Realising my wickedness

The shock of my Christian life was realising that this description of the wicked fit me…

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. [Psalm 10:2]

Arrogance comes from believing ourselves to be so ‘right’ we can tell others how to live. We give ourselves permission to put others straight and use clever schemes to bring people into line with what we believe.

He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord. [Psalm 10:3]

Our empty hearts need an object for their cravings. Too impatient to wait on God to fill us, we direct our cravings towards ministry, developing a greed for what we are convinced is on God’s heart.

His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies.’ [Psalm 10:5]

Convinced we are right, we justify abandoning love to cajole others into developing our ministry success.

His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.  [Psalm 10:7]

This ministry is spread through half-truths masquerading as God’s word. Threats of terrible consequences silence the objections of love. Its fruit is trouble and evil, for love is driven away by wickedness. It looks and sounds so right and Biblical, but where is the life of Jesus?

Trying not to be like this becomes another form of wickedness. The Lord overcomes my wickedness as I spend time with HIm so he can fill me with his love.

From consumer to disciple

One of Jesus’ statements is brought into new light through His apostolic ministry.

 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother … yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25)

Jesus is traveling from place to place. As He goes those who follow have a choice: They can -Either – Be consumers, experiencing what was on offer. OR – Be disciples, participating in His ministry. This choice became apparent when Jesus travelled beyond the scope of home as in –

Luke 9:59 He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ 60 Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ 61 Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ 62 Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’

Deciding to be a disciple who followed Jesus wherever He went, meant leaving people behind who would feel betrayed – even hated! Jesus had no qualms in this and even now leaving all behind to be with Jesus gives freedom to follow Him with all of my heart, soul and mind. Further since He is love, His way, with hindsight be seen as the road of love.

Reward with God

What a privilege to participate in Jesus’ ministry. Paul and Barnabas were directed into ministry through Isaiah 49:6:

“… I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,  that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

This verse is not stand alone. How does Isaiah leads into this promise?

First the Lord polishes His arrow and conceals it.

2 .. he made me into a polished arrow  and concealed me in his quiver.

This arrow has to fly true first time and so it receives special attention. Other arrows enjoy their successes in the hunt, this one is polished. It seems a humiliating waste of time.

The Lord seeing the discouragement, speaks tenderly.

3 He said to me, “You are my servant,  Israel, in whom I will display my splendour.”

The Lord gives hope that He will use this servant to display His splendour, however these seem vain words.

4 But I said, “I have laboured in vain;  I have spent my strength for nothing at all.

Polishing is hard work, requiring labour for little visible result.

This frustration finally bears fruit through a change in attitude-

Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,  and my reward is with my God.”

The surrender of desire to see the outcome. When content that his reward is with God, there is freedom to be used by the Lord without playing to the audience and wrecking the show.

Now the Lord begins to use His polished arrow!

 

The full Bible study can be found at Biblebase2adaringfaith

 

Hope for the hopeless

My struggle with hope is an indication of how hard I find it to keep my focus on Jesus without being overwhelmed by our spiritual climate.

I look upon our situation in the Church and it seems to be without hope. Everywhere churches are closing and congregations shrinking. Yes there are notable exceptions, the mega churches that grow and grow, but these exceptions hide the big picture of the thousands of shrinking churches. However, there is hope. The only way we lose hope is when we fail to recognise that we are needy and must look to God and call out to Him for mercy. As Psalm 9 says,

“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.” (Psalm 9v18),

God watches over us; Jesus is our eternal hope. He is ready to save from whatever mess we find ourselves in – often because of our own failure. This is a great hope.

Psalm 9 also gives me an encouragement.

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9v10

My observation is that the Church is seeking Him. We may frequently be off beam in this search but there is a sincerity in our desire for Him. I find this encouraging. We may be harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd, but the Lord will never forsake those who seek Him.

We hope because Jesus is the One we hope in.

The original study – http://biblebase2adaringfaith.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/hope-for-the-hopeless-study/

Sight or Faith?

How do I express hope when I have confidence in my good Father, yet what I see is anything but hopeful? I find myself here in situations ranging from the state of the church in the UK to the path of ministry that the Lord has me on. I have no clue as to the practical solution, yet know it will be good because God is good.

I feel a need to describe the challenge of the situation. However, when I express myself people hear depression and lack of hope. I am like a disciple before the feeding of the 5000 to whom Jesus has asked the impossible. My response is to examine the need (a years wages worth of bread), and our resources (five loaves and two fish). This makes me sound depressed but, in my heart I am looking at Jesus. I know he is bigger than either need or resources. I can trust Him to bring joy.

We live in a world that wants methods to solve problems, and a pronouncement that Jesus is going to sort it out doesn’t seem to cut it. Most want a ministry strategy that when presented will clearly lead to a resolution to the problem. I have seen so many fail that I am left with no answers but to wait on God in prayer, looking for Him to intervene in a way I could never predict. Yet even here many assess this as a strategy. Even in the church it seems we want to walk by sight not by faith.