Monday, 30 April 2012

Making a Deal with God

 Have you ever struck a deal with God and then wished you hadn’t?

It’s understandable. In desperate circumstances people will try anything, of course they’ll pray to God, they’ll promise Him their life ever after if He only does one critical thing for them.

The Israelites struck a deal with God. They would follow Him and live by His laws in return for his favour. They agreed that any manner of disasters were permitted to befall them if they reneged on their promise. But as time went on, they started backing away from their end  of the bargain.

And so disasters came.

One wonders why they ever agreed to such a promise in the first place. Was the favour of God worth so much, that it made sense to commit themselves completely to Him and burn their bridges?

The thing is, deep down they knew it was. That's why they did it.

The reason you struck a deal with God in that moment of desolation was not simply because you had nothing left to lose, but because deep down, you knew you could trust Him with your life.

Since then you’ve taken it back from Him, you’ve doubted Him, and you’ve worried about the cost of being a Christian.

But Jesus said “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33)

That one small miracle was an earnest of God’s good intentions for you. Don’t be afraid even after all this time, to give Him your whole life, like you said you would.

When the Israelites remembered their deal with God and repented, He drew them to Him again with open arms. He blessed them and rebuilt their lives the way He had intended to before. And He will do the same for you. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

When you can't go on

The question seems to keep coming up this week. How do we keep going when we feel like we can't go on?

We just re-enacted some of the story of Joseph at assembly and a lot of horrible things happened to him! When Joseph’s brothers stole and ruined his lovely coat, shoved him down a well, nearly killed him, sold him into slavery and then Potiphar’s wife slandered him and put him into the jail – well it was almost too much for the children to take!

Sometimes we don’t really realise how very sad some of the lives of the heroes in the bible were, they had some really difficult times to get through. How do we deal with life when, like with Joseph, it seems to just be one struggle after another?

The bible talks a lot about ‘enduring’ when things are tough. I like this word ‘endure’ because it seems to give recognition to our struggles. Enduring is somehow hanging on in there until the final whistle blows, and that really counts for something.

Paul was no stranger to circumstances that were hard to endure. He writes of his mission trip to Asia:

 “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself... But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God . . .He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again.” 
2 Corinthians 1: 8-10

Simply trying hard to get through isn’t enough. The harder you try, the more you take the responsibility on yourself to endure, and the more exhausted and resentful you will get.

As Paul experienced, often people find themselves in situations that are simply too hard to be endured. Often it’s not until we get to that point that we realise we can’t cope and we tag God in.

But you don’t have to wait for things to get dire before you ask for God to take the reigns. Try out this rather radical adage for size: “There is no ‘try’, there is only ‘ask’.”

If you find yourself trying hard to do something, you’ve probably caught yourself doing something in your own strength. Stop trying and start asking God to do it for you . . . “that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.”

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

God's nectar points

I’ve been reading a lot about God’s rewards today. Rewards are not something we talk much about in the Baptist church. We are very careful about not preaching ‘prosperity gospel’ – (‘See my nice car? You want one like this? Accept Jesus into your heart and nothing bad will ever happen to you again...oh and he’ll bless you with nice cars one too!’)  

We're not expecting nothing bad to ever happen to us again, OR to get fancy new cars ad infinitum. Or even pushbikes for that matter. I remember praying for a new bike as a child - not that I needed one, I was just trying it out. It was NOT forthcoming. But the things is, Jesus DID talk about rewards. This is just one example from Matthew 10. Jesus says to his disciples:

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

What about these 4 that came in the UCB word for the day?

 '...He shall reward every man according to his works' (Matthew 16:27)
'...You will have treasure in heaven...' (Matthew 19:21)
'...You will be repaid at the resurrection...' (Luke 14:14)
'...Great is your reward in heaven...' (Luke 6:23)

Jesus has cancelled out the consequences of our sins, but he hasn’t cancelled out the consequences of our righteous actions. In the next life, yes, but also in this life, the bible promises God’s blessing if we live our lives for him.

Let’s have expectation of blessing, reward and goodness in our lives, not because we are good, but because God is good and he is living and working in us.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Easter comic

Don't forget this Easter the reason we celebrate and have a holiday this time of year is because Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for all the wrong you and I will ever do. We are forgiven and made right again because of his sacrifice.

Guilt separates us from God, Jesus' death reconciles us to him.

If you get the chance, pick up a bible or go to church this Easter and see if you don't find God there, waiting to be reconciled to you. We know he'll be there because he rose from the dead and he's living today.

God bless everyone, have a good Easter.