Commitments

If you’ve been looking for work recently and have been doing casual work in the process you’ll understand where I’m coming from with this today. Today I received a call to do a whole week worth of work. For all those students you would hear a giant “Ca-Ching!” but all I heard was “uh oh!”

I already had a commitment for one day out of five possible days of work. What would you do here in this situation?  Some may go “woohoo work!” and take the five days running. However all I could think of was honoring the commitment I had already made and to trust in the Lord. Sometimes it isn’t about the quantity of things that we do or have but rather the quality – actually who am I kidding, its always about the quality I would think. Our actions define us and we should step out and do our best. As Christians we are told to do the following:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

– Matthew 5: 14 – 16

Even in honoring our commitments we glorify our Father in heaven. Honor those plans you have made, even those coffee catch ups that you’d rather not go to so you can lie in bed for another half an hour on a lazy Sunday. Be the light of the world in even small things and go for quality actions rather than a large quantity.

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The Past Week

Over the past few days, I’ve stopped and thought of an hour five years ago. This hour was a lunch hour in my last year of high school. I had started to take Christianity seriously a bit more, was looking at getting baptized and had helped form a new Christian group called “Speak Out” at school.

This lunchtime was one of those days where we had a Speak Out meeting just a few days after the first Christchurch earthquake. The school was abuzz with discussion about what had happened in the south island and we even did some fundraising as a school to help those in need who had been in the midst of the quakes. That period of time was a thought provoking one as many were wondering what was going on. Why were there so many earthquakes happening down south? Were there going to be any in Auckland or somewhere else in the North Island? How was everyone coping in Christchurch and other affected areas? Would we be ready for an earthquake?

All of this came to a Speak Out session where one of our attendees read a passage from Matthew. It was titled “Signs of the End of the Age” and goes as follows…

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”

– Matthew 24 : 3 – 8

Now a lot of people seem to go to this passage when there are so many earthquakes – especially if they seem close to home.  BUT let me give a suggestion on something else we can do rather than wonder if this is the end times and how soon Jesus may come back…

“My command is this: Love one another, as I have loved you.”

– John 15 : 12

Instead of worrying what this means for our eternity or what it means in the spiritual sense of when the end times will come, look at it this way. Love one another. There are many people down in Kaikoura and the rest of the South Island as well as Wellington that could do with some help. Pitch in and help even if its checking up on people in your neighborhood if you live in affected areas. Call friends that you know have relatives and ask if they are okay and if they need anything. Donate to relief funds or services like the Red Cross. Put together a food drive and find a way to send it down (I’m sure there is a way to help make this happen).

Love one another as Jesus has loved us.

This does not apply to just New Zealand and its quake affected areas. Look in your neighborhood, your city, your country, your continent and love on those that need help.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need (or what others need?), and thank him for all He has done (and what he will do?).”

-Philippians 4 : 6

Where is your trust?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight. 

Proverbs 3 : 5 – 6

This past week I’ve had two things that have made me think. First and foremost is my current job situation. I’ve finished my qualifications at a funny time compared to the normal term and therefore it’s a little hard to find a job at the moment. I’ve been applying and looking for some but for some reason or another it hasn’t been viable. The one time I did apply for a job and went in for a meeting, the position had already been filled. Normally many people would be disappointed but I wasn’t. I had prayed about this position and said “Lord if this isn’t for me, let it be clear” and so I walked out of that meeting, waited a few minutes so I wasn’t in clear sight and ‘turned’ to God and merely prayed “thank you Lord for making it clear, thank you for listening to my desires.”

This may seem like a weird way of looking at things, being happy for not getting a job which may have been beneficial (even if only financially). But, when you look at the bigger picture, God has our best interests in mind. He knows what we want but he also knows what we need and he knows that what we want and what we need are not always the same thing. This is something that we should keep in mind when we pray, it may not always turn out that what we want is what we need. After all we should remember the following verse:

My frame was not hidden from you,
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book,
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!

– Psalm 139 : 15 – 17

The way we can look at this is a positive and uplifting view so that we can aim for the sky. I caught up with a friend who is going overseas to study with no long term plans but rather short term ones in regards to accommodation etc. All I could think of was the above Psalm. God has planned all of our days, (don’t get confused about free will here) and he sees each of us as a precious son or daughter. We need to be positive that he wants to do the best for us even if we don’t see it that way and so what ever we do, if we do it in prayer and in a spirit of love then we are doing all that we could to let God move. God doesn’t need our permission but if we want him to move in our lives then he wants us to ask him to move, create that relationship and trust that your Heavenly Father knows what is best for you!

Look! Double Rainbow!

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A few years ago there was an advertisement on TV for vodafone. A man goes around saying double _______! And look! Double Rainbow! This was hilarious for a while and despite how unlikely it is to see a double rainbow, a rainbow by itself is still a pretty cool thing to see. Do you know what a rainbow means? Surely you do because of countless Sunday school lessons but if you don’t, never fear!

In the very first book of the bible (that would be Genesis) God tells a man called Noah to build an ark and to gather two of every animal, one male and one female and to board this ark to be safe from the coming flood that God would bring. This flood was to happen because God was unhappy with how sinful the world was at the time. At the end of it this is what God does…

I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

Genesis 9 : 11 – 16

God created a covenant or an agreement with Noah and his sons, a covenant that he made with the whole world: The world was to never be flooded in such a way again that all life would be destroyed. The rainbow is the sign of this covenant and a way of remembering this agreement.

“Now dude, whats your point???”

Here is my simple point… let us be thankful for this promise. Let us be grateful for all that God has done for us. Whether it be a roof over our heads, a bed to sleep in, a meal to eat, a sunset to see or a rainbow in the sky, let us be grateful. Be thankful for all the small things that God has done in your life and what he is doing in your life. A positive outlook on life can make the smallest difference. Appreciate every small thing… even things as small as a skittle.

skittles rainbow

Burn Baby Burn

“Set a fire down in my soul…”

“Set me ablaze set me ablaze, ‘Til its all I know…”

“Consuming fire, fan into flame a passion for your name…”

“All consuming fire, you’re our hearts desire, living flame of love, come baptize us, come baptize us…”

“So light the fire in my heart again…”

“Oh take that fire from the inside, outside keep on burning…”

Have you ever noticed in worship songs, how prevalent fire is? I noticed this more recently during a bible study group where we sung a few worship songs and there was a request for “Set me ablaze” and we’d already played “Set a fire”. If we’d felt like it, we could have had easily had a worship session with four songs in total and all four would have fire or flame in it somehow, somewhere. Before I go on, I do want to make a small disclaimer: the title of this blog is actually a song by MercyMe.

Now, I’m not aiming to slam worship songs with fire – I think most if not all are great. I thought it might be of interest to look into how fire plays out in the bible. Forgive me if this is not what you expect, but what can you expect from a pyromaniac? All I want to do is point out three examples of where fire is mentioned in the Old Testament and then in the New Testament and I’ll let you try and piece together the common theme (beside the obvious one).

The Old Testament verses that I have picked out all come from Exodus:

  • “And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush, he (Moses) looked, and behold, the bush was burning, and was not consumed.” – 3:2
  • “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way and by night as a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” -13:21
  • “Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly.” – 19:18

The New Testament verses are from a few different places:

  • “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one more powerful than I , whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” – Matthew 3:11
  • “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” – Acts 2:2-4
  • “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire’.” – Hebrews 12:28-29

I’ll let you figure out the common theme, let the embers burn and feel free to fan them into a great discussion. Give the fire inside you a helping hand today and spend some time with your Heavenly Father.

Psalm 3

A Psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”

But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.

Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. 

From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.

I was unable to sleep one night this past week and so uncharacteristically for me, I turned on my phone as it was close by and opened up my bible app instead of playing a game or checking facebook as I usually do. I went to the psalms, often seen as the original praise songs that are a source of comfort with verses that uplift the soul.

Psalm 3 has a notation that I included here, it is a Psalm of David but that is not what interested me the most in my sleeplessness – it was that David said this Psalm when he was fleeing from his son Absalom. Firstly, knowing your life is in danger and praying / singing to God shows great trust in our Heavenly Father which was a great encouragement to me. Secondly, it got me interested in the story of Absalom.

Its not all the little details that interested me, its the fact that Absalom was a son of David who conspired against his father to take the crown and in fact had himself heralded as the king in Hebron. Where this conspiracy seems to begin (not a biblical theologian so could begin much sooner) is in 2 Samuel 15 and in verse 13 the passage starts with the title David Flees. Absalom wanted his father’s kingdom (which we know went to Solomon the Wise King) and tried to take it by force and ultimately failed.

Now, I know that David was no saint. He would not have won a husband or king of the year award or even possibly father of the year considering… But he had his moments of being a good spiritual role model. In a time when he was essentially fearing for his life, he turned to the Lord and prayed the psalm above and many psalms have mentioned before it “A Psalm of David”From this though, we can see that David trusted his life in the hands of his God. Of my God. And so, despite his flaws David can at least show us how to live out the following verses…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight. 

Proverbs 3 : 5 – 6

 

First Reactions

If I told you right now that your car was rolling down the hill you just parked it on, what would your reaction be? What if I said that someone we knew had just been in an accident? What would you do if I offered you a job promotion or a million dollars? What would be the first words out of your mouth? Think about it for a moment.

Okay, now that you’ve thought about it for a second, ask yourself this: would you want your parents to hear you say it? Your grandparents? A pastor or even an employer? Now I get that I did ask you to think about things where your reaction could be a little extreme, maybe even panicky. However when you think about what you would say in this situation I would implore you to also think about this following verses…

“Do you not yet realize that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then is eliminated? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander.… “ – Matthew 15:17 – 19

“For each tree is known by its own fruit. Indeed, people do not gather figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from brambles. The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:44 – 45

The things that we speak out come from the heart. The words that we share with others show our emotional, mental and spiritual well being. I could list countless swear words that we are all taught by our peers and that our parents try to discourage us to use but whats the point? You know that lesson already. Instead I want you to think on this: I was talking to a youth pastor at church who pointed out to me that words such as gosh and golly are actually originated from the word God. If you do not believe me on this… go and google it, the rest of this post will be waiting for you for when you come back… So… using golly and gosh are just the same as using the Lord’s name in vain.

I’m not saying that I’m perfect in this area – far from it if I am honest. However once again, the language you use is only one part of these first reactions that is a problem… If your reaction isn’t from a place of love or kindness or self control then where are your fruits? (Reference: 3 fruits of the spirit were just listed… for the rest check out Galatians 5:22 – 23). This long garbled post is just a reminder for you to think about your reactions, and the words you use show the place you are coming from, so think about what those words mean. It’s just one way to help you in your walk, as we are called to love and if we don’t love then we aren’t sharing the love of Jesus or shining our lights.

And so may you give this thought and be blessed, remember the following:

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13 – 16