Sunday, 26 July 2009

What if..??

It really isn’t an exaggeration to say that we live in a fear-filled world. Just turn on the news and you’ll hear the latest attention-seeking, fear-inducing headline. Presently it’s swine flu, last month it was the economy, next month…??
There always seems to be something to fear, either inside us or around us, to the point that we can hardly imagine what it would be like to live a fear free life.

I recently made a profound discovery that I really should have made years ago. I was reading a book by Henri Nouwen when I came across the phrase: ‘Fearful questions never lead to love-filled answers; underneath every fearful question many other fearful questions are hidden.’ Wow – just think about that! A fear-filled question springs to mind – or rather, gets thrown at you by demonic forces (Ephesians 6v12). “What if…?” “How will I…?” There are endless questions like that that seek our attention, and foolishly, all too often we give our attention to try to answer those questions. And do we come up with peaceful answers? If left to our own logic & reasoning, no. Result? Fear. Henri Nouwen is right, underneath every fearful question there’s just other fearful questions lurking.

So what’s the answer? Don’t go there! Instead, take every such thought captive to Christ (2 Cor 10v5) because he does have peace-filled answers to every situation that we will ever face. He has promised! Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27.

As Christians, we are in Christ , that means that we have the opportunity to live every moment in a vital, living relationship with Him, and he is the Prince of Peace! So who would you rather fellowship with this week; your fears or Christ?
Your choice!


Thursday, 2 July 2009

What does Jesus want from us?

Let me introduce my friend Josef to you. Josef is a great Dane, that is, he’s a great guy and he’s from Denmark! Until recently he has been leading Copenhagen Community Church (CCC) which meets in the heart of Copenhagen, but in the last few months he has been spending most of his time in Antioch (modern day Antakya, Turkey) doing what he does best! (and I have been helping CCC!). I recently received the following which was written by Josef, and as you read it, you will get a feel for the kind of guys he is….

“What does Jesus want from us?” This question was given me yesterday from a young Afghani girl, who together with her mother and sister, had just accepted Jesus Christ to be her Saviour.

She asked this question, I believe, because she had tasted God’s goodness when she was prayed for. The Holy Spirit was touching her deep, and she had been crying for joy, as she felt the deep love from Jesus Christ touch her inner being.

She was used to living in a religion which set up rules for how to live, and if the rules were not followed, she could be in trouble – not only from God, but from other people of the same religion. The problem with rules is, that even if you follow them on the outside, you can still reject them on the inside.

How could I explain to this precious family that true Christianity is not another religion with a set of strict rules? Christianity is, when it’s taught properly from the pattern of the New Testament, a matter of coming to the end of our own performance and religious pride. To humbly say: “I could never do enough for such a Holy God. By my own nature and sin, I was an enemy of God who is good. Therefore I surrender to Him, and accept what He has done for me, when he paid for my sins.”

Jesus Christ died my death and paid my debt. He suffered my pain and bore my shame and my guilt on the cross. Nobody forced him to die, but he willingly died on that cross because of his love for sinners like me.

What a loving and caring God! Not only did he condemn sin and shame and guilt, but when he righteously had done so, he himself removed the punishment from the sinner and made him righteous, clean and pure by his own blood. We are forgiven. That is called grace. We received something we did not deserve.

But that’s not all! There is more. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, when he died on the cross, we are now cleansed by Jesus Christ. We are pure and clean in the eyes of God. If we believe in Jesus Christ, we are made righteous.

But there is even more! The bible tells us that now we are not his enemies any more, but he has even adopted us to be his sons and daughters. That means: Our filthy old cloths are taken away, and we have been given royal new clean cloth to wear.

God has, by Jesus Christ made us new inside and outside. We are now his children, his sons and daughters, and we will never be anything else. We will always be his children, and no one and nothing can ever separate us from Him. We are now and will always be His children. And like children we can honour or, as children sometimes unconsciously do, dishonor our father, but we will always be accepted and loved by God our father.

When this is clear, and we are secure in the knowledge that we can never lose our new heavenly citizenship as children of God, and that we are loved and accepted by him forever – then we can we answer the question “What does Jesus wants from us?”

He does not want us to do anything to be accepted by him. We are already, as you just have read above, accepted by his love and forgiveness, when we believed in Jesus.

So what does he want? He wants his love to be received, enjoyed, consumed and appreciated. Like a costly gift he wants us to admire it, look at it, embrace it, and then show our gratitude and love to the giver – Him.

God bless your day.

Josef will be preaching at Kings on Sunday 12th July

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