Wednesday, 24 April 2013

He wants me all to Himself...

'He wants me all to Himself...'

I was reading something online and those words came to me. I've been learning a lot in the past few weeks, almost too much that it's hard to keep up. I've been learning what it means to surrender. To surrender my own will, my own desires, for whatever God wants. I can't even say that I fully know what that is yet. It's hard cos I think I know what I want, but every time I come up against a brick wall, I realise that what I wanted wasn't quite what God wanted for me.

He wants me all to Himself...

It's scary. I was at a ladies' conference last year and one of the speakers was talking about marriage and she said she had to finally get to the point where she was like, 'I can't keep doing this. God, I don't care whether I get married or not, I'm just going to keep following you.' She did get married. But I remember thinking, 'that's easy for you to say...you're married now...'

I never thought I could get to that point.

But I'm learning that true surrender, deciding to follow Jesus at all costs, means laying down everything, including that thing you think you can't live without. Especially that thing you think you can't live without.

Because He wants you all to Himself.

Nothing can be more important to you than your relationship with Christ. If you think about it, it's only fair; He gave up His life for you. Like I said in a previous post, He gave all, He asks all.

Of course I'm not saying that following Christ means He'll ask you to give up everything you desire. But it means you have to be willing to give anything up if it did come to that. And I mean ANYTHING. I think that's what it means to 'die to self'. I think that's also what Paul meant in Philippians 3 v 8;

'...I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ...'

Knowing Christ surpasses everything else. Everything else is pretty much rubbish in comparison.

So, I think I'm finally getting there. It's scary, but exciting at the same time. You see, what you give up cannot even begin to compare to what you gain in return...

Friday, 19 April 2013

How to turn your job into an act of worship...

'If you're washing toilets, wash as though Jesus would be the one inspecting.'

Those were the words of the preacher last Sunday. He was basically saying that our daily lives should be an act of worship to God and that includes our jobs. If you're like me, you probably spend most of your time at work. I'm beginning to realise how important it is for a Christian to represent Christ well in the workplace. It can be really testing because, truth is, if you spend most of your time with someone, sooner or later, they'll begin to see your true colors. It is the same with work, and as Christians, we will do well to remember that our Christianity doesn't end at home or on Sundays after church. Having said that, it's not about pretense, but about changing your perspective.

No matter how much you love your job, there might be times when you lack motivation, and sometimes for valid reasons. At times like these I remember Colossians 3 v 23-24. It says, 'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.'

Sometimes your hard work will seem to go unnoticed, or unappreciated. And the thing is that if you keep seeking approval or affirmation from human beings, you might be waiting a long time.

I've found that when I change my focus, and make God my 'boss', it changes my attitude. I want Him to be pleased with my work. And His reward is far greater than what any human being can give to me. So whenever things begin to feel like a bit of a grind, I try to remember Who I'm really working for.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Mastering the art of surrender...


Sometimes God asks us to give up the very thing we cherish the most. It can be hard. And true surrender means giving it up knowing that you may never get it back. All you have to go on is that God knows what He's doing. If He asks for it, it means He has a better plan. It can be really hard. Someone said to me the other day, 'Abraham didn't know that Isaac wasn't going to die'. He went to sacrifice his dearest son, and for all he knew, he was going home alone that night. He just obeyed God and trusted that God knew what He was doing.

'Why would God ask for something so dear?' That's a valid question to ask. The reply that comes to me is one I read in the book 'Passion and purity' by Elisabeth Elliot; 'He gave all, He asks all.'

I read somewhere that when we don't understand what is going on in our lives, and we have so many unanswered questions, we just have to trust God's heart towards us. Everything God does or allows, is out of His goodness and love towards us. Everything. Good and not so good.

Surrendering can be hard, but knowing that the One asking you to surrender is able to bring about something better makes it a bit easier. Knowing that the Person asking you to surrender has proved Himself time and time again definitely helps.

Trust God's heart towards you.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

What they don't tell you about Psalm 37 v 4

For those that don't know, Psalm 37 verse 4 states, 'Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart' (NIV).

I've heard this verse quoted so many times and I love it. You know why? Because it says if I delight myself in God He'll give me what I want. Right?

Wrong.

Before I continue, I just want to make something clear. I believe the Bible to be completely true, through and through. So, if God's word says it, I don't doubt it. But just in case you're a bit like me and thinking that because you love God and are dedicated to Him, He'll give you anything you really desire, please read on.

What we want and what we need are two completely different things. Say, for example, a Gucci bag. I might want it, but do I need it? No. (I know some might argue this point but you know what I mean). What we desire and what is actually good for us can also be two completely different things. I'm sure some of us know that from experience too.

Sometimes we don't know what is good for us. It might look good at face value, but truth is, only God really knows. So, when you pray and quote Psalm 37 v 4 back to God (like I used to), the thing you have to remember is that He alone knows whether that thing you desire is actually what you need. You have to trust Him if He doesn't let you have it. Does the fact that you didn't get the desire of your heart mean that God is a liar? Of course not. God knows your heart's desire. Your true heart's desire. The thing is you may not even know it yourself. But you can trust that He knows it because He knows you more than you know yourself. Hope I'm not confusing you.

So what you should know when you're reading Psalm 37 v 4 is that yes, He will give you your heart's desire, but it might not be in the way you thought. You may even be surprised to find that He grants you desires you didn't even realise you had!

Monday, 8 April 2013

So, you desire intimacy...?

Before you ask God for a closer walk with Him you better be sure you really want it, because He might just give you what you asked for, but not necessarily the way you expect, or like for that matter! Usually when we think of drawing close to God we think 'mountain-top' experiences like being filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, or that lovely feeling you get when you're singing some worship songs at church. Whilst these are all good, I'm learning that actually, there are other ways God uses to draw us closer to Him. It's easy to feel close to God when you're in church singing with a bunch of other Christians, or when everything in your life seems to be going well. But there are times when stuff happens and it hits you like a ton of bricks. You're forced to ask yourself, 'do I really believe what I claim to believe?', 'Is this God real, like, for real?' At those times, going to church just doesn't cut it. Listening to sermons, being amongst other Christians, etc, might help, but you soon realise that you've got to dig deeper. Now, that's a real test of faith. I heard someone say that sometimes God doesn't speak in our moments of deepest insecurities, i.e. when you (think) you need Him the most. It can be hard. At this point, you have two choices- give up, or keep trusting. Actually, THAT's the real test of faith.

Most Christians would say that intimacy with God is something that they desire. But, I'm learning that some of us really don't know what that entails. Look at the Bible and study the lives of the men that were close to God. Check out Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Daniel, etc. Abraham was called God's friend, David was a man after His own heart. But getting those titles did not come easy! Abraham spent donkey's years waiting for a child, and then faced the ultimate test of sacrifice. David spent a good part of his life running from his enemies. But it was so worth it in the end. They got to experience what real intimacy with God felt like. Oh and not to mention the blessings. I read somewhere that anytime you see a man or woman enjoying great success in God's kingdom, there's a good chance they've been through the valley of devastation, hurt and rejection. Hmmm...

The thing is, I don't think it gets easier.

But your faith muscles do get stronger.

So when I ask myself, 'how much do I really want this?' I can confidently say, 'Really badly', because the rewards are so worth it.

Oh, and I know I'm not going it alone...Deut 31 v 6, Isaiah 43 v 2.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Life for sale- lessons from 'Shrek forever after'...


So a friend and I watched the movie 'Shrek forever after' over the Easter holidays. If you haven't seen it, I'll give you a brief overview. Shrek is (happily) married to the love of his life, Fiona, and they now have 3 beautiful kids (if you can call ogre-kids beautiful). But, life is a bit dreary and full of mundane activities, you know, like, taking out the trash, changing nappies, doing the dishes, etc, that old man Shrek begins to miss the 'good old days'. He can't get a minute to himself, his friends (Donkey to be exact) just won't let him be, not to mention the tourists who keep stopping by to take pictures of his shack. He wants out. Back to a time when he was single, and he was a real ogre; the kind people were actually afraid of. After all, that's what he was actually meant to be right?

So, after having an outburst at the kids' birthday party, he meets the devil himself, I mean, Rumpelstiltskin (yes, I had to go to Google to check the spelling). Rumpel offers him the opportunity of a lifetime (or so it seems); Shrek can have a day of being a real ogre again, if he gives Rumpel a day from his past. Shrek decides to go for it, and asks Rumpel to take any day he likes. He gets 24 hours to be a real ogre once again, at the end of which he goes back to life as normal. Seems simple enough doesn't it?

So Shrek gets his day as an ogre, and things seem to be going great. That is, until they start going badly. Like, really badly. You see, Shrek asks Rumpel to take any day from his childhood, a day he won't remember and the devil, I mean, Rumpel decides to take the day Shrek was born. This leads to disastrous consequences. For example, Shrek meets Fiona and she has no idea who he is, because, guess what, he doesn't exist! So Shrek now has to find a way to undo the curse (something about true love's first kiss...) In the end, he realises that he had something amazing- pretty much everything he needed for a happy life. He just needed to open his eyes and look around him.

Ok, it was a bit of an extreme scenario, but it got me thinking (as always) about how sometimes we want what we do not have...it can be hard to count your blessings especially when there are one or two blessings you think are missing. It's easy to think the grass is greener on the other side; if only I had that job, or if only I lived in a different country, or was married, or had a child, or had more money. Truth is, there's always something to be thankful for. Actually, if you look (and not even that hardly) you'll find several things. So, I'm learning to be thankful. For the obvious things, and also for the, you know, not so obvious.