Looking Back

Model, Weser, Water, Path, Look Back, Woman, Go, Coat

Pixabay

It is amazing how quickly we can forget from where we have come from.  If we allow ourselves to be always forwards looking to greener fields, which many people teach is the right was to proceed in life, we can loose contact with how we got to this point anyway.  Who were the people, and what were the circumstances that have given us our outlook on life?  Do you recall that teacher who showed confidence in your abilities, and encouraged you to look beyond your self-imposed horizons?  Do we remember the loves found, and loves lost that taught us how to love, or sadly how not to?  Are we thankful for those rough times, when it just seemed that life was going nowhere, or worse still spiraling out of control?  Yet, you are still here, how did those moments make it that you are?

We are the sum of every person we have ever met.  We are the legacy of the events that framed us.  Let’s take a few moments to day to reflect and recall, and then move onwards into the unknown.
From whence have you came?

And to what place do you now go?

What were those fertile fields –

That nurtured and helped you grow?

You are but one person,

But yet a multifaceted being

You have been moulded and shaped

Everyday by life’s everythings.

 

Padre

 

Exit

Emergency, Exit, Green, White, Direction

image: Pixabay

Moses encountered God in the burning bush.  In the conversation which took place, God tasked Moses with going to Pharaoh and demanding that the children of Israel be released from bondage, and allowed to return to the promised land.

God didn’t just want to get his people out of Egypt, but Egypt out of his people.  There followed a long period in the desert.  The desert was a time of testing and purifying.  The Hebrews learned to rely on God, and not on the leeks and onions of the Nile.  They also had to get rid of the slave mentality.

This slave mindset is seen repeatedly.  They feared Pharaoh’s chariots, and the sea before them.  Even though they had already seen the plagues set upon the Egyptians by God.  Despite this God again freed them with a spectacular act of dividing the Red Sea.  But the slave mentality is seen yet again.  Spies are sent into the land, and though reports of the goodness of the place is there, the people focus on the walled cities and the giants, and not on God’s presence, or their own superior numbers.  They were slaves to the heart.

The purging in the desert created a people reliant on God.  The wanderings weeded out those who wanted to remain slaves in thought, or worse still – those who wanted to physically return to Egypt.

We face deserts or wildernesses in our lives.  There are times which seem to be barren and forbidding.  But these should not be cues for us to say, “Well I will go back to my old sinful life, where I ‘had fun’ or just ‘went with the flow’ of the world.

Jesus gave us a model of how to face deserts.  He went into the wilderness as well!  He went into the lonely places for forty days, and there suffered as one who was totally a man.  He was hungry like us, and He faced temptations of ‘the easy way’.”  But in these temptations He proved himself fully God, as well as fully man.  He resisted and rested in the word of God to the point of triumph.

The Hebrews saw God’s glory directly, but still were full of figurative “Egypt.”  They had to be tested, and those who trusted like Caleb and Joshua became a people of figurative Canaan (the promised land), and not of the fleshpots of Egypt.

Are we ready to make a good exit from our own Egypts as well?

Padre

Beyond The Comfort Zone

crossbible

Sister Cheryl brought us a challenging message this week on stepping beyond our comfort zones, and expanding our horizons in God’s service. For many of us the temptation is to stay with what is familiar to us, and to play it safe.  There are several scriptures that address this including the parable of the talents (Matthew 25). And while  the diligent servant in Luke 12:42-43, is rewarded for carrying out his master’s business,  there nonetheless remains a call for further growth.

Okay, growth sounds good.  But moving out of the comfort zone isn’t always easy.  We each have our own points of resistance.  It may be shyness.  It may be time constraints. It may be ego. But these require change to overcome.  Luke 22 gives an example of this,

“A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.  But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.  For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.  You are those who have stood by me in my trials.  And I confer on you a kingdom,just as my Father conferred one on me,  so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (vs 24-30).”

Here we see ego as a hindrance to growth.  Jesus quickly nips it in the bud by turning the idea of greatness of its head.  He says that if they are to be all they can be, they need to give up even the status they presently have.  They are to become like children, and humble themselves.

Jesus then turns the focus onto the process of change. He notes that it is like a threshing,  as He tells Peter what the future holds, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers (vs 31-32).” This is a loaded statement.  It notes that Peter will fail (expanded on in verses 33-34), but that he will in turn, be returned, and in the process of sifting, become a strength to others.  Threshing and sifting (beating and being tossed about) are not pleasant propositions, but in prevailing through such tests and trials, growth is achieved.

As we grow, we find new comfort zones. Our horizons are expanded.  And do we rest then? No, we grow again! It may not be easy, but it is rewarding. Paul writes,

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us . . . . In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Romans 8: 18-30).

Our testings will lead to growth.  Growth in turn will lead to glory.  And what is the point we seek?  To be conformed to the image of Christ.  Now there is a comfort zone to rest in!

Padre

 

Key to Life

Key to Life

Pastor Vince gave a passionate presentation this week of the key principles of Christian life, and life more generally. He then expanded this general theme by noting the example and attitude of the Apostle Paul.

Philippians 4: 10f reads, “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” A central factor in the key to life, is accepting the circumstances that we are in and making the most of the situation.

Pastor Vince then expanded this with the observation, that each of us has a different ministry, different lives, and different callings.  All too often, we fail to find “the peace beyond understanding,” because we are judging our own lives by the standards, abilities, and callings of others.

Paul had in several places spoken of the different gifts of the Spirit, and of the different parts and functions of parts of the body. We are meant to function corporately. Think in secular terms. Could we function as a society if everyone was a lawyer, or doctor? Who would build our houses or grow our food? We need to find the gift and vocation God has prepared us for, and then be the best at it we can be.  Not spending our time wishing we were something else, someone else, or that things were different.

Luke 22 shows us this.  Jesus told the disciples of trials ahead.  Peter took the view that that can’t be the case. He was after the “making things different than they are” approach. Verses 31 and 32 tell us how Jesus then prophecised, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Essentially it is saying “Peter, you are going to be tested, and tried. The chaff will be blown away, and what is left will be stronger for it.”

Tested, proved, completed. We have examples of this as well, notably in I Samuel 17. Young David had already killed a  lion and a bear before he ever saw Goliath. God had tested him, proved him, and perfected him to the task of facing giants.

We like Paul need to be open to the good and the bad.  We need to grow in the times of want, and to praise in the times of plenty. We need to not seek to accept that we have a role even when times are difficult, and wishing them away is not an option (like Peter had to learn). And we need to take those opportunities to grow and be tempered as Peter and David were.

The key to life, is to trust God who is guiding us, and to take the world for what it is, in the good and the bad.

Padre

 

Mary or Martha?

6a00d8341bffb053ef0133ec634f9d970b-640wi

In Luke 10:38-42 we read, “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Our spiritual life is often like Martha’s.  We get caught up with the latest church growth programme, outreach strategy, or “the class of all classes.”  All of which is at times at the expense of our quiet contemplation of the principles and teachings which underlie them. We get ourselves fussed over the appearance or feeling that we are “doing something,” rather than growing.

Jesus said, ” But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).” I am not saying we should not have programmes and projects, but that we should not make them an end in and of themselves.  Mary understood this.  She focused on the core of Jesus’ words, and in so doing “chose what is better.”

Let us each approach today in seeking God’s message in our lives.  If that leads us to go and do more, wonderful.  But is it calls on us to take a step back to build our personal relationship with Him, then that is wonderful too.

Be a Mary today, before you enter into a Martha-like rushing about.  Seek His guidance, follow His path. Find and then do what is important, not just do to do.

Padre