A couple months ago, I had the opportunity to preach up in Aberdeen with a team from bethel who were out for a mission trip. It was the first time I had preached since losing our son last year. I wanted to share with you what I spoke about that night…
Recently I have been enjoying spending time with God whilst cooking dinner, and so as I was cooking and asking God what to talk about, I heard two words from Him- Go Again.
These words were actually words we said to one another after Elias died. We can’t stay here in this pit of despair, we have to keep moving. As the Psalm states, we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t sit down and make camp. Sure, we get knocked down and taken out, but we need to get back up, to move forward, to go again.
Romans 8 is one of the most encouraging chapters in the bible, and it’s what I focused on in my sermons a couple months back.
We were saved by hope, but hope that is looked at is not hope – for who hopes for what they look at? But since we hope for what we do not look at, then we look forward to it with endurance. Romans 8:24-25
The word Hope Paul uses in the Greek language is Elpis, which means “joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation!” Though we may go through struggles and trials, we live with the hope of what we cannot yet see, this eternal salvation. That’s Gods promise to all who come to Him. It’s what has kept me going these last few months, the confident knowledge that, one day, I will be reunited with Elias, in eternity. What we see here is only temporary. The pain and grief of loss is not permanent. As Abraham said once, we are merely aliens passing through this land, we don’t belong here. And yet, we experience pain, loss, uncertainty, but with the promise that all will be restored to us.
The word Paul uses for endurance in this passage translates to mean “in the face of aggression”. Regardless of what we face, we hold on to this Elpis hope, this confidence that one day every tear shall be wiped away as we enter into enteral salvation, through Jesus.
In the same way also, the Spirit takes hold together with us in our weaknesses – we don’t know how we are to pray so that our prayers will correspond to the need, but the Spirit intercedes with deeply emotional heartfelt groanings.
Ever felt like you don’t have the words to pray? Here Paul tells us that even in that moment, we have the Holy Spirit interceding for us when our words fail us. God wants so much for us to succeed that He instructs Holy Spirit to pray with us and for us when we don’t have the words. The word for groanings there is a violent ailing and loud noise, it’s not a passive prayer.
If God is for us, who can be against us? … he will also give us all things as a favour, as well as giving his own son!
Guess what? God is for you! He is so for you He sent His son to die in your place so that you would not die but have eternal salvation. Whatever you’ve been through or are going through, have confidence that God is for you and with you and has good things for you!
I know what it’s like to go through stuff, trust me, these last few months have been horrendous, but we have determined to hold on to the truth from Romans 8, God is faithful, and He is calling us to get up, to move forward, to go again.
Each day we have a choice for what we are going to partner with. Several times over the last few weeks, I have caught myself having anxious thoughts, and in that moment, my choice is whether or not to continue with these thoughts of anxiety. I was listening to a sermon by Shawn Bolz, and something he mentioned really stuck out to me. He was reading from Philippians chapter 4, which gives insight into how to remove any anxiety from our minds before it has the chance to take hold of our lives.
Do not be preoccupied about anything, but let the things you ask for be pointed out to God by means of prayer and earnest requests with gratitude. And the peace of God, which conquers all processes of thinking, will keep watch over your minds and what you think about by means of the Anointed One Jesus.” Philippians 4:6 (The Source Translation)
There’s a couple things I love from this passage. Firstly is Paul’s encouragement to not become preoccupied or filled with anxiety over what is or isn’t happening. Instead, we should point our requests out to God through prayer and thanksgiving. Thanksgiving releases us from anxiety. Feeling anxious over your week? Begin to give God thanks for what is about to happen. Press in to God for more.
Second thing I love from the passage is that the peace of God will actually watch over our minds, even as we work through our situation, waiting for the breakthrough we have been pressing in to. Peace that transcends all knowledge and understanding is available to us in place of anxiety.
So next time anxiety comes your way, flip it on its head by giving God thanks, by allowing yourself and your mind to be filled with His peace that will more than sustain you through any situation you may find yourself in.
I was reading through Ephesians earlier this week, probably one of my favourite of Paul’s letters, and this time reading it in the Source translation, which is directly from the Greek, rather than a translation of a translation. I came across this passage, which has been on my mind ever since:
Due to God’s favour you have been saved through faith; and this is not due to anything you yourselves have done; rather, it is God’s gift to you. You weren’t saved by your actions, and so no one can boast. It is his workmanship that we are! We have been created by the Anointed One Jesus to do the good things God prepared beforehand for us to do, and to live how he wanted us to live. – Ephesian 2:8-10
It’s not through our works that we have been saved, by through His grace, favour and love for us. It’s because of who we are and not what we do. You can’t strive to get something that has already been given to you. This passage gives us the freedom to step into all that God has got for us, it invites us to take the focus off of what we do and choose instead to look at Him. How many Christians live today with the mind set that if they just work a little harder, live a little holier, then maybe they can catch a glimpse of God, maybe they can earn they way into heaven. It doesn’t work like that. In fact, it’s the opposite. As we learn to live from His Presence, His rest, His comfort, and not for it, we learn to let go of the things that the world deems as necessary to move forward.
So, this week, take the pressure off yourself, you can’t do anything to earn more love from God, He already loves you so much He sent Jesus to die in your place. There is no striving in the Kingdom of God, our work for Him shouldn’t come from a place of trying to earn something, rather to show to the world of the grace God has given to us.
How much are you worth? I’m not talking about how much you have or how much you earn, forget about that for now, what are you worth? Without money and possessions, some of us could find it hard to answer that question, and there can be the danger of thinking of ourselves as being worth nothing without worldly things.
The world would love to tell us that without these things, without personal gains and riches, we aren’t really worth all that much, nobody would really want to rob someone who has nothing to rob in the first place.
However, the Kingdom of God’s perspective is a little different. The Kingdom perspective on our worth and worthiness is not dependent on our material possessions (thankfully!) nor or bank accounts (again, thankfully!). Instead, Kingdom perspective is that we are worth dying for, at least that’s what Jesus thought of us. We didn’t even have to clean up our mess before He did it, He just went and did it for us. Why? Because we are worthy. We are worthy to receive all that God has for us. We are worthy to live a life of abundance and not lack. The Bible talks a lot about that, we actually lack nothing.
The enemy would love to tell us that we are not worthy to receive anything, and that we should just stay quiet and keep a low profile. The trouble with believing this lie is that when someone wants to bless us with a gift or with money, we have a hard time receiving it because we don’t feel like we have earned it. And that would be right in most cases, we haven’t earned it, it’s a free gift. Receiving a blessing from someone not only blesses us, but the giver too, as they probably have given out of feeling led by the Lord. I wonder how many times we miss an answer to prayer because our pride gets in the way of receiving a gift from someone.
We weren’t worthy to receive eternal life, but God has gifted it to us anyway. So what does God see in us that we perhaps miss?
God made us. He made us in His image and above all else that He created, He said that we were very good. God placed gifts within each of us, will we use them or lose them?
In 1 Corinthians 1:9 Paul says that God created us for partnership with Jesus. Partnership, not a dictatorship. Think of this as a business partnership. If you were to partner with someone in your business, you would partner with that person because you see in them the strengths and potential they have in bringing your business forward. You wouldn’t want to partner with someone who then withheld their strengths and gifts, would you? In the same way, Jesus wants to partner with you because He sees in you the true potential, the gifts that God actually placed inside of you. For us to hide them away or feel we are unworthy we are essentially rejecting who God has made us to be. Don’t hide away what God has placed inside of you. If you don’t know what God has placed inside of you, ask Him.
You are worthy because God made you worthy, not because of anything you have done or earned.
Just a few thoughts I had the other day about love when reading 1 John. Such an incredible insight into the love God has for us, an invitation to live from His love and not for it. It’s not a performance based identity with God, we can’t earn His love.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians to strive after love, as that is the most valuable if spiritual gifts. If we can learn to live from love, we then can release Gods love wherever we go.
So, this week, above all else, pursue love, strive after it, clothe yourself with love- His love – He doesn’t give as the world gives- no limits – no restrictions – no conditions- it’s not as a reward for what we’ve done, rather who we are- heirs and co-heirs with Christ- get ready, get excited, get into His love – it never fails, never let’s us down, never disappoints, always builds up, encourages, edifices, restores, brings us into the place where we belong. Amen.
One of my favourite passages from the bible is from John 14:27:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jesus is addressing the fact that the disciples are becoming scared and worried at the prospect of Jesus leaving them, and so He comforts and reassures them that they will have all that they need.
He gives them His Peace, He gives not as the world does, not with condition, not with limitation and not with works. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, imparts His peace onto the disciples, onto us, without limitation.
If we have been given His Peace in abundance, with no restrictions, then that must mean that we live from a place of peace. Peace is the standard from which we live. If that is true, then nothing that comes against us can rob us of our peace, not unless we allow it to. The enemy only has power in our lives if we give him the authority.
For peace to become a standard from which we live, we need to constantly train ourselves to recognize what we are allowing to take authority in our lives.
When we live from peace we live with the expectancy that God will bring us through each and every situation we are faced with. The world would love to rob us of our peace, but if we allow Jesus to fill us, from the inside out, with His peace, then nothing, no-thing, can stand against us and cause is to stumble.
Peace is not the only standard we, as Christians, need to learn to live by. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he talks about how we can do the best things, be the best at encouraging others, speak in the tongues of men and angels, but if we don’t have love, then it counts for nothing, it’s just loud noise in an already noise-filled world. Love has to be the standard. Nothing else matters. Whenever we are doing something that is not from a place of love, we need to question why we are doing it.
So, what is the standard from which you live you life?
Last week I packed my bags and returned home to Scotland, after six amazing years spent living in the States. It has been incredible to look back on these six years and to see all that has happened within me, all that God has done in my own life, as well as those I have ministered to and lived life with.
Tomorrow I pack my bags up once more, load them into the car my fiance and I were blessed with, and head down to begin life in Edinburgh. Monday I begin working for the first time in two years, after having spent my time in Bethel trusting God for providing me with more than enough. God has taught me to trust in Him with all my life, after having seen Him provide for me in so many amazing ways over there, I now move forward confident that He will never leave me and will always continue to be my provider. I learned that God is far more equipped at providing for me, His beloved son, than I am for myself. It is never His intention to bring us so much life and fullness and then to leave us in the lurch, there is only one way in the Kingdom of God, from glory to glory, strength to strength.
So, as I move forward in this new season of life, I move forward not in uncertainty of whether God will still provide for me over here, instead with assurance that He is and will continue to provide me with more than enough, because He is a God of abundance. Transitions don’t have to be scary, as long as we continually remind ourselves of all that God has already done for us. With this in mind, we should be filled with joy and anticipation for the coming season.We have already been entrusted with what we need to thrive in every area of life.
In fact, God trusts us with way more then we may allow ourselves to believe. Paul says in Ephesians “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight”
I spent over an hour last month in Jamaica reading this passage over and over again. What if that is actually true? That means that we already have been entrusted with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ. This is written in past tense. God has already granted us full access to the heavenly realms and given us all we could ever need in our lives.
God doesn’t see you, see me, with all our faults, failures or past sins. Instead, He sees us as blameless, holy in His sight, as victorious conquerors of the plans of the enemy. The sooner we fully grasp this, the sooner we can move forward into our full potential of who God says we are.
Whatever season you find yourself in today, rejoice – you are exactly where God wants you to be.