Something To Prove

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Matthew 12 v 38 tells the story of how the pharisees asked Jesus for a sign.

When i was child reading this i figured they were just asking because they wanted proof beyond a shadow of a doubt and that this was done innocently.

As a teenager i reasserted that position. My position was that they were asking because they needed clarification, they had a bad history of following false gods and false prophets that made them stray from God almighty, it made logical sense they would ask for a show of force so powerful and distinguishable that there would be no doubts left in their mind. Misguided as a request? Yes. Was the question of who Jesus was a valid one? Yes.

As a young man i’ve reasserted my position yet again. The pharisees knew that it was written in the word that they should not put God to the test. The children of Israel had their fair share of unecessary and childish “prove yourself God!” moments and this was all after he had saved them from slavery in Egypt in nothing short of spectacular fashion

Post-Exodus God is proving himself again and again and again as Israel are locked in a destructive cycle of repeat offences which lead to them being carted off to a foreign land or ruled over by foreign leaders who are tyrants before God raises up a liberater to free them. Read Judges.

And when the age of Judges gives way to the age of Kings it’s apparent that the children need long lasting assitance as even tje good kings they have die and their bad kings lead them astray.

God always intended to give them a messiah, allegories, similies and metaphors throught the old testament depict the image and characteristics of christ. Isaiah even goes some way to describe what he looks like.

The children of Israel knew their messiah would come, a warrior king, a champion like king David. They just didnt expect him to look or sound anything like Jesus.

Jesus truly answered their question albiet cryptically. The miracle of Jonah is Jesus by the power of God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob being raised to life after three days.

The ignorance of the jews at the time allowed God’s love to spread across the world drawing all mankind into the arms of God through His sacrifice in Jesus. So what’s my position now?

Jesus has proved that all have fallen short of the glory of God, He has proven we all need Him and He has proven that through Him we can do all things and nothing is impossible with Him. My position is a grateful servant who strives to love much because he was forgiven of much. If i have anything to prove its that God lives in me through Jesus christ and His holy spirit.

*Pauls great comment about boasting
*Isaiahs commentry about christ
*Passover metaphors of christ
*King David talking about Jesus

Saying and Doing

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Saying and Doing

It’s Feburary and post-Januray sales-everyone is working  that includes me and i’m working late EVERYDAY.

Post-work meals are the best because you’re reinvigorated after the draining work day.

Cue my late night arrangement to pick up my brother up from the train station. I’d wasted  an hour that i could have used to go home and have a proper meal in favour of flicking through the latest  helping of Empire magazine ‘because movie geeks dont feel the need to feed’ i told myself. I was wrong.

I asked my sister if she had any food on her. Yes! She did! She had a Burger King voucher! I was gonna get a great big burger and fries!
10 minutes of eternity eventually passed and im practically drooling my sentences as i make my order.

The lady looks at me, looks at the voucher and says
“we dont accept those here- this is a franchise”
I duly passed out. No i didnt but i was outraged.
Saying you’re going to do something and then not do it is cheating a person; it’s a lie.

Leagal tender is true to its word because if it says ten pounds you can spend ten pounds. Not 1 pound or worse still none pounds!

Many of us would make poor currency, the paper our words are written  worthless!

You are only as good as your word. Your word is your oath, your promise, your commitment.

Can you sit back and imagine momentarily what it would be like if God’s words were like our words…

What’s doubly important is that God’s words are pregnant with pleasant purpose. Ours? Selfish at best, catastrophically horrific at worst.

We should do our very best to fufil the things we set out to do if they are worthy and good. Hinderances will arise but we must strive to overcome them keeping what we said we would do in sight until we’ve fufilled our vow.

In the grand scheme of things God shows us the importance of fufilling vows by sending us His son Jesus by giving us Himself when we needed His help most.

[Scriptures that will be added to this blog]

*Proverbs: dont put what you can do today tomorrow.
*Be doers of the word
*Jeptha’ vow
*word returning void
*Hannah praying for Samuel
*Issac:God fufils a promise

Today Is Friday

Today is Friday.

It is payday.

Everyone gets what they deserve.

But my God, it’s Friday

And you’re hanging from a tree

Getting what i deserve.

Today is Friday.

It is payday.

And i’m being written into a will of incredible wealth.

Today is Friday.

It is payday.

And by your stripes and blood I’m being nursed from terminal to health.

Today is Friday.

It is payday.

And the wages of sin is death.

But my God THIS FRIDAY

you’re clearing my debt

And taking your last breath…

For now…

Because Sunday is coming.

K.O.Reuben for easter 2015

(This poem was written and shared on Good Friday.)

It’s Holy Saturday today and as prep here is a video that inspired ‘Today Is Friday’ Watch, enjoy, digest!

The Verb

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In Kennedy’s speech (inaugural address)  the famous line ‘ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country’ I stated as a fact we should be recognizing, especially in a world encompassed by the maws of capitalism, it’s almost second nature to consume, the laws of supply and demand sated but what about Christ?

Luke 10:2-3

 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

, the job market is not saturated but no one wishes to work! The state of Christianity in some circles could be likened to the ‘willfully unemployed’ who ‘scrounge’ off the state financed by tax payers; there are Christians who are simply under the umbrella ‘Christian’ but refuse to take up any work in the body of Christ to pay their dues to the building of his kingdom. They receive the Lord’s unfailing protection, provision and guidance but don’t pay their dues in obedience, forever complaining about the things they have yet to receive.

The world needs Christians to step up and stop riding the wave of their ‘brand name’ and actually start living in a ‘Christ-like’ manner-living like our redeemer, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The mission is ‘not what God can do for us but rather what we can do for His kingdom’. Jesus confidently says when we seek the wellbeing of His father’s kingdom ahead of our own earthly requirements and desires He will take care of all of them anyway.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

If you don’t believe this then ponder upon Christ’s words when he says;

Matthew 5:45

 that ye may be the children of your Father who is in Heaven. For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Irregardless of our conduct, the love of God out of grace and mercy provides us with the very means to exist. I’d say this is an iron clad guarantee that He will make good on anything He says.

So what then? How do we build God’s Kingdom? We love. We share Christ and not just in our heavy theological explanations but in our vivid actions that speak volumes more than any author can attempt to pen down even under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Irregardless of what any eloquent salesman will tell you, a sales pitch is only really as good as the product’s credibility- it has to be worth it! I used to work as a door-to-door salesman and I’d pitch the socks off my clients turning them, from usually frustrated individuals who just wanted to go inside to satisfied friends offering me cups of tea, cakes and at times dinner! Why? My product was actually of some worth. I sold Love Film subscriptions and movies and games were the craze-they still are. My customers were always grateful and happy that 1.) the product worked and did what it said on the tin and 2.) It was worth their investment in money and time standing at the door listening to my bold speech.

It is written there is no good praying for someone if you don’t follow it up with some procativity.

James 2:14-26

 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

People need to experience positive change not just hear about it and in Christ we offer that. The Jewish nation in the time of Jesus had heard of the impending arrival of their messiah, the good news, the arrival of the one who would rescue and restore them from their current position of servitude.

Isaiah 9 v 6

 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 

Their messiah did come to restore them but it wasn’t in the way they expected. They wanted a king to rise up and over throw the wicked Romans but their king came for a deeper mission, to overthrow their spiritual slave master. Others within the Jewish nation him though-they felt Christ relating them to them, helping them, guiding them, not just dictating to them as the Pharisees and Sadducees were doing at the time.

Matthew 8 v 16-17

That evening people brought to Jesus many who had demons. Jesus spoke and the demons left them, and he healed all the sick. He did these things to bring about what Isaiah the prophet had said:

“He took our suffering on him     and carried our diseases.” Isaiah 53:4

 

Some were so inspired, so stirred in spirit that they asked the question ‘what can I do for God’s kingdom?’ rather than ‘what can God do for me?’ the Hallmark of early Christianity is that of service and fellowship in joyous unity.How we answer the call of God in our lives is by positive proactiveness. Love is a verb not a noun. Why do you think God can take anyone-use anyone for His glory no matter their past? Because nouns- all ‘titles’ come into submission when presented before the name of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:8-11

And being found in appearance as a man,     he humbled himself     by becoming obedient to death—         even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place     and gave him the name that is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,     in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,     to the glory of God the Father.

 

The only thing that stands before God is love and true love casts out all fear.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

On the day of judgment we will stand without fear for our actions made in love defining who we were on earth had gone before us in Christ working in our lives and we expressed the love of God to the world in incredible and mundane situations, day to day powered but the Holy Spirit, for we constantly said ‘My God is faithful-it Is not what God can do for me but what I can do for His kingdom.” We answered the call of our God as true patriots to a kingdom not of earth but of heaven, acting out the most powerful verb in any language-Loving.

Love

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Love isn’t a feeling- it’s a choice. What is love? God is love. Every time we chose not to show love we choose to not express the nature of God.

1 John 4:8

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Contrary to many ideologies, we live because God allows enables us to. We are literally powered by Him-think cells in a body.

Acts 17:28

 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

We are the planets and He is the sun-we revolve around Him. If we draw close to Him we are wrapped in his warmth, if draw away we are shrouded in darkness. And if we disobey Him? We are scolded because as you may have heard-the lord is a consuming fire.

Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

The Lord however disciplines out of love. Just as a parent disciplines a child in order to set them on a path that is not destructive, so God disciplines His children to ensure their uprightness.

Hebrews 12:6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

I remember I upset my parents once and they took out the bible to pick out a scripture that spoke about children being wise and not giving their parents hassle. I got the jist of it but a lot of it flew over my head, probably because of the setting, it’s hard to see the good intention of discipline when you’re the one being disciplined. I’m a young man now, and I have a younger sibling who I’m constantly correcting and I get it now. Not to say I didn’t before but it’s so much easier to put myself in the shoes of my mum and dad-they just wanted the best, the very best for me. I feel the same way about my brother. I correct him from a place of deep love. God feels the same way about us. He wants the very best for us and has incredible plans for us!

 

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

 

 

When He sees us going astray and into danger He reacts as a loving parent would. God, afterall is ‘our father’. But another metaphor that has been used is God being the faithful husband and his people the treasured wife. This metaphor was poignant because it harked back to the covenant God had made with the children of Israel i.e. Jacob. Jacobs’s descendants had grown and prospered in Egypt where they had settled thanks to Joseph, Jacob’s son. The Egyptians had seen what was happening, how this people were growing and they decided to suppress them for the preservation of Egypt. Israel was a slave for 400 years until God rescued them mightily using Moses and Aaron as his implements of deliverance. God then proceeded to make a covenant with his people, but Israel sullied this covenant again and again and again for centuries, through the ages of the Exodus, Judges, and Kings. God however, still appeals to his people out of love.

 

Jeremiah 3:14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you–one from a town and two from a clan–and bring you to Zion.

 

God went as far as making Hosea, one of His prophets a living metaphor of the pain He was going through. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute. Hosea married her out of love not just out of a prerequisite to obey the Lord. So you can therefore imagine the pain Hosea felt when despite being redeemed and tidied up by Hosea, Gomer his wife, would go back to her ‘old job’ just as Israel kept falling back into their ‘old ways’. It was heart-rending for Hosea, perpetually heart-broken and it was a vivid way for God to translate to Hosea and Israel exactly how He was feeling about their decision to be unfaithful and reciprocate the affection He had shown them. But Hosea still wasn’t going to give up Gomer! And God? God was not going to give up on Israel.

 

Hosea 11:8

How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.

 

 

God doesn’t forsake Israel in the end, God being the template of what perfect love is He instead declares His love despite not getting the affection He deserves. In an age where many have divorced because of the pain that infidelity causes it’s incredible to see that God still keeps Israel and doesn’t cast them aside and be done with them and find Himself a new people, a new wife. That’s love-perfect love.

 

Hosea 2:19

Israel, I will make you my wife forever. I will be honest and faithful to you. I will show you my love and compassion.

 

 

God is a big softie, firm but fair and extremely dedicated. He is the perfect example of what love is. He makes good on all of His promises. If He was human you’d say He was ‘a man of His word’. Which is hilarious because He literally is the word.

 

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

Jesus is the perfect representation of the father’s love. Jesus is God’s love wrapped in humanity, His very essence clothed in our humble dust but still possessing the divine to intercede where we struggled and ultimately save us. If you’re under any illusions as to whether Jesus achieved this by dying and being risen back to life you need look no further than the following scripture.

 

Isaiah 55:11

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

 

Jesus is the greatest testament to why we a part of the human race need a revision of what we think love is. For the most part we only seem to love those whole we are obliged to love, friends, family and associates and maybe our football team at best. It’s a huge generalisation to say everyone is like this, there are some people who love outside of their social circle and are concerned about international issues because it affects innocents across the world, people like us trying to make a living in the world but actually we’re not living if we’re not loving. We could all really be loving so much more. Jesus points out our sluggish inactivity.

 

Matthew 5:38-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Being the word become flesh, Jesus is ‘naturally’ eloquent, I’d say it’s part of his job description but Jesus wasn’t all words and no action-He lived what he preached with such passion and vividness that it was striking and provoking, he loved the unloved, dined with the scorned and was often found amongst the sick. What are we supposed to be doing today? Living in an arresting way, making our every breath matter, not waiting until our lives are being threatened or in peril of dissipating before we appreciate it and all the others around us. When asked which of the last were greatest, Jesus replies with a sum total of this Sermon.

 

 

Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

Love God then love people. We love out of the foundation God laid for us because He loved us first. We can’t truly claim to love God unless we back that up by loving the people whom God created and surrounded us with.

 

1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

 

Love isn’t lust, a derivative of the greek Eros definition but rather it’s selfless-Agape- ‘unconditional love’. No one warrants the love of God, all have fallen short of the glory of God and in fact we often fail each other and yet God is enduring. Let us love the way the father loves, wholly, powerfully and unconditionally.

Royalty-Children of The King

Royalty

 

 

I have very fond and hilarious memories of my parents having to send me back to my room to get changed again because I didn’t look at all presentable. They’d say something along the lines of “Go and change, you can’t look rough on the street like that, you represent this household,”

Stomping back to my room I’d have to get changed again. Most of the times they’d pick out clothes for me, do my hair, painstakingly combing out all the knots in my hair and creaming my hands and face and making shore my shoes were polished.

Perhaps its because we like to think of ourselves as self sufficient and able or perhaps its because we’ve mostly grown out of having to be told what to do by parents but for the most part people generally don’t see themselves as children. What’s rather interesting however is that Jesus says we should be like children. Children don’t make they own rules, for the most part they follow orders or live by a construct of ideals taught to them by their parents or guardians.

 

Matthew 18:3

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

However best we can we always try in one way or another to please our parents, if not directly by doing something for them then indirectly by doing something for ourselves that is beneficial and worthy of note. We are our own person, we are individuals but we will always be our parent’s children that will never change. In the same train of thought God says He is our parent, he loves us, wants the absolute best for us, more than we can envision or imagine.

 

 

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, “plans `prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

And at times when we need it he will discipline us but we shouldn’t take his discipline the wrong way because it’s for our good that he does it, it ultimately proves that he loves and cares for us.

 

Hebrews 12:5

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

 

Our parents disciplined in their own way whether it was a smack, or being grounded or verbally told off but it was done to point out error and correct in order to instil good behaviour and ethos that we would never depart from because we knew the consequences of ill choices. God says our parents who aren’t perfect disciplined us in the way they saw fit and they were not perfect and yet the father who is perfect also disciplines- will it not be even more beneficial for our person?

 

Proverbs 22:6

Direct your children onto the right path and when they are older, they will not leave it.

 

God is our heavenly father thanks to Christ’s earth-changing sacrifice. We’ve become adopted by God into his heavenly family. We’ve been told to shed our clothes that no longer fit our person and put on the clothes that he has for us, the royal attire that fit us , tailored by Christ himself; we put on his righteousness.

 

Romans 13:14

Rather clothe yourselves with the lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

 

But if Christ is the prince of peace then that makes us princes and princesses does it not? Peter figured this out as he describes those in the family of God as a people purposely chosen for the purpose of salvation, think of it like an international adoption of all those on the planet.

 

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

 

 

In Romans, Paul talks about the rejection of those who are his people to bring close those who are not his people-gentiles. Isaiah talks about this hundreds of years before Paul, prophetically, when he talks about the destiny of the gentiles.

 

Isaiah 9:2
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

 

Isaiah 65:1
“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’

 

 

So what now that we are revealed to be redeemed by Christ, clothed in his righteousness and given His holy spirit? It isn’t to be taken lightly. Some members of certain royal families of the world do questionable things and behave in questionable ways that bring shame or disdain upon their family and administration as a monarchy. As we belong to God’s royal family and as priests we are called to be holy and not delve into things that will bring shame on the family of God and on the temple-our bodies. We are not just anyone anymore, we are vouched for by the blood of Christ shining royal red upon our souls so that no evil can lay claim to it. Let us repay God’s rescue of us by leading lives he can be proud of energized by his grace. Let’s remember who we are in Him, our identity, our riches now in the spirit and our riches to come.

 

Ephesians 4:30

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

 

 

I watched a movie called Kingdom of Heaven a few days ago and the long and short of what I gathered was that men fought over a holy site until they lost sight of what they were fighting for. Their romanticised idea of what Jerusalem stood for was perhaps the inception of the conflict but warped motivations, greed and power soon overshadowed intentions that started from the heart while all the while God put his law in our hearts.

 

Jeremiah 31:33

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people

 

What’s even more interesting and fantastic is that God says his presence now rests within us-not within a site of rocks and stones but within the hearts and minds of living stones-his very own people.

 

Isaiah 59:21
“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants–from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.

God is able

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It’s not what God won’t do but what I’ve not been doing. It’s not so much that God isn’t able but rather I’m not…

God is the source of all good and the primary and ultimate source of all life. If the earth is too far from the sun it would freeze -if the earth is too near it would burn. Staying in communication keeps us in tune to the father’s voice like avid listeners of a favorite radio station. Prayer and fellowship is important.
If the earth was to pull out of its orbit and distance itself from the sun photosynthesis would not be able to take place, plants and crops would die along with a world that would eventually starve and freeze to death.
To listen to that brilliant radio station the requirement is that you are correctly tuned in, in order to pick up the radio waves of that particular station to enjoy it. It’s the minimum requirement, or in the example of the earth and the sun, it’s a law of the universe.
Jesus is our only way to the father, no other route will do because this was tailored by Him, there isn’t an alternative because God came down to earth, manifested himself as a man in the form of Jesus of Nazareth aka Immanuel i.e. “God with us” for the sole purpose of reconciliation that would bring us back to him. He literally did the impossible.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me

Dying and coming back again is no small thing but dying for all mankind for every sin they have done, did and ever will do is an even mightier feat-it’s the mightiest. It hasn’t been repeated by anyone since because only God was able to accomplish such a thing.

Hebrews 9:28
So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

What now stains me that God cannot remove? Is there a trying time that God cannot give me courage and strength to pass through? Is my financial situation so dire that my heavenly father cannot bail me out in his riches? Is there a pit so dark that such a depression can blot out the joy of the lord that washes over me in God’s presence? Certainly not!

Romans 8:38-
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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And therefore my God makes me able to sing when I am full of sorrow, to endure when I’m passing through storms and to trust Him when the fires burn for by his grace I pass through to the other side purified, refined and renewed.

Proverbs 17:3
A refining pot proves silver, and the furnace gold, and Lord Jehovah tests the heart.

Even in times of little I am content because my God who is able provides me with his grace to endure all things. It is the greatest testimony, a stamp of confidence that says “God I can’t see right now but You are light-all will be well as you shine through and prevail.”

Philippians 4:13
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Don’t mistake this message for some sort of sappy sentiment that says God doesn’t mind if you laze around and don’t work hard and don’t try and don’t believe and don’t do your best. James talks about faith and works. He makes it clear that we have to be as proactive as we are verbal. As John Wesley puts it “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

James 2:14-26
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

 

Christ simplifies it by saying love your God with all your heart, mind and soul and then love your neighbor as yourself -the two are connected. Out of that foundation of loving God, you love your neighbor (ie everyone) as yourself. Jesus expels the idea that loving your family and friends is enough because it isn’t. Even terrorists, mass murderers and all the other bad types of people we can think of have families whom they may show affection for the same we show affection for ours so what’s actually separating them from us anyway?

Matthew 5:43

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

You have to do more and love the “unlovable”, praying for those who do you wrong and Paul should know-he’s been on both sides of this particular illustration so he knows what the power of loving your enemies is capable of doing. Ananias, a Christian had heard all about Saul’s attacks on Christianity and was in shock When Christ asks him to help Saul rather than get even.

Acts ch.9v14-17

Here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to him, “Go your way, for he is my chosen vessel to bear my name before the nations and kings, and the children of Israel.
For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
Ananias departed, and entered into the house. Laying his hands on him, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord, who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me, that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

 

Ananias not only prayed for Saul, later to be known as Paul, but actively helped him ,being an agent of his rehabilitation rather than his condemnation. It went a long way in illustrating what God’s powerful mercy is capable of-it transcends us. The cry of condemnation flies out of the mouth of Christians more than any other when we should be extending words and actions of peace, healing and redemption to those who have gone astray and done wrong. This in no way stops us from actively judging bad actions and correcting them but such actions without the purpose of reconciliation an redemption rings hollow and pretentious and doesn’t represent Christ who we serve who died for us whilst we were sinners. There is a way back and the way is Jesus He is able to save, not us-Him. Let us not scare away the very people we are trying to call unto Christ.

Galatians ch6v1-10
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

 

God is able and that means we are enabled by Him to do what is right if we so choose to (we are very much accountable for ourselves because of the free will we have). No more second guessing your God given ability, no more listening to ghosts of your past about who you were, focus rather upon who you are now in Christ. Paul says you are a new creation we’re not our old selves anymore, we are regenerated.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

And we really can do any good thing we so choose to do by his grace. We will rise above all sin that threatens to slow us down in our holy race. For we truly can do all things through Christ who strengthens us because our God is able and by his holy spirit dwelling in us and empowering us daily so are we.

John 14:12
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

All this time we’ve been saying God is able and it’s true that He is but since Pentecost His Holy Spirit has been with us saying –you are able.

Just Do It-that Nike Slogan

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Several years ago, 26 to be exact, Nike launched an AD campaign entitled “Just Do It.”AD week’s article on the brand’s legend expresses the insinuations of the slogan aptly;

‘It’s worth noting that Just Do It is not a typical feel good marketing tagline. There’s a hard edged suck-it-up aspect to the phrase that runs counter to most advertising pablum. It’s empowering but makes no promises, implying, in fact, that tough hard work and personal sacrifice might be involved,’

 

Procrastination and indecision are often the greatest killers of potential, mainly because the individual who is indecisive and procrastinates never actually gets much done. The apostle Paul at great personal sacrifice at the command of Christ endured a broad range of hardships to bring the gospel to the gentile world. Paul was often insulted, beaten and experienced bad travelling condition to fulfil his calling.

 

2 Corinthians 23-31
23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.

 

He was a man of action who made no bones about his situations as much as we modern-day children of God do, who at times waste away in inaction waiting for the perfect day to do what we were told to do yesterday. Paul states his ethos and belief clearly when he states to the Philippians;

 

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

 

I was once asked why I walk such great distances. The easy answer was because I didn’t have enough money to travel but the deeper reason was even when I did I chose to so that I put myself in a pressurised situation that demands self-discipline and endurance-to get home I’d have to muster my strength and push hard no matter the weather come sun or storm till I made it home. Hebrews talks of a similar scenario where every individual in Christ is doing this.

 

Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

 

We need to throw off everything that hinders us-laziness, fear, indecision, procrastination and others by the power of Christ and run the race before us.

That means doing good things we said we’d do, that project that we never get round to doing, the family member you said you’d make amends with.

 

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

 

These things we are being instructed to dwell on and think about isn’t done out of an agenda to brainwash people to be mindless individuals but rather people who are unique, thoughtful and with their unique ability that God has given them spread love in one form or another to benefit the greater whole that they are a part of. What on person dwells on he usually puts into practise.

 

Luke 6:45

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

 

Jesus here goes as far as making a connection between thoughts and words and ultimately actions. What we allow to rest on our minds is important and if we don’t nurture our minds with the right attitude that enables God to use you it will become, excuse the pun ‘use-less’.

 

Jesus made it clear that you are either useful or useless. There isn’t a middle ground of potential that may or may not be useful. To those who cooked with salt and used salt to preserve food they understood Jesus pretty clearly when he used salt as his metaphor to convey the big picture.

Matthew 5:13

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men

My sister has a habit of not cleaning takeaway boxes properly when she washes up. When I go to use I realise it can’t be used because it’s got smudges and last night’s dinner’s whiff all over it. The box isn’t getting a pass grade by me, it’s either getting thrown away or washed again but it definitely can’t be used until it’s suitable-there is however no middle ground and it’s the same with us.

 

In life there is rarely a middle ground, it just won’t give you that luxury and if there is it’s usually very uncomfortable. Tough hard work and personal sacrifice is worth it, Jesus is worth it because he saved us when we weren’t. Let’s strive and Just Do It!

 

 

 

Footnotes

Nike in greek mythology was actually the goddess of victory so you can see the appeal to some sporting athletes who chose the brand.

Shopping With Dad; Running The race!

 

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I’ve always imagined my walk with God as a father and a son walking to the shops. The Father being young rich and handsome (obviously) and the child being young and full of crazy amounts of energy as all 5 year olds are.

The father tells the child “Hey bud we’re going to the shops and when we get to the shops I’m going to get you a huge present and before that we’ll stop off at a few places but you gotta hold my hand because the market is a crazy place full of people doing their own business and I don’t want you getting lost so stick close okay,”

Little son replies “Okay daddy,” and jumps up and down to show his excitement. However, during the stroll through the market the little kid loses concentration (not that he had much to begin with being 5 and all) and on more than several occasions, he runs off to look at some wondrous sight or just strays away to ask for sweets at almost every sweet shop they pass by. 1 john 2:15-16

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

 

The father factors in that the child is only 5 so his capacity for patience is at an all time low so he bears with the child and tells him why patience is really a virtue and explains that he has a bigger plan that will blow his sweets out of the water. This excites the child for about 2 minutes and then he’s back to running off again. This wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t actually going anywhere but poor young excited son has run about doing his own thing instead of sticking with his dad so they can pick reach his prize. Philippians 3:14


14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The son losses his teddy bear, gets bruises from when he bumped into people and loses all his money that his dad had given him in a faulty vending machine. To top it all off, he’s now so exhausted that he just wants to sleep because he can’t walk anymore. The little boy’s timetable seemed way more important as random things caught his eye and popped up to take his attention. While all the while He lost sight of the bigger picture, the greater mission-getting to the prize.

The father understands that his son really wants the prize but on his own he will never make it. He needs his father to show the way and guide him. It’s not like His father wasn’t going to give him the things he wants or needs but only at the right time for not everything he wants he actually needs. The son in pursuit of all these fleeting distractions exhausts himself.

Out of mercy the father carried the son when he couldn’t walk anymore, exhausted from his misadventures. At times the father had to find him in the sea of people when the poor boy had lost his way and rescue him before he got himself into some more trouble or danger . Despite all this He was always there for his child.Psalm 46:1

 

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.

I sometimes forget that God wants us to be his ambassadors and shine in a dark world, not get wrapped up and lost in it. 2 Corinthians 5:20


20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

It’s so easy to be super embedded in our day-to-day activities that we almost give little or no regard to God and the things He wants when God is the one that gives us the power and grace to wake up everyday in the first place. It’s like a light bulb trying to strike out on it’s own when it’s not connected to the grid. You have the capacity to emanate electricity but no raw current actually running through you to make it possible. 2 Corinthians 4:7


But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Let’s remember to include God in the things we do by praying for His guiding hand in our endeavors, his protection when we travel, his advice when we’re clueless , courage when we’re weak and support when we feel tired. God is a proactive father, One that wants to be involved in our lives. One that wants nothing more for us than to shine to our best ability and we cannot do that without Him so let’s willingly include Him in our lives and never let go of His hand.