Fully Committed

1st March

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..

Hebrews 12:1

For the last few days we have been looking at men of God found in the Bible, who refused to compromise on God’s holy standards and continued to be a witnesses for the Lord, even until their dying breath. We too are challenged to live our lives for Christ in all we do: both in public and in our own quiet space too.

We have been commissioned to live fully committed lives! Being ‘Fully committed’ means living for Christ in everything we do. It means, throwing off anything that hinders us from running with Jesus. It means saying NO to the enemy’s schemes and temptations. It means asking God to rip out ours hearts of flesh and replace them with a passion for Him. It means living for and in the grace and love of a kind and forgiving Father. It means that when we get knocked down, we don’t let our sin and shame keep us there, but we get back up and FULLY COMMIT to serving Him once more.

Consider the marriage vows. When you make a commitment to get married to someone, through thick and thin you continue to press on. Yes you may have hard times, but it is your commitment to one another that carries you through. So it is with our relationship with Christ. We have also made a commitment to serve the Lord through our lives, no matter what persecution or hard times may come our way. God is with us always and His love carries us through the hard times so that we can stay ‘Fully Committed’ to Him.

May our prayer be that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we may live fully committed lives for Jesus and that He would be our passion and desire, always!

Standing By Truth

29th February

Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. ….. As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees shouting, “Lord don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that he died.

Acts 7:57 -60

Today’s story is set in a time where, after Christ’s resurrection and accession, the Roman Empire and the Sanhedrin where clamping on down on ‘Christianity’ or on followers of ‘the way’. Not only did they see Christianity as a threat (because it challenged a lot of their corrupt views and comforts) but they saw an opportunity to dissipate ‘the church’ because their leader was no longer. Yet what they failed to realise is that like Stephen, the early church Christians served a King was Kingdom would and will never end. A King who cannot be defeated. And a King who was and is still alive. Standing up for this truth however, had great consequences.

None more so than the first Christian Martyr, Stephen. Stephen was arrested by the leaders of the high council (Pharisees, Scribes and High Priest) and was falsely accused of blaspheming Moses and God. As he was brought before the council, he stood up, with his face shining as bright as an angel’s, and plainly spoke the truth: the truth that God had been faithful to a people that throughout history rejected Him time and time again, yet in His grace, God sent Jesus the Redeemer to forgive and to restore humanity’s relationship with the Father.

This truth, coupled with Stephen’s vision of seeing Jesus in Heaven, drove the Jewish leaders mad. Full of rage, they dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death. Stephen had stood up for truth and it cost him his life.

Would you risk your life by standing up for truth? Would you risk being laughed at or ‘un-popular’ because you believe in the truth of the gospel? May the Lord grant us the same boldness and courage that Stephen had when we are face with trials and tribulations of all kinds, but above all, may we, as Stephen did, keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we stand up for His truth.

Stand Firm: Part 3

27th – 28th February

Weekend Edition

So at last the King gave his orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel.”

Daniel 6:16-17

Sadly, King Darius, seemed to have missed hearing the stories about God’s faithfulness towards Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He also ordered a decree that anyone found guilty of praying to any other god beside himself, must be arrested and thrown into the lion’s den.

Daniel, fell into that category. As he did everyday, he went up to his room, opened his windows towards Jerusalem and prayed to God, giving thanks. However, little did he know that he was being trapped by the high officials and rulers who were jealous of Daniel’s influence over the king. At once the high officials reported Daniel’s law breaking actions to the King. Reluctantly, King Darius ordered Daniel’s arrest and threw him into a den full of hungry lions.

The next day as King Darius went to check on what had happened to Daniel, and he was astonished to see the him completely un-harmed with not even a scratch on his body.

Daniels trust in the one true God and his willingness to not to compromise, not only saved his life, but led King Darius to proclaim that not himself, or his pagan gods but Daniel’s God, was the one true God whose Kingdom and rule will never end.

King Darius was completely right. We still serve that same God today; the God who rescued Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace and rescued Daniel from the lion’s den. All four had one thing in common. A desire to honour and worship the one true God, despite the consequences. We too should strive to honour God in our daily lives, whether at work or in our schools and homes, wherever it may be, let us always worship God faithfully. Let our witness be so great that people will also proclaim that our God is the one true God, whose kingdom will never end.

Stand Firm: Part 2 Edit

Apologies to today’s readers for an error. The people thrown into the fire were indeed, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Daniel was not included in their number.

Please accept my apologises for the false information in today’s blog. The truth of not compromising still remains and tomorrow we will look at how Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, because of lack of willingness to bow down and worship the King.

Yours sincerely

Anthony

Stand Firm: Part 2

26th February

King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue about ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon…..when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and other musical instruments, bow down to the ground and worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

Daniel 3:1,5-6

Daniel, an Old Testament prophet, was another man who refused to compromise, even when his own life was in danger. Daniel was one of the Israelite men and women taken into captivity by the mighty nation of Babylonia, led by the ferocious King Nebuchadnezzar. Time and time again, whilst in captivity, the various rulers of the Babylonian kingdom, tried to force their laws and their gods onto the helpless captives, in exchange for better food or even freedom. Yet Daniel and a few others, held fast and refused to deny the One True God, Yahweh.

King Nebuchadnezzar, in sheer pride, erected a golden statue to be worshipped in his honour. He also made a law, that whenever musical instruments where played, the nation had to bow down and worship this golden statue. Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to compromise and worship other gods instead of the One True God, Yahweh. Their actions sent King Nebuchadnezzar into a frenzy. In complete rage and anger, he threw them into a fiery furnace, heated four times hotter than normal, and left them to be incinerated……well that’s at least what he thought. God had other plans. God miraculously saved the four from being burnt and further sent an ‘angel’ to protect them; so much so that they didn’t even smell of smoke when they left the furnace.

Daniel and friends willingness to stand firm for God and to not compromise could have come at a great cost. Firstly they had to defy the will of the King, of one of the greatest and mightiest kingdoms ever to walk this earth. Secondly their stand could have led them to their death by fire. However all four counted the cost of compromising greater than that of disobeying King Nebuchadnezzar’s decrees.

Today, we also are faced with daily challenges to compromise. Compromise is all around us as people’s moral standards fall and temptation become evermore acceptable. Will you stand up for integrity? Will you stand up for Jesus….even if the consequences are great?

Stand Firm

25th February

““But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then chose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15

Currently in the UK, there is an ongoing court case where a famous football player is being convicted of grooming an underage girl for his pleasure. Although he has not been convicted yet, the most likely verdict will be guilty. Yet what leads a man with a successful career (and a family) to fall so deeply into the enticement of sin? Is it because he didn’t have God in His life? Well, sadly in the church too, we see the same trend, whereby great men and women of God have also fallen into sin with great repercussions. What caused them to stumble? A lack of accountability? A lack of of moral consciousness? Moreover, if people even in the church can stumble, where do we find our source of inspiration from?

The Bible. Of course the obvious answer is Jesus, the sinless and perfect Saviour who faultlessly gave us the prime example of how we should live our lives. Yet there are also many other characters in the Bible, where we can draw inspiration from, such as Joshua. Joshua was a man commissioned by God to lead the people of Israel into the promised land after the passing of Moses. He faced a huge task, firstly to lead so many people and also because the journey into the promised land was full of enemies that had to be defeated; take for example the city of Jericho and the crossing of the river Jordan.

Joshua, in chapter 23 and 24, gives a final ‘last’ speech to the people of Israel, encouraging them to stay faithful and not to compromise by worshipping other gods. Joshua himself had led a blameless and holy life before God. In his final words he shouts out to the people with these words…But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. In other words, ‘I have led you to follow the Lord, set you an example with my life, and now whom will you serve… I don’t know about you but as for me and my family, we have made a choice to serve the Lord!’

Friends, in a world full of compromise, will you be counted among those who stand strong and commit to serving the Lord. Let us remember that no sin is to great for grace and no distance to far for God’s love. Stand up once more and keep fighting the good fight! But as for you…..??

The Lord IS With YOU

24th February

This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!

Joshua 1:9

Yesterday we talked about the benefit of being in the “SON’S” presence and experiencing the light of Jesus, yet when we move out of Jesus’ light we begin to experience the reality, that without Jesus, there is only darkness. The darkness is cold, bitter and ruthless. The darkness’ only desire is to see you fail, fade away and forget all the goodness of the light. HOWEVER, all that the darkness offers is lies. It’s lies, that if we believe, will keep us from the truth found in Jesus’ light.

When Moses finally handed over the duty of leading the people of Israel, into all God had for them, to Joshua, the Lord encouraged Joshua with these words.,This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!Joshua was young and faced a daunting task of leading so many people. Yet, through God’s grace and promise to never leave him, he was able to walk in the light and under God’s blessings throughout his life. He held onto God’s promises and benefited from staying in the light of God.

Our daily challenge is to step into Jesus’ glorious light and be led by the Spirit in all we do, say and think. It is only when we stay in His light, that we can experience the fullness of all He has for us. The same promise God gave to Joshua is the same promise we can experience daily when we remain in His glorious light. Let us join together to reject the darkness and all the lies that come with that.

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
1 John 1:7

Standing In The “SON”

23rdFebruary

Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust Me, you are trusting not only Me, but also God who sent Me. For when you see Me, you are seeing the One who sent Me. I have come as a light to sine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in Me will no longer remain in the dark.

John 12:44-46

Have you ever stood outside on a cold winter’s day and actually felt the warmth of the sun’s rays shining down on you so strongly, that you have forgotten it was winter? In fact, the warmth of the sun’s rays was so strong that you couldn’t even feel the winter’s chill. It’s a strange feeling right? Yet there is some significance in this analogy for our own lives.

Jesus, time and time again, said of Himself, that He was and is the light of the world. He came so that we would no longer have to live in darkness. Moreover, His light exposes our sins, which leads us to repentance. When we are restored in Him, we too become beacons of His light and stand bringing glory to the Father.

Jesus’ light is much like the sun’s rays on a cold winter’s day. All around us might be calamity, darkness and we may feel deserted in a dark tunnel, but it is then that Jesus’ light shines around us and brings us direction and comfort. When we are filled with the light of God, we too can face darkness and prevail; not in our strength but because the light of world ‘JESUS CHRIST’ shines in us and through us. May we forever stand in the warmth and comfort of His light and may we too shine His light!

Walking On Water

22nd February

Then Peter called to Him, “Lord, if its really you, tell me to come to You, walking on the water.”“Yes, come” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and WALKED ON WATER towards Jesus. But as soon as he saw the strong winds and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.”

Matthew 14:28-30

Isn’t it amazing to read that Peter actually walked on water. Yet why is it so significant in this text, beside it being humanly impossible to achieve such a feat?

Peter in particular, would have been used to storms. He was a fisherman after all. It is very likely that he battled many storms in his lifetime. Yet this storm was different. Mark in his account, tells us that the disciples were in serious trouble. However, when Jesus called Peter to come to Him, Peter ignored the perilous situation around him, climbed over the boat and supernaturally started to walk towards Jesus.

Notice that there are two significant things here. The first being, that Peter completely ignored the storm around him and stepped out in faith. He didn’t look at his circumstances but instead fixed His eyes on Jesus and walked towards Him. The fact that Jesus called Peter and he heard His voice, gave Peter enough faith to know that he could put His trust in the One calling him.

The second is the fact that Peter had to physically climb out of the boat. That is hard enough to do on a good day, let alone in the midst of violent storm. By stepping out the boat, his comfort zone, he further demonstrated his complete trust in Jesus, to make sure he didn’t drown.

When life gets stormy, we too can be assured that we have an anchor to keep us grounded and not sink. He will watch over us in the storm, call us through the storm and help us step out in faith in the midst of it. All we have to do is keep our eyes fixed on Him and not on the things that can make us drown. May we stand firm through the trials, fixing our eyes on Jesus.

 

Beacons Of Christ

20th-21st February

Weekend Edition

You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.

Matthew 5:14-16

Have you ever noticed that you stand out sometimes? Well, if you are a Christian reading this, then most probably you really do stick out. Morals standards are at an all time low, people’s belief or acceptance of Jesus is running thin, and the line between sin and righteous living is ever being blurred by liberal churches. Those of us who do stand up for truth and for Christ-like living are often ridiculed, marginalised or even persecuted. Yet Jesus’ commands to us are to stand up for truth, Biblical living and to shine ever brighter in a world desperate for hope and direction.

Society needs light. It needs Jesus. We are, as Jesus described, a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. We are the light to direct people back to Him. The Apostle Paul also encouraged the church in Corinth with these words, which can equally be applied in our lives too, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Friends, let us not give up shining for Jesus, living for Him in all we do and bringing glory to His Name forever and ever. Even when it is hard to stand firm, evermore lean on God’s grace to hold you up and make you a beacon for Him. Be a burning light shining out Jesus. May your lifestyle, actions, and words lead people back to Jesus.