Tagged: fear

Are you ready to be naked?

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Isaiah 40:29

Sometimes our determination to appear strong and resilient, slows down our deliverance.

I’m not encouraging victimhood, but transparency before God. Some of us have even made “faith” a barrier between us and God.

“I’m “believing” God”

“He will do it in His time”

– which at times, are not expressions of true faith in God, but simply caveats for inaction, prideful complacency and ignorance posing as faith. Preventing us from being real before the one who knows the fabric of our souls.

So what does all this have to do with getting naked? In the garden of eden, when God created Adam and Eve, He made them naked, and they seem to be unfazed by this. But after they sinned and their eyes were “open” , they hid from God, in their most vulnerable state. They didn’t consider that God was accustomed to their nakedness, but instead they hid from Him.

Adam and Eve’s nakedness wasn’t the issue, their naked, exposed physical form wasn’t what separated them from God. But their reluctance to be naked, vulnerable, transparent, before God – that separated them from Him.

Ask, where in my life am I trying to present the “best” version of myself to You (God), when You can see every crack, fracture, bulge and brokenness?

My weaknesses, my weariness cannot separate me from God, but my false pretences can.

David was the second king of Israel, chosen by God and yet he made numerous mistakes. He impregnated another man’s wife, committed murder, sending Uriah to his death on the battlefield. He was greatly bereaved, losing a child days after birth, and he suffered ongoing conflict within his own immediate family. But flaws and all, David was always quick to appear naked before God. Whether in his praise or repentance.

In 2 Samuel 6:14 -23 we see this demonstrated. David’s response to the comments made by his wife Michal, further emphasises this point:

20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

21 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord.

22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

2 Samuel 6:20 – 22 (NIV)

 

I like the term undignified – ask, how undignified is my praise, my worship, my surrenderance, my prayer before God? Many of us have become too good at “keeping it together”, that we cannot be broken before God – so He cannot heal us.

If you are familiar with the story of Hannah from 1 Samuel – you’ll recall how her petitions for a child made her appear unhinged in the house of God. To the extent that the priest Eli asked her, isn’t it too early for you to be drunk?

Imagine if it was this day and age, how many of us have the desperation of Hannah within us, and yet we are making “pretty” prayers before God and man. Jesus clearly says in Luke 4:16 -21 He came to set the captives free.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Luke 4:18

In Luke 5:31 He rightly said that those who are “whole” do not need a physician, but they who are sick. The truth is that none of us are whole, but only some of us are willing to acknowledge this before God, so only some of us experience the fullness of His grace.

Make up your mind today, and every day here on, to be completely naked before God and He will be your covering. He will clothe you with His grace. He will shelter you from the elements of this life – if you acknowledge your vulnerability. As Paul said “When I am weak, the I am strong”.

Teach us how Lord in Jesus name.

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9 – 10

Free indeed…?

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

There’s this freedom in Jesus that I so long for. I’m certain it’s in Him. I see glimpses of it on people’s faces when we worship. When we are in His presence. When we stop caring and raise our hands, or sit still contemplating His Love or lie prostrate in surrender before the Almighty. when we can no longer “keep it together” and allow the Spirit of God to come into our hearts and lives. The freedom to discover and be who He has called us to be in Himself.

32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32 see end for full ref)

I long to have that freedom on a Monday morning when I step into work.

I long to have that freedom on a Monday morning when I step into work. I desire to experience that freedom on a Sunday afternoon when I’m in fellowship with my church family. I want that freedom at gatherings mixing with people from various walks of life. I yearn to walk in that freedom – even as I travel on trains and buses, making my way to some destination, having unexpected encounters with other commuters.

I think it’s a great robbery for any individual in the Church of God to imitate someone else or some idea, and forsake who God has intended for us to be in Him. To be free – that too requires faith, and could also be part of the abundant life we are promised in Jesus. At one point or another we all struggle with the question of who we are, who we aspire to be and who God is. I believe there is another level of freedom stored away in discovering answers to these questions. And John 8:32 (above) confirms this.

In the world people pursue practical, outward forms of freedom – some are justified, like freedom from discrimination or a dictatorship. But the world also campaigns for a caricature of “freedom”, a false sense of “freedom” that sends us further away from the presence of God and into further captivity. Okay so that’s in “the world”, can I suggest that in the Church some of us maybe walking around on eggshells, putting on a performance, working so hard to be who we are not called to be – whilst the person God created us to be, the purpose and desires He has for us are abandoned. Some of us have set ourselves an impossible assignment of trying to be someone else whilst the role we are called to play remains dormant and the work unfinished, until God calls someone else. Maybe this was part of the issue with Saul going above and beyond to do someone else’s job (in this case Samuel’s). Hastening to perform that which God had not instructed him to perform, and losing his God-ordained inheritance in the process.

9 So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. 11 And Samuel said, “What have you done?”

(1 Samuel 13:9-11a see end for full ref)

Lately I’ve been hearing the word “freedom” in my spirit and as I desire it more and more it causes me to delight in worshipping God, because there I can have an audience of One and be free and transparent before Him. My intention here is not to point fingers, make accusations or even any assumptions, but to cause us to ponder the question. Am I free to be my authentic self?

Am I free?

I believe God calls us to His standard of godly living and righteousness, and I believe part of that standard is the freedom to be our authentic selves in Jesus. Think about Jesus’ short time spent in Gaderenes – as soon as the man who was spiritually bound, a prisoner and social outcast encountered Jesus – he was set free. But watch the reaction of the community who had seen this man wasting away, cutting himself, living a life of oppression, a life without purpose or freedom. What did they do when Jesus set him free? They asked Jesus to leave.

They asked Jesus to leave

15 Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 16 And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. 17 Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.

(Mark 5:15-17 see end for full ref)

How do I discover my ‘authentic” self – what does that even mean, especially in a “social media society” obsessed with outward appearances and false impressions. I go back to the One who made me, my Father in heaven to discover my identity and gain my freedom.

15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

(Psalm 139:15-16 see end for full ref)

Worship is so important

Which brings me back to the initial thoughts behind this post. Worship is so important. As I pour out and empty myself with a lifestyle of worship and surrendrance to God, my hope and prayer is that God sets me free from every facade preventing me from being who He has created me to be.

Have you had an experience which freed you from living a lie, where you felt loosed if you like, liberated?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this – we’re here to learn!

Passages to read and reflect on:

John 8:31-36

1 Samuel 13:1-14

Luke 13:10-17

Mark 5:1-20

Psalm 139

Vulnerability in Love

 

wp-1470856682184.jpg

I had big trust issues growing up. You would think this made me guarded, secretive, defensive. No. Instead I made myself vulnerable to everyone. I decided the best way to protect myself from disappointment, was to have no expectations of anyone. I recall my explanation to a friend – since I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone, I would make sure anything I disclosed to even my closest friends, I could disclose to a stranger, and I often did. I had no filter, I shared almost everything with anyone who had ears, and to no surprise I was taken advantage of.

A few days before the wedding, I spoke with a colleague at work. He had been receiving updates about the ‘big day’ during our lunch breaks, for the past few months. (He’s been married for 6 years!) He asked me “are you ready to make yourself vulnerable?”

Make myself vulnerable? His question sent thumps running to my heart straight away. I didn’t like the sound of that. Being vulnerable would mean allowing my flaws and faults to be exposed to the  one person whose opinion matters most to me! I’ve just mastered the whole ‘guarding’ myself thing, and now I’m being  asked to let down my guard? What, that can’t be right!

The beautiful thing is that like God with mankind; when we allow our imperfections to the surface, we can finally experience the fullness of love the other party is prepared to show us, flaws and all. This is also the first step to tackling those flaws.

Even just some days before our wedding day and God was still pointing out a major flaw to me, through my colleague. The scripture in 1 Corinthians 13 makes more sense now. I understood the being “patient” and not being “proud” part, however there are some things that love does in Corinthians that I didn’t understand.

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Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.

In other words, love is vulnerable, has no secrets, is trusting, unguarded. Only then can 2 really become 1. Remember that God will invest so much in a person, with every possibility of that person rejecting His assignment and His love. Remember Eden, God crafted a perfect display of His complete love for mankind, and despite His caution, Adam and Eve still betrayed His trust. Or what about Jesus going to the cross, God made His only Son completely vulnerable and at the mercy of men set out to kill Him, why because He loves us.

You’ll never be more vulnerable to any human being than your spouse. If you’re not ready to be vulnerable with your future husband or wife, then you need to ask yourself what kind of marriage you want now or in the future. Not one based on fear, pride, lacking trust and divided – two individuals “doing life” together. I believe God has something more beautiful, sincere and more intimate in mind for marriage. It is the merging of two journeys, the binding together of two lives, the establishment of a single union before God and man. That’s why it’s so important for it to be the right person.

Marriage may not be a bed of roses, but with the right man, and the right woman you can cultivate you own unique garden that works for the two of you.

So, are you ready to make yourself vulnerable? Start first with Christ, it’s working for me…

Peace & Love

Relationship Status?


image: jewlerywise.com

image: jewlerywise.com

It isn’t my relationship that redeemed me.

Some of us have been to terrible, dark places in our lives – paths we blame ourselves for journeying; so that if any man or woman should choose to love us, deep within us we believe there lies our redemption.

“She can be loved”

His proposal tells the world “she can be loved”, and having her by his side makes him ”desirable”. Is it partly because, although we say Christ has redeemed us, we continue to hold ourselves guilty of our past? This is certain, you will never be able to pay for the life you lived, and there is nothing you can do to change your past. But His blood is more powerful, more than capable of helping you to recover from those mistakes and healing your traumas. His blood calls you a new creation. Even if you were the worst of sinners, there is no darkness, no failure, no history that the blood of Jesus cannot overcome and wash away.

“…bought at a much greater price”

Do you long desperately for ”Mister right’‘? Well contrary to the world’s fairytale there is no knight in shining armour who can save you, because the truth is – we all need saving. Maybe you’re already in a relationship? Do you love it when people talk about your relationship? Does it give you a confidence in your self-worth, which you dare not carry alone? The truth is, no  relationship status, no ring can redeem you, because you were bought at a much greater price. Are you able to love and appreciate your worth, the unique value placed in you by God? Or are you still angry and still ashamed? I find I feel more confident since getting engaged, it’s like you carry a stamp on your left hand that says “you’re worth it” (like the L’Orèal ads). But the novelty will soon wear off and then what? Will you seek for the next thing to make you feel redeemed and cleared of your past?

“Woman where are thine accusers?”

Christ is before you asking you, “Woman where are thine accusers?” Think about the woman accused of adultery, even after the accusations ceased why did she remain there, stood before Jesus? Perhaps her greatest condemnation – the one that kept her where her accusers left her, was her own. What have you done wrong? How have you messed up? Whatever it is, I have news for you, you have been redeemed. You don’t have to justify God’s love towards you or His blessings in your life. There is no need to feel ashamed anymore, when the spotlight is on you. They don’t see who you used to be, they don’t see your past sins and struggles, they see God’s glory. They see YOU, redeemed and refined by Christ – because you are. Jesus took your shame to the cross, you have been redeemed and there is no catch, but believe that your redemption is in Christ.

Your redemption is not pegged on your relationship status. When it comes to the matters of your inner-self, your relationship status is irrelevant. Start addressing those memories that try to convince you that you haven’t changed. Read about Paul, he could have carried the shame and guilt of a notorious past, persecuting the church. He would have been justified to seek the approval of the people he was sent to share the Gospel with, but instead he allowed his identity and call in Christ to be the driving force of his life. You can too.

It isn’t my relationship that redeemed me. I was a wreck, and Christ saw me, broken, desperate and tired, and He carried me. Long before my Fiancé noticed me or even knew who I was, long before there was any proposal in sight, Christ began a work of redemption in me. So I encourage you today, to forgive yourself and forgive your past, and begin to learn about your redemption that is everlasting in Christ. As my Pastor often says – “your past is past”, and no man can, no man has redeemed you and no man will, but the living God.

May God help us to believe His unconditional love towards us, may He teach us step out of the shadows of our past and hand over every negative memory and guilt to Him, and may God teach us to truly love ourselves, in Jesus name amen.

Peace & Love

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

image: v1ctor

image: v1ctor

It could be through a dream, conviction of the heart, a revelation.

When God speaks, something new is born – a vision, an assignment, a calling, an ambition. It changes the way we see all that is around us. Our priorities are often rearranged, we sing a new chorus in our hearts, and our minds are filled and fuelled by it.

God said” starts more and more of our conversations, especially the ones we have within ourselves; as we try to defend the promise God has entrusted to us.
What should we do when God said, and nothing has happened… yet?

God said to Abraham, “Get out of thy country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing

God said to Moses, “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel out of Egypt.

The angel of the Lord said to Abraham and Sarah “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “shall I surely bare a child, since I am old?” Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

It had been twenty-five years since the promise was first mentioned in the Bible; imagine how long Sarah had already been waiting before we hear of this promise. She had waited so long for this promise, that when she was told specific details of how long it would be, before she would have a child – her longing and her desire had overwhelmed her faith. Anticipation became anxiety, and waiting turned into worrying. Perhaps secretly within her, Sarah had loosen her grip and let go of the promise. Because having the type of faith that has no bearings by the world’s standards, the type of faith that exceeds mere “optimism” or “positivity”, may have been too difficult for her.

If you could utter words of encouragement to Sarah, in the midst of her waiting, knowing what you know about Isaac and Israel, what would you say?

I would tell her that the possibility of her not having a son was impossible. I would make her aware that a lineage specially chosen by God, was dependant on her having her son. I would assure her that God had plans, hundreds of years in the future, that rested upon her receiving her promise.

So, what has God said concerning you? What has been revealed to you? Is it in line with the character and nature of God? If God has confirmed it as His Word, then it must come to pass. Don’t let go of it, prepare yourself – it will come.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

May God pour out over us the grace to trust in Him and wait upon Him in Jesus name amen

Peace & Love

Sunday isn’t enough

image: flickr - Jason White

image: Jason White (flickr)

Even as a Christian, don’t make the mistake of believing that your acknowledgment of God is the end of the journey.

The journey has only just begun.

You are no longer the same, in fact you will spend the rest of your life being changed forever.
You are created with such intricacy, such specific detail – nothing in this world can ever fill the void – this world alone is insufficient for you.

There are things hidden within you that only God knows about.
There are joys and rays of peace you strive for, and God has kept them in a secret and lovely place.

There is no one person without a destiny in Christ; as wretched as you may think you are, or think the next person is. God carefully designed this unique vessel, this God-inspired creation, for His own joy of loving us and the incomparable, indescribable joy of being loved by the Father.

So I encourage you today, to return to that secret place, the place that God called Jacob back to, so many times. The place where God first met with you.

 

Don’t ever be too busy for God, He is your sustenance – without Him, you will run out of steam. Sunday isn’t enough, everyday you must desire to rekindle that special love between you and the Father – spending time with Him in your own special way.

And if you don’t know Him, He has been waiting to know you all of your life.

Wanting to know God, is enough to begin the journey.

Pray this prayer with me: Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I’m a sinner. And I ask for your forgiveness. I believe your son, Jesus, died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins. I repent of my sins. I invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Saviour. In Jesus’ name, amen.

While I Wait

[Image: Martin Cathrae]

[Image: Martin Cathrae]

 

One thing I think a lot of Christians struggle with is waiting…

 

For some people working in faith, serving in faith, sowing in faith, even being persecuted and still having faith, is not as much of a challenge for them as waiting in faith.

We become uncomfortable, we pray and we don’t hear anything, we fast, we seek counsel, and that feeling of waiting grates on us. We read over the scriptures that are supposed to encourage us, but we use them to fuel our anxiety. If God said I should ask, and I have asked, and He promised I will receive – why am I not receiving?

But a persevering faith is precious and it will only reap reward from Heaven.

When I feel like doubting God, trying to find a compromise to what I am waiting on God for, I hear the Holy Spirit cheering me on, encouraging me. Telling me to keep on waiting, not to relent in waiting, to be hopeful in the character of the Almighty God and confident in His love for me. Don’t stop looking unto God for this, He will do it.

If we are able to persevere in trusting God, even when everything and everyone else is counting the seconds, minutes, hours, days, years. We show God that our faith in Him goes beyond us getting things from Him. Instead we put our faith in God because we believe He is the only Way worth pursuing, the only Truth worth knowing, and the only Life worth living.

 Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

God’s grace is sufficient for us.

Have a wonderful day.

Peace & Love