What makes you so different?
1 Peter 2:9
What makes you a Christian? According to the helpful results of a very quick Google search and I quote: “…in 2010 Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31 percent) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth.” That’s a lot of numbers. This is more a thought than a challenge, do you think our world reflects that there are 2 billion Christians – nearly 1 in every 3 people – on the face of the earth?
I remember having a conversation with a friend, about faith. I was trying to explain the difference between conveniently carrying the label of being a “Christian” and striving to live as a born again Christian. I was very impressed by my well learned “christianese” answers to her questions, but then she was also well versed on these answers too. When I was satisfied that I had repeated everything I had heard others describe the Christian walk as, she asked me “what does it mean to be born again”. I paused for a second, the conversation doesn’t usually go like this – people usually go away and think over the first set of responses. But I guess like Nicodemus when speaking to Jesus about the same subject, many of us have tried “religion” and it has failed us. No sound bites came to mind, so I would have to depend on the Holy Spirit and my own personal experience.
“Being born again means that Christ has become your source, for everything”
What followed was silence from my friend, and also silence from me, as I realised, I couldn’t put it any simpler than that. I felt challenged by the words that escaped my mouth. Undoubtedly becoming born again is both a spiritual and personal process and experience. But this transformation should also be visible in our physical lives. Being born again we no longer survive on our own competence or capabilities – our own plans, judgments and agenda. We become a blank canvas, we release every tension in our will (that tug n pull of ‘self’ that exists within all of us), so we can be shaped, moulded and transformed into His divine will and purpose. We become dependant children of God.
Sadly there is obvious contention between what God desires for us and what the world tells us to desire. Adam and Eve lived an abundant life in Eden, heaven on earth – and yet the one thing they were told was off limits overshadowed everything God had freely given them. From the beginning man has desired autonomy, but God has always called us to dependency.
Genesis 3:5 KJV
In the same way that we want our spouses, family and friends to choose to love us, not by obligation. God wanted us to choose Him, and still wants us to choose Him. As a Christian what is your greatest concern, discovering and accomplishing God’s will and plan for your life, or fulfilling your greatest desires and ambitions and thanking God when you do? Is God the reason or the enabler? I’ll say it again, is God your “reason” or your “enabler”?
As a child of God He should be both, but sometimes I realise He’s not the reason really, but a means to an end – the end being my gratification, my satisfaction. You may be on the right track in terms of your goals, but if you want them more than you want to please God then you’re still on the wrong track. The truth is that when you fulfil your desires and reach your finish line, you’ll find something else to desire and that haunting feeling of discontent will return – in truth it never left. Because like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, who believed eating from the tree of knowledge would satisfy their curious hunger;
our pursuit for human satisfaction will always lead to the greatest level of discontentment.
So what am I really saying? I’m asking us to reflect over the months of this year or the last few years – has it been “my agenda” or “God’s”? It’s sort of like when you attend a party with someone, or enter a busy environment like a market place and you have someone following behind you. Until you look back and realise they took a detour somewhere along the journey. I think it’s very easy to do, even as a born again Christian.
Finding our way back
What makes you so different? What makes us different to everyone else appearing to run the same race of life? For some of us, our dreams and aspirations don’t seem all that different to those who are not Christians. That isn’t a bad thing – but who is the source of your vision? Who is sustaining your vision? Who is sustaining you? Remember my very simple explanation to a friend …Christ has become your source, for everything.
John 6:35 KJV
It can only be through Him, by Him and because of Him. I pray that God will give us the grace to return to His will, forego our temporal “goals”, fading ambitions and vain motivations – for His ever-lasting prize of life eternal in Jesus name.
Peace and Love
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?
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
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.
May God pour out over us the grace to trust in Him and wait upon Him in Jesus name amen
Peace & Love
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.
God’s grace is sufficient for us.
Have a wonderful day.
Peace & Love
On my way to work this morning, I took a moment to observe the sky, I allowed my eyes to take in every object before me, I enjoyed the peace within me, that quietness that comes with salvation, I acknowledged it. I admired the beauty of creation, surrounded by tall buildings and a construction site in my background, I was and am grateful to be alive.
I walked through the office door of my workplace and I took my time to really notice those who were already at work. I didn’t greet them all, but I wished them all a blessed day, as I desire for myself and within me I smiled. My reflection on God’s goodness this morning, did not permit me to murmur under my breath against people, to spend my time living in a bubble of fear and pride. I found, the more grateful I was, the more I could appreciate all that God had placed around me, the more I could see His fingers working everyday miracles in my life.
I bless the name of my heavenly Father, and I boast of His faithfulness, His goodness, even within me – my confidence is rooted in His sovereignty.
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High.
To show forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.
And I won’t be afraid that this feeling might be short-lived, and what if tomorrow I don’t feel this way, or my morning isn’t so smooth? I put my trust in my Father, that He will remind me once again of the beauty of the life, He alone has granted me to enjoy.
With all sincerity, I say to you, have a blessed day
Peace & Love
Rightly so, as children of God we desire to look like our heavenly Father. All too often I understand the frustration when we fall short.
As one of three children, I remember how jealous I became when a family friend visited and said my sister resembled my Mum more than I did. She was clearly mistaken. The competition was never-ending between my Sister and I, to resemble our parents.
“You have your Dad’s eyes”, they would say. “You are a carbon-copy of your Mum!”
They were so passionate and sure of their observations. They enjoyed making the comparison and I enjoyed being reminded of my roots, where I came from.
Identity is a complex thing.
Whilst reading daily devotionals about what it means to be Set Apart – to be Holy, I recognised my strong desire to be like my heavenly Father and God’s even stronger desire, expressed in His word, for us to be like Him.
As the devotional revealed to me:
The more time I spend with my Father, the more I seek Him – to learn Christ, to know Christ – the more I will look like Christ. The fruit of the Spirit of God can be borne in my behaviour, my character, my lifestyle and the condition of my heart. My journey in Christ isn’t hopeless.
It amuses us when we see the resemblance developing between a married couple. They may have the same mannerisms or finish each other’s sentences. The similarities that become apparent between two good friends – two peas in a pod – so that one might be mistaken for the other. Likewise, a growing relationship with God is the avenue to looking more like Him.
Being Set Apart may not be easy, and yes it is a daily exercise and a continued goal, passing days, passing months, years and decades.
But how delightful it is to look like my Father,
A display of His splendor,
To be refined by His manifested love for me,
Created in His image, formed in His likeness.
The more we spend time with God, the more we are conformed to the image of Christ, the more we can be Holy and Set Apart like Christ.
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
My prayer is that Lord, Your love for us will not allow us to weary of seeking You and spending time with You. Teach us to delight in You Lord, so that we will look more and more like our Lord and personal Saviour Christ Jesus. So that we will be conformed to the image of Christ, just like You intended in Jesus name amen.
Peace & Love
A raucous scene, a battlefield, contention on every side. Bodies throw against one another. Who but who will surrender? Who will stand?
And there in the midst of it all, one stands, a solace surrounding him. In the chaos, the quiet abides with him. Soon they notice, the tranquil site on the battlefield.
He holds a sword, but this will not stop them from tempting him.
I have often imagine myself, in a complete suit of armour, walking slowly along the seashore, the sea air clean and clear, in the shadow of my Father. His peace quietens me, but still I hold in my hand the sword ready to fight.
Simply holding a sword on a battlefield will not fend off opposition, it certainly won’t win the war. And like this man, sword in hand, we cannot simply have the Gospel and persevere. At all times we must use the Gospel, put it to use as shield, armour and weapon.
It is the good fight of faith.
1 corinthians 15:1 – 3
Even in trials and tribulations, may God continue to renew in our hearts, the Good News of the Gospel and a revelation of Himself, that we may continue to stand and persevere in Jesus name amen.
Peace & Love