Tuesday, February 25, 2014
By Colleen Podmore
The other day I decided to walk to the top of a rocky outcrop called The Pinnacles on the Thames Peninsula. I made the decision to go and I began to prepare for the journey.
Finally, the day arrived and I found myself on the track walking along and I began to observe at least four different components that were required to work together for me to get to my destination. Of course I’m sure there are a lot more but today I would like to focus on just four and to make some spiritual parallels that will help us reach our spiritual goals as I reached my physical goal.
If I was missing just one of these components – I would not make it. If one was not working properly – I would not make it. All the four components that I will describe are equally important.
I noticed my heart beating fast as I climbed the steps on my walk. It is truly amazing that it should be able to beat faster and faster as the need requires. But when rested for a moment, slows down again. Where would we be if our hearts stopped beating for even a moment?
The Bible says that God gives us a new heart when we trust in Jesus. It completely changes us, the way we think, the things we do and it will beat forever! We are regenerated and renewed by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). Unless we are born again we will not see the kingdom of God (John 3:3) The Bible says ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God’ (Matt 5:8). In Psalm 50:10, David cries out for a ‘pure heart or a clean heart.’
How important it is for our bodies to have a strong heart and how equally important is it for our spiritual lives to have clean pure hearts. This is a worthy goal – what do I need to change to achieve it? What steps can I take?
As I continued to labour up the hill, my breathing became heavier; I should say by now I was gasping for air. My body was screaming out for oxygen. The oxygen was flooding into my lungs and was then transferred to haemoglobin where it was transported around my blood stream until it was used up by the cells requirements.
I was so grateful for the clean pure air, no pollution, no contaminants, no exhaust fumes. In fact my exhaust fumes – the carbon dioxide I breathed out, was taken up by the green plants and converted to oxygen – now there is a miracle!
The Holy Spirit is often referred to as being like wind and this is similar to the air/oxygen we breathe – essential for life – essential to our souls. Have I been breathing deeply of the Spirit? Sometimes we can breathe in other fumes, other influences apart from the pure oxygen of the Spirit.
This is a worthy goal – to spend more time under the influence of the Holy Spirit. What do I need to change to achieve more of Him? What steps can I take? What can I start doing? What can I stop doing?
As I was walking along the path it began to get steeper. My legs were aching but still functioning. It is amazing when we consider how we are put together.
Bones provide support for our bodies and help form our shape. Bones are both very light and very strong. Joints occur when two bones meet and allow for flexibility and movement. Muscles are masses of tough elastic tissue that pull our bones when we move.
Bones are fastened together with ligaments while cartilage protects the ends of bones so they don’t rub together. Muscles are fastened to bones with tendons.
Bones can break, muscles can weaken and joints can be damaged by injury and disease.
The Bible says we are the body of Christ – each part with a function to perform – 1Cor 12:12. Just as my body worked together in unity to get me to my physical goal; so must the body of Christ work in unity to get us to our spiritual goals. We need each other, we are no longer individuals.
There is no doubt about it; we are fearfully and wonderfully made. If God can create our human bodies to function as they do, imagine His work on building the church – beautiful! (Matt 16:18)
This is a worthy goal to attain – to be a part of the body of Christ. Maybe I could find a job in the church programme. Become like a well-functioning muscle so that meetings run smoothly. What do I need to change to achieve this? What steps do I need to take?
Finally, I had already decided that I was going to reach my physical destination, therefore my mind was focussed on my goal. I had direction and purpose and meaning.
The Bible says we are to ‘Love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength’ (Mark 12:30, Matt 22:37; Dt 6:5).
“Therefore I press on toward the Goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil3:14)
This is a most worthy goal to pursue. This is our mountain to climb: To love God!
Saturday, February 22, 2014
By odon Bulamba
Job29:18; Deut 32:10-11
Every day comes with its own realities, yesterday has passed and we won’t see it anymore and we don’t know what the future holds for us, only what we have in our hands today.
Job said in job 29:18, “I will die in my nest”. Other Bible versions say, “I shall die in my nest”. Job faced a lot of problems, lost His children, His belongings, His health and preferred to die rather than to live regardless of His friends coming to encourage him every day. He had a skin problem which forced him to use a stone to scratch His skin because it was so intensely itchy. Everybody put him aside because of the boils all over His body and His wife said, “why don’t you ask God to kill you”. He answered, “Better to be the way that I am and die in my nest”.
I want to tell you today to never and ever die in your nest. Don’t accept to die in your nest of challenges, secrets or problems. Wherever you are with your problems, don’t let them wear you but make sure that you wear your problems.
“In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of His eye,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of His eye,
like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them aloft.”
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them aloft.”
The first song we sang today was, “This is my desire”. What is my real desire? I might say a big mansion, or nice car, or to be completely healed, to have children, or to have money. What is your desire? If God asks you that today, “What do you want me to do for you, for your family?” what will you answer, is it to get a nice job or clothes or something else?
As the eagle stirs up the nest: don’t ever die in your nest. The eagle which is a big, intelligent bird can fly up to a great height in a few seconds come down and pick up something from the ground and they have incredibly perfect eyesight. This eagle can spread its wings and can go to wingspan of 9 feet and can weigh around 20 kg but can pick up 60kg. The eagle can mate while in the air and no other bird can do that. It’s an amazing bird. They are special, unique and if we go through all their characteristics we can picture God. God called Himself an eagle in the Bible and if God our father, the eagle, who is capable of seeing everything and doing everything then His children will be called eaglets (little eagle chicks).
When it’s time for eagle to lay eggs, they will collect materials to make a nest by going from one place to another collecting one branch from here and another from there to make a big nest. Every single branch will come from a different corner of the world with its own history. Only the eagle can tell you where that branch is from and knows why he collected it.
Once the nest is done, the eagle has to smooth the inside of the nest so that the eggs can’t be destroyed by a branch piercing it. The eggs are laid and now the real job begins. When you are called by God, before you are even born He started to collect all the materials. He collected pieces from here and there in order to make a house for you, to build a family for you by bringing your father from one place and your mother from another and putting it all together to make a family.
Once I tried to destroy an eagle’s nest. It’s not easy to destroy a nest built by an eagle, you have to be strong. The eagle makes a solid perfect art . Once you have your family, God starts to think about the eggs. The colour of the egg is white but when the chicks are born, they are not all white. The colour of the chick is different to the colour of the egg. The chicks live in the nest and fight each other but the eagle doesn’t care, she leaves them there to seek food and water for the chicks. God has given you a family and sometimes His presence isn’t there, He is away to seek for you and you blame and fight others. At work, you find people who tell you that you don’t deserve to be here, your colleagues put you down and when you are studying your lecture tells you that you know nothing and you feel depressed, ashamed and you ask yourself where is God, why am I the only one who is attacked, while you are absent God everybody attacks me.
Sickness attacks and there are problems after problems but the Lord will never let you down. The Lord comes back and will never let you down in the same way the eagle returns with the food. All the chicks beg for the food and the eagle gives to each chick and then the chick relaxes, sleeps and poops. The mother who made such a nice house is rewarded with poo.
As the chicks grow up the mother starts to see they have feathers and the mother realizes that she doesn’t have to feed them anymore and eagle will start to stir the nest so that the branches turn on the inside and the nest is no longer smooth so that the prickles make the nest uncomfortable. God changes everything so the chicks fly out and run away. Sometimes in your life you believe everything is comfortable and then suddenly it changes and you wonder why and how am I going to live and you try different ways but it doesn’t work, you are hurt and confused.
The eagle will always put His nest up high, about 200-300m high on top of a cliff or tree. The nest is right on the edge so that when everything is stirred up in nest and the chicks feel pain, the eagle starts to push them out. The chicks see the distance down, they start to fear and the mother sometimes allows them the chance to decide whether they will fly. Those that don’t want to fly; the eagle allows them to jump on her back. The eagle will fly up to 4km of high and then somewhere she will twist herself and the babies fall off and have to find their own way. If they don’t make it they will die so they struggle until they finally fly
God is telling you to leave your nest now. It is now too small where you are and so you can’t stay there anymore. When you were a teenager your parents started to prepare you for independence to leave the house. What independence do you have in your Lord? People say, God knows me and protects me but sometimes God will change your life and make it miserable for you so you will move out from your comfort zone to move ahead because what He has for you is bigger than what you see now.
Many people feel they are better where they are now but maybe God has called you for something bigger. If you want to be bigger for God, follow His instructions. God looks at you and He knows you are capable because He sees you now have wings, so He starts to stir up the situation. When God stirs up the situation, some people pray against satan and believe that everything negative only comes from satan. If someone crosses a problem or challenge people believe it is only from satan but know that sometimes God does that in order to change you.
In Exodus 3, Moses went to Midian where he met Jethro, His father in law who told him to take care of his sheep. Moses who grew up as a king in the palace of pharaoh, who was well educated, trained, knew many languages, had lived 40 years with servants doing everything for him and bowing down before him in a superpower country of Egypt with its extreme intelligence was now expected to tend sheep.
This happened because Moses had seen an Egyptian beating an Israelite and Moses intervened and killed the Egyptian and ran away. God was stirring up Moses who was now in the desert where he found Jethro. Moses would have thought to himself, “I’m Moses, the prince of Egypt,” so that meant nothing to Jethro. Imagine you come from Hamilton to go to the Sahara desert where there are no trees or plants. You can have a doctorate but that means nothing in the desert. Moses was forced to live in a new lifestyle, to survive in the desert without the food he liked or was familiar to, without his parents, or character. Moses was a prince with many skills but couldn’t use any of them in the desert.
Have you come across a situation where you had had knowledge but it’s not accepted. Maybe you are working as a nurse for 15 years and suddenly you lose your job with all your skills and information. God is trying to stir you.
Jethro gave Moses a job looking after sheep: Moses a prince had to play the role of a dog by being a shepherd all day. In New Zealand we use dogs to lead the sheep around but in those days people had to do that job. How humiliating it is when you lose everything and people look at you as a piece of rubbish. Your child talks badly to you like the chick pooping in the nest. Here Moses had no choice, he had to tend the sheep with zero training and it was a flock of hundreds going up the mountain and he had to bring them back every day taking control over all of them. How annoyed will you be when one sheep goes to the right and others to the left. Sometimes the pressure of life breaks you in pieces, you go to the left, to the right and you wonder what you are doing. Some shepherds give up. Never give up on life.
As Moses was walking in the bush, he saw fire but it wasn’t consuming the tree, it was a strange fire. Curiosity made him go close to see. If you we fire in a bush, most of us will run away or call 111 for protection but Moses decided to go closer. A voice called him, “Moses, Moses”. Imagine a voice coming from nowhere in your house, what will you do? You will fear, even run away because you might believe it was an evil power. Moses was told to take off his shoes because He wasn’t to come close because this is a holy place. Moses would have thought about his sheep that have walked and pooped on this place and it is now holy.
A common place in your life can also become a holy place, your situations and problems can become a holy place and give you a mission. God could only send Moses to go back to Egypt because he had learnt all the doors, gateways, languages, tricks and Moses could easily see Pharaoh because there was a good relationship between the two and no one could stop him from meeting with Pharoah. What you have been through up to now is just a pathway in order to redeem others from Egypt and come to Jesus. You know all the street languages, family members, signs and codes. The time you spent with the people in your past time was a time of learning, and now God is asking you to go back to bring the slaves out. The people in Egypt were slaves for 400 years and Moses was told to take them out of slavery.
Sinners are slaves and when we know many of them, we ate with them, spent time with them and then we leave them behind when we become Christians and they forget about us but when they see us again they welcome us back and we now have a chance to come and take the person somewhere safe. Unfortunately, many Christians go back to the Egypt and use the old experiences to go back to their old lifestyle doing the things they did before they were saved and encouraging the weaknesses of others. God becomes furious when you leave the nest only to back to the poop.
God loves you so much, more than we can love anyone on this earth and He is telling you, “you have to fly, take off from your lifestyle, start a new life”. Moses had an accent and was not accepted by the Israelites because of His old life as an Egyptian prince although he was a Hebrew. You can be rejected by others but God will continue to use you.
When Moses came to help his people the magicians transformed a staff into a snake and Moses was also performing miracles took his staff and that also turned into a snake but swallowed the snake of the magicians. Pharaoh wondered how Moses could learn such a thing because he had never seen Moses do anything like that. This was a new skill God had given to Moses. What is the new skill you have that can impress your old friends? What can prove to your old friends that you are a different person with different personality from when they knew you.
Moses continued to live with God day after day. Yesterday I was young, today I am old and one day I will die. What legacy will I leave behind? What legacy will you have? In my country if you are butcher people will bring cow heads to surround your graveyard. What legacy will you leave in the life of your friends, family and children? Never die in the nest, it is now time to fly out. We are going to pray for ourselves, our community, and our family to come out of these problems and for God to use and allow us to be the leaders of our community.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Saturday, February 8, 2014
By Graeme Robertson
As human beings we have a human trait which is insecurity about the future – and this is evidenced in the way we go about our lives and in what is shown on the news, and the way we relate to people. Historically, it even goes back to the time of Nebuchadnezer, in the book of Daniel, and he had sorcerers etc to predict the future and his spirit was anxious to know the answer to the dream that he had. Today we consult tarot cards and mediums, we have polls and questionnaires because we are anxious to know about tomorrow, which is really just an insecurity. We don’t like not knowing what tomorrow will bring because we want to be in control. How often have we Christians sought counsel from worldly people – do we catch ourselves still asking, whether we should do something or whether we shouldn’t? The weather forecast tries to predict the future weather and the whether forecast tries to predict the future. As Christians we have the answer because we can ask God ourselves.
In Matthew 27:51, it says that the curtain, or the veil was torn in two from top to bottom when Jesus rose from the dead. The veil separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Tabernacle. It symbolized a separation between God and the world and it has now been removed; now all mankind can approach God through Jesus Christ. Before then, only those people God selected could approach Him, but now we can talk to God through Jesus. However, we don’t always do that.
Instead we list all our problems and grief’s to Him in prayer only when it suits us. We should start our prayers with, ‘Dear Lord…’ and then describe our problem, but what we often do is we try to sort out the problem on our own and then pray about our solution. We can’t see the big picture, but Jesus knows the big picture…if you want peace and knowledge…seek Jesus. How often do we try to figure out the problem and then pray. For example I’ve just run out of petrol, so I’ll ask someone for petrol and then pray for that person to give it to me…but this is the wrong approach. Commit the situation to God; pray first because he knows the big picture and because He cares for us.
As Christians we must be vigilant and not worry about the future. Why did God put us on this planet? Did He ask us to try and figure out the future and what heaven will look like? Jesus said in John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled, my Father’s house has many mansions…” Jesus is preparing a place for us and these are His words and He has said, “Don’t worry about the future, I’ve got that under control...just carry on with what God has for you to do.”
Many churches around the world are discussing the ‘End Times’ and trying to figure out when that time will be, so they can be ready and prepared for it. However, Luke 12:35-40 says instead that we are to, “Let your waist be girded (be dressed and ready) and oil burning in your lamp…so you can open the door immediately when the master comes home…blessed are those who are ready when the master comes…blessed are those servants…but if they knew what hour the master was coming they might not be ready.’” In the same way Jesus will come again and we Christians should just be ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you don’t expect.
In addition, Jesus told His disciples in Acts 1:7-8, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority” but they were to be His witnesses ‘to the ends of the earth’ And we live in New Zealand which could be considered the ‘end of the earth’. In those times they didn’t’t even know NZ existed. This means that God knows the big picture and If God tells you to do something, go there or here, you better do it because He knows what He is doing. If you say, let me ask so and so first because you are not sure - wrong, because He knows the bigger picture.
Often we forget about praying for guidance. Christianity is a personal walk with Jesus and it’s not one size fits all because Jesus talks to each one individually and gives the words that they need to hear. Jesus through the Holy Spirit will help each person to hear what they need to hear and this can be seen through the way that one preaching will give a different message to each person who hears it. There is no limit to God and we can’t limit God. We have to surrender every part of our lives to God. Is the lord in control of your life? We have to pray every moment. A lot of people have difficulty praying and think it’s some sort of formula, but praying is in built and it’s hard wired…that means there is no switch on the wall that has to be turned on, but it is automatically always on. Jesus wants us to be in constant contact with Him and we need to be aware of the Holy Spirit in our spirit.
Do you ever experience a song in your mind that you can’t turn off? The other day a person told me that a song was stuck in her head and she couldn’t stop playing it over and over and in a similar way that makes us aware of the Holy Spirit. We can still focus on the job we have to do but we are also aware of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need to be aware and listening to the Holy Spirit with every step, breath and word we say, at home and not at home. Jesus is the head of our home and the unseen listener to every conversation.
In order to know the will of God we also have to just sit still and listen. Although it’s not natural to sit quietly and surrender, especially for us blokes who like to be busy and doing things, but we have to sit quietly where there are no external influences and just sit and ask the Holy Spirit to come and then soak in His presence and allow Him to give us what He knows we need, listen for Jesus’s words. The worst problem in your heart…just lift it up and let the Holy Spirit saturate you and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and show you the way because He is the Shepherd and He leads.
But, we have to trust and leave with the Lord every situation and allow Him to make the decisions and give entirely the problem to God rather than discussing it with Him. Jesus is listening to us.. and He hears the very second we ask. He never says, ‘I’m busy’, or ‘Talk to me later.’ No, He is right there so just surrender…give it all to Jesus and wait for the answer…it will come.
Often we like to take a little bit of control -but it doesn’t work like that, we have to surrender 100% or not at all…it can’t be half and half and sit in the fence. Do we submit all our problems to Jesus and take the first step to Jesus or do we try to find the answer elsewhere, do we try to find solutions on our own and not accept God’s answer?
Jesus has given us a job to do, fullstop! Furthermore it’s not for us to know the times/seasons, when something will happen but this is under God’s authority alone. In other words, ‘don’t sweat the little stuff’ because God is in control. But the one thing He tells us to do is to spread the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the dead. Acts 1:8, “After receiving the power from the Holy Spirit you have to be a witness to the world.” We have to show Jesus to others, we don’t have to push the gospel down people’s throat or stand on the street corner and preach, but just let the Holy Spirit prove to the world that we are different by our actions and people will say, “There is something about you…you are different”. Have the Holy Spirit glow out from you so that you won’t have to say a word before people know you are a Christian and they will come to you for answers. They will know you are different.
I spent weeks and months learning songs that I used to sing in pubs and I knew about 180 songs but when I came to the Lord I only sung songs about Jesus. When I decided to go busking (singing on the street and people can give money) recently, I had difficulty learning secular songs again and so I had to sing mostly Christian songs. I went for two hours busking on Saturday morning and after 2 hours, I only earned 2 dollars. There is a time and place for everything and even though I didn’t earn much money I was being a witness to Jesus. When people walk past and hear the songs of Jesus, some smile and I believe it’s the Holy Spirit saying He has that person’s soul under control.
When you witness to people, you may not even remember what you have said but you will praise God because His Holy Spirit did all the talking. When you are doing the Lord’s work, you will feel as close to heaven as you can on this earth and you will feel God’s voice saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
In New Zealand youth suicide is high and I believe it’s because there is no hope. We all need hope that God is in control and He knows the big picture. Let’s go from here today and have an awareness, ask God to prompt you, to remind us of His presence with us. I don’t know what your prompt will be…maybe music or an alarm that wakes you up in the morning with Christian music to keep us aware of Jesus constantly.