Walk With God: Impossible Made Possible

A few years ago Honda had an advertising campaign all about making the impossible possible. It was innovative, creative and definitely caught your attention.

Dare I suggest that such a strap line could be used by God. He is all about ‘the impossible being made possible’. He is innovative, creative and definitely good at catching our attention.

For nothing will be impossible with God [Luke 1:37]

When those who can’t have children start having children, the impossible is being made possible. When God uses a young woman to bring the Saviour of the world into existence, the impossible is being made possible. And that was just the start.

Read through the Gospels and you discover moment after moment of impossibles being made possibles. Water into wine. Lame start to walk. Blind get their sight. Dead people being raised. People healed and in put in their right mind. Walking on water. Storms calmed. Multiples fed with a kids lunch. The worst of sinners forgiven. Religion put in its place.

Jesus laying down His life for us. His death for our new life. Transformational moments. Impossible made possible.

Then you examine your own walk with God and see His handprints all over it. God making moves behind the scenes. Creating opportunities. Bringing about His providential plan.

When I reflect I can see where He has moved the pieces. If certain things which I could not make happen had not happened I would not be where I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I was complicit in some of the actions but not in the final outcomes. God working out things from my indiscretions, for my good. Impossible made possible.

That is the God I walk with every day. So I should not be surprised when surprises occur. Maybe in my head I see the pleasure He takes in doing some stuff, a little glint in His eye as He speaks to me saying, ‘You didn’t see that coming, did you?’

Where have you seen the impossible made possible by God in your life?

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Build Church: Know Your Comfort Zone

Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace [Matthew 28:29 Message]

There’s a lot of talk about getting out of your comfort zone and I get that. We fill our days with so much stuff which in reality is of no eternal purpose, both individually in our Christian life and corporately as the body of Christ. We are very comfortable in our faith.

A better focus might be to know our comfort zone. To learn the unforced rhythms of grace Jesus wants to walk and work with us in. To find our best fit. To discover our unique calling and to then ride this wave with all of our effort and determination.

Anyone who know me well enough should know that after Jesus, other than my family, there are two main things which have my heart – raising the next generation of leaders and building local church. I am on the journey of discovery still, even after so many years that to be fruitful for God in both of these will no doubt involve the following…

To get into my zone I first have to get out of my comfort.

I have to give the Holy Spirit permission to convict me to move me.

Once I am in the zone, only I am the one responsible for putting the right kind of effort in to it.

To bear the best kind of fruit, the God-given destiny kind of fruit, my life has to be about more than just the fruit of my own labours.

I am not there yet. Let’s be honest, there have been good days and not so good days. I have frustrations. Yet the only person getting in the way of me building anything of eternal significance with my life is me. So best get over myself, repent, remind myself that my preferences are for laying down and just get on doing what it is I feel God is asking me to do.

Walk With God: Reset

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” [Matthew 11:28-30 Message]

God is the creator of reset moments. Creation. The flood. Tower of Babel. Even through the Law, along with the different feasts and festivals. The Day of Atonement. Sabbath days. Sabbath years. Jubilee.

Jesus is the ultimate reset. He is our Jubilee. Just like the Jubilee for the Israelites saw a release for slaves, a reversion of property and a removal of debt, Jesus did the same for us. Through the cross He bought us freedom for sin.

It is the ultimate reset moment. To be born again. To be realigned with God and the plans and purposes He has for our life. Putting God first is the moment of reset God has created for us through Jesus.

We are surrounded by reset opportunities. Every 24 hours a new day. Every 7 days a new week. New months. New seasons. New years. All giving us the power to make a fresh start.

Yet some of us have already written off this year and waiting for 2018. We don’t need to wait. We just need a reset moment.

Little things can make a big difference. One behaviour can tip into others, then we may become unbalanced and out of rhythm. When we are out of rhythm it can have a knock-on effect with those closest to us.

Be it in work, health, family, finance, relationships or your marriage. In order to rebalance and get ready for a new flow and rhythm and come into God’s rest we need to be obedient to what God is asking.

So here’s the question: where would God say ‘trust Me’? Where could a reset help us?

Come to Jesus. Press the rest button. Cast our cares on Jesus. Do it to remove those things which stand in opposition or competition to Jesus. Press reset to be set free. To take our hands of the drivers wheel of our life and give Him control.

Make space for God to move, to hear what He may ask us to do and then respond in faith and be obedient. The reset moment then creates helps us to get in sync with the flow and the rhythm which Jesus is inviting us to participate in with Him.

And I am thankful for moments which create such opportunities.

Be brave today. Come to Jesus and press reset. What would that look like for you?

Walk With God: Wholeness 3.0

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. [Philippians 1:21 ESV]

If WHOLE 1.0 can be described as the time we would speak of being whole but only through the accumulation of those things which could make us feel more significant, secure and accepted. Temporary stuff like the right job, the right partner, the right title, the right house filled with all the right material items or that people just like us.

The challenge with wholeness is that when life takes a bite out of us or any of these are lost, where will our sense of wholeness come from then. The only thing that truly satisfies us and makes us WHOLE is the acknowledgement that none of the above do and only God can.

Then we begin the journey from WHOLE 1.0 to WHOLE 2.0. We add to our basic faith as we walk with God through life. We gain from our experiences and from the answers to those difficult questions. We add some spiritual knowledge, some self-control, some perseverance, some godliness, some kindness and some love. [2 Peter 1:5-9]

If I’m honest, wholeness to me can still be about what I accomplish or achieve. It can be centred around how people view me and whether I am admired for who I am and what I do. It can be about filling life with the right kind of things.

Yet the Apostle Paul has a different measure. And this challenges me. I’m calling it WHOLE 3.0. His sense of wholeness came from a place where the only measure for a WHOLE life was Jesus. The ability to see he would be WHOLE in life and WHOLE in death.

It was not about accomplishment unless it was in respect of what he got to do for Jesus and to extend the kingdom of God.

It was not about recognition except to do everything always with the intention to bring glory to God.

It was not about how people saw him or about his reputation but instead was that more may come to accept Jesus as he kept on sharing the good news.

He deemed himself whole when he had much and when he had little. [Phil 4:12]

He deemed himself whole whether he would continue to live or whether he would die. [Phil 1:21]

He deemed himself whole just by living a life of righteousness. [Phil 2:14-15]

Where the desired fruit from my labour may, at times, be more earthly, Paul was always focused on advancing the kingdom for his precious Saviour, Jesus. His transformed life and sense of WHOLE impacted every aspect of the life he lived.

His goals were gospel focused.

His time was utilised on purpose.

His willingly served others.

His lived a righteous life.

He only wanted what he had. Jesus was more than enough.

He was present for every moment.

He focused on eternal values.

His inner peace remained strong despite the external pressures on him every day.

Dear God, help me to live a WHOLE life like this. Completely sold out for you, where all the other stuff really doesn’t matter. Where Jesus is more than enough. To be bust about kingdom purposes, every day. Amen

 

Build Church: One Thing

The obvious thing to say here is we don’t build the church, after all, Jesus did say He would do that. Yet, in my amazement, He chooses to partner with us and use us to help make it happen.

Everywhere we go we represent our Saviour. Doesn’t matter if we do it well or do it badly, both will influence others in how they think about or want to get to know Jesus. One helps, the other less so.

Playing my part in building local church needs just one thing…involvement. 

Actually, this is problematic and could be considered simplistic in approach as I can already hear people saying what about His presence, what about prayer, what about sharing the good news, what about caring for others, what about worship, what about serving, what about the Word, what about fasting, what about hearing from God more, what about…[insert own thought here].

Other than God showing up, although we have to be there and respond to Him, the key aspect for us in all of these is this one simple thing…INVOLVEMENT.

God is building a home. He’s using us all – irrespective of how we got here – in what he is building. [Ephesians 2:19b The Message].

Raises 3 questions then for us to think about…

How is our involvement with God? Is it healthy, is it close enough, are we spending time in His presence?

How is our involvement with His church? Are we only attending or are we contributing?

What one thing could we do to improve our involvement with God and with His church?

If we all just raised our involvement by 1%, I wonder what a difference it may just make. It is through involvement in all which God is doing that His Church will built. And it will be built through unity, faith and done in such a way as to honour Him and represent Him well to those who do not know Him yet.

What do you think?

Build Church: Do What You Can

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I remember being asked the question ‘How did you get to do what you are doing in church?’ I’m guessing it may have been a leading question but that doesn’t really matter because the answer is simple….

“DO WHAT YOU CAN”

A few months ago I preached a message which included the one verse account in the book of Judges of a person called Shamgar. He demonstrated the qualities that answer the question above.

He used what he had, he did what he could, and he started where he was. In other words…just serve. Do something. Do everything. Do what you helps. If you can do it, then do it.

With this kind of attitude we build the church, we make the name of Jesus better known, we love one another and glorify our Father in heaven. From such an attitude a new orange cake business was started, a new honest blog was begun.

When we live feeling like others owe us a favour or that we have somehow become entitled to rewards or promotion due to all we have already done, we are in danger of falling into pride and losing our focus on the God we are called to serve. What does it matter if we end up doing the same thing for the next 50 years? If it honours God and  helps builds His church, is that really a problem?

Use what you have. Do what you can. Start where you are. Get on the journey of serving and allow God to then direct the route and the steps He has ordained. God wants to get us to where He needs us to be more than we want to get there, so the best option is always to just start to serve somewhere.

Avoiding the Tit-for-Tat

If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff [Matthew 5:38-48]

Honestly, how is our walk with God? How would we score ourselves? What would we say needs to change?

Maybe in the area of my interaction with others there is some room for improvement. Jesus was all about people. He had compassion for the lost, he wanted people to know about the kingdom, and he was direct at times with those who thought they were better than the rest. 

One thing he never got into though was the good old tit-for-tat, one of the great human pastimes that just seems to make more trouble for us than actually help us. 

As humans we might be guilty of wasting an awful amount of energy and resource in getting back at people, giving as good as we get, involving ourselves in a tit-for-tat argument. 

According to the words of Jesus there is an antidote to this behaviour. It can be considered counterintuitive, it’s a deliberate choice on our part but it involves 5 simple things…

1. Live generously
2. Love your enemies
3. Live graciously 
4. Give your best to everyone
5. Pray for them

This is a challenge in my walk with God and to be honest I need to be walking well with God to even get close to being consistent in these. 

How about you?

Moved By Grace

I am preaching at United Night tomorrow (Sunday) at Xcel Church. It’s been a while and I am really looking forward to it. This series on grace has been epic so far and the message I am going to share, is in my opinion one the simplest yet most powerful pictures of grace so far.

To be accepted for who are you, warts and all, that’s the grace that Jesus offers. When He entered the world the whole idea of grace changed. It became a person. A person who is on the lookout for people. On the lookout for you and me.

How unworthy do you feel?
How could God love me after everything I have done?
I am not good enough for Jesus?
Why would Jesus want me?

However unlikely a candidate for Jesus you consider yourself, grace does not walk past you and your life. Instead it finds you, stands in your way and offers itself to you.

When you don’t need more rules, to be told how wrong you have behaved, don’t need that finger pointed in your face telling you to sort yourself out and that when you have improved then you can come back, that’s when grace is at its very best.

Jesus is grace. He doesn’t come with a Holy tick-list to be completed. Instead He offers grace. He accepts you and has just one simple invitation. ‘Follow me’.

To be moved by a message is such an incredible thing. To be moved by a message while preparing it is something I’m not sure I have experienced for a while, maybe ever.

Grace changes everything. Grace changes me. I never had to earn it, never had to be good enough. It is a gift for me. I am accepted. Grace has saved me. Now grace empowers me to live.

Praying that the power of this series and the unpacking of the wonders of Gods grace will change at least one persons life forever.