Be ready for these times

We need to be ready for the times that are coming. What times are coming? End times? I don’t know, but I do feel that something is about to happen.

Hosea 10:12, Sow for yourselves righteousness;

Reap in mercy;

Break up your fallow ground,

For it is time to seek the Lord,

Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

Colossians 4:2, Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving

1 Thessalonians 5:6-10, Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

These verses are warning us and instructing us to be vigilant and to be prepared. But these verses were written 2000 years ago. Are they still relevant for the times we are living in? I believe they more relevant than ever. We are living in perilous times.

The weather is out of sorts and unpredictable. The economy is unstable. Politics is generally a mess. People mostly can’t be taken at their word and churches are emptying at an alarming rate. We have been conditioned be society and by educational institutions to act like the world. Christians are being made fun and ridiculed at universities for their views. In countries where freedom of speech is propagated Christians are being persecuted for daring to propagate and stand up for their beliefs. The bible and prayer have been taken out of many schools and children are being taught unbiblical values.

What are Christians supposed to do? How are we supposed to act?

Let us look at Hosea 10:12. Sow for yourself righteousness. In other words, do the biblical thing. What would Jesus do? Break up fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord. We have to turn and face God. We have to earnestly seek His face and His will. There’s no time to waste or procrastinate. Now is the time to take action and firstly get right with God. Getting right with God shouldn’t take you longer than about 5 minutes. Repent, ask forgiveness and make a commitment to spend more time with Him daily. Then you can start your new journey of getting intimate with God and going to the secret place. There’s no point in doing ministry if you don’t spend one-on-one time with your Father. He is the only one who can give you what you need so that you can break the fallow ground. So that you can go out into the world (your world) and be a fisher of men.

Colossians 4:2 says we have to persevere in prayer and be thankful. Being thankful is such a great game changer. It is the way we change our mindset and overcome all kinds of hardship. Being thankful for what we have allows us to forgive. It allows us to show mercy. And of course as long as we are praying we are communicating with the Lord. Something to remember about prayer is that we don’t just put our side of the story before God and then switch off. We have to take time to listen to what He is telling us too. People often say that they don’t hear God, but the answer is being silent and taking time to listen. His there and He wants to communicate with us.

1 Thessalonians 5:6-10. This passage says that we are in the day. We must not get entangled in things that are done in the dark and that are of the dark. If we have the Holy Spirit living in us it is not hard to discern which things are light and which are dark. We have a warning system that comes with being a believer. We need to pay attention to the times we don’t feel at peace with things. That means that something isn’t right and we can’t be part of it.

No matter what is on the horizon, we need to be ready for it. We have to be clothed in the armour of God at all times and our lamps need to be full of oil. If Jesus comes tomorrow we need to be ready, but if our lives on earth are cut short we also need to be ready. Jesus is the flame and we need to be like moths that are trying to get closer and closer to Him all the time.

An easy life

Don’t we all feel that, every now and again, God could just give us a little break, make life a bit easier for us? We are, after all, His children, His heirs, the ones He chose. I know that I have often emphasized how hard times and trials are actually good for us. How we need to go through very challenging times in order to grow spiritually and to gain patience, understanding and character. We know all that, it’s just that life gets really hard sometimes. I was watching a video today where a speaker was saying that once we get saved, God doesn’t see us as we are anymore. He sees the blood of Jesus. When He looks at us, He sees Jesus. So would we be justified in saying that if God saw His only Son when He looks at us, He should give us a little more of what we want and a little less of what is supposed to be good for us.
Let us take a look at the life of Jesus. Maybe we will be able to understand better. After Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, Jesus was taken to the wilderness where He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. This is Matthew 4:1-10. Then Satan came to Him and Jesus was firstly tempted by food. He was extremely hungry. How would you feel if you hadn’t eaten for almost a month and a half? The devil told him to turn stones into bread. There was certainly no reason He couldn’t do it, but He would not give in to the enemy. Every time that Satan tempted him, Jesus came back with an answer from scripture.
Then, of course, the chief priests and the Pharisees continuously questioned Jesus on His authority. He couldn’t go anywhere peacefully.
Matthew 12:9-13 gives the account of how Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. The Pharisees started to plot how to kill Jesus after this incident.
Matthew 12:22-24, Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
Luke 4:28 – 29, All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.
He was criticized over and over and over again for doing good. Eventually He was arrested, tried, found guilty without reason, tortured, humiliated and hung on a cross to die.
Now you tell me when last all these things, or any of them, for that matter, happened to you? Just think about is for a while. We are tempted, but not to the extent that Jesus was tempted. Most of us haven’t healed many people of the Sabbath, or any other day for that matter. And if we did, were we judged for doing it? And when was the last time you drove out a demon and your salvation was questioned? Maybe I shouldn’t ask when one of us was run out of town for our faith. Very few people have such assurance of their salvation that they are willing to die for it.
Jesus was confronted with all these things and many, many more in the space of three short years. God did not give Jesus an easy life while He was on earth. His only begotten son did not live in the lap of luxury or have everything that his heart desired. His blessings were truly all saved up for heaven. If Jesus didn’t have a ‘bed of roses’ kind of life, who are we to desire one?
I’m not saying that everything will always be a struggle, but I know that if we live according to what Jesus taught, we should be prepared to live the kind of life He did. I do know that if we do the things the way Jesus did them, we are also going to have blessing stored up for us in Heaven.

Poetry

Forgiven

A poem of insight and instruction, by King David

1 How happy and fulfilled are those

whose rebellion has been forgiven,

those whose sins are covered by blood.

2 How blessed and relieved are those

who have confessed their corruption to God!

For he wipes their slates clean

and removes hypocrisy from their hearts.

3 Before I confessed my sins, I kept it all inside;

my dishonesty devastated my inner life,

causing my life to be filled with frustration,

irrepressible anguish, and misery.

4 The pain never let up, for your hand of conviction

was heavy on my heart.

My strength was sapped, my inner life dried up

like a spiritual drought within my soul.

Pause in his presence

5 Then I finally admitted to you all my sins,

refusing to hide them any longer.

I said, “My life-giving God,

I will openly acknowledge my evil actions.”

And you forgave me!

All at once the guilt of my sin washed away

and all my pain disappeared!

Pause in his presence

6 This is what I’ve learned through it all:

All believers should confess their sins to God;

do it every time God has uncovered you

in the time of exposing.

For if you do this, when sudden storms of life overwhelm,

you’ll be kept safe.

7 Lord, you are my secret hiding place,

protecting me from these troubles,

surrounding me with songs of gladness!

Your joyous shouts of rescue release my breakthrough.

Pause in his presence

8-9 I hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you,

instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life.

I will advise you along the way

and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.

So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn

when I take you where you’ve not been before.

Don’t make me tug you and pull you along.

Just come with me!”

10 So my conclusion is this:

Many are the sorrows and frustrations

of those who don’t come clean with God.

But when you trust in the Lord for forgiveness,

his wrap-around love will surround you.

11 So celebrate the goodness of God!

He shows this kindness to everyone who is his.

Go ahead—shout for joy,

all you upright ones who want to please him!

 

This psalm is beautiful in any translation. What I find interesting is that the translator calls it a poem. In fact he calls the Book of Psalms Poetry on Fire. I was thinking, while I read this psalm that we should read the psalms more often just for the enjoyment of the words. Just to experience the emotion the author felt while writing. We should read them the way we read poetry and see it as a work of literature and not as a teaching. I am not suggesting that we always do it this way, but certainly some of the time. I love reading some of the Old Testament books like I read a story. Just to enjoy the interactions of the characters and feel the atmosphere of the times they lived in. If we don’t always see the bible as a book we have to read because God (or the pastor) said so, but as a great work of literature full of amazing tales of valour, heroic deeds, passion and deceit, we might begin to see it in a different light. Obviously we can read the bible in different ways at different times. What we need to remember is that there isn’t a proper way to read it. The way you are reading the bible at any time is the right way for you at that time. If your friend reads three chapters a day and you can only handle three verses at a time then it is right for you. People can easily be put off reading their bibles and praying because of the way people portray the right way of doing it. It can be very confusing and condemning when someone who sees themselves as an expert tells you how you are supposed to be doing it. If you feel you don’t measure up you can easily give up. I’m not an expert, but in my own way I’ve navigated through the Bible a few times and it has benefitted me spiritually.

I just want to encourage you to do it your way. Ask God to show you how and ask the Holy Spirit to open up the Word to you and to keep leading you to Jesus. Now go and enjoy your Bible.

Dead to the law

A friend and I are doing a Bible Study of the Book of Romans. Last week we were reading Romans chapter 7.

V 1-4, Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

Suddenly, as I read it, the comparison became a reality. If I put off my old life and I am born-again, then it is as if I have died and I am a brand new person. These verses say that if a woman is married she is bound to her husband, but if he dies then she is no longer bound to him. Just so, we are bound to the law, but when we are born again we are no longer bound to the law. We are free to follow the teachings and ways of Jesus.

V 6, But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

Now we can serve Christ is freedom. We don’t have to worry about religious rules. In the Old Testament the priest made atonement for the sins of the people once a year. People had to bring animals and birds to sacrifice for all kinds of things from babies being born to being cleansed from illnesses. There were so many rules and regulations to follow! I have often heard people speak about things that are mentioned in the Old Testament that were regarded as sin, and now they are not called sin anymore. For instance, the debate about tattoos. People say that if tattoos are a sin, then you also shouldn’t be allowed to wear fabric woven from two types of fabric

Deuteronomy 22:11, You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together.

What is that all about? I really have no idea. I haven’t researched it at all. All l know is that Jesus says about the greatest commandment.

Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Every action I take, everything I do, every word I speak and every thought I think, ultimately affects not only myself, but others too. If I love God and if I love my neighbour, then I am not going to do things that will hurt either of them. We should always be aware of what we say and what we do. Our actions and our words have the potential to heal or to harm, and if we profess to be believers, we seriously don’t want to hurt anyone. I’m not saying that we should be pushovers and allow people to walk over us at all. We should be led by God’s Word because the answer to every question we have if there. I’m not going to get into lawful and unlawful things because I know that Jesus set me free and I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me. Obviously I make mistakes and when I do Jesus says that I will be forgiven.

1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all

To live a life free from condemnation is what Jesus is offering. All we need to do is take it. When we accept Him as Saviour He causes us to become new people who are not dragged down by the old things in our live. We need to live like free people every day and revel in the freedom we have been given.

Burning Coals

What does it mean to heap burning coals on someone’s head?

Proverbs 25:21-22, If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;

And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;

For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,

And the Lord will reward you.

I interpret this to mean that when someone is really mean to you and shows animosity towards you, that you must not return those feelings or actions. As it says here, “If he is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” Don’t do to him what he has done to you. Just imagine this, a colleague was dishonest and stole a lot of money from the firm you both worked for. The dishonesty was detected and there was an investigation. All the evidence pointed to you. This colleague had planted evidence to make you look guilty and you had no means of disproving it or of defending yourself. There is a long, stressful court case and you end up going to prison. After seven long years behind bars you are released and have to start building a life for yourself. Your family shunned you and you obviously don’t have a job to go back to. You find odd jobs to do and eventually start your own garden services business. You do really well. One day as you are on your way home you see a man lying face down in the gutter next to the road. It looks like he’s been injured so you stop your vehicle, and get out to try and help. You turn the man face up and you see that it’s the colleague who framed you. He is bleeding profusely from a chest wound. What do you do? Do you leave him there and pretend you know nothing about it? Do you call it blind justice and walk away, or do you call on your first aid experience and phone an ambulance?

Most of us will never face such a serious decision, but is it any different from the decision of greeting someone who has been gossiping about you? People who have wronged you, expect you to react the same way they treated you. If you show them compassion it will result in their embarrassment. Burning coals will be heaped on his head.

Look what the good Samaritan did.  The Jews, hated Samaritans to such a degree that they destroyed the Samaritans’ temple on Mount Gerizim. Therefore the injured man, being a Jew, was very definitely the Samaritan’s enemy. The Samaritan would have been justified in passing by the injured Jew because of their history of enmity. But instead of passing by, like the religious Jews had, he stopped, helped him, took him to an inn where he could recover and even paid his expenses. This is in Luke 10:25-29.

What do you have to have inside of you to be able to do this? What kind of love and kindness must reside inside of you to be able to look past the faults of others and past the offences you have taken, to step out and do what we have been commanded to do? You have to have the love of Jesus in your heart. 150%. You have to be so secure in the knowledge of who you are and who your Father is, that you don’t let the actions of people confuse or condemn you. You have to know that you are a child of the most high God and that nothing in heaven or on earth can ever change that. That’s who you have to be. Your identity must be rooted in Jesus and nothing and nobody must be able to shake that. The burning coals will be on your enemies head, but the overcomers crown will be on yours.

Are you a mouse?

I switched my laptop on and tried using the mouse, but the cursor wouldn’t appear on the screen. Fortunately I quickly realised that the mouse wasn’t connected to the computer and it wouldn’t matter how much I moved it, nothing would happen. I have heard people liken God’s power to a water pipe with a tap. You can only get water out of the pipe if you open the tap. But how do you get the water into the pipe in the first place? With my mouse it’s easy, it has been designed to receive power from the computer the moment it is connected and it can operate. It sounds a little back to front because the mouse has a job it has to do and it adds to the functionality of the programs, but it cannot function if it doesn’t receive the power from the computer. It’s like a two way street. The computer can function without the mouse, but when the mouse is connected the computer is easier to use. But the mouse is useless if it isn’t plugged into the source. Even though it has batteries, it is worth nothing without the computer.
We are like mice, or is it mouses? According to the dictionary both forms are acceptable. If the Kingdom of God is the computer, and God is the power source, we are the mice. I suppose I’d rather be a mouse than a rat. Just think of it. God has all the power and He can do anything and everything. But He gave us dominion over the earth and authority over demons and the power to heal the sick. God chose to do that. But we have to be connected to the power source to be able to appropriate the dominion and the authority which He gave us.
2 Corinthians 6:1-2, As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, not is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
This is the answer. Salvation is the beginning of a wonderful adventure. Paul says, “Now is the time of God’s favor.” I thank the Lord that when Paul said it, it wasn’t limited to that time. I am so grateful that I accepted the offer of eternal life that God made. I would have been so lost and such a mess without it.
Being plugged into the power source means that I am not only able to draw on the power which the Father is supplying, but I can also enhance the functionality of God’s Kingdom. Even if it is ever so slightly.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14, The body is a unit though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part, but of many.
V18, But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.
V26-27, If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
I can’t tell all my fellow mice that I am a super mouse and that God loves me more than He loves them. I can’t tell another believer that because God has given me different gifts from what He has given them, that I am special and somehow in a higher position to them. That would just be wicked, totally unacceptable, and prove that I, in fact am not worth very much at all. We ought to embrace and develop the gifts that God has given us with humility and with gratitude. We need to recognise every opportunity to use those gifts to the glory of God and to the advantage of the Kingdom so that the good news of the Gospel can reach the ends of the earth.

Oops!

Someone I know had tried very hard to arrange a special occasion but unfortunately there had been a sequence of events that caused a few things to be less than perfect. It hadn’t been a disaster and on the whole everything went off well. But she felt bad because she had put in so much effort. I told her, “Don’t worry. You win some, you lose some. That’s the way of life”. And it is, there isn’t even a faint chance that we will always do everything perfectly, even when we have experience and we know what we’re doing. I remember cooking a dinner for my 50th birthday, and the veggies just didn’t want to cook properly. Why not? I still don’t know and it’s by no means the first time I cooked. I had been driving for years when I accidentally bumped another vehicle while parking. There are so many things which just ‘happen’. I suppose if we were more careful and vigilant we would make fewer mistakes. If we never make mistakes, we would be perfect, and that has problems all of it own. Just imagine if you literally never make a mistake; how awful would the day be that you actually do make a mistake? I shudder to think of the amount of self-condemnation that would follow.

Only Jesus was perfect, so I don’t think we should beat ourselves up about little things that go wrong.

James 1:2-3, Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. (NLT)

We see here that James says we need to view troubles with joy. So do we need to view the loaf of bread that didn’t rise with joy? The golf putt we didn’t sink or the test we failed? How can we look at things like that, which were possibly our own fault, with joy? Shouldn’t we go and look for the cause and then meditate about it and do some self-talk so that we won’t make the same mistake again? Oh yes, and practice harder and study harder? I suppose we need to know what the cause of the problem was so that we can avoid it in future, but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it. In any case there are usually enough other people who are going to make us feel bad about not being perfect.  But, yes, we should be joyful because, as James says here, our faith is being tested and it’s an opportunity to grow.

Romans 5:3-5, We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

If nothing else, making mistakes and having a good attitude towards them is going to grow great character in us.

I just want to qualify that I’m speaking about genuine mistakes when you have been doing your best and something just went wrong. Not when someone was slacking or didn’t care about what they were doing. But you know what? I believe that on the whole people are doing their best. It’s very easy to judge people when we are standing on the outside looking in. We need to know what the circumstances are and why people act or react the way they do. Most of the time we decide much to quickly about things which are merely perceptions and not facts.

I think we need to pray and really consult God and ask to discernment in all circumstances.

Also we need to calm down and accept that we are going to make mistakes even when we are trying hard and that if we go through our trials with a good and teachable attitude we are going to come out the other side better people than what we were.

Perfect Order

Someone wanted to borrow money from me so that they could buy a non-essential item and then they would pay back the money over the next three weeks. Now I’m asking the question, “Why not just save for three weeks until you have enough money to buy it yourself?” There is so much of this back to front business going on. People want things and they want them now. They don’t want to wait until they can afford them. The banks lend money to people and then charge interest and in the process the articles cost way more than they originally would have. Children demand items of fashion clothing and technology and parents put themselves into debt to provide. Instead of working for money, people steal cars and television sets and computers. There is no self control, but above all, there is no order. In chapter one of Genesis the creation of the earth is described. First of all God created light, then he separated the light from the dark. Next was the expanse which separated the waters under and above the expanse. After that dry land appeared and then came the plants and vegetation. On the fourth day the lights came on. The sun, moon and stars were formed. After that the fish and birds were created. On the sixth day God created animals and man.
Everything was made in order. There was no surprise or mistake. Everything was made the way it was supposed to be made because there was a reason. There couldn’t be animals before the plants were made because then they wouldn’t have anything to eat. And so God didn’t and doesn’t leave things to chance and He doesn’t do things haphazardly.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells that there is a time for every matter under heaven. In other words there is order. Christians often speak of seasons in their lives and I have experienced it to be so. You can’t go back and have the same experiences you had 10 years ago. That time was for that time and fulfilled a purpose in your life. Sometimes we go through long dry seasons and other times there are joyful and profoundly productive seasons. We cannot force these seasons and we cannot accelerate or retard them. If we interfere with the work of God we reap the consequences.
In the New Testament we read of the life of Jesus. He was born the same as any other baby, went through the growing up process and started His ministry at the age of 30. It was a process and even though He might have been ready for ministry five or ten years before, but Her waited until God released him into his ministry. When he was baptised and the Holy Spirit descended on him it was the sign that he could go forward and do what he had to do.
How many of us are willing to wait? We want to be like Achan who took robes and gold from Jericho despite strict instructions not to do so. He saw these things and coveted them and wanted them. He hid them and as a result he and his whole family were killed. It must have been beyond heart breaking. He couldn’t wait for the next victory, which was over Ai. When the Israelites defeated Ai, God allowed them to take the spoil. But Achan hadn’t known that would happen and he decided that because he wanted something now he would take it now. And it wasn’t something he needed, it was just greed.
If we look around we can see how we are being, not so subtly, encouraged to buy this and that and the other thing. Advertising is constantly telling us that we need to have a new car, or clothing or cell phone so that we can compete with the Joneses. And the sad part is that we don’t stand up against it. We borrow the money, apply for the loan, get the finance we need and then we have to work even harder to pay back the interest we are being charged.
We need to look to God and seek His perfect order for our lives so that we can live in peace and contentment. We need to seek the unhurried rhythms of His grace so that we can live the way He created us to live.

Perfect Christians

Are you supposed to be perfect if you’re a Christian?

Ephesians 4:21-24, Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him],  Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion;

And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness.

This paints a picture of a perfect person, a perfect Christian. Your old sinful life is behind you and now you are brand new and none of the old dirt is on you. So you surely have to be perfect now. Don’t you?

I cannot even imagine trying to be that perfect person. I would be such hard work!

1 John 1:6-10, If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Clearly, we will never be perfect, which is really quite a relief, because we cannot do it in our own strength anyway. This passage is extremely consoling as we have the promise of God’s forgiveness and His grace.

I often hear criticism that people who are in ministry have faults. I have been guilty of that myself. How can so-and-so be leading a church or be an evangelist or a prophet when they do whatever. The answer is that God uses imperfect people to do His work, and not the obvious one’s according to worldly standards.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God. (The Message)

And why doesn’t God use ‘perfect’ people? Just picture this. You belong to a church and the pastor is perfect. I mean 120%, head and shoulders above the rest, immune to all temptation, never puts a foot wrong, perfect. Everyone will love him so much and he will have the biggest congregation… because he is perfect and people are going to worship him, and they won’t need God. I think we should be very happy that our leaders aren’t perfect because we are going to need to pray for them. Perfect people don’t need prayer. The more time we spend in prayer the better for us. It also gives us hope because if God can use someone who has faults that we can see, He can also use us.

So, Christians aren’t perfect, they never were and they never will be. They are imperfect people who have been saved by grace and God uses them because they love Him. That’s all that is expected from them. If we ever thought we needed to be perfect we can give up on that idea straight away and use the time we spent worrying about it, worshipping and loving God.

Take responsibility, not offence

I read something that someone said about people getting upset about things people do. They said if it isn’t going to make a difference in five years from now then let it go because it won’t be worth making a fuss about. That’s a good philosophy to follow but I started thinking about it a bit differently. I want to ask the question. “Is it going to make a difference when I get to heaven?” and most of the time I’m sure it won’t. What if I turn that question around and ask, “Is this issue going to prevent me from going to heaven?” Sometimes we get so enmeshed in offences that we forget all about our salvation and the matter that is foremost in our minds becomes the most important thing in our lives. What did God say about having other gods before Him? But this issue isn’t a god, it’s between myself and whoever caused the offence. If God is the most important in our lives then we wouldn’t get entangled in these webs in the first place. If you go to bed at night and something that happened during the day is replaying itself in your mind, then you have a problem with letting it go, but if this happens night after night after night, you really have a problem.  You cannot allow offences to influence your salvation!

John 6:56, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”

v61, When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?

v66, From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

They thought that Jesus was referring to physical eating and drinking and they were freaked out by it. They didn’t stay and try to understand, they just assumed that they knew. I am sure that the offence these people took at a statement they didn’t understand fully caused them to lose their salvation. We have to realise that we aren’t always going to be given an explanation. Most of the time people say things and they never even know that we have taken offence. They don’t have a clue because they didn’t mean to give offence but we walk away and beat ourselves up and in our minds have all the answers we should have or could have given them but  didn’t. The only one who is hurt and suffering in the process is ourselves.

Matthew 18:7-9, Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.

This is saying that offences will cause us to lose our salvation.

What if I were to take offence at something someone says to me at church and because of that I decide not to go to church anymore because church is full of hypocrites and I’m better off on my own without all these awful people. Who am I hurting? Me! I am hurting myself and I am in danger of losing my salvation because of the offence I’ve reckoned to myself.

If we don’t know how to speak the truth in love according to Ephesians 4:15, then we have to learn how because nobody is going to pamper us to make sure that we understood them correctly. We shouldn’t be spiritual babies that need to be fed milk. If we want to be warriors who can fight in the front lines then it’s time we stand up and take responsibility.