[BLOG] God Revealed at Christmas

From an email newsletter by Ken Legg (Set Free Ministries, AUS).  Hope it challenges & blesses you!

Every week, from pulpits across the world, images of God are being carved out in the minds of millions of people. Often those images are gross misrepresentations of what God is like. He is portrayed as legalistic, judgmental, vindictive, etc. People go home from meetings believing in a God who is a figment of someone else’s imagination. Just because they have heard an angry preacher they come to believe in an angry God. Naturally, they want to run and hide from this God.

There is a very important reason why God forbade His people from making images that were supposed to represent Him. It’s this – whatever image of God a person attempts to create they are going to get it so wrong! Man cannot draw from the polluted resources of his heart and the darkness of his mind and expect to come up with an accurate representation of God. But religious culture and church tradition have done exactly this and have played a major role in the distortion of the truth about God.

God is not known by human reason but by divine revelation. And that’s what happened at Christmas. God revealed Himself to mankind through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is the Eternal Word, is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. He is fully God. But at that first Christmas the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father – full of grace and truth. John says, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him” (John 1:18). Philip once said to Jesus, “You’ve been talking so much about the Father – show Him to us!” Jesus replied, “He that has seen me has seen the Father!”

Because of the incarnation we are no longer left wondering what God is like. Jesus is the brightness of His glory and the exact representation of His image! That’s why we need to read the gospels, because they unveil God to us through the beautiful life of Jesus. We need the epistles to understand the Christian life; but we need the gospels to understand God. Jesus sets our thinking straight about what God is really like. For example:

  • There are many things I don’t understand about sickness, but when I look at the healing ministry of Jesus I am clear about what God thinks of sickness!
  • I know God’s thoughts when I struggle with sin when I see the way Jesus spoke to the woman caught in adultery, and how sinners felt at ease in His presence. When a sick person goes to see a doctor he doesn’t shout at him and tell him off for being sick! He treats him and helps him to get well.
  • I only have to look at how Jesus cared about children to know God’s heart for these little ones
  • I know, by looking at the way Jesus exhorted and encouraged Thomas through his doubts, that God doesn’t condemn me when I wrestle with uncertainty
  • And how does the Father feel towards the backslider who is wallowing in mire in the far country? Read Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. The father waiting and longing for his son to return, then running to meet him is their Father yearning after them. Remember, he had no words of reprimand and no probationary period for the returning son – only rings, robes and a fatted calf!
If you have formed an image of God that is not based upon Jesus it’s time to grind your graven images to dust. Then, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!
Advertisements

[BLOG] When we…

– Worry about our future
– Can’t let go of the past
– Put our hope in man
– Try living to the expectations of others

We lose focus of the One, who created us with purpose, gifted us with talents & filled each day of our lives with beauty & joy. The “big picture” is painted one stroke at a time, but is already complete in the artists mind!

PSALM 139

God’s Perfect Knowledge of Man
For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.

2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;

You understand my thought afar off.

3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,

And are acquainted with all my ways.

4 For there is not a word on my tongue,

But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

5 You have hedged me behind and before,

And laid Your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

It is high, I cannot attain it.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?

Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the morning,

And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,

And Your right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”

Even the night shall be light about me;

12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,

But the night shines as the day;

The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;

You covered me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Marvelous are Your works,

And that my soul knows very well.

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.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

How great is the sum of them!

[BLOG] “Bicycles for the mind” – Steve Jobs 1955-2011 #RIP

The news we received this morning was sudden, but inevitable. Even though Steve Jobs might have seemed immortal to many, he wasn’t. But as I processed the news this morning, I began to realise just how much impact Steve Jobs has had in the world today, not only the greater world, but my immediate family itself.

Just 3 years ago my parents, in their 60’s, would struggle to send an sms from their Nokia handsets. Today, my parents each carry an iPhone, they share an iPad and they rarely look at their windows laptop. Both pastors, the iPad has changed the way they see technology and it’s use in their daily life.

I look at my kids, now 5, 6 & 8. I gifted my oldest son a mac mini when he was 5 years old. Other than some basic instruction, I set the parental controls up, and give him a canvas to do as he pleased with it. In the last year or so he has graduated to an iMac, and has taught his brothers the in’s and out’s of OSX, helps his grandparents with their iPad problems, and developed his creativity through tools like photo booth, iMovie etc. Over their school holidays, the three boys produced several videos, of them acting, short stories, just being kids, etc and emailed them to family, with such ease, you can’t help but nod and think Apple got it right.

Being in the IT industry myself for the last 17 years, I realised that technology is not to add extra burden into our daily life, but to integrate, sometimes seamlessly, and enhance our lives for efficiency and productiveness, at all levels.

The “i” products have done just that, from world leaders, to housewives, the iPhone, iPad and mac have changed the way we use technology. Our kids will not know the world before an i(something), but given the world we live in, that’s not always a bad thing. Kudos on a job well done, and life well lived Steve, you saw what can be, and against the odds and criticism, and many personal set backs, you pursued after it, and you have impacted many generations as a result!

 

Here’s a collection of 60 Inspirational Steve Jobs’ quotes:

 

http://www.macstories.net/roundups/inspirational-steve-jobs-quotes/

 

Blog post: Life through death

This verse from John 12 has been in my thoughts since Wednesday this week, I dont know why!

John 12:24-26 24

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. 25 In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. 26” If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.

—–
But as I meditate on it, I’m starting to see the need for us to constantly lay down our lives (sacrifice our wills in favor of God’s greater plan thru us) in order for true unconditional love to be expressed through our lives.

God has promised to grant us the desires of our heart, when we delight in Him! Nothing delights the Father more than to see His children being carriers of His love & presence on this Earth. Through that I believe we truly can bring the fruits of the Kingdom (righteousness, peace, everlasting joy) to those we minister too.

But it requires a death. There are many things vying for our time. I have learnt to evaluate against eternity. Our time on this earth is very limited. Regardless of our social standing, our physical appearance or our wealth, we can never get back even 1 second of a moment or opportunity missed to share Gods love.

Gods heart is for people. It’s for this reason Jesus rose again, to free us from the bondage that was our carnal, fleshly self, and to set into motion the restoration of our sprit & soul with our Father. Giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit that we are charged with power (dunamis*) to see His kingdom & will established on earth as it is in heaven.

But we must die first before His glory can be revealed. It was the same with Moses, David, Joseph, Paul.. Jesus. Leaving my old, carnal, limited, short sighted thinking behind has opened my eyes & mind to the potential of a Kingdom life! This verse sums it best:

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 9
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

——

*Footnote:

Dunamis:

strength power, ability inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth power for performing miracles moral power and excellence of soul the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth power and resources arising from numbers power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts

Priorities

Today, 10th Feb, my wife & I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. We took our first “proper” holiday last weekend, to Dubai for 4 days. Our family all took turns watching the kids for us in SL, so we could really have a good rest and getaway. It was one of the first times I went without my laptop. I took my ipad, but I would’ve used it only once or twice during the entire trip! As a consultant, time is money for me.. and on reflection over the last 10 years, I’ve realised that I’ve spent most of my time earning money and all the meanwhile, my wife and kids have supported me – but I’ve hardly invested time in love, for them. God’s grace has sustained us through all the seasons however, and through many challenges. But I still feel strongly today that priorities need to change. The choice is mine, based on how God leads me as the leader in my household. I was reading a card the kids had written for our anniversary, and realised how quickly they grow up, and each day they are influenced by their environment in how their think, their beliefs and value systems, and ultimately, their decisions in life. We cannot rely on anyone else to do this for our kids, or our marriages, but it’s upto us as fathers, to take our God given responsibilities and invest the time, love & care required to make sure our children our prepared for life, God’s way. That our marriages are protected, nurtured and built on a foundation of selfless love, just as God intended, and that ultimately, our homes be shining lights for God in our communities. I feel we have, too often, left all this up to our churches, pastors, schools, teachers and other people to do, when the responsibility is ultimately ours – as the authority and all we need has been given to us by God.

Today, I chose to change the priorities in my life, so that my home, my marriage, and my children are influenced to know, love & obey God, because of the investment of time, love, and leadership that I deposit in them, as led by God!

[Blog Post] The Vine & Branches

I was praying before I went to bed tonight, and also had a few questions I had in regard to my faith, and how it relates to my day to day life, and through my life, impacts those around me?  I was led to the scripture below from John 15.  It’s one I’ve read many-a-time, but sometimes, when God directs to His word, He always has something transforming to teach you through something that you might think you’re already familiar with!

There’s a lot of focus on signs, wonders, miracles in the last days.  True, Jesus said “greater things shall you also do…”, and I’m excited about seeing the power of God in action, in the lives of the hurting, needy, beaten, sick, and many others.  But it begins with me.  Actually, even before me, it begins with a Father, who, because of His furious love for me, chose me, and chased after me to capture my Heart with His beauty & grace, so that just as He loves me, I might love those who have not experienced His love as yet, and through that unconditional love, we may ask Him for what was promised, in Jesus name.  But it all flows out of intimacy & relationship with God, the pursuer of our hearts, first.  It takes a great trust in a relationship to know that even without continuous “signs”, that our love is what binds us together, and because of that love, whatever good I have I will do for you purely because I love you, not because you beg me to.  

Could God love me that much?  He did, He does and He always will.  The greatest miracle, has & always will be a life transformed, stolen from the darkness, and catapulted into God’s furious, unconditional love, from where we will fulfil every purpose & destiny He has created us for!

John 15

The Vine and the Branches

 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

   5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

   9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Our steps are ordered by the Lord…

I have been very reflective the last few days, just been thinking about the people God has brought into my life over the years, and the ones who He has brought in which have impacted my destiny, and drawn me into His perfect will & plan for my life.  

About 14 years ago, I met a newly married couple at Church in Melbourne.  They had just moved (back) to Melbourne and were looking for a church to call home.  Something drew me to them and we became very close.  Little did I know at the time that our friendship would eventually lead to me meeting my wife, my life partner.  Coming upto 10 years of marriage, I guess that’s why I’ve been thinking a lot about it…

Most times we will never know why we are compelled to reach out to someone, or where it would lead us.  I hear so many people searching for their Mr or Ms “right” all over the place.  But when we live a life led by the Holy Spirit, HE directs our every step and HE knows the true Mr or Ms “Right” for us!!
 Delight yourself also in the LORD,

         And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

 

Also on my mind is friends God brings along us to support us along our journey.  I’m thankful for each one of them.  Tonight at G20 (life group) we had to spontaneously share a word of encouragement for someone in the room.  It was really great to hear those words spoken about each one.  We are so blessed to have the fellowship & love of another human life, made in the image of God, to bless, encourage and “do life with”.  We miss the point by a mile or two sometimes, in searching for some religious ideal and finding people to “reach” when God has placed people right in front and around us, to love & care for. 

That’s it for today.. just sharing what’s on my heart the last few days.  I know it’ll help someone 🙂