Search My Heart

30th June

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Psalm 139:23-24

A pastor once said to me that these verses are his habitual morning prayer. Not as an act of religious piety but as an act of humble submission to a Holy and Righteous God.

David, the writer of this wonderful psalm, knew very well what it was like to live under a banner of persistent guilt from his personal sin. Upon committing adultery with Bathsheba and ordering her husband to fight on the front lines of a ferocious war to cover up his sin, David was being consumed daily with the guilt of his sinful actions. He knew that his choices had led him to murder an innocent man and to commit adultery with his wife. He knew that he had dishonoured God through his actions. Yet God, in his mercy forgave David because of the Lord’s “steadfast love” and “mercies that are new each morning.”However, David first had to acknowledge his sin, repent of it and make his heart right before God.

This Psalm indicates that although we serve a gracious and kind God, there are choices we make that offend the righteousness of God. We also need to have a healthy guilt in our lives, not to condemn us of our sins (like David experienced), but rather to point out where we have made mistakes so that we can repent and enjoy the intimate communion with God that He so desires to have with us.

Let us come before God each day, searching our hearts to find out if there is anything we have not repented of. We do not need to dig deep, but rather allow the Holy Spirit to bring things to our attention that need repenting of. Then, let us confess it in faith and humility and accept God’s forgiveness, knowing that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross has completely and fully paid the debt of our sins. Let this be a pray of submission and humility as we seek to live a lifestyle that leads to everlasting life.

Hope For The Most Hardened Criminal

29th June

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, Lord?” And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting.””

Acts 9:3-5

The Apostle Paul, who wrote so much of the beloved New Testament writings, had a horrific past. If you read his words of love and peace, there is no way you would believe that he actually hated “The Way”. In fact, verses 1 – 2 of chapter 9, tell us that every breath Saul breathed were threatening promises to kill the Lord’s followers. He was there at Stephen’s death, giving his approval. He went from home to home in Jerusalem dragging out believers and throwing them into prison, going around destroying the churches. When he spoke, it was only words of hate. Yet Saul did not realise he was fighting against the Lord Jesus Christ by persecuting His children.

Saul, with the acceptance letters from the synagogues in Damascus in hand, headed to cause further damage by destroying the churches in Damascus and all who followed “The Way”. As he journeyed with some of his followers, a bright light from Heaven shone down and blinded Saul. However, through the confusion, Saul heard Jesus’ voice calling out to him saying, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” Jesus showed His grace to Saul, forgave him and day by day continued to reveal Himself to him. Paul then went on to be one of the founders of the early church and His words in the New Testament are a daily encouragement for believers around the world.

Even if the most hardened criminals and the most hateful people have a chance to encounter the mighty presence of God. When we look at a world filled with hate and violence, do we see people the way God sees them or do we look at them wanting revenge or justice? Saul, before his encounter with Christ, was so hateful towards the believers, imprisoning them and even killing them. Yet God had other plans for Saul. God saw in Saul, a zeal and enthusiasm to proclaim His message of love and grace. We should not be too quick to judge our enemies, but rather pray that they too may have a Damascus experience and meet Jesus the Prince of Peace.

Hate Sin and Love Righteous Living

27th and 28th June

Weekend edition

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.

Romans 12:9

We are surrounded by evil and sin. It can be so overwhelming sometimes. Even reading the news this morning, there is hardly any good news. In fact it makes you realise what a sinful world we live in. Murder, immorality and anger fill the daily headlines. We constantly are bombarded with bad news…with sad news. When will it change?

It will change when believers realise their responsibility to live like a ‘Romans’ Christian. When the believers in this world love, even when they don’t get love back. When they are kind, even when faced with hostility. When Jesus’ love and grace is so evident in our lives that it becomes contagious. When we stop focusing on ourselves and look to the needs of others, practically and prayerfully. When Christians rise up and do not compromise. When we say no to sin: Not just say no to sin but hate it. Hate the desire to even want to sin.

There is a reason sin is so tempting. Because it is, more often than not, pleasurable. Yet when you look at the root of sin, the only pleasure it gives is pleasure of self. Sin is selfish and only leaves us feeling empty. Let us pray that God would remove the desire to want to satisfy our fleshly cravings and we would be Spiritually minded and not carnally minded.

This world can change. Jesus’ death and resurrection proved that. The Apostles gave their lives so that the message of the cross could reach the nations. We are living proof that that message is still impacting people’s lives today. We need to have the same urgency to spread the love of Christ and the message of the cross to this desperate and needy world.

Yet all we do is in the power of Christ and not of ourselves. Let us pray that God would stir our hearts, so when we see negative news headlines, instead of being discouraged, we would join together and have an even greater desire to see Jesus’ love spread across the nations.

Be Strong In The Lord

26th June

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

Ephesian 6:10

Too often in our lives, we think that we can defeat the enemy by our own strength physical strength. The reality is that that is just not true. There is nothing we have on our own that is able to withstand the enemies divisive and shrewd tactics. Moreover, we often try to fight the enemy with our own self control or our own desires to not want to do evil, yet we are not in a physical battle. If we do then we will fail every time. Practical safe guarding and good intentions are wise but in and of itself they are not enough.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12 that we do not fight against physical forces but against “mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” If so then we need to guard ourselves with the right tools to withstand the enemy: His Name is Jesus Christ. It is only in the power of the resurrected King, the Alpha and Omega, the King of Kings, the sinless lamb that was slain for the sins of the world that we find victory. Those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Our commission is not be strong in ourselves but in the Lord and in His mighty power. It is only we when realise that true victory in found in Jesus and not in ourselves, that we can, in His power resist the enemy and stand firm in His goodness.

We must also equip ourselves with the armour of God so that we can resist “the enemy in the time of evil.” Notice the verse does not say, put on your own armour, but the armour of God. Let us put on the whole armour of God, stay in the presence of God and abide in the resurrection power of the Lamb of God. It is so great that we are not on our own fighting against the enemy but can rest in victory, in the presence of the Almighty, under the shadow of His wings.

Search The Scriptures And Know The Truth

25th June

That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there they went to the Jewish Synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.

Acts 17:10-11

Paul and Silas left Thessalonica after experiencing a riot and life threatening danger. Their message of salvation seemed to cause so much trouble that it not only put Paul and Silas’ life in danger but also other believers lives too. The gospel Paul and Silas preached was not very well accepted by the Jewish people in Greece, so after being kicked out Thessalonica, they were sent to Berea (modern day southwest Macedonia). There Paul and Silas experienced a group of Jews from Berea who met regularly met in the synagogue.

As Paul and Silas preached the message of salvation to them, they were greatly encouraged and listened intently to their message. So much so that they searched the scriptures to see if what Paul was preaching was truth or not. “As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek woman and men.” How encouraging for Paul and Silas. Not only was their message accepted but they saw a genuine desire from the Bereans to not only know the God that Paul was preaching about from Paul’s mouth but also they wanted to know Him for themselves. By searching the scriptures day and night it allowed the Holy Spirit to guide them, convict them and open their eyes to Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

We too can learn an important lesson from the Bereans. We should not just accept everything we hear from the pulpit but search the scripture to see if what is being taught is in line with God’s word and with His truth. When we too have an eagerness to hear the preaching of the word and God’s revelation through scripture, we can begin to see our lives transformed by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit and the resurrected Christ. Let God’s word come alive and be evident in our lives.

She Gave Everything She Had

24th June

Jesus sat down near the collection box in the temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. ..“I tell you the truth, this poor woman has given more than the others…. she, as poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.””

Mark 12:41-44

Jesus, upon visiting the temple, decided to sit down and watch how people gave their contributions. He noticed that many rich people came in and gave lots of money. Yet what caught His eye, was the not the large amounts given by the rich people but the two small coins given by a poor widow who had nothing else. The rich people only gave out of their surplus of wealth, yet this poor widow gave all she had.

However, what struck Jesus, wasn’t particularly what they gave financially but the condition of their hearts when they were giving. Jesus highlighted to His disciples a key area in Spiritual growth and discipleship. This poor widow demonstrated a genuine love and desire for God, by giving all she had, she completely put her trust in Jehovah Jireh (the God who provides). In Jesus’ time, a woman who had lost their husband, more often than not, lost their only source of income too. Widows would have to have been wise and astute with what they did have so it would last longer. This further demonstrates the sacrificial giving of this poor widow as she gave all she had. Furthermore, Jesus comments that this poor woman, because of her sacrificial giving, had given more than all the wealth of the others.

It is so important for our lives to know firstly that God looks after our every need, but more importantly, God is interested in our heart condition above anything else. Jesus praised this poor widow’s giving because she exercised complete trust in God. God doesn’t want part of our hearts but all of it, even when it may seem a sacrifice to give your whole heart. We can be comforted that when we put our whole trust in God, He will always look after us and bless us even more.

Did you know… GOD MADE EVERYTHING???

23rd June

O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small.”

Psalm 104:24-25

What an encouraging thought to know that God literally made everything we see in this world. The huge mountains ranges He made, the carpet of forest trees, the sun to give light by day and moon to shade us by night, the crops that grow to feed us and give us the necessary nutrients we need for our lives and so much more. It is so amazing to see the variety of birds and animals God has made. And when you explore the world you realise that there are so many more varieties of insects and creatures that the Lord has made. Even the most clever of minds could not think of the millions of creatures than walk this earth or swim in the seas.

Yet if God made all these things and holds them in His hands, then how much does He care about us? We truly can trust Him with our lives because He is so much more greater than us. His faithfulness is great, His love is great, His peace is Great, His mercy is great.. Everything about God is great.

It is so important to acknowledge the supremity, might and power of our wonderful and creative Lord and Master. We serve a truly great God. Let us encourage ourselves that He is a great God and He is our Father and He is on our side!!

In Our Father’s Arms

22ndJune

Praise the Lord; praise God our Saviour! For each day He carries us in His arms.”

Interlude

Psalm 68:19

Thanksgiving is such a great way to start the day. Thinking upon and remembering the goodness of all God has done for us, encourages us to exercise an attitude of gratitude in our lifestyles and as part of our daily devotion to God. It helps us to put God in the place He deserves to be in our lives. He truly does carry in His arms each day. He lifts our burdens and loads us with His goodness. He exchanges ashes and mourning for songs of praise and dancing. He is a good good God.

David also, in Psalm 68, reminds his readers of God’s redemption for the Nation of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians. He recalls when they were rescued from bondage in Egypt, fed in the barren dry lands, rescued from the surrounding chariots when Pharaoh realised he had made a mistake by letting the Israelites go free, (although it was God who was actually at work) saving them by parting the seas and then lavishing them with the wealth of their enemies.

It is only when we recognise God’s goodness in our lives, that when faced with trails and tribulations, we can find strength and courage to persevere through and not to give up. We can be assured that just as God has helped us in the past, so He will help us in the future.

It’s so great to see the ‘selah’ or ‘interlude’ and the end of this verse. It is almost like David is saying to his readers, just pause. Just take a second to really think about Gods goodness. Think about the times He has helped you and thank Him, praise Him. Think about the times He has carried your burdens, remind yourself of the times when He has saved you, remember the moments He carried you in His loving Fatherly arms… Now go, and live a life of thanksgiving, making sure others know how good our God is.

Stand Firm In Your Faith

21st -22ndJune

Weekend Edition

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love!”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

This morning, as I sat aside, I noticed a small ant carrying something 3 times it size. As it meandered its way over the rocky flower bed en route to the whole in the ground that they call home, it struggled to keep hold of this object. Yet it did not give up. At one point there was a bigger stone that this small ant came across (it probably was like a mountain to this ant). The object he was carrying was so heavy that the ant couldn’t find a way to carry it over the stone. The ant came at it from all different angles. He tried pulling it, pushing it, and dragging it until eventually he managed to get it over the stone and to its home. I was so humbled seeing this and was greatly encouraged.

We too go through so many trials in our lifetime, carry burdens and problems which sometimes seem so much bigger than us, yet we have an advantage. We have a God who is willing us on, who wants to carry our burdens and who make our path straight. Sometimes we needlessly fight our way through difficulties rather than relying on Jesus to make our path straight and remove our obstacles for us.

We need to take courage than when hardships come in our lives, we don’t need to give up or fight in our own strength. We can stand firm, be courageous and strong. Yet our courage, strength and faith all comes from being in the presence of God, resourced by His Holy Spirit and guided by His power. We can stand firm in our faith and we don’t need to give into the enemy. We can be like that small ant, when faced with situations bigger than ourselves, persevere and reap the reward of endurance. Don’t give up. Be bold and courageous and put your trust and hope in the God who created the world.

God Really Does Answer Our Prayers!!

19th June

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Have you ever stopped and wondered about the prayers you may have prayed a long time ago but have never seen a tangible answer to? Well the good news is that God never forgets. We can be encouraged that when we pray in faith our prayers will always be answered. It may not be the answer you might want to hear but God will always answer. A lot of the time the answer is to wait and keep on praying, being joyful and thankful always.

I recently received news of an answered prayer, after many years of tears and mourning, pleading with God for this situation to change, finally I heard of good news. Yet in the waiting I learned an important lesson. God never forgets our prayer requests and He always answers. Sometimes we try to fit God in our own little box and demand He answers us immediately. We think if we keep on praying we can twist God’s arm and He will get so fed up of listening to our prayers that He will have to answer us. Yet this is not true.

Waiting for God is an important Spiritual discipline. It helps us to recognise God’s sovereignty and our position in trusting in Him. Of course, sometimes God does answer immediately and we can see the fruit of that answered prayer. But when He doesn’t, it is our role to be joyful and thankful in waiting and to not stop praying. Ceaseless prayer allows us to continuously surrender our concerns and worries to God, and stops us from trying to solve the problem on our own. It shows we are completely trusting in God for an answer and fully trust Him to guide our lives. Our hope remains in Him and not in us trying to fix everything.

Never stop praying. Never stop trusting. Never stop giving thanks…. An encouragement for us all.