Don’t perform, let God reform

2 Corinthians 2:16-17 (MSG)

This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No— but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.

We must speak out what God puts on our hearts, not tailoring our words to suit the people or what we think they want to hear.

It is extremely dangerous when we deviate from the message God gives us to share. Yet it is easy to take it into our own hands and add our own interpretation or leave bits out to suit our audience.

1 Corinthians 1:17 (MSG)
God didn’t send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.

The Gospel message and what Jesus did is so profound, a plan that only a Master could have thought of.

But even if we preach it with all the glamour, glitz and fancy words in our vocabulary, it is still only words we use. The more eloquent your speech is the less power is held in the miracle act itself, cheapening it.

So keep it simple, be yourself, don’t deviate from the truth. Allow the Holy Spirit to do the talking through you.

The heart of giving

How amazing does it feel to be generous! Generosity is contagious.

I love this time of year when we get to give to those around us and show the love of Jesus in extravagant ways!

But how about the ones who we don’t know or don’t know very well; the single mums, the homeless, the neighbours.

Pray and ask God to put people on your heart, to reveal those He has a special blessing for.

Be a magnet, and be drawn to want to give and bless. Look for opportunities wherever you go. God gave us the greatest gift ever given; His Son Jesus. So the least we can do is pour blessings and love upon others.

Go out of your way for someone and make them feel loved. Speak words of encouragement, offer to pray, open the door, help someone with their shopping and let that impatient car go in front of you.

Together let’s cultivate an atmosphere of giving and watch the love spread.

Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give!
Proverbs 21:26 (NLT)

Do it again

Mark 8:16-21 (MSG)

Meanwhile, the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus overheard and said, “Why are you fussing because you forgot bread? Don’t you see the point of all this? Don’t you get it at all? Remember the five loaves I broke for the five thousand? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”
They said, “Twelve.”
“And the seven loaves for the four thousand—how many bags full of leftovers did you get?”
“Seven.”
He said, “Do you still not get it?”

Isn’t it ironic that one minute the disciples are in the midst of amazing breakthrough and experiencing the most extreme of miracles, and then soon after that they find themselves in lack?

Oh, while it’s happening they can believe. They can see the bread being passed around and not ending, never running out. It just keeps going and feeds all those people. Not only that, there are leftovers!

Suddenly they find themselves in the same situation, however this time they just need to feed themselves. They forgot their lunch and somehow they don’t expect God will come through.

Did they forget what Jesus has just done? Twice? Or do they just not believe He will do it again? Clearly they were not thinking with a spiritual mind but a logical, humanistic one.

Jesus can do it again and will do it again! He may not do it exactly the same way, but have faith, start expecting for it again.

The fact that He did it once is a guarantee He can come through again. He wants to bring abundance again, He wants to heal again, He wants to break down bondages again.

So if you find yourself asking for a miracle He has done before: reflect, wait, expect and believe He will do it again!

Your net won’t rip under this coming harvest!

John 21:5-6 (MSG)

Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?”
They answered, “No.”
He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.”
They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in.

John21:10-11 (MSG)
Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore—153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn’t rip.

God is preparing massive harvests for those who believe. Harvests of fish (souls), disciples, miracles, signs and wonders. He is also using unusual circumstances to bring financial harvest. You will probably feel you are under prepared and not capable of carrying such a great amount.

Whatever your harvest involves, know this: God has prepared a net that is so strong that you will not sink under the weight. He has built you up, strengthened you and prepared you for this very moment.

What are you believing for that you are invested in? You have the strength to withstand the weight of such an abundant harvest. Your net will not rip. Get ready to haul it in.

Keeping the joy

Christmas can be a challenging season for many, and most people I talk to feel very overwhelmed with events, parties, concerts, finalising reports, family gatherings, cooking and wrapping gifts.

With so much going on in our minds it’s so easy to forget the beauty of this season as we get carried away with ‘getting through’ everything.

God has not purposed for us to just survive and get by, but to embrace the true Spirit of this season: to embrace Him. He is Perfection, Glory, Majesty, Divinity. He is Saviour, Messiah and our best friend. And He came to us as a baby boy!

Luke 2:9‭-‬11 (NLT)
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great JOY to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!

So don’t get too busy for Him. But take a moment, take a breath to imagine Him as a baby, to worship Him and focus on the beauty of Christmas, the beauty of Christ Himself.

Life or death is in the eye of the beholder (Part 2)

1 Sam 7:2-6 (MSG)

From the time that the Chest came to rest in Kiriath Jearim, a long time passed—twenty years it was—and throughout Israel there was a widespread, fearful movement toward God.

Then Samuel addressed the house of Israel: “If you are truly serious about coming back to God, clean house. Get rid of the foreign gods and fertility goddesses, ground yourselves firmly in God, worship him and him alone, and he’ll save you from Philistine oppression.”

They did it. They got rid of the gods and goddesses, the images of Baal and Ashtoreth, and gave their exclusive attention and service to God.

Next Samuel said, “Get everybody together at Mizpah and I’ll pray for you.”

So everyone assembled at Mizpah. They drew water from the wells and poured it out before God in a ritual of cleansing. They fasted all day and prayed, “We have sinned against God.” So Samuel prepared the Israelites for holy war there at Mizpah.

The chest of God or the ark of the Lord, as it is more commonly known, represents the presence of God. It was so powerful and contained so much glory that wherever it went mighty things occurred, both good and bad.

We can see here two different responses to the ark of the Lord -God’s presence. The philistines rejected it, wanting to get rid of it. See 1 Sam6:1-2

They knew the power it had in their camp and despised it, causing the wrath of God to fall on them. They did not honour it, revere it or allow it to cleanse them. In fact they were so caught up in the worship of other supernatural gods that they even asked them how to get rid of the presence of God.

On the other hand, the Israelites allowed the presence of God to completely change them from the inside out. They accepted it and celebrated the Glory, welcoming it into their camp.
Because of their reverence toward the ark, a mighty move of God was birthed, causing repentance and worship toward Him.

God’s presence will cause one reaction or the other. We need to be like the Israelites and run after the presence of God like never before. As we let it cleanse and purify our sins, those around us will follow, causing a mass exodus from idols and sin and into the loving arms of Christ. Choose life!

Life or death is in the eyes of the beholder (Part 1)

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NLT)

But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

1 Corinthians 1:18 (MSG) The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out.

Have you noticed that when you are really making headway with the Lord you are either loved or hated, praised or persecuted.

When you actually make a stand for God the reaction amongst the crowd is black or white. There is no middle ground.

Jesus experienced this when He showed love and performed miracles throughout His life right up until His death. To some He was valued and showered with expensive perfume while others mocked, kicked, beat and killed Him.

You will find that some people cannot stand to be around you and may ridicule and mock you. If your life is a godly example, they may not be willing to follow or associate with you. Others however will find in you the glory of Christ, the Essence of Life, flowing out of you.

No matter how you are perceived, continue the work God has for you. Don’t be weakened, half hearted or deterred because of the crowd. Allow it to propel you forward to do greater things!

Come out to meet Him

John 11:17-20 (NLT)

When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house.

Here we see Martha’s response during what was considered a ‘tragic’ situation. Instead of hanging around the grievers, she comes out to meet Jesus, her Saviour! The only One who can possibly help in this circumstance.

It seems like all hope is lost when her brother Lazarus has been dead for so long, but as she comes to Him she finds rest for her aching soul and ultimately the answer she requires.

Look in the next chapter at the response of the crowd:

John 12:17-18 (NIV)
Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him.

The crowd also come out to meet Him but notice how they come out to meet Him AFTER He has performed the miraculous sign of raising Lazarus from the dead. Most will come out to meet Him once they have seen a miracle.

We need to be like Martha and be the ones who will come out and meet Him before He has answered our prayer. If we don’t come to Him first, then there will neither be a prayer or a miracle following that prayer.

Martha was the One with boldness that set up the miracle by coming to Jesus. There is nothing that Jesus can’t fix. The key is that we must come forth and meet with Him in prayer. Don’t wait around grieving that your situation is dead, come forth and pray like Martha:

‘But I know that even now God will give You whatever you ask.’ John 11:22 (NIV)

Not by works

John 6:28-29 (NLT)

They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (NLT)

The disciples just did not get it! They thought that in order to please God they had to do all sorts of rituals, fasts and prayers.

They came from a place of having to follow very strict procedures and laws. But Jesus is saying here, ‘You are already loved by me without ever doing another thing. You are accepted as part of My family through Jesus. It is almost too good to be true so we have trouble receiving it.

This was a turning point in history where Jesus paved the way for the release from a ‘works’ mentality. The law became obsolete.

Whether we attend church every week, pray ten times a day, read the bible constantly or not, although these things are good and necessary, and bring us closer to God, our position with the Father is not changed.

He has accepted us because of the simple fact that we believe in Jesus. That is the only thing God requires of us to be saved.

So you can come before Him with boldness, with your head held high knowing that you are accepted as long as you believe in Jesus.

If you continue to abide in Him you can be confident that He calls you His very own prized possession.

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