Imagine If It Was You

29th – 30th April

Weekend Edition

But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is My chosen instrument to take My message to the Gentiles and to the kings, as well as to the people of Israel.””

Acts 9:15

After Paul’s miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus, he went to the house of Judas and was waiting in prayer for God’s instruction for his life. At the same time he was praying, God was speaking to another man named Ananias about Paul’s future and His plan for Paul’s life. What is striking, is the fact that this man, Paul, a diehard zealot Pharisee, had purposefully and actively been persecuting God’s church, arresting Christians and even agreeing to their deaths, YET God was already at work planning Paul’s salvation, restoration and future ministry.

Doesn’t this show us what a merciful God we serve. Doesn’t this show that no-one is out of the reach of God. God has a plan and purpose for each of us. Even when we can’t see it through the turmoil we may be going through. Take Paul’s life as the perfect example. It is quite clear that no-one expected Paul to be lead to Jesus and become such a great evangelist. But God knew. God already had a plan for his life. Even Ananias, a devout believer, most certainly didn’t expect Paul’s conversion, yet he was the one commissioned to go to speak to Paul first.

Friends, God is greater than our fears, our worries, and our anxieties. We might not be able to see what God is doing, like Ananias, but we can have confidence that God is in control. He knows our futures. Trust Him with it. Your life is in His hands. Trust Him for His plan for others too. God has a plan for even the most unlikely of people.

He Knows Me

28th April

The Lord will work out His plans for my life – for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made me.”

Psalm 138:8

Psalm 139 is probably one of the most beautiful Psalms of David. It talks about the intimacy and the detail in which our Heavenly Father knows us, because He created us. It talks about our lives been in His hand, about how God’s thoughts for us and about us, outnumber the grains of sand on the seashores. It tells us that there is nowhere we can go where God will not be walking by our side. YET, above all these wonderful words and promises, as if David was almost planning a great introduction for Psalm 139, we read this verse found in Psalm 138:8.

It is almost like the foundation, preparing you to be taken away, in the intimacy of God’s word, and His plan and purpose for you and your life. See when you know that God is with you, when you know how close He is through the hardest and darkest of times in your life, your ability to see yourself how God created you increases, because you know who you are in Him. You can appreciate His love more. You can understand how much thought God put in to making you because you are secure that God will work out His plans for your life.

Friends, know that God is already working out His plans for your life. He won’t abandon you, when you feel alone. When you know this, then you will appreciate how God has made you, how much you are loved and how precious you are to Him. Know the foundation, and the details will follow. God made you – He won’t abandon you!

For I Know The Plans I Have For YOU!

27th April

““For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.””

Jeremiah 29:11

Today’s words are some of the most special and meaningful words spoken in the Bible. They speak of love and promise, of hope and comfort, of joy and peace, of forgiveness and restoration. Read at face value, they are so special, but read and understood in its original context, they take on an even deeper meaning.

Chapter 29 is actually written as a prophetic letter by Jeremiah to the elders, priests, prophets and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. God had told Jeremiah to tell the people that although God had allowed them to be taken as captives by the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar, for their rebellion towards God through idol worship to pagan gods, He had a plan to bring them back home and continue the promise He made to Abraham; that they (the Israelites) would be His chosen people, and through them, the Saviour of the world would be born.

Simply put, although the people had sinned and were living in the consequence of that sin, God in His grace was already planning their salvation. Captivity was not their home or purpose. He reminds the people that His plan for them is not one of disaster but of good, not for desolation, but of a good future, a hopeful future, a future that God Himself had already planned.

You too maybe going through a situation that seems like there is no end to your suffering. But God says to you, as He said to the Israelites, that His plans for you are not for disaster, but for good, to give you a future and a hope. You suffering will not last. God is already planning your route home, your salvation and your resolution. Put your trust in Him. He has good things for you.

How Can We Stay Pure?

26th April

How can a young person stay pure? By obeying Your word…. I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

Psalms 119:9,11

In a world full of temptations and trials, how do we stay pure and holy? Not just young people but the older generation too. Do we just lock ourselves in a room, blotting out the world around us, waiting for Jesus to return? Of course not. We are called to be the salt and light in this world. Our role as beacons of Jesus’ light is to boldly shine for Him in the dark places. Yet how can we be in a world of sin, and not fall into it’s snares and traps? Well the writer of the Psalms wisely gives us the answer. By letting the word of God (Scripture) saturate every part of your life. Moreover by letting the Word of God (Jesus) live in your hearts.

This wonderful passage in Psalm 119:9-16, gives us the keys and tools to staying pure and holy in an impure and unholy world. The Psalmist points out that we must obey God’s word, hide His word in our hearts, learn God’s decrees, recite His regulations aloud, rejoice in God’s laws, study His commands, reflect on His ways, delight in His decrees, and remember His word. This may seem like a comprehensive list of ‘must do’s’, but in order to know more about God, in order to stay pure, we must feed on His word. You can’t obey something you don’t know!

It’s almost like buying a car or a computer. If you don’t read the manual, you won’t know how to use it. Of course you can do it alone, but when you make a mistake, or when something goes wrong, you have only yourself to blame. Much is the same with our lives. When we live outside of God’s best for us, when we don’t feed on the ‘manual for life’, our lives can quickly fall into a downward spiral. YET because of Jesus’ grace and love, there is always a chance to come back to Him. He beckons us home, and gives us every opportunity to start again. It is never too late. Feed on His word, and allow the Word to live in you.

I Have Seen The Lord! Part 2

25th April

He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, He was seen by more than 500 of His followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then He was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw Him..”

1 Corinthians 15:4-8

Paul, formerly known as Saul, in his earlier days, was widely known as the biggest persecutor and enemy of the church. Yet after meeting the resurrected Jesus, his life radically changed, and now we celebrate the wonder of that meeting by enjoying so much of Paul’s wonderful letters that are written in the Bible.

Paul suffered a lot, was beaten many times, stoned, persecuted himself, hated, spat at and imprisoned many times for boldly sharing the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection. Why did Paul go through all of that? Because he realised the importance of knowing Jesus, both in what He did before the cross and His resurrected life after it. Paul’s life and theology hinged around the fact that we do not serve a dead God, but a resurrected King, who loves us incredibly and wants to make His home in our hearts.

Perhaps one of Paul’s most challenging and famous verses are found in the same chapter that today’s verse in taken from, in verses 14 & 17. Paul addresses the church in Corinth, convinced by Christ’s resurrection with these direct and heart piercing words.

And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless…and if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.”

Friends, Paul’s life radically changed after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus. He was convinced that seeing Jesus’ resurrection was paramount to his faith, and to ours, readers of these words. Have you seen the resurrected King? Live in His resurrection power. Receive the blessings of His victorious ascension. You are created to live in His resurrection promise.

I Have Seen The Lord!

24th April

““Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought He was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will go and get Him.” “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to Him and cried out, “Raboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). . . . Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them His message.”

John 20:15-16, 18

Mary Magdalene was a wonderful woman. Healed of seven demons (Mark 16:9) and a regular supporter of Jesus ministry (Luke 8:2-3), she had the privilege of being the first person to see the resurrected King. When she went to the tomb, on the third day, after discovering that it had been opened and Jesus’ body was no longer there, she stood weeping in confusion and sorrow. The Man who had miraculously delivered her from demon possession, had just been crucified and now His body was not even in the tomb.

When Jesus appeared to Mary, at first she didn’t recognise Him. Yet when Jesus called her by name, just as He did when He called her to follow Him, she immediately recognised that it was her Master and Teacher. Mary knew the voice of kindness, love, mercy and victory. She knew that once she had been called by that voice, her life was never the same again. After seeing the resurrected Jesus, she immediately ran to find the other disciples and share the Good News of the resurrected King, her Raboni and Teacher.

We too can have the same response as Mary did. When we hear Jesus call our name, when we receive the restoring and regenerating work of Christ in our lives, when our lives become radically changed by the power of His love, our next action should be to go out and share about it, just as Mary did. She heard His voice and then ran to tell others about it. Have you heard Jesus call YOU? Then go and share the Good News that our King is not dead but alive.

Don’t Be Faithless Any Longer: Believe

21st – 23rd April

Weekend Edition

They told Him, “We have seen the Lord! But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in His side.””

John 20:25

When you think of Thomas, Jesus’ disciple, what do you immediately think of? Perhaps it is his nickname ‘Doubting Thomas’. Yet the more we read the story of Thomas, the more we realise that actually he maybe was not so much a ‘doubter’ but rather a ‘realist’. Isn’t it normal to want evidence that someone had risen from the dead, particularly after witnessing Jesus’ brutal crucifixion. Ok, yes, Jesus did say that He would rise again on the 3rd day but maybe what Thomas was feeling or going through, was felt by each of the disciples too.

A few verses earlier, we read that all the disciples, bar Thomas, had met together, locked in a room because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Yet what is easily missed, is Jesus’ actions in the following verses. Not only does He greet the disciples with peace, quelling their fears, but He shows them the wounds in His hands and the piercing in His side. Isn’t that incredible. This was exactly the evidence that Thomas needed to see. Doesn’t this show us that the other disciples probably had the same doubts too, but perhaps didn’t vocalise them as brashly as Thomas.

Yet, Jesus, true to form, when He finally did reveal Himself to Thomas, showed him His un-reserved affection, love and grace, by showing Thomas exactly what He showed the other disciples; the nail wounds in His hands, and the wound in His side.

After seeing the resurrected Jesus, Thomas’ life was never the same. We read in Acts 1:13 that Thomas was in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost. Furthermore, Church tradition has it that Thomas was the first missionary to spread the Gospel in South India.

Today we live in the age of grace, empowered by the Holy Spirit to believe in Christ’s resurrection through faith. If you have doubts about who Jesus is, then ask God to show and reveal Himself to you, trusting that He will be faithful to you, just as He was to Thomas, and to the other disciples. Let us trust God for a miraculous revelation of who He is for you personally and for all mankind! Once you meet the resurrected King, your life will never be the same again!

Fisher’s Of MEN: Re-Focus

20th April

““Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who He was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then He said, “Throw your net on the right hand side of the boat and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.””

John 21:3-6

Peter having previously denied Jesus, finds himself leading the other disciples back to Galilee, his home town. Although Jesus, in the previous chapter, had revealed Himself to all the disciples, it seems that Peter had decided to go back to his old life and do what he knew best, fish! After toiling all night and catching nothing, Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples and tells them to re-throw their nets. Of course the obvious happens and they catch a multitude of fish, 153 to be exact. After the catch John recognizes that it is Jesus, His Lord. As he tells Peter too, Peter jumps out the boat and swims to the shore to greet Him, shortly followed by the other disciples.

This passage is almost an exact mirror of the story in Luke 5:1-11 whereby Jesus again, miraculously helps the disciples catch fish. However, at the end of that particular miracle, Jesus turns and says to Peter that he will no longer catch fish but men; ‘You will be a fisher of men.’ So why do we see Peter back fishing again in this passage? It seems like Peter and the other disciples are hopelessly and aimlessly searching for direction. They had given up their careers to follow Jesus, and after three and half years of following Him, they almost find themselves leaderless and without direction. Fishing was the only thing they knew. Peter was the disciple’s leader, yet instead of leading them to catch men, he led them to catch fish.

Yet when Jesus again revealed Himself to them on the beach shore, He reminded them once more, that their nets were for gathering men, not fish. Jesus had previously showed this to Peter, when He commanded him to go and catch men.

Sometimes in our lives we get lost and almost feel like we are wondering in the wilderness. We lose our way and go back to the only things we know how to do. That is called our comfort zones!! Jesus commands us all to be radical, to be fishers of men. However, this revelation only comes when Jesus reveals who He is, in a fresh way in our lives. Peter had previously seen the resurrected Christ, yet it needed this miracle to get him back on track, to re-align his focus to Jesus’ commission and to jump out the boat to meet Him. Notice that Jesus didn’t call Peter out the boat, he jumped himself. When we have an encounter with the risen King, our lives radically change, as it did with Peter.

Have you lost your focus and are in need of re-aligning yourself with the revelation of the risen Christ? Are you willing to jump out the boat? Take a step of faith. He is just a prayer away!

The Three Time Call: Denial And Approval

19th April

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “You know I love You.” “Then feed My lambs,” Jesus told Him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “You know I love You.” “Then take care of My sheep,”Jesus said. A third time He asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”…. “Lord, You know everything. You know that I love You.” Jesus said, “Then feed My sheep.”

John 21:15-17

When Jesus met Peter again at the shore of Galilee, the place where Peter was first called, He questions Peter’s commitment and love for Him, not as a test, but more for Peter’s sake. Just as Peter had denied Jesus three times, here Jesus allows Peter to declare His love for Jesus three times. Each time Jesus affirms His confidence in Peter by commissioning Him to feed His flock.1 Jesus graciously restored Peter, forgiving him and later empowering him with the might and boldness given by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

Are there times in your life that you feel you have completely let God down? Perhaps a missed opportunity to speak up for Christ? Perhaps an action you did knowing it was wrong? Whatever it is, you can be forgiven and restored, just as Peter was. Peter truly did love Jesus, but was let down by his human weakness. Yet Jesus, didn’t let Peter wallow in his guilt, but rather restored him and reminded him of the calling he was first given. Jesus has a plan for each of our lives. Don’t let guilt and regret keep you from being who God made you to be. Be restored. Receive His love. And walk in the plan of who God called you to be!

1Extract taken from ‘Every’s Mans Bible commentary’ Pg 1428

Come And Follow Me

18th April

One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers – Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew – throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow Me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”… “….Then Jesus told Him, “Follow Me.”… “As for you, follow me.””

Matthew 4:18-19, John 21:19b, 22b

Peter, the all action disciple of Jesus, the lowly fisherman called to be a rock for the church, after Jesus’ resurrection, went on to become one of the main founders of Jesus’ church throughout the Roman Empire. We experience the fruit of his boldness to share about the resurrected King. Yet Peter’s life has a great lesson we all can learn from. A lesson of ultimate forgiveness and restitution.

Peter, along with his brother Andrew, was one of the first disciples that Jesus called to ‘follow Him’. As Jesus met them by the Sea of Galilee, He called out to them and they immediately put down their nets and followed Jesus. Yet, fast forward a few years, and Jesus’ prophetic words, that Peter would deny Him before His crucifixion, happened just the way Jesus said. Peter fled in utter shame, guilt and disbelief at his own actions. He just denied knowing Jesus, the man who had taught him so much and who had loved Peter so deeply.

Yet when Jesus re-appears to Peter, incredibly and significantly, again at the Sea of Galilee, He calls out to him, repeating His commission, to come and ‘follow Me’. Although these are simple words, they show us that Jesus completely forgave Peter and restored him. Moreover Jesus didn’t even make mention of Peter’s betrayal but rather reached out to him again, in the same place He was originally called, commissioning Peter to be His Rock once more.

Jesus calls out to us today, to ‘follow Him’, despite your past! He can restore you and give you a new and fresh commission today. Take up your cross, don’t worry about others, YOU follow HIM!