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New Year Encouragement

December 24, 2011 Leave a comment

 

We were reading from Luke 1 in church last week, when verse 38 stirred a memory or something . .

`Then Mary said, Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.` Luke 1:38 NKJV

The angel was speaking Mary`s destiny to her or God`s purposes for her life and the world. Have you thought about God`s purposes for your life recently? Don`t forget the devil would like to thwart these purposes. So how can we get back in the right `position` as it were to begin, once again, to be moving forward in the purposes God has for us? A number of things might be happening, we could be afraid, we may have lost hope or we may be in rebellion, or a bit of all three! Allow me to encourage you . .

Firstly notice that God takes a massive risk here with Mary. The birth of Jesus is not a foregone conclusion, it depends on Mary`s agreement! Wow! Imagine that, God`s rescue plan hanging on the decision of a girl probably aged no more than fifteen or so. She could have just said, `am a bovered?` And that`s the question, are you bothered? Am I really bothered? Or have I got my own plans and ideas, thank you very much. That`s rebellion for you! I have found that if I don`t submit to God`s best for me, he won`t let me alone! He never give up and will use any and every circumstance in life to try and get us to return. So if you are in the midst of something difficult, just give it up my friend! Don`t tire yourself out battling away, when there is a blessed restful place in God`s good purposes waiting for you! And remember God chooses you to carry out His great plans!

Mary was no doubt afraid and unlike the men folk she probably had not had the same depth of scriptural teaching and therefore would not understand just what God had planned for her. So her declaration was very brave and trusting, particularly as being pregnant out of wedlock was going to bring a lot of trouble. Can we say, let it be as you have said God? So let`s pray for courage.

May be you have lost hope? You can`t even remember God speaking to you, you are unsure if you have a destiny . . Jeremiah 29:11 talks about how God knows the plans He has for you and how these are good plans. So let’s pray for hope to rise once again!

There`s a song that says, `there`s an army rising up, that will break every chain . .` So let`s rise up with courage, hope and humility in 2012!

Andy and family wish you every blessing for 2012!

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Surfing the Waves

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Click on the image for a brilliant song or here
My friend from Mozambique said to me in the summer that if someone needs help he just `surfs over` and reaches down to pull them up. Just recently we were discussing what he means by this? Sometimes we are in trouble and we expect God to rescue us, yet somehow we are not in line with His will. Even so, he often rescues us anyway. Or maybe we are having a moan, a bit like spoilt children. You know the kind of thing, something or someone has disturbed our comfy den. A bit like Jonah, a brilliant evangelist, comfy where he was, probably with a good reputation. He got very grumpy with God! There is a kind of faith combined with a kind of submission that allows us to ride the wave. So, it`s possible that when the storms are raging, rather than being tossed around all over the place, we ride those waves, we `surf.`!
So how do we surf the wave?

Be Content, Yet Full of Faith
Paul said he had learnt to be content whether full or hungry, not that it might be Gods will he be hungry . . So there is a kind of submission to God whatever our circumstances. Not a submission to the circumstance, in a kind of defeatist way. In Philippians it says `every knee must bow`. We tend to think of this in the context of people and heaven. Of course it applies to heaven and Christ`s return, where in the presence of God every person and evil force will have no choice but to bow the knee. How many of us realise, however, that in the presence of God, during worship for example, that `every knee must bow`! Bring your impossible situation to God and declare to it, `you are in the presence of God and by the authority given me through Christ Jesus I command you to bow the knee!` This impossible situation could be an illness, a loved one/friend/colleague you dearly wish would come to Christ, perhaps it`s financial, or your job . . I would encourage you to hope again, bring it to the Lord once more, pray yourself and/or share again with someone and pray together.

We are in a Battle!
Next there is defiance. We can say that whatever the devil throws at us, we will praise God and consecrate whatever it is to God`s purposes. This way the devil is defeated every time. Even if we were to die, it would be to fulfil some glorious purpose. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Keep a Careful Eye On Walking in His Will
Also we must always speak the truth in love and make sure we are being very careful to walk in God`s will. Proverbs 16:9 , Ephesians 4:15 Sometimes because we are so convinced we are `right`, we get out of line. I have done this through sheer enthusiasm, yabbering away to someone about some experience/idea I have had. Even when there is little or no pride in my heart when I do this, I need to stop and think. The answer usually, is to go away and spend time praying for the person/situation . . Or maybe I could say, `I feel I need to challenge and encourage you over this, is there a way we could do that together? or it could be that I have got this wrong, can we seek together?`

Dealing with Disappointment
Surfing is actually quite a difficult skill. After getting `up there` for the fist time what happens next? That`s right, we fall off! So the trick here is not to give up or assume we must have been on the wrong track. It`s easy to get diverted. Others around us might distract us. The devil is very subtle with his lies, often mixing in a bit of truth with what he whispers in our ear. For example, the conclusion that, `you`ll be amazed what God is teaching you through this, when you look back in a few years` mm. What`s really in this statement? Well there is some truth, God can use any circumstance and bring good out of it. What might be also suggested here is that God has directly allowed or brought this bad circumstance – an untruth! Part of our getting back on that surf board and rising up the wave is realising that God`s intentions toward us are always good! That might leave us with some questions, but, its the right place from which to have questions . .

Moving Forward with `Impossible Situations`
We are all close to/know of someone in an impossible situation, or we have faced/seen such things in the past. I don`t want to be insensitive, yet I feel we must talk about these things. There are two main mistakes we have made in this area that I can think of. Firstly, for fear of hurting a vulnerable person we do not pray in very much faith, we`d rather offer what we know we can give, which is fine, as far as it goes. Some times in these situations we offer platitudes that don`t help to build faith and sometimes these platitudes suggest untruths about God`s character. The other mistake we can make is diving in there with a `name it and claim it` attitude (don`t get me wrong there is some truth in that). We have, most of us, heard stories like this: from a good few years ago, where someone told a family that their terminally ill toddler was `healed` and just to `believe`, as well as some other unuseful statements. They clearly were not healed and later died. So, what do we do in the face of impossible situations? Firstly, some common sense, we should never suggest to someone that they do not have enough faith. We don`t have to have an answer for everything, if we did have an answer for everything we would be God! For example, we could say that we believe that God’s healing hand is at work and more prayer and seeking is needed. We can ask God for discernment and revelation, however. Once we have abandoned our lives to Christ we can keep on humbly believing for and working toward the best, whilst surrounding people with our upmost love and care. However, we are also in a battle and we need to be determined to move forward. We can be humble enough to learn from our brothers and sisters in other churches in this matter, especially those that, while suffering some defeats, are seeing some amazing victories, I would encourage you to read The Essential Guide to Healing Equipping all Christians to Pray for the Sick by Bill Johnson and Randy Clark

I guess this blog is getting a bit long now! So I will stop. I just pray you are blessed and are able to ride your board a little higher for a little longer!
Andy

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What is it we have?

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Or, what is it we are actually offering people?

A friend was over for lunch yesterday and we started chatting. I had been thinking in the morning how if I could somehow get people to taste the ‘Joy’ I and I know others have in our lives they would run to Jesus! My friend said he had been leading the young person’s discipleship group, a mix of people at different stages in their faith journey. The subject was drink, what the bible says, what might be wise, etc. My friend then very wisely moved on to that verse:
Ephesians 5:18, ‘And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit’

My friend then asked the young people if they had ever experienced a strange/unexplained sense of joy (in a church setting)? And lo and behold two of them had! I then recalled how at a similar age this had happened to me. I wondered if someone had been able to teach me, experientially, how to deliberately drink from that cup of joy, whether I would have quite so easily rebelled for all those years (from age 18 to 32!). I asked a few friends if their experience had changed over the years and yes they were at similar points in that they felt if they went to that quiet place or prayed with friends they could become joyful. The question is, should this be normal Christian experience? And if so, is it something that a new Christian can experience straight away and be taught to continue to experience/grow into? Also when those young people are tasting all sorts of new things in life how can we get them to taste the joy that comes from having a living, authentic relationship with our Father in heaven?

I am not saying look at me or some other person, just that experience is telling me that we are selling ourselves and unbelievers short. Of course the challenge here is how often I choose not to do this! ie go to that quiet place and drink (and this is what others are telling me is the real challenge for them) So in other words I think I am doing normal Christianity though not necessarily doing a good job of it! (there are lots of areas in my life need attention!)Never the less I feel that God is leading us to discover or rediscover something important . . .

Being Joyful: OK, so what’s the evidence?

Firstly we are made in God’s image and so our God given relationships can be a guide to what our relationship with God might be like. Take marriage, yes it could be said to have a moral rule book, that, at times may be all we have left for motivation. If the situation stayed like that, the marriage might be said to be dead or dry. What we hanker after is that romance and the joy it brings.

Secondly, a bit of theology, John Pipers book, ‘Desiring God’, explores this. In short for God to chase after happiness cannot be wrong since He is perfect. We are made in His image to do the same and we have been restored or redeemed, so it’s not selfish to chase after joy.

What about some bible verses?
This is just about my favourite one! Psalm 16:11 ‘You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’

So why don’t we let Him show us the path of life? I know I need it and I am very sure those around me, who don’t know the Lord, need it! Why not get with those you normally pray with and ask the Lord for joy? Maybe even lay hands on each other or spend time waiting quietly on what the Lord might to with/for you? Ask the Lord to restore to you the joy of your salvation. Spend some quiet time together and ask the Lord to show you what might be in the way, ie blocking the well of joy and minister to each other . . One of the most common blockages is that at the bottom of what we say or believe, in certain areas, is that we do not think God is good . . so that is worth exploring.
Some more reading
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-19
Romans 15:13
Romans 14:17

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