Resting in the Father’s love

Those who are in Christ Jesus are children of God.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

My main focus this year is seeking greater intimacy with our Father. This has led me to constantly evaluate my walk with God. It is easy to start judging my relationship with Him as short of the mark – my mark. I can’t do as much in the community we are serving as I would like to; we have our fingers in too many pies; my “quiet times” with God are never quiet, but outside whilst my busy toddler runs past me shouting: “Mummy look!! Loooook at me!!!” . . . Yet God is quietly reminding me that He died to save me for adoption. He didn’t free me from one slave master to be my new taskmaster. He died so that I may be His beloved child. WOW!

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:6-7)

Sitting in the Father’s love

A side note on Roman adoption is important here. Today, we tend to see examples where adopted children are either treated the same as the biological child or, sadly (especially in the third world), taken is as a form of glorified slave. This was NOT the case in Roman culture. By Roman Law, an adopted child had MORE rights than the biological child. For example, a biological child could be disowned, and adopted child never could be; an adopted child was one hundred percent secure in their relationship with their adopting father! (I advise you to look into Roman adoption as there is a lot more to unpack, just not so relevant to this train of thought).

Pursuing intimacy with God is discovering Him as my loving, gracious, merciful Father. It is finding Him to be a Father who delights in time with me, however it looks. He loves being part of my play time with my son; He doesn’t need me to wear myself out pursuing unrealistic expectations; He achieves His purposes in His time and by His strength – not mine. He wants me to rest in His presence and enjoy His love.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:13-17, emphasis added)

Yes, He has set me tasks to do. Yes, we suffer for the Gospel, too. And, yes, there is an urgency in my spirit for the lost. But it is in His strength that we build His kingdom, not our own. It is through His Spirit that we endure. He is our daily bread; He is our sustenance; He is our first priority. The first commandment is “love God”, the second is to “love others”. Everything else will flow out from this.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Revelations 2:4, emphasis added)

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)

I am learning a lot about Abba Father’s love through watching Glenn with our son ❤

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Removing the veil

Moses’ face shone with the reflected glory of God when he returned from speaking to God on Mt Sinai, and seemingly every time after whenever he spoke to God. Moses would relate God’s message to the people of Israel, as they beheld his shining face, then he would wear a veil until he went back into God’s presence. (See Exodus 34:29-35). The account makes it seem that he put the veil on, not to hide the glory of the Lord, but to hide its diminishing. 

Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him. (Exo 34:34 -35).

Paul corroborates this in 2 Corinthians when he talks of the Law having been brought to an end, even though it had glory for a time:

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. (2 Corinthians 3:12-13).

God has challenged me through this concept of the veil hiding His glory’s diminishing on Moses. There are many times when I have tried to “veil” (cover up) His diminishing glory in my life. Moses face shone most gloriously straight after time with God. How true this is for us today! How often do I hear comments about how crucial daily time with God is to Christ-likeness through the day. We only reflect His glory. A mirror cannot reflect our image if we are not looking into it; we cannot reflect the glory of God if we are not spending time in His glorious presence! 

It can be too easy to try and hide the diminishing of His glory, rather than top it up with fresh time in His presence. We might use the words to sound like we are still spending time with God; we might talk about what we know He wants, rather than how we are living it out; we might share old testimonies rather than new ones; or refer to old lessons rather than current ones. However we hide it, the outcome is the same: our glory diminishes if we do not return to His presence. 

Hiding my diminishing glory behind the veil

We are called to be lights to the world. We need to shine so that the world can see Christ, the true source of Light and Life. We shine when we reflect Christ.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Let us not hide our lights when they start diminishing. Let us not be like the foolish virgins who did not keep enough oil and missed the Bridegroom as they went out for more.

And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. (Matthew 25:8-10)

Let us keep entering His presence and thus filling up our oil to keep our lamps burning with His glory.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

How do you need to seek more time in His presence? In His Word? By journalling of His goodness in your life? By interceding for a family member or friend? By praying into a situation causing you stress? By laying aside your priorities and prioritising time soaking in His presence? Seek His glory daily; do not hide its diminishing. 

Removing the veil and meeting with Him

Choosing intimacy

December seems to be the month of relaxation. Christmas time can be hard for many, due to absent loved ones, but overall the season is one where people relax. Work slows down. School is out. Beaches (in the Southern Hemisphere) are full. This year we noticed that it was also a season where many people seem to take a spiritual holiday. I found this an interesting observation, given it is meant to be when we remember Emmanuel, God come down to be with us.

This year, I realised that I was amongst the spiritual vacation-ists. I certainly spent plenty of time reflecting on what Christ did for us, and had fun starting to teach my toddler about Christ’s birth, the Word made flesh. Yet, as church activities wound down for the year and many of our congregation went away to their family homes, I noticed that my form of relaxation also took me away from intimacy with my Father. I reflected on the story, but didn’t engage with our God, the centre of the story! It was easier to enter my usual form of escapism – reading fiction. (Perhaps, for you, it is social events, computer games, beach time, cooking, . . .).

Book worm disengaging

Now, don’t get me wrong, reading wholesome novels in itself is not bad. The fault lay in that I became completely absorbed in them, taking all my free time (not much with a toddler!); there was no time left for conversing with my Father. I put myself before God. I didn’t trust Him to fill up my cup, which was feeling mighty empty at year’s end.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5).

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11).

The Spirit started prompting me. He started gently reminding me of my need for time with Him. My soul cried out for more time in His presence.

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

It is easy to ignore the Spirit’s nudge and choose not to return to a place of intimacy with God. It takes effort to engage in any relationship; effort I didn’t feel I had the strength for. I hope that if you are feeling similar promptings that you will prick up your ears at this point. Thankfully this time I am choosing to heed the gentle nudge. If you’re in a similar place, thinking it easier to put it aside for “tomorrow”: don’t. We need God daily. We need to interact with Him daily. He is our daily bread. He is our sustenance.

Give us this day our daily bread, (Matthew 6:11).

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. (John 6:35-36).

Choosing to submerge yourself again into a deep relationship with God can seem tiring. It is tempting to continue to pursue your escapes – whether wholesome or worldly – but they will not satisfy. God is the One who satisfies the longings of our souls.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, (Psalm 63:5).

More satisfying than rich food

So, as this new year starts, choose to renew your relationship with God. Choose to make time to sit and dwell in the presence of the Almighty. Seek Him. Meditate on His Word. Sing songs of praise. Intercede for family. Listen to His wisdom for your work, family, finances, free time. Enagage in Bible study. Listen to Bible teachings. Allow Him to mould your character into that of Christ.

when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  (Psalm 63:6-8).

Yes, it will take discipline of mind and body, but this is part of being a child of God. Self-control appears repeatedly in the epistles as a fruit of the Spirit, and a part of a godly life (1 Cor 9:25, Gal 5:23, 1 Tim 2:9, 1 Tim 2:15, 2 Tim 1:7, 2 Tim 3:3, 2 Pet 1:6). Proverbs sums up the alternative, what we’re like if we choose to live an undisciplined life:

Like a city with breached walls is a man without self-control. (Proverbs 25:28; ISV*)

It takes discipline to cut off the areas in our life that hold us back from intimacy with God. Do you have such self-control? Do you think God worth pursuing? Cut off what holds you back and enter into the presence of the King of kings. Make a commitment to escape into daily times of intimacy with God and enjoy the rewards. 

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, (Psalm 63:2-5).

 

*Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version® Release 2.0. Copyright © 1996-2010 by the ISV Foundation. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY.

Intimacy rekindled

New Year’s Eve is often a time of reflection. I try to take it as a time to reflect on all God brought me through during the year and to pray into the next one. This year has been another busy one (Does life continue to get busier every year? I’m telling myself it will start reversing speed once I pass the mother-of-toddler-years . . .). It seems appropriate that God would speak to me from Luke 5:16 as this busy year concludes. This past week God has reminded me of the most important part of our life: intimacy with Him! Jesus modelled this to us:

But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 5:15-16)

The world is becoming a busier place, with more distractions than ever. God had me give up Facbook the past three months and I’m not sure that I want to go back onto it in the new year, and this is just one example of (what can be) a glorious time waster in my life. The world likes to distract us from God, yet He is the most important part of our daily life.  He should be our most treasured relationship, and the most pursued one.

As the new year begins, He is reminding me to find the desolate places in my world to which I can run away and pray. My current “desolate places” are early morning before workers arrive (our house is being transformed into a mission station, so lots of noisy renovations!), toddler nap time, and late evening. In the past, it has been a favourite walking track, quiet forest spot, and evening journalling sessions. We are all different; God is an intimate God. Where are your desolate places? Do you go out to the desolate places to pray? Do you find the quiet places you can listen to Him?

In the new year, my heart’s desire is to do all that the Father tells me, doing nothing of my own accord. This can only be achieved through intimacy, and constant time in His presence, both talking and listening to Him.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (John 5:19)

I also have had certain flaws in my character highlighted (don’t we all!) where I pray for growth. Again, this can only be achieved by time in His presence. We usually take on the characteristics of who we spend the most time with. Spending time with Jesus, in prayer and His Word, is how we will be transformed into His likeness.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17).

This new year, withdraw to the desolate places, and pray!

Where is your desolate place?

 

Christmas tree time of year

There are many opinions within the church surrounding Christmas and what we should and shouldn’t do. Some believers think we should change the date because it is unlikely that His birth was in December. Others feel we shouldn’t have one day set aside to celebrate it. Whilst still others abhor anything related to the old pagan celebration of Yuletide. The Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate on different days to the Western churches.

Even Glenn and I have different preferences surrounding celebratory days such as Easter and Christmas. Glenn counts all days the same, where I love keeping special baking treats, music and decorations for certain times of the year. For me, it is a time of reflecting on certain aspects of the Gospel message; keeping these days as special pushes me into a special season with God. Glenn, on the other hand, does not speak to God in the same way and so the days are not made special for his faith.

So what is right, what is wrong, and does it matter?

This morning I reflected on our differences as I put on Christmas music and painted play-dough decorations with my toddler. During this time, I was reminded of Romans 14.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:4-6).

That makes it fairly clear, doesn’t it? We get to make the decision for ourselves and we aren’t to judge our fellow believers. The important thing, according to Paul, is that we seek to honour God. Please note that I am not talking about people celebrating in ways that contradict Scripture (drunkenness, orgies, pagan worship . . .)! I am talking about how we honour God, from believer to believer, can vary. For example, some of us find special days call us to reflection and remembrance, where others do not.

I highly recommend you read through the whole passage of Romans 14 this week and keep it in mind when you come across someone celebrating (or not celebrating) Christmas as you do. By all means, discuss your varying views with others, but only so far as it does not cause another believer to stumble. Let us walk in love, peace and mutual upbuilding. 

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother (Romans 14:13).

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding (Romans 14:19).

Christmas crafts

Walking without sight

for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7)

This verse’s context is awaiting our eternity; until we die the first death, we must walk by faith and not sight.

This has been a theme for me as I have studied Deuteronomy again in preparation for teaching it this month. It is also a theme God has been stretching me in. But the good news, for those of us walking with God, is found in verse 5 of this passage:

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (2 Cor 5:5).

The Spirit is our guarantee of the life that is to come. He is also the One that enables us to walk without stumbling during this short season of blindness. It is His voice that must be our guide – even when it goes against all our natural instincts and human understanding.

The Spirit guides us along the path God has for us. God gives us some further helps as well, which are strongly reflected in the book of Deuteronomy. Here are a few of the gems He is giving me from Deuteronomy:

  • Trust in God’s character plays a large part in walking by faith. The Word of God is our guide to God’s character and then personal experience cements our understanding of His worthiness of our trust.
  • Understanding of God’s character leads us to love Him and it is from love that obedience flows most successfully. It is easy to obey a loving Father.
  • Remembrance of God’s past faithfulness also increases our faith in Him and breeds further trust and reliance on God.

This year God has stretched our faith in Him to provide on time. In fact, throughout my life walking by faith God has always perfectly matched provision to need. This past season He has deepened the lesson that we can afford to give hilariously (2 Cor 9:7 – cheerful can be rendered “hilarious”) where He leads us because it isn’t our money, but His, and He has plenty more in His storehouse for our needs! We have had several large provisional breakthroughs this year; all supernatural and all on the back of obeying His call to give in an extravagant manner (for our personal income and possessions) that had us laughing with incredulity!

He had also had us step out in faithful obedience to chase a ministry vision that is impossible without God’s input. Remembering Him doing the same in my life when calling me to co-found Redefined Ministries DRCongo and pioneer YWAMs Bible School in Rwanda is a good example of remembrance building future faith. I hold on to how these two ministries have grown since their birth when I am discouraged by lack of  (perceived) momentum in this current season. Again, Glenn and I are walking by faith and not sight in this area as we put money into converting our home into a mission hub, able to host visiting mission teams.

Walk by faith in God

It seems that God hasn’t finished with my lesson in this area yet. We fly out on a mission trip Thursday, but are still awaiting a passport to arrive. We both have peace not to change flights or make other plans, yet it is stretching us! Walking by sight would be allowing anxiety to creep in, change flights, or make alternative plans. Waking by faith means holding firm to the peace God has placed in our hearts that Thursday is our flying date. Again, remembering past lessons helps somewhat. I am racking up quite a few last minute miracle stories, but two memorable ones include:

  1. My first Rwandan visa coming through so last minute that I had taken a flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg without it and had to run to my gate with my check-in luggage on my person.
  2. My son’s visa for a trip last year coming 10 minutes after the close of business day on the last business day before we flew.

I hope this post is an encouragement to some of you who might be trusting God for things that seem impossible by the physics or understanding of this world. Let’s keep in step with the Spirit, walking by faith and not sight!

 

As an addition (02/10/2018):

God came through with the passport and we are all set to go.

Last night and this morning He challenged me with these questions: “What is your understanding of Me and My character? Am I the Living God? Am I a God who keeps His Word? Have I not promised you it will come? Will you trust in Me and My word?” Yes, I trust Him and His word.

It was no longer a question of whether or not I should go; God had spoken to me that I should go on this trip. It had become a question of trust and – I felt God saying that, because I had written the blog post – it had also become a matter of His faithfulness to His Word. It had become about His character, not whether I had heard Him correctly. And, as we see, He is a God who keeps His Word. He is the Living God! 

Learning from John

Truth and Love

A big movement has arisen that declares that we can walk in love and grace, but ignore truth. The “hyper-grace movement”, as it has been termed. Yes, we must walk in love and grace towards one another, but part of love is holding one another to the truth.

Enter John. John ended his life known as “the Apostle of Love“. It is a name that, today, might bring forth images of dope-smoking hippies, but such an image couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus originally gave John, with his brother James, the name: “sons of thunder”. John was an emotive character and this didn’t simmer down as he aged. There is a tale of him jumping out of a public bath (streaking) when a known heretic entered it, because he would not share bath water with a false teacher. He remained passionate, but his passion became founded on the love of God.

John challenges me because he never compromised the truth to remain popular. He was known as the Apostle of Love by the body of Christ, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be caught in sin by him.  One only needs to read through 1 John to hear his fierce love for God’s people, and yet equal fire for the truth to remain unsoiled. I want to cut and paste the entire first epistle of John here, but I’ll content myself with a small passage with the hope that you will read through it yourself today (it’s only 5 chapters).

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:4-6)

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:7-10)

Pursing His truth and love

The prayer on my heart these past few months is that I would be known for love. Yet I know that this will only come to pass if I am also known for standing on the truth. God’s love and truth go together. The love of God is not a soft, wishy-washy love. God’s love is a fierce, jealous, consuming fire. God cannot abide sin, and those in Him will also be unable to continue in wilful sin (we all sin, but those in Christ should not make a knowing habit of any sin).

Our love for one another must also be fierce and protective. If we love one another, we will help keep one another from stumbling. When we read the epistles of Scripture they are commanding and corrective. The apostles guarded their flocks with a fierce love that called believers constantly back to the truth that they learnt in Christ.

Today we see a hyper-grace movement taking over the church. It falls under the same title as the gnostics of Apostle John’s ministry – libertarianism (from the gnostic belief that the body was evil and the soul good, so what one did with the body didn’t matter). Many churches today says that grace covers a multitude of sin and we must just “love one another”, but they ignore the fact that those who are in Christ have been made dead to sin! The love that is of God abhors sin. Those in Christ cannot keep making a habit of sin.

I feel like Paul’s argument in Romans makes it one hundred percent clear how we are to live (read Romans, or at least Romans 6-8!):

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:1-3)

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Romans 6:11-13)

Grace is not an excuse to sin and those who preach such are not standing on the truth of the Gospel! The good news is that we have been set free! We are no longer compelled by our sinful flesh!

Are you dead or alive?

Christ was humble and meek, yet He intentionally took the time to sit and weave a whip of cords and then go clear the temple out of those who had turned the court of Gentiles (where the Gentiles who loved God were meant to be allowed to worship) into a place of trade.

And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. (John 2:15)

Jesus never condoned sin in all His ministry. He loved those in sin, offered them healing and forgiveness, and then called them to leave their lives of sin.

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:10-12)

Those who are in Christ must turn away from the darkness and walk in the light – and who is the light? Jesus! He is the way, the truth and the life. Recently I was heard someone share that they were once told: “Stop being nicer than Jesus”. How appropriate. Jesus is love. Yet Jesus was direct and corrective. Remember His words to Peter?

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:21-23)

Walk in His light

The New Testament is full of passages that push us towards living out the truth in love and I’ll list just a few at the end of this post. Not one of these passages, however, allow us to compromise the way of God for the ways of the world! Yet the church has washed out the truth to make way for the world’s understanding of love.

God loves all people, but few of them are His. Those who are saved are those who accept Christ Jesus as Lord. Full stop. God will not save everyone, but only those who believe on Christ’s name. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; all need God’s salvation. When did the church stop preaching this foundational message? We are all sinners in need of God’s love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.If we tell people that they are “good people” and “God loves them”, but do not tell them of their desperate need for God’s healing mercy and forgiveness then we have failed in our God-given commission. Accepting Christ means dying to our old self that was enslaved to sin and being set free to live righteously! 

The Gospel message is offensive to the world. We are not meant to be loved by the world. The New Testament is overflowing with the promise of persecution; Jesus Himself promised it (John 15:20, John 16:33)! If you are a Christian offended by this post then I challenge you to open the New Testament and read it from start to finish. What do you see of Christ? Who is He? What is His attitude to sin and compromise? And if this doesn’t convince you, go and reread Revelation and soak in the two camps – we are either in God’s camp, or we are in the world’s camp. There is no middle ground. And Christ’s camp is righteousness. 

So let us challenge ourselves to walk in truth with love. Let us challenge ourselves and our faith communities to walk in step with the teachings of the Bible. Let us ask God to reveal the true expression of love to us. Let our hearts be transformed into the image of Christ. Let us love sinners, and disciple believers. Let us no longer be conformed to the image of this world, but be transformed by the Spirit into the glorious likeness of Christ.

Light or dark?

Here are those Scriptures I promised (that are very far from a complete list!):

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” (Luke 11:33 36).

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:1-6)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.If we say we have fellowship with him while we 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 his Son cleanses us from all sin.If we say 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 we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10)

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” . . . Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (1Pe 1:14 -16, 22-23).

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. . . But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. (Ephesians 4:15-17, 20-25)

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:21-22)