Friday, 31 May 2013

God Calls You for a Purpose

Dear Friends,

The God who created the world and everything in it desires to have a relationship with you and me.  Do you know that he knows you by name?  How incredible is that? There are around 7 billion people on this earth and God knows you by name.  God is calling us into a relationship with him.

Isaiah 43:1 says “But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.  O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine.”  (NLT)

God created us first, and foremost, for a relationship with him; a relationship with him is the most fulfilling one we can ever experience.  God knows us better than we know ourselves and he loves us unconditionally.  He is the source of all that we need; a relationship with him brings us peace, hope, joy, love and fulfilment.  No other relationship can meet all our needs, if we look to others to supply our needs we will end up disappointed.  In the past I have looked to others to fulfil my needs, I’ve looked to them for security, for self-worth, for approval etc but this has only led to disappointment for me as they have never been able to measure up, (who could possibly measure up to God?) and for them, the pressure or burden has just been too great, because they were never created to be the one to meet my every need.  I am learning to look to God as the source of all I need.  I say learning, rather than learnt, as I still sometimes fall back into the mistake of looking to others.  We need one another but our primary relationship is with God, our relationships with others will flow out of our relationship with God.

Not only does God call us to a relationship with him, he also calls us for a purpose.  When we are secure in our relationship with him, when he is first in our lives then we can trust in his purpose for us. God has a plan for your life that only you can fulfil.  You will experience such joy, pleasure and peace when you live out God’s plan for you.  You will know the assurance of doing what God has called you to do.  It has brought me so much joy and peace doing what he’s called me to and also released me from having to do things which he has not called me to do.  I get excited when I'm living out God's purpose for me, knowing that this is what I was made for.

God’s calling on your life doesn’t change; however, the expression of that calling may change in a new season.  For example, I believe God has called me to teach and share the truths of his word. I believe he has been preparing me for this all my life.  The expression of this calling has changed over time from teaching in small groups, to being a part of our church’s preaching team, to sharing God’s word in my blog.

God called Jeremiah to a relationship with him and to serve him: The Lord gave me this message: ‘I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.’” Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NLT)

In Jill Briscoe’s book “Faith Enough To Finish” she writes “God has appointed you to a task that he has anointed you to perform.  God never calls without equipping!  Someone has said, ‘God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.’  As far as I can see, ‘anointing’, means that you are in the midst of a duty, somewhere in the depths of your being comes a great shout of ‘God confidence’ – an ‘I can do this’ sound.  ‘This is possible,’ you realise, where before it looked impossible.  In fact, God is a God of the possible, and being anointed means living in the good of the possibilities of God!  We receive this anointing from the Holy Spirit.”

To Think About:

Is there any relationship that takes God’s place in your life?

Do you need to rearrange the relationships in your life so that God takes priority?

Spend some time considering the purpose God has called you to.

Do you rely on the Holy Spirit’s anointing to equip you for that purpose?



Thursday, 23 May 2013

You Are God's Masterpiece!

Dear Friends,

Do you see yourself as God sees you?  As his masterpiece?  What makes something a masterpiece, a real work of art?  Not the object itself, but the master artist who created it and designed it.  For example, Van Gogh’s pieces of art were not masterpieces in themselves, they were masterpieces because of the one who created them.

Therefore, I’m not a masterpiece because of anything I do or have achieved but I am one because I’ve been created by GOD - THE MASTER DESIGNER.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

Don’t you just love that!  I know I do.  You and I are God’s masterpiece!  How amazing is that!  (I know there are several exclamation marks in this short paragraph, but it’s something I want to exclaim, it thrills me to the depth of my very being.)  You may want to spend some time allowing the words of that verse to nourish your soul, to heal past hurts from lies people have said about you.  Let those words soak in and bring you comfort and encouragement.

Over the years I’ve struggled with a poor self-image, growing up I never felt as beautiful as my peers, I wasn’t popular, I believed people liked my sister far more than they liked me, I wasn’t clever, I had to work incredibly hard to get decent grades and I was painfully shy, barely able to open my mouth, believing that I didn’t really have anything to say that was worth listening to.  I’m not telling you these things to make you feel sorry for me, I’m sharing them to say that I’m learning now to see myself as God sees me – as his masterpiece, as precious to him, someone who is of worth.  Maybe you can relate to what I’m sharing.  It all comes down to changing the way we think and learning to believe what God says about us and not hold onto what others or even ourselves have said in the past.

I confess, even now I sometimes look at others and wish I was more like them, that I was more talkative, or had a particular gift they have.  But God keeps reminding me that when I think like that, I am, in essence, complaining to him, telling him he got it wrong with me, that he’s made a mistake.  When the truth is, God never makes mistakes, he is THE MASTER DESIGNER and he created me on purpose, just as I am, for a purpose.  This is the truth that we all need to grab hold of.  I may not be a great talker, but God has created me to be a good listener.  You may be a great talker and God can use that ability to make people feel welcomed, comfortable and at ease around you.  God has given me spiritual gifts, and he has given you different ones.  They are suited to the person he has created you and me to be.

When we know and believe this – that he has created us for a purpose, we can begin to live in that purpose and enjoy it as we do so.  He planned it out even before we were born. 

Read how the Amplified Bible translates Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” 

Do you realise God only wants the best for us?   Do the words of that verse fill you with hope and excitement? It does me.

To Think About:

Do you see yourself as God sees you?  If you don’t, ask him to help you believe the truth of who you are in Christ – loved, valuable, someone worth dying for.

Do you believe God created you on purpose and for a purpose?

What is your God-given purpose?  If you don’t yet know what your purpose is, spend time alone with God asking him to make it clear to you.   

Ask God to show you how he wants you to live out your purpose every day.


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Is God Calling You To Something New?

Dear Friends,

When you sense that God may be calling you to something new, to take a step of faith, you can experience a variety of emotions.  On the one hand there may be excitement as you think about the plan God has for your life and where he is leading you, on the other hand you may be anxious about facing the unknown and what he is asking you to do.  Or perhaps stubbornly you decide to dig your heels in because you don’t want the change.   You may be wondering why he is calling you to do something different when you are satisfied with life as it is, when you already consider yourself productive in your relationships, home, work, ministry at church etc.  To leave all that behind may not make a lot of sense to you.

I wonder what emotions Abram experienced when he heard God’s call on his life.  Abram was from a prominent family, his ancestry can be traced all the way back to Seth, Adam and Eve’s son.  His was a wealthy family with many possessions and servants.  Then in Genesis 12:1 he receives this call from God: The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” (NLT)

God’s call to him was to leave and follow his direction; there was no real explanation, just the command to go somewhere new.  God was calling Abram to leave all that he knew – his people and his way of living.  He was calling Abram to move from his place of security, comfort and position and on into the unknown.  Abram had no idea where God was calling him to; God had not revealed that part of his plan yet.  It took incredible faith on Abram’s part, to trust and be obedient to God’s word.  We read in Hebrews 11:8 “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.” (NLT)

It can be far from easy for us to move out of our comfort zone, out of what is familiar to us and to follow God’s direction, especially when we don’t know where that might be.  Although God has the whole plan mapped out, he often takes us just one step at a time, asking us to put our trust in him, depend on him and him alone.  Taking that step of faith is scary, we often prefer to stay where we are, after all, we had it all figured out, we knew exactly where our life was heading, what was just around the corner, or so we thought, we were settled and comfortable.  And then God steps in and tells us he’s got something new for us, a new direction to take.

Abram, from a human point of view, had pretty much all he needed, things were good for him, there was no reason to change and move on until God stepped in suddenly and directed him to something new.  I don’t know how those left behind felt about him leaving them, maybe they didn’t understand, maybe they thought he’d got it wrong, but none of this deterred Abram from stepping out as God told him to.

In faith Abram stepped out and was obedient to God and as we read through the bible we learn just how much God did for and through this man of faith.  If Abram had chosen to stay where he was, to disobey God’s call, he would have missed out on all that God had planned for him, he would not have known the blessings God had in store for him.

It’s the same with us.  If we are disobedient to God’s call on our life we miss out on all the wonderful things God has planned for us, we will miss out on the incredible life that is waiting for us the moment we say yes to him.  When we say yes to him and step out in faith and obedience God will do amazing things for and through us.

The notes in my NLT Parallel Study Bible read “God may be trying to lead you to a place of greater service and usefulness for him.”  It also said don’t let what you have now, “the comfort and security of your present position make you miss God’s plan for you.”

To think about:

In what area of your life do you sense God is leading you into something new?  In your relationships?  Your home?  Your work?  Your church ministry?

Do you need to do what Abram did and leave or let go of something in order to follow God’s call and do that new thing he has planned for you?

Will you step out in faith and be obedient to God?



Thursday, 9 May 2013

God is Faithful

Dear Friends,

When God commanded Noah to build the ark, Noah obeyed, he did everything that God commanded him to do.

Noah, his wife, his 3 sons and their wives along with the animals who entered the ark were kept safe and protected.  They were in the ark for nearly a whole year.  Can you imagine what it must have been like to have spent almost a year in the ark?  The noise and smell from the animals, not being free to wander outside and smell the fresh air.  The waiting and the patience needed to wait.

I wonder if, after all those months, Noah experienced times of doubt.  Had God forgotten him?  Did God care about him at all?  Had he really heard from God in the first place?  Would he spend the rest of his life confined to the ark?

I know for myself there are times when I wonder if God has forgotten about me.  Perhaps you’ve been there too - a situation where it feels that God has forgotten you, where he doesn’t seem to be acting on your behalf.  It may be that some time ago you felt God saying something to you, but he hasn’t yet fulfilled his word, the situation doesn’t change, your health doesn’t improve as you thought it would, your marriage is falling apart, the job promotion you thought would be yours has gone to another colleague.  The rift in your relationship with your children is still there, God hasn’t provided you with a spouse, your dreams of a new role in ministry haven’t been fulfilled even though you believed God was leading you in that direction.  Whatever the situation is for you, you begin to wonder if God really cares as you thought he did, there seems no way out, and you even begin to wonder if you really did hear from God in the first place.

I find so much encouragement in the verse “But God remembered Noah...”  Genesis 8:1 (NLT).  God isn’t like us.  Sometimes Jason will ask me to do something for him, which I agree to do, but evening comes and I realise I’d forgotten to do what he’s asked, or it may be a friend’s birthday and I’ll mean to send a card in the post, I remember too late and need to send a belated one.  Or I intend to do something and get distracted by something else.  I am so glad that God isn’t like that – he never forgets, is never late and never gets distracted.
When it says “But God remembered Noah...” what it really means is that now was the time for God to act on someone’s, in this case, Noah’s, behalf.  God remembered Noah, he kept him safe during the flood and brought him out of the ark to experience the blessing God had planned for him – a new life.

Be encouraged, that whatever you’re circumstances are right now God has not forgotten you, he has not been distracted by another matter, he’s not been side-tracked and he is not late!  At the right time, and by the way, the right time is in his time, he will “remember” you, he will act on your behalf.

The hard part for us is waiting and trusting in God for his timing.  I’m sure Noah would have liked to have left the ark earlier than he did, but that would most likely have ended in disaster because the time wouldn’t have been right.  Only God knew when the right time was, the best time was, and when that came, he acted.  We often wish God would act more quickly, but when he doesn’t we need to trust him that he does know best and when the time comes he does promise to act.

To Think About:
What situation are you in right now that you are waiting for God to act?

Is there something God requires of you while you wait?  Is there a lesson to learn?

Do you choose to trust in him and his word and wait patiently for him to act?



Thursday, 2 May 2013

Learning to Forgive Ourselves

Dear Friends,
Forgiving others for what they have done against us is not easy, but forgiving ourselves for our own sins and failings can be just as hard.  To be honest, it’s something I really struggle with.

I know the truth that “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9 NLT).  I know that the moment I turn to God, confess my sins to him, he forgives me totally and completely, yet I still have a hard time forgiving myself.

I think perhaps it’s partly because of the person I am that I sometimes find it hard to forgive myself.  I’m a perfectionist, which I used to think was a positive quality, but over the past years God has been teaching me differently (but that’s a story for another time!)  I expect to get things right all the time, to be perfect, and so when I’m not I’m very hard on myself and unforgiving.

Then, when I think I’ve learned to forgive myself and accept God’s forgiveness, along comes Satan.  He’s so clever.  He knows me well, he knows where I’m weakest, he knows which buttons to press, and he works on those feelings of guilt I have as a mum, he brings to mind the times I’ve got it wrong in my parenting, he whispers lies in my ear that I have failed in the past as a mother, that the children have suffered because of my mistakes, that I am just no good.  The reality is that they are lies he tells me, the bible tells us he’s the father of lies and his intention is to cause us pain and misery, to take away everything that we have in Christ Jesus.

Yet I listen to those lies, I take them as truth, I feel weighed down by guilt and I struggle once again to forgive myself.

So how do we move forward?  How do we learn to forgive ourselves?  To let go of the unforgiveness and feelings of guilt that weigh us down?

1.      We need to recognise the devil’s lies and choose not to listen to them.

2.      Then we need to replace them with God’s truth.  To do that, we need to know God’s truth.  Such as 1 John 1:9 and “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 NLT).  You see, it’s not God who reminds us of our past forgiven sins, he chooses to remember our sins no more and we need to do the same.  The devil is the one who takes great joy in reminding us of our sins as he seeks to destroy the hope, peace and joy we have in Christ Jesus.  This is what God does with our sins He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12 NLT) and Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people?  You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love.   Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” (Micah 7:18-19) 

I really like the example Corrie Ten Boom (a survivor of a World War 2 concentration camp) gives: “When we confess our sins God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ‘NO FISHING ALLOWED.’”
3.      Remember the truth of God’s word – memorise it, write these verses and others like them on small pieces of card so that you can keep them with you, put the cards in your wallet, or on the fridge, or by your bed or on the mirror in your bathroom, anywhere you can see them regularly and read them.  So that when the guilt returns, when you’re reminded of your past sins and mistakes, when you recognise the whispers of the devil in your ear, you can speak out these truths in faith.  Always remember you have God’s Holy Spirit within you, he’s always with you, ask him to help you to have the faith to believe the truth and to live in the light of that truth, not bound up, disabled or held down by lies.

If you have more thoughts on this subject I would love to hear from you.  Just leave a comment at the end of this entry.