Saturday, 26 March 2011

Seek the things that are above!

Colossians 3 - If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
What do I spend my days thinking about? What million-and-one things rush through my mind? How much of what I think on has anything to do with God? How about you? We are told - "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8 

How much of what goes through my head is TRUE?? Not much, most of it is lies of the enemy, lies that contradict the truth about how God loves me, how he formed me, cares about me - most the things that run through my head (without even trying) are things that put myself down, condemn myself and blame myself for ridiculous things. Sure, the occasional truth runs through my head - but nothing compared to the lies! Ok, so we gather I am thinking about things that are not always true! How about you?

How much of what goes through my head is NOBLE?? (noble covers the last two adjectives in that verse too 'excellent & praiseworthy') The word "noble" is a translation of one of the loveliest words in the Greek language, the adjective kalos. As one of the words used by the Greeks for "good," kalos meant good in the sense of fine or beautiful - that which is morally honorable or praiseworthy. If my thoughts were to be laid out on the table in front of me right now, and I had a panel of friends gathered around it...I can guarantee that they would only be able to pick out a few 'praisworthy' thoughts, in amongst all the shameful ones! I certainly think they would struggle to find any honorable ones! Ok, so we also know that I am definitely thinking on things that are disgraceful most the time! How about you?

How many of my thoughts are RIGHT?? Well, selfishness, pride and arrogance put a stop on that one right away! Most of my thinking is right wrong, because I put me first! When last did I think on things that were PURE? Pure =clean, spotless, unsullied, untainted, innocent. Almost every good thought has a partner bad thought that goes alongside it...making it very hard to find a lone, pure thought in my mind...but the pure thoughts I know I have had, have only been pure because I was thinking on God, and focused on Him - So basically, when I am not God focused, I know my thoughts are not pure - So the question is - am I staying focused on Him in thought - NO! Not nearly as much as I should! So we know from this that most my thoughts are impure! How about you?

How often do I think on LOVELY and ADMIRABLE things!? If I took a good hard look at my thoughts, would I honestly be able to call any of them lovely? When my thoughts are about others, are they lovely, are they admirable? When my thoughts are about me, are they lovely/admirable? When my thoughts are about situations, finances, government, family - are they lovely? Challenging!! I of course have very unlovely thoughts! I very obviously have alot to work on in my thinking - I fall short most of the above, and I feel so challenged, because thoughts cannot be seen, no one can really hold you accountable for your thinking, because they have no idea whats truly going on in our minds! Its something that we as Christians have to keep a watch on constantly - guarding our hearts and our minds is so important! And we are commanded to think on things pure, noble, admirable, lovely and all those great things - we are commanded to be in control of our thoughts - and there is a reason, that being that out of control thoughts will reflect in our actions - so impure thoughts can turn into impure actions, which then become even harder to control!

Most importantly though, we cannot do this on our own strength - but only with the help of God! So - with prayer, and focusing on God and things of above, lets take our thoughts captive - If we are doing this - it WILL show in our actions - Jesus will shine through us - all glory to Him!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Citizens of heaven and a new perspective on pain!

Yesterday I had a phone call from my parents in Zimbabwe, its always a joy to hear from them and to know that they are well! This time they told me some news which tugged at my heart strings and made me hurt so much for the people I love who are still in a country which is run and controlled by greed, hate, hunger, poverty and racism. Sometimes it feels so surreal to be away from that, safe from the intimidation, violence and safe from the fear that it all places in the hearts of those it surrounds! So a family member was attacked and robbed by six men who beat him up quite severely at a lay by on a journey..he ended up in hospital - and I am praising God so much that he is ok, and I am thinking of what a heart wrenching experience this must have been for his wife and kids when they heard what had happened to him. But earlier on the same day that I had received this news, I also heard in church that someone had become a Christian. The joy of that news,about someone I barely knew very much overshadowed the horrible news of  the crime and pain caused against a family member, whom I grew up knowing. And although I am hurting for the people affected, I am  also buzzing with excitement about the new member of our christian family! Thats because as a christian I think there is nothing more comforting than  knowing that we do not belong on this earth, this is not our final destination! We will one day be in glory, and I want as many people as possible to know that comfort, that security, that joy!! It reminded me of this passage:  Phil 3:17-21 - Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
I long for the day when we are all spared this kind of pain, when everything will be new and there will be no more suffering, no more hunger and sadness! I long for heaven, the perfect kingdom we are promised! BUT the more I long for it, the more I appreciate these days of pain and suffering...because the longer I spend on this earth, amidst the hatred, greed and pain - the more opportunity it gives me to tell people the truth, and by Gods grace, that would mean that more and more people will become citizens of heaven! So I find myself not wishing the pain and suffering of life would end, but that God would give me, and other christians, the strength to go on, the will to keep shining and the words needed in every situation, in order that we can clearly communicate the gospel and Gods love in a time when people are becoming more and more aware of their need for 'something more'! What an awesome opportunity God has given us, He has given us the incredibly precious gift of time...and we should choose not to see it as a burden, but rather as a blessing. Every day we come into contact with people who need to know the love of God and be encouraged. 
So while I am hurting, and others are hurting, and while the world is an awful wicked place... I am praising God for putting me here, and praising him for the gift of time, time to share his truth with as many people as possible before its too late! I just pray that He would give me the drive, strength and perseverance to do so even when my flesh wants to give up and give in! 
I pray to for you all - that when you experience pain and suffering in your life, it would make you all the more eager to tell others of Him and what He has done for you! 

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Strength Of My Heart...

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you, My flesh and heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from you will perish, you have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good, I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. Psalm 73:25-28

This Psalmist has spoken straight to me through this Psalm. I Posted this on my facebook this morning after reading it...It has struck me so deeply, in so many ways. It is both challenging and comforting! And it has been on my mind all day. It says 'earth has nothing I desire besides you' - all I want is God, all I desire is God, in all of the earth and this life, all I long for is God! When I read this line, I made myself think of all the things I have been desiring recently, the things I view as important...there were many things...but I desire none of them as much as I desire God...actually, the more I thought about it..the more I desired Him..and the less I desired the other things.. I know how deep my desire for God is, and it frustrates me that I let day to day busyness and distractions steal my attention from that desire. 'My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever' - This verse is profound in my opinion... My flesh and heart DO fail, DAILY! But what an amazing comfort to know, that God is the strength of my heart, and He is my portion, not just today, or tomorrow, but FOREVER! He is all I will EVER need. I forget this often, but I know it always, at the bottom of my heart and the back of my mind is always the knowledge that God is everything I need, He is ALL I need, He satisfies, only He can satisfy. When I experience loss, or failure, the immediate pain and grief tend to make me forget that...and I guess thats human, but God has a way of reminding me that He is everything...and He brings me back to Him time and time again. What makes my desire for God even stronger is the next line in the passage... 'For, behold those who are far from you will perish.' - The reason this increases my desire for God is that, I remember a time when I did not know God, when I had no desire to know Him, when I had no relationship with him. I was FAR from Him, and I WAS perishing! When I think of that time, and how empty my life was, and I compare it to the life I have now, with God in it - there is no comparison really, and I just desire more and more of this life, with God in it..and I never want to lose that desire, because I know what life is like without Him! 'But as for me, the nearness of God is my good, I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.' - Oh how sweet it is to be near to God, and as the verse says, it IS indeed my good. To desire him, to be close to him, to have him be the strength of my heart and my refuge... this is all sweet... How privileged are we as Christians, to have been extended such grace and mercy, that as sinful as we are, we are still able to have such a close intimate relationship with our God and King. Does this not make you want to scream? I cannot begin to describe what my heart feels when I read this passage... But I love how it ends with 'that I may tell of your works'... because basically, this closeness, nearness, desire, strength, love...its not meant to be kept quiet... I dont make God my refuge, and keep quiet about it...I make God my refuge and tell the world of all He has done for me... I dont get near to the king of kings and keep it on the down low, I want the world to know that my best friend, closest the relationship I have with God almighty.

He is the strength of my only desire.