God Specialises in Newness

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19).

No one can stop the flow of blessings that God has in store for you. God wants you to stop knocking on some closed doors or keep trying to get water from a broken cistern. He has already prepared another way, but the longer you stand waiting for water to come from a dry source, is the longer you will wait to discover the new source which God has created. In 1 Kings 17, God sent ravens to feed Elijah and he drank water from a brook during a famine. After a while, the brook dried up and God instructed Elijah to go to Zarephath to see a widow who was instructed to feed him. The widow did not even realise that she had enough to feed her and her son and to feed Elijah. It turned out that God would use her obedience, to multiply what she had in order to sustain them.

When Elijah met the widow gathering sticks, he asked her for some water. He later called out and asked her to bring him some bread. The woman lamented to Elijah that all she had left was a morsel of flour, which she planned to make for her and her son. She had decided that this would be their last meal before they died. Elijah comforted the woman and promised her that God would not allow her flour or oil to run out and instructed her to make the bread for him first. “And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days” (1 Kings‬ ‭17‬:‭15‬). God is the author of new things and the way he blessed you yesterday may not be the way that he will bless you today and tomorrow.

God has created different sources for different seasons, times and purposes. Perhaps the reason you keep hearing no, is because you are asking the wrong question from the wrong person and source. Oftentimes, our thinking has been limited by our head knowledge. If you are going to grow then you have to keep discovering the things of God. There are deeper depths and higher heights to be found in Christ Jesus. The things of God are mysterious to those who do not know or understand him.

As you grow in God, he will give you knowledge and a deeper understanding of him and his ways which are often difficult to grasp. Ask and study what the word says about the area you are struggling in and trust God to give you the answers. There is an answer to every test and for every trial there is a way out. God is doing a new thing so look and you will find it. “May you have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

A.P.-Y.

Free Indeed

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Earlier in (John 8:3), the religious leaders brought to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. They reminded Jesus that the law of Moses commanded them to stone the woman and asked what he had to say. They did this in order to test him to find something to accuse him of. Jesus knelt down and wrote on the ground. “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”” Jesus knelt again and continued to write and each of the religious men went away and left the woman. Jesus reassured the woman that he did not condemn her for her sin, but allowed her to go on her way and encouraged her not to continue in sin (John 8:3-11).

If Jesus had mercy on a woman caught in the act of adultery, and was willing to forgive and encourage her, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). Condemnation does not encourage salvation and demonstrating the love of God to others, will win them to God more than using religious rhetoric. Our actions scream a lot louder than our sermons and our willingness to show love to others. Salvation offers freedom and liberty to live a life free from sin. “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).

We know that our self righteous acts will not save us and it is by the grace of God that we have been saved. It is God who makes us righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ, which washes us from our sins. We don’t have to live burdened with guilt and shame, but when we confess our sins to God, we know that he is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

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Kingdom Ambassadors

“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:16).

The dictionary.com definition of an ambassador is a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by a sovereign or state to another as its representative. We are God’s official representatives assigned by heaven on earth, to enforce his laws and customs within this earthly region and territory. As such we have been given diplomatic immunity and authority, so that what is permitted to affect others is not allowed to affect us.

We are cautioned not to think and act like the world but to be set apart and to be different. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Ambassadors cannot afford to become overly involved in the affairs of the country, which they are assigned to. We are aware that although we are living within this territory, that our job is to safeguard the interest of the territory that we represent.

Paul made reference to us as soldiers who have been enlisted to carry out specific assignments. “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:4). We each have an assignment which we have been enlisted to pursue, for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. We need to work with other Ambassadors and soldiers who are working on behalf of the same region.

Unity is a weapon of strength in establishing the kingdom and sharing heavenly intelligence to equip other believers, in this pursuit to establish kingdom rule and dominion. “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever”” (Revelation 11:15).

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Strengthen Your Inner Man

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

We understand that we are made up of soul, body and spirit. Our outward selves represents that part of us that we can touch, see and feel. Our soul relates to our desires, emotions and passions and is the seat of the human conscience and consciousness. The spirit man is the one part of ourselves that will continue to live after we die. “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

When we invite Jesus Christ to be our Lord and saviour, we also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit which makes his home in us. Daily time in the word and in the presence of God, helps our inner man to grow and flourish. We have to balance the gratification of our outer selves to satisfy our flesh with food for example. We need to ensure that we also feed and nourish our spirits, so that we can remain alive in Christ Jesus and continue to bear good fruit.

How is it that many of us are more invested in our outward appearance and our physical selves and are less invested in the spirit man. Paul’s advice to us is this: ‘Walk by the spirit, and you will not carry out what the sinful flesh desires’ (Galatians. 5:6).

We need to live daily connected to God, so that our spirit man remains alive in him and as we live by the spirit, we are not ruled by the desires of the flesh. This helps us to maintain self control and keeps us at peace with God. We develop inner strength to resist temptations and to overcome adversity. Sometimes we sacrifice our flesh through fasting and prayer to strengthen our spirit. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh”
‭‭(Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭16‬).

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Refiner’s Fire

“But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap” (Malachi 3:2).

As a precursor to Chapter 3, in chapter 2 of Malachi, the people accused God of loving those who did evil. They questioned God’s willingness to execute justice for wrongdoing. Malachi responded by telling the people that God would indeed show up for judgement. He questioned their ability to withstand when he would take them through the refining process.

God is a God of justice and he will not allow his people to be mistreated. Sometimes we experience trials by fire and experience persecution which God does not cause. God wants to use us for his service which requires being set apart. To carry the mantle of his anointing requires refining. Refining sometimes include going through trials by fire and tests to prepare us to carry the weight of the anointing. “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord” (Malachi 3:3).

God is able to preserve us and to keep us safe from harm. He has promised that even when we walk through the water, that we will not be overwhelmed and through the fire, we will not burn (Isaiah 43:2). Paul’s exposition says, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8).

What the authors are saying is that we will experience trials and testing in this life. But when we have a relationship with God, he gives us the strength to endure and to overcome. A fire that would destroy others will serve to refine us and strengthen our weaknesses. This is similar to the process of refining gold as this is a material which is built to withstand the heat of a furnace. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23:10).

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The Blessing

“Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field” (Deuteronomy 28:3).

God made a covenant of blessing with Abraham and his offspring. Jacob descended from Abraham and went to Egypt with his children during a famine. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt and were mistreated by Pharoah until Moses and Aaron led them out by the hand of God. While the Israelites travelled through the wilderness, Moses taught them about the promises of God. He taught them about God’s promise to bless Abraham and his seed.

The blessing was conditional on their obedience and one of the promises was to set them high above all other nations (Exodus 28:1). What does this have to do with me you might ask, since I am not a Jew? That’s the good news my dear friends. When we accept Jesus Christ as Lord, we are adopted into the family of God and we share in the blessing of Abraham. “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians‬ ‭3:29‬).

God also promised Abraham in Genesis, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Based on our confidence in these promises of blessings, we know for sure that nobody can curse us. We live today and everyday, knowing that we are blessed of God and we live and walk in the blessing. Whatever we put our hands to is blessed, where we live is blessed. We are blessed when we go to sleep and when we awake and everything that concerns us is blessed.

“Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out” (Deuteronomy 28:6).

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Strong Finish

“Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

Jamaican track and field sprint runners have dominated the olympics, over the years in both the one and two hundred meter races. Many Jamaicans remain glued to their televisions during olympics, to see our runners take home gold, silver and bronze in both male and female sprints. We also enjoy the 4×100 meter relays where our runners have generally dominated. Watching and listening to track and field commentators over the years has helped us to develop a greater understanding of the race. Mention is often made about some athletes strong starts compared to the incredibly strong finish of others.

Both of these techniques of starting strong and ending well, seemed to have served these athletes in dominating the sprints. Some critics argue that a strong start is good because when an athlete shoots out of the starring blocks in lighting speed, that it’s hard to catch them down the track. We have seen other athletes start poorly and use their long strides to advance and pass other runners at the finish line. Paul has made many comparisons with running to our Christian journey. “You were running [the race] well; who has interfered and prevented you from obeying the truth” (Galatians 5:7)? In Galatians, Paul was perturbed that some believers who had started well, seemed to have gone astray by false teachings.

The Christian journey isn’t by any means a one hundred meter dash. It is synonymous to a combination of races and obstacle challenges along narrow and windy roads. I’ve watched races such as the hurdles, when athletes banged their legs against the hurdles and crash to the ground. At the end of a race like this, the name of the athlete may appear with did not finish (DNF) on the scoreboard. Other athletes may have a hamstring or other injuries, that are aggravated during running and fail to finish their races. In most races though, only contestants who place first, second or third win a medal or an award. Either way, most athletes aim to complete races, even if they finish behind everyone else.

We have to aim to finish our Christian race and gain our crowns of righteousness. The opposite of this is a crown of eternal damnation. It is sad to see many believers who were once on fire for God, become lukewarm and living in a backslidden state. “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of disaster and collapse” (Proverbs 24:16). Solomon once said that the righteous person falls down seven times, but rises again. Even if we fall, Jesus Christ is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness, when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9). You are one confession away from right standing with God, so don’t tarry in a fallen state. Repent, renounce the sin or failure and continue to run your salvation race, in order to reap an eternal reward.

A.P.-Y.

Let Us Run

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Paul likened this life and our Christian journey to a race. A race to the finish where the test is not one of speed but endurance. Everyone who completes the race will receive the prize and the reward is a place in heaven. We cannot run with everyone and athletes train with others who can motivate and help them. I am not talking about becoming self seeking, but there are others who are not determined to run or who anticipate you carrying them along. We should stop to aid wounded friends and time spent to nurture those that are wounded will not cost us in the race. We have to be wise because there are some who choose not to run and you cannot slow down the pace to accommodate them.

Paul warns us to lay aside the weights and distractions that would become a stumbling block in our way. So that when we run we are lighter and not weighed down by heaviness. When you run, you have keep looking ahead. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

When our eyes are fixed on him then we will not stumble. When Peter walked on water he had to take his eyes off the storm and fix them on Jesus, in order to stay afloat (Matthew 14:22-33). I know the storm and tide around you can at times be dreadful, but don’t you know that Jesus can speak to the wind and they obey. Keep your eyes on him and run your race to finish and win, so that in the end we can testify like Paul. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy‬ ‭4‬:‭7‬).

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