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Archive for March, 2012

For God so loved …

God loves us so much that he gave us his own Son Jesus as a sacrifice for us. He also gave us free-will, so who are we to blame him when we mess up? I just find it very hard to understand or explain to others why he allows evil to continue in this world. However what comes to mind is that sin is sin in God’s eyes, whether it be a lie or murder, it is all evil. Therefore if God was to eradicate evil once and for all, then we would all die. He can’t pick and choose which evil event to intervene in and rescue people from because he is a Holy God so all sin is the same. So when it comes to blaming God for all the bad things that happen in the world, remember that we have free-will because he loves us and that if we want him to stop bad things from happening then we are actually asking him to remove us who cause the bad. We are all guilty of sin on some level, it is only us that rate how sinful sin is, with a lie being a small sin and murder being huge. A holy, perfect God who is bigger than we can imagine, could wipe us out if he wanted to but he doesn’t want to do that, he wants us all to be saved by coming to him through his Son Jesus. When we, in faith, accept the reality of Jesus being sent by God to save us from our sin, then we can approach God, with our baggage of sin laid on Jesus as he takes it all from us and cleanses us so that we can approach God.

Prayer

I am sorry Lord that we blame you for all the mess we make in this world. You are a Holy and loving God who wants the best for us and we let you, others and ourselves down when it comes to living the way you want us to live. You have provided for our every need and yet out of our greed, many people are starving in this world. You have blessed us with others to help us when we can’t look after ourselves. You have made a way for us to come to you, the Creator of all, yet who are we that you are mindful of us, that you should care for us? We are but dust, here today, gone tomorrow. But you Lord are eternal, forever lasting. I pray dear Jesus that many will come to know you and the true love you have for them, that they may realise how much it hurts you that we sin and hurt each other. Lord God, the world you created was perfect and good. We have turned away from you because of our own selfish desires and we even try to blame you for that. Thank you that you are a merciful God who forgives us and pours out your amazing grace upon us. We don’t deserve such favour. May you be known and praised forever more. Amen!

Ref.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Psa. 8:4 “what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

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A time for evangelism…?

I have been reading a book by Mark Stibbe that has caught my interest. In it he speaks of entering a new season where “Shepherds are going to become heralds” and “Pastors are going to become evangelists”. He uses Luke 2:8-20 to explain how the shepherds go from watching their sheep to leaving the sheep and rushing off to see Jesus. Following this they spread the news like heralds.

Mark goes on to share what he sensed the Holy Spirit was saying:

 

“Tell pastors that they are going to experience major transition in their ministries. Many have been stuck in one particular field of influence watching over those who are already in the fold. You have done this faithfully and obediently, yet at the same time there has been a holy frustration in your heart. You have been crying out to yourself, “There must be more than this.” This message is from heaven and it is for you! I am going to take you in these coming years out of your field and give you a fresh enthusiasm for the person of my Son. It is in fact going to be like it was at the beginning for many of you. I am going to renew your first love and birth my Son afresh in your hearts. Out of the fullness of this revelation, i am going to cause you to move from being a pastor alone to being a pastor-evangelist – shepherds who cannot stop themselves going out of their comfort zones to declare who Jesus really is. As you do this, i will raise up others to look after the sheep so that you will be free to go after lost sheep rather than focus on those who have been found. As you do this, you will rediscover joy in service and a fresh passion for pastoring will come upon you as you return to the flock. As you see new faces, you will rejoice in what I, the Lord, have done.”

As i read this i thought about local churches including the one i attend and realised that at present we are already without the shepherds. A couple of churches that i know of in this area are without a full-time minister. Then i thought of those within the church i go to who have taken on the role of looking after the sheep and they seem to have the anointing to do just that. My only concern being that those that are already in the church need to be discipled. We all need to grow in our Christian walks, having mentors and those who are mature in Christ to teach us the ways of Jesus, taking us deeper into scripture but also deeper into a relationship with God.

In his book called ‘Prophetic Evangelism’ ,Mark Stibbe continues:

” So take heart. These are indeed years of transition. Some of you have always been pastors with an evangelist’s heart. In these days i will reactivate what has become dormant and you will experience a new release of evangelistic passion and anointing. But this is my message to you. Do not think that your ministry is always going to be like this. Prepare yourself for change. Look for those to whom you can delegate the shepherd’s tasks. Seek after a fresh revelation of Jesus that will compel you to declare the wonders of my Son.”

 

Well from an evangelistic point of view, no-one spreads the gospel better than a pastor who has been anointed to preach to the people. I am sure that many of you out there would be fine with sharing the gospel and your testimonies but as soon as the difficult questions come, you’re left feeling somewhat inadequate or not quite up for the job. Yet someone with the anointing to preach, who has a deep understanding of the word of God and a close relationship with our Lord, would be just right for doing the work of an evangelist. I’m not saying going up to individuals and preaching at them, if you are an evangelist then you know to be more sensitive than that. But if you have a gift in sharing the gospel in such a way that it is heard and understood then you should be using it in a big way, to reach as many of the lost as possible. Like the lamp on a stand you need to shine the light of Jesus for all to see. Like a beacon of a lighthouse revealing those dark and concealed areas that if not exposed will sink the ship, so you need to save those ships from sinking.

God wants us to be out there doing what Jesus done and ‘even greater things’, but that can’t be done from the pulpit. Where are the street-preachers of today? Where are the evangelists who, like the disciples, go out and pray for people on the streets, healing the sick and proclaiming the kingdom of God?

I agree that we should all be doing the work of an evangelist to some extent and as much as we can possibly do so. But we are all given different gifts to use in different areas of service. As Eph.4:11-12 says:

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…”

 

So i’m going to end on this note because it is not for me to say what your calling is. Let the Holy Spirit guide you. It may be that he has already been speaking to you about such things and this might just be the confirmation you were seeking. Whatever you are being called to do, if God wants you to do it, he will let you know. You may not feel adequate but with God’s leading and guiding you and his working in and through you, well ‘all things are possible’.

“He told them, “The Harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2).

 

Ref. Stibbe, M., ‘Prophetic Evangelism’ – (When God speaks to those who don’t know him), London, Authentic Media, 2004.

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How and what are you hearing?

Often when we think of how we hear, the first thing that comes to mind is that we listen with our ears. We hear the sound of a voice for example and the tone. We also hear with our eyes as we read what someone has said in written form; to read lips maybe; to read body language, etc. Braille is also another way to read and hear what a person has written. But one of the main ways we hear others is with our hearts.

“Therefore consider carefully how you listen” (Luke 8:18).

When we hear what a person has to say, we are not only hearing them, we are also hearing what is in our heart. This has been confirmed to me on a number of occasions now, usually when something i have said has been taken the wrong way. How this happens is quite amazing and yet at the same time can also be damaging. A recent comment of appraisal made by myself to another was heard by one person as belittling. I had only made a comment of how well the person was doing but because the heart of this one person was corrupt, the conversation that followed (when i had left the room) was one of disrepute, that judged my motive of heart as well as the statement i had made.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

I know that i too have been guilty of this in the past, hearing only what i want to hear. So my suggestion to you is that when you hear something that sounds malicious or evil in some way, see if there is any other way that it could have been meant and heard! Check yourself and ask yourself how would you like to have heard it? How would you have said it? Do you have any bad feeling towards the person that made the comment? Do you have any bad feeling towards the person the comment was meant for (and yes that includes you, if it was for yourself)?

We also must be careful not to judge another person’s motives because we don’t really know the motives of their heart, only God knows.

Related verses: Mark 4:24; Matt.7:1;15:19; 1Sam.16:7 & 1Kings 8:39 (NIV Bible).

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