Monthly Archives: January 2014

New Year Blessing

Once again we have entered into a new era, with the beginning of the New Year. The old year has faded into history leaving many people with unresolved issues. This causes some folk to long for something better, so they make a lot of New Year’s resolutions in order to change their life style for the better, but somehow before the first month of the year has ended those resolutions fail to be adhered to. Prior to the beginning of every year, the common saying is, “I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.” I made it my business to look at the meaning of “Prosper” and this is what I came up with. Flourish, Thrive, Succeed, Progress, Get ahead, Grow, Develop, Profit, Gain, Become wealthy, Grow rich, Make one’s fortune, Make good.” In order to be prosperous according to the system of this world, involves much time, effort, and even taking risks. If you have shares on the Stock Market, there is a possibility of losing the investment that you made. Let us not be blinded by all the glitz and glamour of the world, but let us focus on the things of God. As a child of God, it is His desire to prosper us. His boundary’s are unlimited, His love so immense that it cannot be measured. The Apostle John in third John verse 2 expresses this. “BELOVED, I WISH ABOVE ALL THINGS THAT THOU MAYEST PROSPER AND BE IN HEALTH, EVEN AS THY SOUL PROSPERETH.“ Physical prosperity is temporal, but spiritual blessings are eternal. Psalm 1: 1 & 3 reminds us that a relationship with the author and finisher of our faith is full of promises. “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO WALKS NOT IN THE COUNCIL OF THE UNGODLY, NOR STANDS IN THE PATH OF SINNERS, NOR SITS IN THE SEAT OF THE SCORNFUL;“ Verse 3 “HE SHALL BE LIKE A TREE PLANTED BY THE RIVERS OF WATER, THAT BRINGS FORTH ITS FRUIT IN ITS SEASON, WHOSE LEAF ALSO SHALL NOT WITHER; AND WHATEVER HE DOES SHALL PROSPER.” May God’s richest blessings be your portion, may you lack for nothing, may God protect you constantly, may you be a blessing to your family and friends, may you enjoy good health, may your purse always contain an extra Rand or two to bless someone less fortunate than you, may your relationship with the Lord Jesus be the best ever.

Colin

Bounty and Abundance

Dear Family

Well, another year flew past and another year started and if you are spinning as you watch them come and go, welcome to the club! The saying “time flies” seems to take on a deeper meaning every year I grow a little younger inside and a bit older outside. Fly it does indeed, at hypersonic speed!

I don’t know what your year was like last year, but I do know that many people, including my own family, experienced a year of monumental trial. It is never fun when the storm is raging, but it is always good to know that in the midst of the storm, He is there. He has promised He will never leave us and never forsake us and that in ALL things He is working stuff to our good. Wow! What absolute assurance of Divine commitment to us irrespective of how noisy the elements are.

Perhaps you lost sight of His goodness due to a difficult time in 2013? Perhaps the bad stuff seemed just too bad? Perhaps He seemed far away and disinterested in what you were going through? Well, we know that He never changes and His word is completely true and secure, so maybe the problem is on our side. As we launch into this new year, let us not drag with us all the scars and negativity of last year, but rather position ourselves again squarely in His will for us. The psalmist points us to an encouraging promise of God in Psalm 65:11 regarding 2014: “You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.” Whoop! Whoop!

I have the distinct impression that this year is going be a time of “getting the inside out”. For some, it will mean an overflow of the heart in a positive sense – gushing my faith all over people, situations and circumstances. For others, it will mean an exposure of hidden wickedness. Getting rid of that secret sin of unbelief, of trust in man, or loving the things of the earth. God’s heart is set on conforming us to His image and He has promised to finish what He started.

Let us embrace His peace as we navigate His will in 2014 – crowned with bounty and abundance!

Paul

Channels Of Living Water

CHANNELS OF LIVING WATER 

“On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within him.'” John 7:37-38 (NIV).

What an invitation! What a promise!

On the Great Day of the feast, the seventh of eight days, when the Water Ceremony was being carried out by the priest (water drawn from the pool of Siloam was poured into a basin as a drink offering to the Lord in thanksgiving for life-giving water and a prayer for rain to water their crops), Jesus shouted out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. As Scripture has said, rivers of living water (mayim chayim) will flow from within him!’

The focus of the worshippers was on the water that was always scarce and was vital for life. Once more Jesus, with His attention on the hearts of men, was offering them a source of living water which would satisfy their unconscious inner thirst and connect them to the perennial Source of real life. What He offered was not only for them but through them to quench the thirst of others around them as well. They would become a conduit of life, not just a reservoir.

Imagine the reaction of the people! This roaming rabbi was at it again, trying to draw the people’s attention away from their physical lives and refocusing on their broken connection with their Source. Like all of us, the people of Jesus’ day were more interested in getting their own needs met than in doing what God wanted them to do — to be channels through whom He could meet the needs of others.

Whatever our needs are, God’s way to meet them is for us to look for someone else to bless. Jesus assured us that our Father knows our needs before we ask Him. Why does He allow us to have needs? It’s His way of creating a current of resources that will keep circulating instead of our becoming a reservoir that will, like the hoarded manna, become stale and polluted.

Jesus put it in a nutshell like this: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 (NIV).

It takes a powerful work of God, through the Holy Spirit to change us from self-centred, selfish people to people who care about the needs of others more than their own. What was Jesus offering His people?

“By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not yet been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.'” John 7:39 (NIV).

This is not about being baptized in the Spirit so that you can become a spiritual “giant”, wowing people with your power and “holiness”, drawing attention to yourself as some privileged super-saint with supernatural ability to do spectacular things.

How tragic that in many streams in the church today, the Holy Spirit has been reduced to magic and goose bumps. Jesus insisted that the greatest person is the one who can come down to the level of a child and treat him with respect and dignity because of his potential; the one who can go to the tap and give a drink of water to a thirsty beggar because he was also created in the image of God.

It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to remove a stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh. Satan can counterfeit miracles, but he cannot counterfeit the character of Jesus.

If we are hungry to become a truly righteous person, one who is generous towards others, and thirsty for a new heart of mercy and compassion instead of selfishness and greed, Jesus is the bread of life and the living water. He will give you in abundance what you crave!

His Yoke Is Easy

HIS YOKE IS EASY

“The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about Him. Then the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest Him. Jesus said, ‘I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am you cannot come.’ The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find Him? Will He go where our people live scattered among the Greeks and teach the Greeks?’

“‘What did He mean when He said, ‘When you look for me you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?'” John 7:32-35 (NIV).

Jesus was such a cool customer and the religious leaders were so flustered! They did not realized that they couldn’t arrest Him; try as they may because His time had not yet come.

His cryptic words had them really confused. They did not like the people’s interest in Him. It was getting dangerous and they were losing their power and influence over them. It had to be stopped and yet they could not get Him into their clutches.

What was Jesus telling these spiritual leaders of Israel? Compare His words with the words He spoke to His disciples in the Upper Room on the eve of His death.

“‘I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.'” John 14:2b-4 (NIV).

Why did He say to the Jews, ‘Where I am you cannot come,’? And yet He told His disciples that He would come and take them to where He was? It all sounds so confusing unless we understand the difference between the reception the Jews gave Jesus and the attitude of the disciples.

It’s about that little word, “believe” again. Believing is more than giving intellectual assent to a fact. In Hebrew thought, to believe something intellectually without acting on it was a useless and meaningless exercise. To believe meant to take seriously and act on what one believes. To believe what Jesus said was to take Him seriously and do what He said.

How many “believers” are there who give intellectual assent to Jesus as Lord but live their lives as though He does not exist? This is crucial to the credibility of the church and what it stands for. Jesus gave us two criteria for credibility in the eyes of the world; the love we have for one another that proves that we are His disciples and our unity which witnesses to the fact that Jesus was sent by the Father.

Jesus did not call us to be rigid followers of doctrine but loyal followers of our Master. He gave His life rather than break the unity between Himself and the Father and yet so many of us are too busy fighting to be right than following Him. There are three responsibilities of the believer that will make us credible followers of Jesus:

1. To protect love;

2. To preserve unity;

3. To promote contentment.

I yearn for a return to the simplicity of Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew11:28-30 (NIV).

He is telling us, the young, inexperienced “oxen” to join Him, the old, experienced “ox” in His yoke (His way of doing life) so that He can teach us how to live burden-free!

The Jews refused. Will you come and join Jesus?

They Shut The Door

THEY SHUT THE DOOR!

“At this point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, ‘Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here He is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to Him. Have the authorities really concluded that He is the Messiah?'” John 7:25, 26 (NIV).

No, they have not! They still intended to kill Him but when He appeared in public, teaching in the temple; they had no reason and no way to arrest Him without discrediting themselves. It appears that the people feared the Jews (John’s name for the Jewish religious authorities), and the Jews feared the people!

“‘But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where He is from.'” John 7:27 (NIV).

These people thought they knew the origin of Jesus, but did they? He may have been born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth but that was not where He was from. John has already informed his readers that the Word was from God, but these people refused to believe Jesus’ testimony about Himself. All the evidence points towards an origin beyond His human birth but because t, they were left with questions that had no answers.

“Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, ‘Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but He who sent me is true. You do not know Him, but I know Him because I am from Him and He sent me.'” John 7:28,29 (NIV).

Such is the power of self-deception that, although His hearers knew deep in their hearts that He was speaking the truth, they refused to acknowledge it. Because they refused to acknowledge Him, their spirits were unable to connect with the Father and to receive the confirmation that Jesus was telling the truth. All their accusations only served to harden their hearts even more and shut them out from “knowing” the Father.

“At this they tried to seize Him, but no one laid a hand on Him because His hour had not yet come.” John 7:30 (NIV).

This is a recurring phrase in John’s Gospel. John was acutely aware that Jesus’ times were in the Father’s hands. He came close to being killed on many occasions during His public ministry but each time Jesus simply walked away unscathed because there was an appointed time for Him to die, and that time was not yet.

How comforting to know that our times, too, are in His hands! Our destiny may not be the same as Jesus’ destiny but each of us has our allotted time, already written in God’s book (Psalm 139:16), and it is up to us, in obedience to God’s ways, to live out our time in order to fulfil our destiny.

Of course we can cut our time short through foolish choices and destructive behaviour, but that is not God’s fault. Submission to Him and obedience to His instructions will qualify us to have the physical stamina to complete His plan for our lives.

“Still, many in the crowd believed in Him. They said, ‘When the Messiah comes, will He perform more signs than this man?'” John 7: 31 (NIV).

At least there were a few sensible people in the crowd! Their faith may have been superficial at this stage but they were on the right track. Before the end of His life many more would fall by the wayside, offended because they too, like His disciples, refused to pay attention to what He was telling them.

People walked away because He did not live up to their expectations. They shut the door! How unfair is that! But it happens all the time. We put expectations on other people of which they are unaware and which are often beyond their capabilities, and then we are disappointed and we judge them because they were not or did not do what we expected of them. How much better to give people the benefit of the doubt! This is part of the generous spirit which Jesus calls us to show towards people because we are to be mirrors of Him.

One of the reasons why we can be comfortable and safe with the Father is because of His generosity towards us. We can never disappoint Him because He knows us completely. It’s up to us to treat others like He treats us.