Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Have you heard God speak recently?


1 Samuel 3:1 (ESV):  'Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.'

I thank God we don't live in those days!

I try to imagine what that may be like, to not experience God speaking. To have no one with a prophetic word, picture, message in tongues, dream or vision, and I struggle. 
What would life be like? What would faith be like? 
If we didn't hear God speak then can you imagine what a barren place we would be in? What would your everyday look like? What would going to church be like? What would your faith look like?

I thank God that we can hear his voice in these days. Not just as one offs, but often. We are privileged. We have access to the voice of the creator, we can; dream dreams, have visions, pictures, receive His heart, hear His audible voice, see Him speaking through scripture or preaching and know things through the Spirit. That's just a few ways I know God speaks off the top of my head, you may of heard His voice in a different way. 

Not only that, but we have such an abundance of access to God. We can hear Him speak; in church, in the car, whilst we are running, shopping, at work, in the shower and even when we are asleep! There is no excuse not to be open to the amazing personal message God has for each of us. 

If you haven't heard from God for a while, if you haven't heard Him speak - have you spent time with Him? Have you spent time with people who believe in Him? Have you been to church? 
If you're struggling to hear God right now, pray. Ask others to pray for and with you, and turn up to where christians are gathered, go to church. God does and will speak, are you ready to hear Him? 


Thursday, 12 April 2018

Yet I will rejoice

Habbakuk 3:17-19
Though the fig tree should not blossom, 
nor fruit be on the vines, 
  the produce of the olive fail 
and the fields yield no food, 
  the flock be cut off from the fold 
and there be no herd in the stalls, 
 18  yet I will rejoice in the Lord; 
I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 
 19  God, the Lord, is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the deer’s; 
he makes me tread on my high places

'yet I will rejoice'. Despite the difficult circumstances, Habbakuk decided to rejoice. Even if he has no food, no work, he chooses to rejoice. How? How can he rejoice if his circumstances are bad? What has he got to rejoice about - God! Habbakuk rejoices in the person of God, not the circumstances he expects or experiences. Why? Because God's character never changes even though the world around us does. 

To set these verses in context, Habbakuk had been told of a certain invasion, and of the invaders eventually themselves being punished. So, he resolved to wait. To wait for the judgement that was coming, and he set his mind on who God is. 
Do you know tricky times are coming? What are you resolving yourself to focus on? The outcome? The process? Or God's character? You can ride a storm successfully when you are in a stable ship. God knows the winds and waves are coming, he can help you ride them in safety. 

You have a choice to make, your way or God's way?
Habbakuk resolved not just to trust in God in the ensuing difficulties,  he decided to REJOICE in them. He decided to recognise the fullness of goodness that is in God, even when his stomach is empty, the fields and trees are bare. Even when surrounded by barrenness Habbakuk resolved to rejoice in God. Would you? I know I pray, but do I rejoice in who God is when times are tough? 
I imagine rejoicing in God through the trouble would give a new perspective, and acknowledgement of goodness even in trial and would bring hope for a better future. 

We can live triumphant lives when we base our lives in God. Habbakuk knew, as we should, that the ultimate victory belongs to God. He is the victor, he is triumphant, Jesus work on the cross was the ultimate smack in the face of sin and death. We are on God's team, we have the victory in our grasp. So, don't let everyday circumstances overwhelm you, look to; 'God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength'


Habbakuk has; 'joy in the God of my salvation.' We also can enjoy that. We know, maybe even better than Habbakuk did that God is truly our saviour, how much more reason do we have to rejoice even when cupboards and bank account are bare.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

The earth will be filled

Habbakuk 2:14
For the earth will be filled 
with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord 
as the waters cover the sea. 

I like this promise, 'the earth WILL be filled' gives assurance, certainty that something will happen. It's a promise of something to look forward to. The Earth will be full of it, you won't be able to get away from it, it'll be everywhere. It'll be tangible, visible and  it'll completely cover the Earth. The Earth will be brimming with it.

Brimming with what? 

'The Knowledge of the glory of the Lord' 

Somehow, one day, the whole world will; understand, emanate, display, appreciate and be full of the wonder and awesomeness of God!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Conversation with God

I've started reading Habbakuk. I've gotta say, I like this dude. He has no bones about telling God what he REALLy thinks! I love the 'all out there' comments he makes - it's like he says to God, "Hey, what you playing at? All this stuff is going on, what are you doing?" 
Here are some examples of what I mean in the first chapter alone, (I've added my own interpretation of what I think he's saying below each verse);

V2: "O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, 
and you will not hear? 
Or cry to you “Violence!” 
and you will not save?"
(hey I'm here, screaming at you for help, where are you? What are you doing? I need rescuing)

V3 "Why do you make me see iniquity, 
and why do you idly look at wrong?"
(I can see all this bad stuff going on, why do I have to look at it? Why aren't you doing anything?)

V12 "Are you not from everlasting, 
O Lord my God, my Holy One?"
(Aren't you the one who lives forever? The boss? The one who's completely pure?)

V13 "You who are of purer eyes than to see evil 
and cannot look at wrong, 
why do you idly look at traitors 
and remain silent when the wicked swallows up 
the man more righteous than he?"
(You can't even look at all the bad stuff because you're so perfect, so why do you look at people who stab each other in the back? You don't say anything when evil people come against your people, the wicked are treading down your followers, why are you quiet about it?)

Now, what do you think about how Habbakuk speaks to God? 
Seems pretty outrageous doesn't it? Or does it seem normal to you? Is this the way you approach God? If so, good. Habbakuk is honest and upfront. He tells God exactly what he thinks, and he expects God to answer, check out the first verse in Chapter 2; "I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint."
Habbakuk expects a response, a conversation when he approaches God, do you? 
He doesn't just present his complaints and lack of understanding and walk off, but he waits. He expects God to get back to him, and he waits and looks out for the answer - do you? Or do you kind of pray n run? Do your duty of telling God what you want and think and then whizz off to the next thing? Do you ask God to get back to you? Do you expect him to?

We can be good at what we consider prayer to be - pouring out our feelings, asking for what we want and think we need, even petitioning God about injustice and crime. However, do we expect God to get back to us? do we ask God for what we REALLY want, and what we REALLy don't understand? 

As I read this book I am wondering if we all have the same expectation of a relationship with God as Habbakuk did. Do we expect to be able to pour out our frustrations, our understanding of who God is and our experiences? Do you ever tell God that although He is holy and pure and just, that you haven't a clue what he's doing? It's ok to do that, to tell God how you really think and feel, Habbakuk didn't hold back, but he knew he and God were tight. His expectation was to have a conversation. What's yours when you pray? 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

unbelievable

Habakkuk 1:5
'Look among the nations, and see; 
wonder and be astounded. 
For I am doing a work in your days 
that you would not believe if told.'

What a wonderful promise! 
When the world can seem a distressing disaster, we can still see that God is up to something! 
What do you see in this world today that leaves you, 'in wonder and astounded?'

God is doing more than we can see or imagine. His work is unbelievable! 

Sometimes when we are desperate we can forget that God is working. He is fulfilling his purposes. He is preparing outcomes that are incredible, so look around and be full of wonder. Be ready to be astounded, because what's coming, 'you would not believe if told.'

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Real relationship

Philippians 2:4-8

"4 let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.'
ESV

'Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.'
Message version

'5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very naturea God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very natureb of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!'
NIV

These verses can seem confusing - that's why I've put three versions here. I find it helps me to figure out what's being said.

The first thing I realise as I read these verses is the reality, for Jesus, of the decision he made. He wasn't forced or coerced into doing this, living and dying the way he did. The incredible truth is that Jesus, who could have claimed the highest position in human history and rightfully receive the greatest glory, didn't. 
Instead, he was poorly treated, demeaned, humiliated, abandoned and tortured. Jesus chose that. 
He chose to give up his power and glory to suffer, be tortured and die. Why on Earth would he do that???
What an incredible man, what a humble, kind, generous, completely loving man to do that. To give up everything he had previously had access to. 

Jesus also had to let go of the perfect relationship he had with the Father. He had; awesome power, total glory, peace, love, equality. Everything we could hanker after Jesus had. Then he came into this world to experience humanity. He chose to put aside perfect relationship with the Father and experience what relationship with us faulty, selfish humans was like.

This is what these verses are actually about, relationships. Our relationships. The depth of the relationship God wants with us. The type of relationships that Jesus modelled.

The NIV says we are to have the same mindset as Jesus in our relationships. Firstly, he never considered his relationship with God to be a self-gratifying one. You know, a relationship where we are only in it for what we get out of it. A mindset which thinks that we can get God to do whatever we like and that we should get whatever we want. Jesus, who is God's own son didn't even think he could do that, so why do we think we can? 

These verses also consider our relationships with one another. Jesus modelled how to be in relationships. In fact, uncomfortably, these verses say that Jesus was a slave to others. He lived humbly, selflessly and obediently. Jesus didn't do what he wanted to do. The son of the almighty God, the one who is in all creation, who knows how many starts there are, he chose not to do what he wanted, but to do what was best for us. Us sinful, degraded, proud humans who walk around like we know it all and have no need of anyone else let alone some kind of God. Jesus demonstrated such great love for you and me, he gave up all he rightfully had to become what you needed him to be. How are you being what others need you to be?

You can't be Jesus, but what can you do?...

'Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.'
'let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.'

'In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus'

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Love your neighbour

It's easy to love the neighbour who's quiet and no trouble, maybe who even helps out and sends you a Christmas card. But what about the neighbour who's banging around through the night and has screaming matches through the day? Whose antisocial behaviour makes you feel like tearing your hair out? It's not easy to love those whom we don't like or who annoy and upset us. 
Then, when you think about it, sometimes it's hard enough to love our own family let alone anyone else, so why love our neighbours?

When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus says in Mark 12:30-31, "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

So, Jesus says, love God first, then your neighbours. These commandments are the top priority. Jesus doesn't say to just love them a little bit, you know just say Hi once a day, that's enough, no Jesus says we are to love them as ourself. 
Some of you may think, 'well I don't love myself, I barely like myself somedays'. However - do you you eat? Sleep? Do you take care of your basic needs? These are ways of practically loving yourself. 
One thing we overemphasise in our culture is the 'feeling' of love. We might not feel like we love ourselves, or our neighbours, but Jesus in these verses tells us to do it. We can't rely on a feeling, an emotion. It must be about action. 

So, how can you show love to your neighbours regardless of whether you want to or not? How can you make them smile or lessen their burden? Could you put out their rubbish? Feed their cat whilst they are away? Or even go round for a cuppa to the lonely person across the street?

Love your neighbour, why? Because Jesus said so!