enlivening and empowering me. I need to submit, surrender and make myself available to be compelled by the love of Christ like the apostle Paul was.

Fact is, none of that is new to me. But I'm coming back to it, and Him, afresh and looking to be that person who wills and acts according to His good purpose, anxious to do His will. I know He'll answer prayers like that, and already is doing. Please pray for me that I'll not forget, give up – or be anxious when I shouldn't.

 

Idolatry of the Heart

This is an old (2006) post from a blogger I’ve not seen before but speaks absolutely about the place I’m in as a Christian, even after 32 years. To the extent that I seek fulfilment through anything but God, my life is a waste. To the extent that I want Jesus to forgive my sins but not to be Lord of my life, my life is a waste. I can’t make myself godly; I can’t make myself into someone who puts others first; but I can surrender unconditionally, somewhat apprehensively I’ll admit, and let God begin a new work in me.

It’s a long article but if, like me, you’re a Christian who knows their life isn’t really that distinctive, or falls prey to pursuing security & fulfillment apart from God, please read it 🙂

Possessing the Treasure

The following piece is an excerpt from my book Walking the Walk by Faith. I decided to post the chapter titled “Idolatry of the Heart” today because of some very uncomfortable blogosphere discussions I have been involved in over the last few weeks. There seems to be a great deal of confusion rooted in pride in many well-intentioned Christians who are passionately doing battle to defend their “beliefs” who end up after a many skirmishes feeling somewhat ashamed of themselves. They end up asking for forgiveness from the very people they have been battling. Of course that “shame” is coming from the conviction of the Holy Spirit into their consciences. When I wrote this chapter over a year and a half ago I was trying to explain the greatest obstacle Christians have in becoming Spirit-led. That obstacle is pride which builds idols in our hearts with the biggest most…

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Be a more fruitful Christian: It’s not about trying harder

I came across this article on crosswalk.com that spoke exactly to the place I find myself. It's based on a book called Pursuing More of Jesus and has 13 sections. Below is the one that's spoken to me most strongly so far. I've yet to consider the others properly. What struck me most, and comforted me, was this phrase:

…you don’t have to try harder, pray more, or claim greater territory in service.

Anyway, here's that whole section. It'll certainly be uppermost in my mind and prayers today.

Pursue more of His fruit in your service. If your service for God lacks the fruit of changed lives, you don’t have to try harder, pray more, or claim greater territory in service. Instead, you should examine your personal relationship with Jesus to see how closely you’re connected to Him. It’s the quality of your connection to Jesus that will determine whether or not you’ll have the power to bear good fruit for His kingdom. The fruit you bear isn’t produced through your own efforts; it’s produced by the Holy Spirit through you as you consistently rely on God. Jesus is the Vine and you are the branches. God may sometimes choose to prune you to bear good fruit by cutting out of your life everything you depend on – except your relationship with Jesus. When you’re forced to pay attention to your relationship with Jesus because that’s all you have, your connection to the Vine gets bigger, empowering you to produce more fruit. Trust God when He prunes the branches of your life; He knows what’s best to help you grow. Pray for greater fruitfulness in your service, asking God to conform you more closely to the image of Jesus, use you to make others want to know Him better, give you opportunities to share His Gospel and give you the fruit of changed lives as a result, draw others to Himself through a Bible study you lead, or give you one person to share His love with today.