Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Good Soldier

Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ
2 Timothy 2:3 (mix of KJV and ESV)

How do we react to the tough times that life sometimes throws at us? Do we respond with indignation that such a thing should happen to us? Surprise, disappointment, frustration? Do we become downcast and discouraged?

I was thinking, in the light of some challenges in my own life, of the reaction of the "good soldier." He has been trained for combat. He knows the hardship he is to face on the battle field and has prepared for them. He is not surprised or taken off guard when he faces tiredness, hunger, or the pain of injury. He is focused on the mission. He knows that he must endure these things for a while in order to achieve a greater objective.

Paul encourages us to respond to the hardships of life like this good soldier. Take it on the chin and keep pressing on towards our Master's mission. This is what we have been trained for. He himself gone before us and suffered on our behalf that we might stand. He has given us his life and his Spirit, not so we can give up at the first sign of blood, or throw in the towel after the first skirmish and the first casualty. He wants us to block out the pain and focus on the mission. He has strengthened us to be overcomes.

Whatever life throws at us let us respond as good soldiers not as victimised civilians.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Letting go to take hold

But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.
2Ki 5:11 ESV

Sometimes things in life don't work out like we planned or imagined. It can leave us feeling let down, angry and disappointed.

It's important to realise at these times that God still has a good plan for us. It's just not along the path we imagined.

To take hold of what God still has for us we have to be willing to let go of the anger and disappointment of the past and humble ourselves to continue on the path that God reveals.

Taking hold often first involves a letting go. 

Friday, 21 October 2016

The King's Concern

As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
Daniel 6:20 ESV

It's comforting to know that whatever we face and whatever or whomever comes against us for our harm, no matter who or what has sought to write us off, disregard us or silence us, the king himself is deeply concerned for us. He who watches over us neither slumbers nor sleeps. Although he may not save us from the trials. He is not unconcerned or unmoved by the trials we go through. He will always be there to save us through the trials. To bring us through to a greater place of blessing and peace on the other side.

He will always save us from the lions. The accusers who think the worst of us and the situations that seek to do us harm.

No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.
Isaiah 54:17 ESV

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Faithful calling

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:24 ESV

We can doubt our calling. But we can never doubt the one who calls us. It is his faithfulness not our qualifications and abilities that are the assurance of the fulfilment. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Not Forgotten

I say to God, my rock: "Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?"
Psalm 42:9 ESV

For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Psalm 43:2 ESV

These two psalms seem to go together. What is troubling the psalmist in both is the pain of feeling forgotten and rejected and the unjust hostility that has been directed towards them.

It's interesting to note how often these themes reoccur in the psalms. Indeed how often they occur in the scriptures.

Think of Daniel and Joseph. Joseph endured hostility and accusations he did not deserve. Both of them went through times where it looked like they were forgotten and rejected.

Is it any surprise when this is how Christ himself suffered? Rejected by those he came to save. Enduring hostility he did not deserve. Ultimately feeling forgotten even by God himself.

It seems that many servants of Christ - perhaps all - are tested in the same way as their master.

The examples of Joseph, Daniel and ultimately Christ are great examples to us. We are not forgotten. We are not rejected. We are not abandoned to those who have hostility in their hearts towards us. God is outworking his plan to form Christ in us.

Like the psalmist let not our hearts be downcast but let us put our hope in God.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

An Open Ear

But you have given me an open ear.
Psalm 40:6 ESV

It's not clear (to me) whether the psalmist is saying that God's ear is open to hear him or that his ear is open to hear God. But I do know this. Both are true. And both are a great gift and blessings from the Lord.

We do not pray as men speaking empty words into the air. But our words have power and effect as they have an audience and a hearing in the very courts of heaven and before the Judge of all men and the king and ruler above all kings and rulers.

Nor do we wait in vain for the Lord to act or to respond. He has opened our ears to hear his voice and to know his will. He calls us friends because he chooses to share his heart with us. He reveals to us by his Spirit the mystery of his plan for this world. The great transformation through a people renewed in the image of God through the Spirit of Christ at work in their hearts.

What a privilege to hear and be heard by the great God of heaven!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Silent killer

I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse.

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.

Psalm 39:2,12 ESV

One of the saddest things in any relationship is when the people involved stop talking. The only thing worse than bad communication is no communication! At least when there is a heated exchange there is an opportunity once the dust has settled and emotions have calmed to learn and reassess. But when people stop talking to each other there is no opportunity for progress. Bad attitudes fester. Bad feelings linger on beneath the surface unresolved.

Sometimes we stop talking because we don't know what to say or we are worried about saying the wrong thing.

Sometimes even our relationship with God can be affected this way. We know the things we think we should say, but because that's not what we want to say we choose instead to say nothing. We "hold our peace" with God and then wonder why God "holds his peace" with us.

For any relationship to work there needs to be open and honest communication. This includes our relationship with God. If we put on a front and only say what we think we should say, we are not opening up. Our relationship is superficial. Eventually we will not be able to keep up the pretence.

A peace that comes from "holding your peace" is an unsustainable solution. Like David you will find it only makes the distress worse. To properly move on the silence must be broken.

God doesn't want us to keep silent about what is troubling us. Nor does he wish to remain silent on these matters.

It's time to break the silence!

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 NIV