Clean Mind..Clean Life

31st March

 “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12:2 

I was recently having a conversation with someone about the necessity as a chef to keep ones kitchen and working sections in a clean and orderly fashion. I explained that as soon as you start working in a mess, immediately you fall behind with your work, your mind starts to get clogged up, you start panicking and lo and behold, you have a pile of orders queuing up with customers waiting for their meals. The most important thing to do is to keep your section as clean as possible. As a chef I once worked with said, ‘a clean ship is a happy ship’.

The same is with our minds. The writer of Romans wisely says that our mind is the key to living a life contrary to how the world expects us to live. Without a doubt our minds dictate our lifestyles. When we think bad and sinful thoughts, it is not long after that we find ourselves living it out in the flesh. In order to live a holy life, we must first ask God to purify our hearts and MINDS. It is only then that we are able to live as God wants and intended us to. However how can we control what goes into our mind?

We can protect our mind by taking authority from firstly what goes into it and secondly what stays there. If we know we are tempted by certain thoughts and desires then we should do our best to avoid putting ourselves in situations whereby we may be tempted. Moreover, when thoughts do come into our minds, we should not dwell on and entertain them, but simply rebuke them in the authority Jesus gave us and fill your minds with the word of God.

Let us be honest with ourselves, analyse what we are feeding our minds and take authority in cleaning it out, “Then you will learn God’s will for your life….!”

Taste and See

30th March

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!”

Psalm 34:8 

Today’s verse talks of the simple truth that God is good. Yes we may have raging battles around us, as did David when he wrote this psalm but through every circumstance, he knew that God is good and God was always there to watch over him.

It is often said that when we hear a good word from a preacher or fill the presence of God in a tangible way, it almost feels like we are eating. It is a strange sensation but if we are to take the word of God as food for our bodies, then this analogy makes sense. Tasting the presence of God may seem odd, but it comes from knowing and spending time in the most intimate place with God. Although it may not feed your stomach, it definitely feeds your spirit.

David comments in psalm 119:113 that God’s words as a sweet as honey to his lips. If David could experience that delight in God’s word then we should also strive for a love and hunger for that also.

We not only are encouraged to taste but also to see the goodness of God. Look around you. God is good. When we see God’s hand in our circumstances, when there is no hope or light at the end of the tunnel, we can but rejoice in God’s goodness and provision. David experienced God’s deliverance time and time again. Why? Because he had complete trust in a God whom he knew would deliver him. He probably read the stories time and time again, of God delivering Moses and the Israelites from the hand of the Egyptians. He had read of Noah’s miraculous deliverance when the great flood threatened all humanity. David not only read these stories, but he experienced God’s deliverance on a daily basis.

How good is our God. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. Taste and see God is good.

Answered Prayer

28th-29th March

Weekend Edition

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

Our God is in the business of answering prayers. No prayer is too big, no request too small. A prayer offered in faith, in accordance with His perfect will, WILL BE ANSWERED. There may not be evidence of instantaneous fruit from your prayer but we can rejoice in hope and peace knowing that we believe that it will be done. God is the God of Hope!

I have recently been encouraged by a friend of mine’s belief and hope for an almost impossible prayer request. Yet God is faithful and through a journey we are starting to see the fruit of our laboured prayers. This is not to say that we have to pray to twist God’s arm in submitting to our will but rather in the patience and waiting, we learn to fully trust God and submit to His will. We become aligned with His heart and His desires. We may not always see the positive but we can rest assured that God’s ways are higher than ours and that His will is always perfect. It is in the waiting that our character is formed and in the trusting that are hope and faith are built.

This weekend’s encouragement is to keep hope alive. Keep trusting in God, that He will deliver and answer your prayers. Keep believing and rejoicing in peace and joy and see how God answers you!

True Religion Is To..

27th March

“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”

Isaiah 1:17 

Yesterday we learnt that religion should not focus on external practices as a show of pride but should reflect the inward change by the work of salvation in our hearts. Religious works are sets of rules that say you must to do this or that to become holy or get closer to God, but according to Isaiah’s prophetic word from God, this simply is not the case. The only way we can become right before God is through confessing our sins and being made clean (verse 16). It is from that standpoint that outward expressions are true and noble.

So what do these pure and true outward expressions look like? Isaiah’s words in verse 17 help us to understand what true religion looks like. Simply put when God works in our heart for His glory, His glory pours out of our heart. In turn the things that burden Him, become our burden. The hurt and injustice He sees in this world becomes our hurt. The love and compassion He has for the marginalised of society (widows and orphans), is the same love and compassion we receive also. The difference is now we don’t look to help the poor, oppressed, orphaned and widowed to make ourselves look good but rather to bring glory to our Father in Heaven. This becomes selfless acts of true religion rather than works to make us look good and try to grab both man and Gods attention.

This message is so strong that even James echoes this in his letter to the early churches. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you!” (James 1:27). This follows on from James’ strong words that we simply can’t just listen to God’s words (selfish) we must act upon it (selfless). So what are you waiting for… Go get right with God, then do good, feed the hungry, help the homeless, orphans and widows.

True Religion Is To..

26th March

“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”

Isaiah 1:17 

Religion is often used as a word to explain people’s faith and their understanding of a greater power/being than themselves. Religion is also used in a derogatory way when explaining habits and lifestyles that reflect what one believes by the way they act (often external practices yet inwardly empty). However true religion is not bad at all.

In today’s reading we find Israel is in persecution. They have been unfaithful to their first love and as consequence find themselves in ruin and under the rule of a heathen nation. Outwardly they were a very religious people yet inwardly there hearts were completely empty. Living like this may be ok for time, but it eventually has its consequences, separation from God. God knows our hearts and actually He takes no please in our external acts if our inward hearts are not in line with His will. In fact it is our heart relationship with God that should be reflected by our outward actions.

God spoke through Isaiah to tell the people of Israel that He was not interested in their outward acts of religion because He knew that their hearts were far away from Him. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of the fattened cattle” (verse 11), “Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen” (verse 15). These words may seem harsh from the Lord, but the truth is that their hearts were so opposite from their actions, that it was almost like they were mocking God when they brought sacrifices and offered prayers to Him. God doesn’t want us to live living two lives. He wants our hearts and actions to be reflective of our genuine and true relationship with Him. So what is does this true religion look like?

Rejoice….It’s A New Day

24th March

“This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24 

Psalm 118 is filled with fulfilled promises about Jesus the Messiah. Many wonderful songs have been written using the Psalmist’s wonderful words. Yet none more so than today’s verse. We could take this verse and build it into its context of hardships and struggles. However, simply lets take this verse as face value.

Whatever you are going through, this is the Lord’s day. Whatever challenges you may face, this is the day that God has made. Be strong and rejoice. Rejoicing is a choice. You choose to rejoice in the day, because you know God Himself has made it for you. The Lord has made this day for you to enjoy…REJOICE.

You Really Are The Son Of God

21st-22nd March

Weekend Edition

“When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshipped Him. “You really are the Son of God,” they exclaimed.”

Matthew 14:32-33

What is our reaction when we encounter the presence of God, or see Jesus’ miraculous power? Do you believe that when you pray, you will be answered?

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine sharing about a miracle I had watched. The video was about a church that encountered a tornado that was coming straight towards them. The whole congregation gathered outside and started fervently praying. If the tornado had reached them they would have all been swept away. As they starting crying out to God, the tornado started dissolving into the clouds until it eventually disappeared to the sound of great rejoicing and jubilation.

As I was discussing this video with my friend I joked that the tornado dissolving must have been a coincidence. He then said the following statement that was so profound… “Coincidences happen when we pray”. Of course he was not saying that coincidences are a result of prayer, but rather, what we as Christians call a miracle, others might class as coincidence. However when we do pray, we are to expect miracles. The question we have to decide is, when I pray and I see God move, what is my reaction to it? Do I simply discard His wonder working power as merely coincidence, or I am humbled as the disciples were in the boat, knowing that truly Jesus is the SON OF GOD.

We mustn’t put God’s power down to coincidences but rather know that His miraculous power is as real and true today, as it was when Jesus walked on water and calmed the turbulent seas. What do you believe today?

When Jesus Steps Into The Boat

20th March

 “When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshipped Him. “You really are the Son of God,” they exclaimed.”

Matthew 14:32-33

Our lives sometimes may seem like a boat caught up in a turbulent storm. Around there is only chaos. The storms grow fiercer and the wind and waves feel like they will capsize you. It may feel like there is no hope. Yet when Christ is with you, there is no need to fear.

Today’s passage concludes the story of Peter’s act of faith in stepping out of the boat into the water to meet Jesus. This narrative ends with Jesus stepping back into the boat after He had rescued Peter from drowning. It took an act of faith to step out of the boat, however, they all witnessed another incredible miracle when they stepped back into the boat. The wind and the waves stopped.

It almost feels like Matthew thought to include that statement as an after thought. It didn’t have a long speech or introduction. Simply put, they stepped into the boat and…. the wind stopped. Yet, although it didn’t have an introduction, Jesus’ actions did have a huge impact on the disciples. Immediately they worshipped Jesus and exclaimed that He was the Son of God.

Whatever your stormy sea is today, invite the Son of God into your boat to sail alongside you. Jesus has the power to silence the wind and the waves with just the power of actions. He has the authority to take away the fear of the turbulent seas that may surround you. Whatever you are going through, nothing is to big for God. Invite Him into your boat and let Him lead you to still waters.

What is your stance today? Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?

Take Your Eyes Off Jesus And You Will Sink

19th March

“But as soon as he saw the strong winds and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. ”Why did you doubt me?”

Matthew 14:30-31

As we pick up this wonderful story again today, it is interesting at this point to note that Peter was the only disciple to step out of the boat in faith. As far as we can see from the text the boat was filled with all of the disciples. So why was Peter the only one to step out in faith? The answer is not given in this story, but what we do know, is that Peter trusted Jesus enough to initially step out and go to meet him.

However, when Peter took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the storm, the wind and the waves, he began to sink. Lets pause there. Before we start to criticise Peter here, lets remember he was as far as we know the only person to ever walk on water (obviously besides Jesus). Yet He made what could have been a fatal error. He let the circumstance around him, overcome and distract him.

How often do we do the same thing? How often do we allow the circumstances and the storms around us to distract and take our focus of Jesus? In fact when we do that, we put our problems in place of Jesus in our lives. It is like we doubt who Jesus is, when we make our focus the problems instead Jesus. When Peter reached out to Jesus, Jesus rebuked him for not having enough faith! It may seem harsh but the reality was that Jesus, the Son of God, was also there with him. Jesus was also walking on the water. Peter originally had the faith to step out. Yet He took His eyes of what Jesus was doing already.

This is a great reminder for us that we should always keep our eyes on Jesus, see what He is doing through our storms, and when we feel like we are sinking, re-align our focus with Jesus and not our problems.