Honouring Those Who Have Gone Before Us

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by Luke Kincaid

Up until a few moments ago, I realized that I was prone to take for granted that Paul, who wrote a majority of the New Testament, was a real, flesh and blood, Holy Spirit led, human being. He was just like you and me and he was able to make such an incredible impact on the world around Him because of the incredible value he placed on knowing and obeying Jesus.

I was reminded of this while reading through the first chapter of Matt Chandler’s book “To Live Is Christ To Die Is Gain” which is a road map for authentic Christian maturity from the book of Philippians. In chapter one of his book, Matt Chandler recounts the start of the Christian church in Philippi as told in Acts 16 and this is the portion of the story that really stood out to me:

20 Bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews 21 and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had severely flogged them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to guard them carefully. 24 Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks. – Acts 16:20-24

Paul and Silas were imprisoned because of Paul casting out a demon from a young slave girl who was making money for her owners through demonic means. The following is a rather lengthy excerpt of Matt Chandler’s words but I think they paint such an amazing portrait of who Paul was:

As Westerners, when we think of ‘the stocks,’ we picture New England in the 1700s, the embarrassment and shame of having your head and hands stuck in a public contraption. But that is not what first-century Roman Empire stocks were like. These devious contraptions would contort the prisoner’s body into all sorts of excruciating postures, locking limbs and joints into place to the point of making the entire body cramp. The prisoner’s body would seize up with searing pain, and then the Romans would just leave the person there for days. Notice that the jailer is not commanded to treat his prisoners this way. The magistrates simply ask him to keep the missionaries safe, and instead he tortures them. So we aren’t dealing with a very nice man at this moment. This jailer is very good at his job, and he probably likes it more than he should. But when it comes to taking pride in one’s work, this guy could not out-enjoy Paul. ‘About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them’ (Acts 16:25). If you hated the gospel, wouldn’t the apostle Paul be the most frustrating human being alive? It did not matter what you did to this man, he loved God and continued to show it in every possible way… Paul is, as Richard Sibbes says of everyone united with Christ, a man who ‘can never be conquered.’

Paul is such an example to us in that it is possible to live a life that is sold out to following Jesus regardless of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in right now! I am so grateful for this reminder today that Paul, our fellow brother in Christ, was proof that an authentic life in Christ is possible, no matter the cost.

 

Much love,

Luke

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When You Don’t Get It, Trust God’s Got It

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Our circumstances do not define us. This is the gift that difficult seasons in our lives offer us, they are opportunities to grow us and mature us in ways that no other season or experience could. The calling of Jeremiah 29:4-5 is not to resist or run, it’s not even to endure, but to embrace, to get on board with and to be open to the working of God’s Spirit in your life, as He fulfils His plan and purpose through you, in whatever way He chooses.

Sermon by Calven Celliers

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Outside and Inside

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by Calven Celliers

Earlier this week I decided that it was high time I took my car for a proper clean, INSIDE and OUT! Whilst I often wash the outside, even have it polished from time to time, I don’t have the inside cleaned and vacuumed very regularly. Oh sure, I throw out any accumulated till slips, pamphlets, sweet wrappers and the odd leaf that finds its way in under my shoe, but I’m talking about a thorough clean. As I sat there watching them first soap, wash, rinse and then shine up the outside, then wipe down, and vacuum the interior, I began thinking about how relevant this is to our lives as followers of Christ.

One of the biggest mistakes we as Christians can make is to put more time and energy into outside activities, keeping up appearances, than into inside character-developing disciplines. Just think of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day and how terribly wrong they went all because they emphasized the outside over the inside.     

“As religious leaders, the Pharisees often challenged Jesus because they felt threatened by his teachings. Jesus taught that spiritual cleansing and renewal took place in a person’s heart and showed on the outside in acts of mercy and justice. But the Pharisees taught a religion of mostly man-made rules and ceremonies. On the outside they appeared pious, but on the inside, many were filled with sinful thoughts and intentions.” (Roger Greenway)

I definitely pick up a rather harsh tone in Jesus’ reprimand to the religious leaders regarding this matter. In the Gospel of Luke, He said,

39 You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy — full of greed and wickedness!40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside?” (Luke 11: 39 & 40NLT

Religious people often focus on the outward rather than the inward. It’s all about behaviour modification, conformity, and good deeds. Religion appeals to people’s tastes, preferences and ambitions rather than to hearts yearning for truth and cleansing. A relationship with Jesus, however, calls for transformation from the inside out as you devote yourself fully to Him. It’s dethroning yourself and enthroning Jesus; it’s complete divestiture of all self-interest as you surrender all of you to all of Him, giving God veto-power in your life.

When we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour, God doesn’t just forgive us our sins, He begins a lifelong process of changing our very nature. A true and balanced spiritual life calls for God’s renewal from the inside out, as He creates in us the likeness of His Son. It involves personal disciplines such as prayer, meditation on the Word, and fellowship with God and His people, as the abiding Spirit of God nurtures us and prepares us for the challenges of daily life as God’s servants in this world.

The truth of the matter is that we can polish away at the soft glow of a sparkling clean exterior, but if the interior is still dirty, what good will that polishing do? We can fool others. We can even fool ourselves into thinking we have it made it spiritually… but we aren’t fooling God.

 

God bless,

Calven

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God Blesses Endurance

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by John Doyle

Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness, and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you maybe perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
 
That word “steadfastness” in Gods Word incorporates “Endurance”.  James is writing to the 12 Tribes of Israel that had been dispersed to different towns and countries to help proclaim the message of hope in the Lord Jesus. They went through many trials as we read in scripture but James reminds them of God’s Promise He gave to those who “ENDURE”.
 
In these days of the Lockdown and the challenges we have with Covid-19 there are many who are quitting and giving up. We are seeing this politically and socially and many businesses are suffering. As God’s People lets not fall into this trap of the evil one. I am sure you are discouraged about certain things and perhaps weary with trying to be there for family and help others at this time. Its not an easy journey and many are asking God to intervene and that’s a good thing and yes we should all be praying for Gods Divine intervention in this situation that we are all facing at this time.
 
I am sure you will remember situations in your own life where you have had to press on in Faith and witnessed the presence of God. You found out that once you have got through it, that as a finisher you still had wounds and weariness but you still chose *ENDURANCE* because you know from life that God blesses Endurance. The Land of Promise, says Jesus, awaits those who endure – What an amazing promise from the Lord!
 
Let the one who is taught the Word share all things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will you also reap. So the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary of doing good, for is due season we will reap, if we do not Give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:6-10)
 
Lets be an encouragement to each other at this time and “ENDURE” this journey together and be like Jesus who Endured to the end and then said “IT IS FINISHED”.
 
Its time to sing with me:
 
“Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, when the clouds unfold their wings of strife,
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain, will your anchor drift or firm remain,
WE HAVE AN ANCHOR THAT KEEPS THE SOUL, STEADFAST AND SURE WHILE THE BILLOWS ROLL,
FASTENED TO THE ROCK WHICH CANNOT MOVE, GROUNDED FIRM AND DEEP IN THE SAVIOUR’S LOVE”
 
 
May the Love of the Lord Jesus flow through each of our Lives today,
John and Barbara
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