Avoid the temptation to trade fundamental truths for approval

Are we scared to speak out?  Are there times where someone says something about Christianity and we try and merge into the background, not wanting to comment for fear of judgment or ridicule?  Are there times we avoid those conversations altogether, steering the conversation away from anything challenging?

Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats refuses to answer directly the question, does he think homosexuality is a sin.  Tim is a Christian politician and avoids the direct question by answering that we are all sinners, which is indeed the truth.  But how much stronger would his message be if he spoke out about his beliefs and the word of God.  God tells us it is a sin and if we are followers of God then we are called to be obedient to his word.  More important than calling out people’s sin is the message that we should not judge, God calls us to love others as we love ourselves, to forgive others as God forgives us and to be salt and light in this frail world.

I’m not condemning Tim, indeed he has been open about his faith, I’m just maybe a tad frustrated that we are so beaten down by the secular world we seek to fit in with their views rather than shout out God’s message of love and salvation from the rooftops!

2 Timothy 1:8 – So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

RUFFLE SOME FEATHERS

Don’t conform, born into this world not to fit in but to ruffle feathers, not born simply to indulge in earthly pleasures, born to fulfil a plan, born of man but a citizen of heaven, stand firm in your faith, avoid temptation to trade fundamental truths for approval, renewal of the mind is liberating,  negotiating life’s potholes not a problem when moving in the right direction, swimming against the tide it’s better to abide in God’s truth alone than stand with a crowd who will never know him, I have absolutely no desire to fit, refusing to let the world corrupt me, God didn’t make me different to be indifferent, he didn’t give me freedom so that I would join those beaten down by the need to conform, harmony with the enemy not part of my story, I will never influence the world by trying to be like it, never effect change if I remain silent, I won’t be compliant or anxious to match my opinions to earthly dominions, I am a Christian, proud of the Gospel, stand with me in truth for the fight is colossal.

Talk about the “Big Bang”, talk about a life changing man

Happy Easter, what a glorious day of celebration.  After Friday and Saturday where death and uncertainty were rife, we now come to a day of excitement and rejoicing that our Lord Jesus is raised from the dead, he is risen, glorified, lifted high.

Luke 9:22 – And he said, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life

Psalm 16:8-11 – I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Romans 8:37 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us

BIG BANG

Talk about the “Big Bang”, talk about a life changing man, this the greatest day in history, the day Jesus bought victory over death and sin, the day Jesus changed everything, “he is not here, he is risen”, yes death has lost its sting, death could not contain him, nothing could keep him away from us, no love could get more serious, he had to suffer many things, but was not shaken, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices, my voice sings out in praise and worship to my God who considers me worth the ultimate sacrifice, laying down his own son’s life, so that I will never be abandoned to the realm of the dead, he will never see me rot or decay, because he has led the way and conquered sin,  death could not contain him, he has made known to me the path of life, I turn my eyes towards him and am filled with joy in his presence, today the evidence speaks of victory, resurrection of the Son who died to save me.

Perfect majesty, tragedy, the hero, broken and bloody, pierced for our transgressions

As thoughts turn towards Easter and what this means for us I was considering once again the incredible love God has for us, that he sent his son.  It’s easy sometimes to talk about Easter and the “story” but does familiarity with the story blind us to the true love and sacrifice that it represents.  Do we grasp all God has for us, I mean look at what Jesus went through for us, are we as quick to offer ourselves for him?

RESURRECTION JOY

Perfect majesty, tragedy, the hero, broken and bloody, pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, the sin of the world pinned him to the cross, exhausted and defeated the crowd baying for his blood, this the story of man’s inhumanity meted out to the Son of God, hard to believe that against all our expectations his body finally lay at rest in a tomb, the wounds ran deep but his love ran deeper, God was not to be defeated, this not the end as some would believe, “It is finished” interpreted as a fresh beginning, you see the beauty of the cross was that Jesus destroyed his enemies by dying for them, the Lamb of God took away the sin of the world, including those who persecuted him, God’s power raised him from the dead, resurrection joy, raised with Christ, called to die to my sin, his resurrection gives my life meaning, freedom, life, hope and new direction, transformation, for the same power that raised him from the dead lives in me, intimacy with God as the curtain tore in two, not merely an escape from death, he conquered it turning the  inevitably of death into the invincibility of life, his sacrifice paid the price, he is risen and there can be no greater love ever written in truth or in fiction than the love of my Saviour who is risen.

Do you shrug your shoulders and say, “nothing to do with me”

It doesn’t matter who you are, you have sinned.  God tells us clearly in his word that we are all sinners, all have fallen short.  The great news is that we are justified freely if we want to be.  We need to recognise our sin and desire to change.  Granted, we won’t always change immediately but if we have the intention to repent and move forward with God he gives us the grace to complete that work and serve him.

Romans 3:23-24 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus

WITHOUT SIN 

Look me in the eye and tell me you are without sin, search deep within, what hurts, what bitterness, what anger, is there a danger that you may be more sinful than you let on, it’s not all about the big sins, breaking the commandments, it’s as much about what you think as what you do, or just maybe it could be about what you don’t do, your lack of humility, lack of love, do you turn your back on humanity when all that’s needed is a hug, do you shrug your shoulders and say, “nothing to do with me” when you see on the TV pictures of war and depravity, hunger and bankruptcy, is life all about you, happy selfies, making earthly memories, thrill seeking extremities, sparkling accessories, t-shirts emblazoned “it’s all about me”, let’s talk about the vulgarity of wasting our prosperity whilst around us others live in poverty, is God calling you to sincerely search your heart, God who will set you apart when you look up from your self-centred life, recognise his awesome sacrifice was because of your sin, no such thing as sinless unless of course you include Jesus, not one of us is worthy to be on this journey of discovery with God, yet he has found it in his heart to forgive us our sins, let him in now, admit you’re a sinner, repent of your innermost thoughts that don’t honour our Lord, for all fall short of his glory yet God forgives us freely, just as I am I kneel at his feet, he takes my sin, he makes me complete.

A true and loving Father who does not look back in anger.

Got to admit to getting angry this morning, not my best moment which then led to my being intolerant with a customer (although I’m not sure they noticed, the intolerance was mostly in my head) and letting off steam as I shouted idiot towards the door that they had just closed!

Felt terrible but then I gave it to God, asked his forgiveness and spent some time praying to him about the cause of my anger.

Isaiah 44:22 – I will sweep your sins away as if they were a cloud.  I will blow them away as if they were the morning mist. Return to me.  Then I will set you free.”

God tells us that he sweeps away our sins as if they were a cloud, I can just imagine his hand pushing the cloud out of sight.  He blows them away as if they were the morning mist, not even a vast breath required by God but a gentle breeze, and then he tells us that he will set us free.

So often we sin and hold on to it, like I’ve got to feel bad for the rest of the day because I have sinned, but God says no, I set you free.  I claim that for myself today, he died to bring me freedom 😊

Jonah 2:2 – He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help and you listened to my cry.

BLOWN AWAY

In my distress I called to the Lord and he answered me, OK so distress may be a gross exaggeration in this particular situation, but you get the gist, I was lost in a mist of anger, a danger to myself, the cloud of sin closing me in yet as I started to regret my behaviour, I called to my Saviour and he listened to my cry, he heard me calling and answered me, see this is what our God is like, no grudges and he always gives us second chances, he understands our fallen nature and his nature is to take a deep breath and blow the sins away as if they were a morning mist, a cloud dissolved in the blink of an eye, no need to keep looking up to the sky to confirm the cloud had gone, when God forgives it’s permanent, no ifs or buts, no fuss or bother, he is a true and loving Father who does not look back in anger.

God’s laws have been hurled as far as eat from west

I know that before I gave my life to Jesus I had a stronghold in my life that I hadn’t handed to him.  My sexuality was the overriding issue, a stronghold of the enemy that he was not wanting to give up without a fight. The simple question in a sermon, “Have you opened every door of your heart to Jesus” blew this wide open.  I now know the quote from A. W Tozer –

“You can’t truly rest until every area in your life rests in God”

How very true, it wasn’t until I handed that area to God and repented that I could even start to find the peace that I feel today.

How awesome to know that I have that rest and I am reminded of how special that is when I read this verse in Psalm 27.

Psalm 27:4 – One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

ASHES TO BEAUTY

No rest, mind in turmoil, like a coiled spring, nothing going out and nothing coming in, sin weighing heavy on my mind, difficulty finding my way, not wanting to say to God that this sin was hard to give up, this was me, my identity, my sexuality and I had difficulty recognising that I wasn’t born to be this way, I wasn’t born gay, I am a product of a fallen world, a sinful world where God’s laws have been hurled as far as eat from west, man thinks that he knows best, he laughs, he scoffs, he pays the cost, I was lost but Jesus found me, I was heading down the path of sin and shame but Jesus never pointed the finger of blame, his love for me incredibly gentle, he understood the fragility of my mental state, he offered me escape, with Grace he forgave me, with strength he made me capable of turning my life around, I have that promised rest and I ask one more thing of the Lord that I will dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, I praise him that I am alive and I can gaze on his beauty, truly I know that I am blessed, what I had then was nothing less than the lies of the enemy who sought to keep me chained and bound, yes I was lost but now I’m found, freedom from the ruler of the heavenly Kingdom, through the ashes I have come.

They probably don’t even recognise the sin that they’re entangled in

Was reading Mark today and Mark 1:3 jumped out at me

– The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord,

Since becoming a Christian I increasingly notice two distinct circles that I walk in, my church family and friends and then my non-Christian friends.  Sometimes I will say something to a non-Christian friend and it feels like I have said something very strange or odd which they don’t want to talk about.  At first I would not continue but now I feel increasingly that these conversations are often led by the Holy Spirit and we need to be open.  After all who else is going to tell them the great news, if I don’t then maybe no one will.

VOICE IN WILDERNESS

Do you ever feel like that voice in the wilderness, when you talk about Jesus do your friends look at you a bit gone out, like you’re losing the plot, I urge you don’t let that put you off, OK so they may scoff (and they may not) sometimes we feel like we’re a lone voice, but surely you will stand up for your beliefs even if it means standing alone, taking the narrow road, not following the path of least resistance but becoming persistent in our mission to share God’s vision, to share his love, to share the message that has power to change, the power to bless, it is not the healthy who need a doctor it is the sick, not those who are already saved but those who are enslaved to sin and this is the thing they probably don’t even recognise the sin that they’re entangled in, the behaviour that strangles their freedom, they don’t know about God’s heavenly Kingdom and whose job do you actually think it is to tell them about Jesus, to show them what you believe, don’t leave it to chance, don’t leave it to others, stand up for your God, don’t deny him, stand up for you God, magnify him, glorify him through your actions, don’t let the silent assassin get his way with your family and friends, their life depends on your choice, their life could change because you used your voice, rejoice freely, love deeply and witness intentionally.