Who are You?

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“When you know who you are, you’ll know what to do” – These words have always stuck with me. The first time I ever heard them was while doing schools ministry with my friend Ezra. He was quoting this phrase from Craig Groschel to some of the teens we were spending time with. I was recently reminded of these words while reading through John’s gospel as suggested by one of our New Harvest Family. These words from John 1 really stood out to me:

 19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” 24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John knew who he was and because he was comfortable in his identity this allowed him to do what he was called to do. He was not trying to earn his identity of preparing the way for Jesus but was living out that identity since he knew that was what God had called him to do. Notice that he didn’t feel the need to be someone else or give into the temptation of elevating himself to the place only Jesus could hold – no – he was content in preparing the way for Jesus and he did an exceptional job in doing this.

So what is our identity as Jesus’ disciples? One aspect of our identity that has been standing out to me a lot lately is “child of God.” I have had the amazing privilege to spend a lot of time with Seth lately which has been such a blessing. I love my son so much and it blows my mind that God loves me more than I love Seth and that He wants to spend with me like I enjoy spending time with my son. The Creator of the universe – the completely holy and set apart God wants to spend time with His children – how cool is that? God is our Father who loves to give us good gifts (Matthew 7:11) and loves us so much that He sent His Son to die on our behalf so that we might be reconciled back to Him (John 3:16).

If God is our Father and we are His children this means that disciples of Jesus are actually family and we are to love one another as we have been loved. We do not show love to earn God’s love but allow God’s love for us to be the fuel to love fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We love as a result of living out the reality our identity as dearly loved children. It is important that we recognize that this love should not be restricted to the family of God. The full expression of being the family of God is found in loving the world around us in the same way Jesus has loved us. So my challenge for all of us today is find a way to show love to someone that is in desperate need of God’s love and allow God to love that person through you!

Much love,

Luke

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Trying Again

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I came across an interesting YouTube channel today called CSLewisDoodle where an artist draws doodles along with “selected essays by C.S. Lewis in order to make them easier to understand.” The videos are fantastically well done and I can recommend you check them out.

In watching one of the videos drawn from Lewis’s Mere Christianity the following section stood out to me:

We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity [sexual morality] – like perfect charity – will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.
                                                                                                     (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

I found C.S. Lewis’s words to be incredibly insightful and encouraging. As believers, we are all on this journey of sanctification, that is, becoming holy through putting to death the sinful habits in our lives and becoming more like Jesus. We all have certain areas of sinfulness that we struggle with and at times it can seem impossible to attain that Christian virtue in our lives. Nevertheless, we mustn’t stop trying.

For some of you, this period of isolation has been a setback in your journey towards holiness. Without the physical presence and encouragement of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you may be struggling even more in your daily battle against sin in your life. Do not stop trying. “Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.” God will give you the strength to try again, the Holy Spirit will empower you to pursue holiness.

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV)

 

God Bless

Graham

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Sickness

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Have you ever wondered why we get sick? Why is it that our bodies can be infected with various viruses and troubled by different ailments? The short answer is because sin exists. Sin brought with it a whole host of different problems when humanity succumbed to temptation. With the fall of man came various consequences and sickness is one of those consequences. The reason why I felt it necessary to address this topic today is because there is a lot of talk going on about COVID-19 at the moment. With all this discussion have come many different takes on God’s plan for our lives in these challenging times. One such forwarded message I recently received from a friend said:

“One of the blessings God has for us is health. Sickness is not part of His plan for your future. In His goodness, He wants to come and remove sickness from our lives. Believe for divine health and trust Him to protect and heal you” – Author Unknown

While this message is very encouraging there are parts of it that are untrue as we will experience sickness in this life for a few different reasons such as:

  • A result of living in a fallen world
  • Poor health choices
  • Satanic or demonic attack or influence
  • God’s cause or allowance

That last reason may make you feel a bit uncomfortable. But we must remember that God is Sovereign and above everything in His creation. Sometimes we will get sick because we simply walked past someone else who was sick and get infected with whatever they have or maybe our sickness is self-inflicted through prolonged poor health choices. Sickness can also possibly be a result of a demonic attack or maybe, just maybe, God is causing or allowing us to be sick for a specific purpose to accomplish a specific goal in our life or someone’s close to us.

While we don’t have the time to get into all the theological discussions that could be had on this topic, what I want us to take away from this post is that we will get sick in this life for a variety of reasons. And when trying to determine the reason for our sickness we must remember that God is still good, even in our sickness, and that God has every ability to use that sickness for our good:

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose – Romans 8:28

Much Love,

Luke

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Change of Plans

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I was chatting to a congregation member over the phone yesterday and she mentioned that for her birthday in May her family had planned to come visit from all over the world. What with all that is going on with the Covid-19 pandemic they had decided to postpone the arrangement to her birthday next year. She then said something along the lines of when we made the plans we should have said “God willing…” referencing James’ words in chapter 4 his letter to the believers. I felt it was a very apt observation.

This is the passage from James 4:13-16

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like vapour that appears for a little while, then vanishes.

15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

No one could have predicted the global disruption to all of our lives that the coronavirus outbreak brought this year. As things progressed event after event got cancelled. Gatherings were called off. Plans were disrupted. Even the things that we’ve always come to see as constant, things so concrete that we’d never have dreamed of them not happening, would not happen. This global pandemic is a reminder that we do not know what tomorrow will bring or what our life will be.

Now this is not to say that we shouldn’t make plans. After all Proverbs 21:5 says, The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage, but everyone who acts in haste comes surely to poverty,” (AMP). It is good to plan, but in our planning we shouldn’t become presumptuous. We shouldn’t give in to the temptation that having a plan means we have life all figured out. The truth is we don’t, there is only one plan that will always come to fruition: Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails,” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV).

This is why James advises us to remember, in all our planning, to acknowledge, “if the Lord wills , we will live and do this or that.” Our lives are in His hands, in fact, all life is in His hands. We are but just a vapour, He is eternal, and it is His plan that will prevail.

The wonderful thing about this, for us as believers, is we know that God is good and His plan for our lives, and for all creation, is ultimately good. So even when our plans get disrupted, when nothing seems to go to plan, it’s okay because we are still in the will of God.

 

God Bless

Graham

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