Thursday, 24 November 2022

The Peter Moment

Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?
      
      Have you ever experienced that Peter moment when Jesus turns and looks you in the eye? When you mess up and sin, and in the moment of knowing that fact, an ominous Peter moment comes upon you. Luke 22:61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times." 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly. We have all been disappointed in ourselves for missing the mark God has set before us. The realization of it is as if Jesus looks at you in the eyes and you know that you know you need to repent. 
      That moment after denying God by disobeying Him is when the conviction of God's love persuades our hearts to repent. The repentance must be on God's terms, however, many times our flesh wants to rise with a promise to God that from that moment on, we will be the soul of exactitude and will never fall again, but, like the empty promises of an alcoholic who is in denial, we do fall again. Our flesh always wants to take over the repenting process. The Holy Spirit directs us to repent, and we start directing the guidelines and conditions of our repentance. Prov. 20:9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”? Will we ever get out of God's redemptive way and let Him do His work in us? God's forgiving grace is life-giving and will establish the assurance of faith within us. How can any man manufacture that amazing grace? 
      We do not want to be the reason or give Satan the ammunition to stand before God and accuse us of sin that we willfully took part in. Rev. 12:10b For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. What we want in our lives is the declaration from the Lord, "Well done faithful servant!" Instead of giving Satan a legitimate sin report to shoot off his mouth about, we should be looking for the eyes of Jesus to affirm His righteousness at work within us while giving us the grace to overcome sin.
      After Jesus had risen from the dead, He began the restoration of Peter's heart and affirmed the love God had for him. When Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James had gone to the tomb of Jesus, they met someone who said to them. Mark 16:7 Now go and tell His disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died. Go tell my disciples and Peter to meet Me in Galilee and the healing can start. Make sure Peter knows to head in the direction of his redemption that only Jesus can provide.
      We can learn from Christ's counselling that was given to Peter. Jesus went right to the crux of the matter. Love must be at the root of our relationship with the risen Christ, and what is on the Lord's agenda is the agenda we are to adopt. In Peter's case, love was established and the agenda was clear. John 21:15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. For Peter, feeding the Lord's lambs was the love language that would help him grow in his love for God. The former Peter moment that brought condemnation had turned into an ah-ha love moment of clarity. Jesus had always loved Peter, even throughout Peter's denial. Jesus was demonstrating His love by giving Peter's heart the grace to fulfill what would be a life assignment in the kingdom of God.
      What Peter moments are you still fretting over? What was the sinful event in your life that made you feel like you could never come back to believing the love God has for you? We need to remember that Christ rose from the dead so that we could be free of all the sins the devil has accused us of for decades. Like Peter, we have to turn our bad moments into an ah-ha moment where we accept the forgiveness of God through Christ and get on with the calling in our lives. We need to believe in the love that God has for us. 1John 4:16a And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
      When we repent of our sins, that is not when God finds out about them, that is when we get rid of them through the Lord's love and mercy. The power that is in the righteous blood of our Lord Jesus will take away our sin and reproach that envelops our hearts. This amazing salvation is continually working within us every moment of the day. All we have to do is rest in it and believe it by faith. People are always chasing happiness. True happiness is walking in God's forgiveness. Psalm 32:1 O the happiness of him whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Happy is that man!

Thursday, 17 November 2022

I’m The Wrong Fisherman

Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.

      I was talking with my friend Trent, and he was expressing his concern about being asked to do something ministerial that was not within his spiritual giftings. He said, "I'm the wrong fisherman for what they are asking me to do, but if they can't get anyone, I reckon I will do it until they find the right fisherman." Knowing our place in the kingdom of God is a blessing to the heart, and peace to the mind. Knowing that God has our life's plan in His hand, and has put within us certain giftings for particular work in His realm is reassuring. Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
      Being the wrong fisherman for the work at hand can be arduous to get the things that need to be accomplished done right. Having someone who cannot sing lead the congregation in the singing of praise can be hard for people to sing along without noticing the off notes and pitch. Yes, there are times when God's anointing takes over and it does not matter that the person leading is two beats behind and three notes too high, but that is God's grace loving on everyone while rescuing the time of praise and worship. It is not an endorsement that the terrible singer should keep the position. God's giftings are for specific purposes. 1Chron. 15:22 Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.
      I remember a brother in the Lord had been asked to lead a bible college for a couple of trimesters until a leader could be found. He accepted the position, but he was not able to fulfill what God had put in his heart under the restrictions of college leadership requirements. I could tell he was not at peace with the assignment that came to him from a committee. He looked like he was smothering in a too-tight shirt collar that was buttoned to the neck. He decided to ask God for guidance and soon his answer came, allowing him to resign from the position. Prov. 1:5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance. His joy of the Lord returned in full when he was doing what God had put in his heart. As for the college position, he was the wrong fisherman for that kind of fishing in those kinds of waters.  
      People who know their God and know their place in His work are blessed because some people have difficulty finding their purpose and end up thinking God does not want to use them. This is so far from the truth. There are multiple areas of life when just passing a blessing forward can become a miracle in a person's life. Although most ministerial callings are exercised and developed within a church organization, not all ministry is found in a church. Most of the miracles recorded in the New Testament were done in the marketplace where common society lived their lives. People sometimes mix up the calling of God with being available in serving God. Everyone can be used by God, whether in full-time ministry or not. 2Tim. 2:20 In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use.
      I do not mind being a cheaper vessel used for everyday use, because the fruit can be so rewarding. I was working out at the gym and noticed a young man who had not been coming as regularly. He explained that he had started Chemotherapy and didn't have the strength to work out, but decided to workout out anyway. Right there at the gym, we prayed to our Heavenly Father for healing and favour during this difficult time. I was the right fisherman for that moment. James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. I did not need to get permission to do what God has already asked us to do, and that is to pray for each other.
     Somehow, we have made being a hand extended or a fisherman for the task on God's behalf a difficult thing. All we have to be is available, and God will move us into the right place and time. I know that we cannot die on every cross because there are so many needs to be met, but we can encourage and support those who are working tough, demanding, and burdensome ministries in God's realm. We may not feel the same compassion and have the same drive as some people, however, we can uphold them to our God so that He gives them the ability to complete their purpose. Matt. 9:38 Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. When we pray for others to succeed, we too are blessed in what they do.
      For many of the offices in ministry, I am the wrong fisherman. If I find myself in that situation, then I need to ask God to lead me back to the waters where I do my best fishing for His kingdom. When I am fishing in the right waters, I can count on my Lord to equip me for the work. After all, the battle does belong to our Heavenly Father, and we serve our God to fulfill His vision for the world. May God bless us all and help us catch the souls He wants to bring into His realm of righteousness. Amen!

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Fortitudine Vincimus

Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
      
      Fortitudine Vincimus: By endurance we conquer. I would like to add to this statement. By endurance in Christ, we conquer all of the onslaughts that the enemy of our soul throws at us.
      Picking ourselves up after falling headlong into sin takes courage and endurance to keep running the lifelong race we are engaged in. Heb. 12:1b Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. The grace of God helps us repent, get up, and endure the battles of life that will come our way. With the guidance and corrections our Heavenly Father administers within our hearts, God also demonstrates the fulness of His love that He has for us. Heb. 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 
       The goodness of God helps us repent and remain in a relationship with Him. Even when we are being disciplined by God, it is done with a loving hand. Psalm 103:13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. Not only does God's loving discipline help us overcome sin, but it also gives us the endurance to fight the temptations and trials that the pressures of sin bring. James 1:2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
      The trend to pathologize every little problem people come up with as an excuse for their misbehaviour is grinding down the grit that was once part of a man's character strength. People are handing over their responsibility to mature as responsible adults to a laissez-faire social attitude that promotes mediocrity and sloth. I'm not advocating for strict ascetic practices, but it might be a good idea to at least adhere to the disciplines that keep us walking in Christ’s righteousness. 
      In his book, Discipline Is Destiny, Ryan Holiday writes, “A weak mind must be constantly entertained and stimulated. A strong mind can occupy itself and, more importantly, be still and vigilant in moments that demand it.“ Our Christian walk demands vigilance and being still, calm, and assured before our God. The question arises, how do we acquire a quiet spirit before God when we are constantly looking to be distracted and entertained? The Apostle Paul knew the words - vigilant and endurance. His life demonstrated the discipline he asked of others. 1Cor. 9:27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. The idea of disciplining ourselves to what God asks of us, and enduring the trials that will come has become irksome to many. They want an easy Christianity with all the blessings and none of the commitments or dedication to the Lord's righteousness.
      Hopefully, it is our intention as we come near the end of our time on earth to be able to say as Paul did. 2Tim. 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. This scripture has words and thoughts that need to be revived in our hearts. Words like. "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith." These statements are becoming foreign concepts to a generation that thinks not upgrading their phone is a hardship and a sacrifice. Forgive my sarcasm, but, By Endurance We Conquer will take a supernatural awakening of the Holy Spirit if we are to become the people who can conquer what lies ahead.
      The word of the Lord continually encourages us to get up and destroy the works of darkness. This is not a small skirmish but a full-blown-out war against Satan and the kingdom of evil intentions. We will need God's discipline and His knowledge to valiantly overcome and win this fight. There does not seem to be a place on the sidelines to wait it out. We are in or out. As the Proverb says, we respond to God's discipline, or we end up dull-witted. What is it going to be? Prov. 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. Father, in Jesus name, help us choose your disciplines so that we may endure and conquer in Christ. Amen.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

A Giant Germ Pit

Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.
      
       When there is a sea of humanity gathered at a concert, a monster pot-luck, or a carnival festival packed with people, my friend Jessica, with a crinkled expression of disapproval and distaste, will describe those settings as a giant germ pit. You can go to the event healthy but may not come out that way. I know what she means, as not everyone is hygienically astute and therefore, can spread many illnesses to others. This image of a giant germ pit had me thinking of how the world is a giant sin pit if we allow ourselves to be infected by multiple sinful activities and illicit desires that are available. The similarities in what Jessica was saying sounded like the father's warnings to his son to stay away from the sin pit of society. Prov. 1:10 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. 
      We have seen over the past few years how all kinds of germs (and everything that word entails) can be caught just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Similarly, this can take place when someone happens to be walking through or hanging around a particularly known district that caters to the sinfulness that mankind chooses to play in, pay for, or promote. Sin, iniquity, and wickedness will eventually rub off if we continue to flirt with the sins that so easily beset us. Heb. 12:1 Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We need to protect ourselves from temptation's abundant supply of transgressions that are available all day long. The only way we will have the strength to overcome the lure of sinfulness is through the protection and power of the Holy Spirit. John 16:13a But when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth
      God the Father is giving us the same advice as the father is giving his son when he says, "My son if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them." Don't give into the many tricks and traps the enemy of our soul lays out for all to fall into. The sin pit is a difficult pit to climb out of once a person is entrenched in a life of iniquity. The scripture's use of the words miry clay to describe the type of dark quagmire to be climbed out of is a perfect example of the hardship one can find themselves in when trying to escape the results of sinful choices. 
      Miry clay will hold fast to whatever is stuck in it. Its thick viscous clay will cling to whatever it touches and will leave the stench of its fermenting bog on and around the person stuck in the oozing mess. The combination of clay, filth and smell overwhelms everything a person tries to do. Getting cleaned up is an ordeal, and this is why we need the Lord Jesus to pull us free out of the whole iniquitous swamp. Psalm 40:2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. We can be rescued because with God all things are possible. We can be delivered and healed, including being carried through the consequences of a sin-stained life. It will not be easy, but it can be done if we change our direction.
      Pastor Bryan Grant says it best. "If you don’t like what you are reaping, then change what you are sowing." If you don't like the reek you are emanating because of a sinful life, then change what you are sowing. If you don't like the sin pit you are stuck in, then change what you are sowing. If you don't like the giant germ pit you have become part of, then change what you are sowing! Gal. 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. This type of sinful sowing only gets worse, because eventually, the sower of corruption will reap way more grief than they ever expected. Hos. 8:7a For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
      We have to escape the old ways of life and we need to move into a new territory of righteousness that Jesus provides through His blood and sacrifice. There are sin and germ pits the world over, and we need to choose whether or not we are going to take part in what Satan is offering. Many will choose to participate in what sin has to offer, but that does not mean we have to join in. If we are in Christ, we can tear down (through faith and prayer) the strongholds that affect the weak-hearted. The weapons that God gives us are mighty in pulling down the evil spirit's effectiveness in promoting sinfulness. By faith in Christ, we are the soldiers and ministers to do it. 2Tim. 2:3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
       There have always been, and will always be, germ pits, sin pits, and miry clay pits to fall into. There will always be pits of despair, depression and destitution to crawl out of. We cannot effectively overcome all these pits on our own. We need the miracle work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfil our lives and help us do it righteously so that it lasts our whole life. Thank you, Lord, God, for giving us the choice to live outside of any sin-laced dark hole or deep grave that we come across in our daily walk. Thank you, Lord, for giving us Your strength to walk in Your righteousness and salvation. Amen!