May 2016

Live as if time were not your own

I wish to encourage you to live as if time were not your own.

We live in a world where the preciousness of time is mostly taken for granted, living as if life has no end, as if pleasures are all that matters, as if personal fulfilment is the supreme goal of our existence. Contrary to worldly thinking, God is not a kill-joy! He agrees, it’s good to have fun, to explore the adventures of life, and to appreciate the exciting times. However, wonderful experiences should be lived for the purpose of God’s glory, not for sin.

Job, having lost all this world treasures (possessions, money, children, friends, employees, popularity, health), presents us with a sobering reality check; “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). We are delicately paused within mortality, housed within fragile bodies, and near sighted concerning the certainty of eternity. James, Jesus younger brother, sums up our vulnerability; “you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). The Lord informed Belshazzar; “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end” (Daniel 5:26). Jesus told a parable emphasising this reality; a rich farmer said to himself, “I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” (Luke 12:18-20).

Time is a precious gift, not to be taken for granted. As we all know, there are no second chances at how we use time. There is no ‘Restart or Replay’ buttons, no reincarnation. There is no negotiation or bargaining at the end of our time. We cannot deny the inevitability of that day which awaits us all. I recall my 85 year old Dad, telling me how he still felt like a 21 year old. Yet, his body was spent, time had run its course. Dad’s legacy was that he had lived his time for the Lord Jesus Christ. Dad was ready and happy to be taken home to His Heavenly Father.

The apostle Peter reminds us that we should live our “time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2). As Christians “we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8). Our time was never ours in the first place. God always intended it to be used for loving Him through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

I pray that all who read this, will not love “the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:43). I encourage you, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Allow Christ to take control, to determine your daily decisions, to speak the gospel through you, to live out His character through you. Submit to the Saviour’s will, live your time as if it were not your own. Live His time which is entrusted to you for His purpose and His glory.


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Live to see God’s will done

I wish to encourage you to live to see God’s will done.

A common condition that cuts across all cultures, and manifests from an early age, is that we don’t respond well when we don’t get what we want. We are typically very protective of our ‘so-called rights’ to do what we want. In other words, we naturally tend to will and do as we please. Not so the child of God!

Jesus, instructing His disciples on how to pray, following His initial worship, says, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). While most believers are very happy for God’s will to be perfectly and instantaneously carried out in heaven, we’re lease than enthusiastic to apply the same principle to our own lives. The fact is, in this matter of living for God’s will to be done, we need to increasingly adopt the attitude of John the Baptist, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Genuinely desiring our Heavenly Father’s will to be accomplished in our lives is an integral component of our highest worship. In so doing, we acknowledge His rightful sovereignty, His entitlement to Lordship, and our rightful servitude. In this most important matter, we need to regularly ask, as the disciples did, Lord “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).

Our very salvation evidences that, “He (God) predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:5). God’s will always has purpose. He never does anything simply for the sake of doing it. As “those who belong to Christ Jesus (who) have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24-25), let us focus our spiritual, emotional, and intellectual “minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2-3).

As is so often the case, Christ leads by divine example, exemplifying His righteous submission when saying; “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:30). Obviously, what our Heavenly Father wants, how He wants to accomplish what He wants, and His timing, is going to differ from our way of thinking; For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8). God’s eternal holiness, His infinite knowledge and wisdom, His glory, His mercy, and His love of us, all work together to determine His will for our lives. He sees and understands every component of every situation, nothing is overlooked, and nothing is disregarded as irrelevant, as He lavishes his sovereign love and irresistible grace upon us (1 John 3:1).

Seeking another’s will in preference to our own requires a Holy Spirit generated work within our hearts. So, we pray; Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”! (Psalms 139:23-24). Let our response mirror that of Thomas, who answered Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28), as we acknowledge that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

I encourage you to live as those looking for God’s will to be done in your life, putting Jesus Christ first! Invite His Holy Spirit to inspire your spiritual motives, your aspirations, your passions, to embolden your faith, to enlarge your willingness for personal sacrifice, and empower your willingness to tell the lost of their only Saviour, Jesus Christ! For His glory alone!


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Think clearly about Jesus Christ

I wish to encourage you to think clearly about Jesus Christ.

Most of us know the frustration of having someone wrongly comment on what they think you are like. We sometimes respond, “Well, you obviously don’t know me as well as you think.” Mankind is quick to spout off their opinions of God with fallible certainty, while God is probably saying, “Well, you obviously don’t know me.” So, how do we get to know God with the clarity and certainty that God would agree with?

The created universe screams at us of God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they (mankind) are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Complimenting creation’s voice, God, who still knows what He thinks, is able to communicate His truth with perfect clarity through His written Word, the Bible.

Although it makes sense to ask God directly, mankind typically looks to religion, philosophy, astrology, science, mythology, spiritualism, mysticism, and any number of other unrelated sources, for insights into who God is. God wrote the Bible for the specific purpose of allowing you to get to know Him directly. The prophet Ezekiel recorded the Lord saying to Israel approximately 70 times, “you shall know that I am the LORD”. God wants to be known! He has not hidden Himself.

God explains that “he has spoken to us by his Son (Jesus Christ), He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:2-3). So, if you genuinely want to know God, you seek the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). The apostle John affirmed that Jesus Christ “has made him (God) known” (John 1:18).

Here’s the thing, by allowing voices other than God’s written Word to influence your view of Jesus Christ, you easily form a distorted view of God which results in a false sense of identity, both yours and Gods. You unavoidably conclude that Jesus Christ is less than holy God, and that man is more than sinfully independent of his creator. The Bible presents Jesus Christ in absolutes, in challenging words of truth that brings clarity, opening your heart and mind to His terms of restoration, spiritual regeneration, and the Christ centred relationship that He intends for you.

To be a Christian we must agree with God about who Jesus Christ is, agreeing that Jesus is “our great God and Saviour” (Titus 2:13). We must believe in (trust in, depend upon) Jesus who “was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Justification means we are acquitted from guilt, presented as right before God purely because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which He did in our place. Jesus “bore our sins in his body” when He died on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). God the Father vented His full justice on His Son, punishing Jesus with our death penalty for our sin. To be a Christian we must love Jesus Christ as Lord (Master), which identifies the pretend from the genuine Christians. Jesus declared His Lordship over anyone who genuinely wants to believe in Him by saying; ”If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

I encourage you to ask yourself, “do I think clearly about Jesus Christ?” If you would like to read a more detailed explanation, you can download What is a Christian by clicking on this link.


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Be a refresher of others

I wish to encourage you to be a refresher of others.

Most of us know the sweet experience of having someone refresh our spirit, to uplift us, to encourage and brighten our day. We can resonate with the intent of Isaiah 52:7; How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns.”

I relish the apostle Paul’s words to Philemon, exhorting him to forgive the returning run-away slave Onesimus; I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ (Philemon :20). Forgiveness is a breath of fresh air in the lives of those touched by the stench of offence and unforgiveness.  Paul speaks to Philemon in verse 20 as if he is entitled to this spiritual benefit of refreshment. The tone is one of expectation by Paul that carries a responsibility for mutual benefit for both parties in Christ. I admit this has opened my eyes as to my responsibility of being a man of refreshment. I do not have the right to withhold that which is beneficial to another. But how often my flesh thinks it is justified in depriving God’s people of this much needed ministry. This too is a form of pride that attempts to justify sins of omission. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (James. 4:17).

Refreshing another soul is not only divinely designed into our spiritual DNA, but carries with it a wonderful reciprocal blessing;A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25). When the apostle Paul was giving corrective instruction to the sin laden church in Corinth, he instructed the men to; Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love …I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, 17-18).

Refreshment does not focus merely on physical and emotional well-being, but on the spiritual life of its recipients also. What better occasion, than following restoration, to initiate the ministry of refreshment. The beauty that exists immediately following repentance, forgiveness and restoration, is that of purity with great joy and peace. Into this sweet environment the child of God will endeavour to breathe in the lasting characteristics of refreshment. The mature Saint will seek to interact with others in such a way that causes an awareness of being uplifted, encouraged, inspired, and motivated to live the life of Christ through the coming days.

Christ’s love enables us to implement this remarkable Holy Spirit energised blessing into hearts that are open to being refreshed. The ministry of refreshment flows out of a character that is strong, that stands firm, that abides in Christ, which looks to conduct itself in all of its affairs in love. Refreshment does not suddenly happen, as if one day you unexpectedly decide to become refreshing to others in the Lord. It is yet another facet of the fruit of a Spirit filled life that understands the nature of spiritual virtues that flow out from us into others. This is in essence at the heart of discipleship, taking another human soul and showing them how to follow Jesus Christ as Lord, for God’s glory.

I encourage you to find someone today who you can refresh with the love of Jesus Christ.


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