Andrew’s closing of 2014

Friends we have reached that time when 2014 is drawing to a close. It has been a year of growth and blessings and also a year of struggle and trial.  We live in an interesting time in history, I believe there is more pain and strife in the world than ever before, but more opportunity for the Gospel than ever before.

The reality is we are living in a time of unthinkable poverty, disease, political and commerce corruption and greed.  The fact the 3 billion people, almost half the world’s population lives on less than R5 a day!  The fact that according to the International Rescue Mission, in the last ten years, 4 million people have died in Democratic Republic of Congo. In South Africa, crime, load shedding, inflation, and the truth in the general public sentiment that our government is corrupt, incapable and self-serving. The smallest unit of society, the family, has been blown up by affairs, domestic violence and emotional abuse. The list just goes on and on and it blows our minds and shatters our hearts.

But the truth of the matter and our reality as Christ-Followers is that we also live in the Presence of God.  And my conviction is now more than ever we need to press into His Presence.  As Moses sought God so should we! Read his words in Exodus 33:16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?"

We need to get before God and ask Him to give us ears to hear, eyes to see and hearts to feel.  How else will the world know, what else will distinguish us from everyone else but His Presence.  How else will we live lives that matter?  How else will we make a difference to this wrecked, ravaged and war torn world?  But by His Presence, guiding, leading, empowering, equipping, providing, protecting and giving us the compassion to make the difference.

Our challenge in our lives is to prioritize prayer and get into His Presence.  Our lives seem to be so filled with the urgencies, emergencies and agendas that stopping to pray almost seems like an unnatural act.  Without even realizing it we have accepted the idea that “Doing things” is more important than prayer and have come to a place where we believe that prayer is something to do when there is nothing urgent to do.  On the contrary we must come to a place where we realize that we can do nothing on our own and all our hope, strength, courage and confidence in in God.  We must become as Brother Lawrence put it – People of the Presence.

Now as we engage with our Father, a picture begins to emerge for our lives.  A mission begins to emerge for our lives.  Because prayer leads to mission.  We can’t just pray and that’s that.  Part of prayer is a call to action and change.  I cannot remember who said this but it is so true – “Do not let prayer be a crutch to not do anything”

Bill Hybels says this – “Jesus main mission is to free you from your sin & enlist you into waging war against systems than consign people to poverty, disease, despair & hopelessness”

This is our Father’s master plan for all our lives.  Let me ask you what are you doing intentionally and daily to further this plan?  What plans to you have for 2015 that would further this plan?

Socrates said – “An unexamined life is not worth living” 

So I ask you to examine your own life & priorities. Just how are you spending your time energy and money?

As you examine the past year, 2014, as you examine your present circumstances and life. As you look to your future, Jesus bids you to come!  I always ask people what their preferable future looks like. But it is not about, what your preferable future looks like.  It’s about what our Fathers preferable future for you looks like.

Jesus lived His life this way and calls us to commit as He did, to compassion instead of power, to serve the poor instead of our own desires for possessions and wealth; to lift the downtrodden instead of our own egos

Friends the reality is that in choosing Gods master plan for your life, you can have a role in fixing this broken world; between now and heaven your earthly life can matter.  In seeking Him, He will provide peace in the midst of darkness, He will bring provision and protection. He will provide power so that your life will count for something now and forever in eternity with Him.  Living this out in His Presence is what will distinguish us from the world.

May our Father bless this Christmas and your entry into 2015!  And as I close this year with this final letter, leave you with Paul’s words for you:

Eph 3:16-20(MSG)  I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit--not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength-- that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.




Paul's thinking


What is in Paul's thinking when he says "I live now not my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me"? What implication does this have on our own life? Perhaps we should reimagine this statement? Perhaps through meditation and prayer we will be lead to a place where we discover our true identity. An identity that is caught up in Christ, not ourselves, our possessions, how much we do or don't have, where we live, what car we drive, how educated we are, how successful we are, what cell phone we have. How big our pain and problems are. Too often I hear the words "I never signed up for this!" Or "Why is this happening to me?" Just 2 quick questions, and I don't mean to be insensitive ; if not you then who? And, why not you? The reality is that if your identity is made up of these things, your pain or what is happening in your life, you will never find contentment. Because contentment is not striving for more, striving for the Hollywood 'Happily ever after' but contentment is finding your identity in someone bigger than yourself! Find your identity in Christ, find peace in Him within your circumstances and be happy with what you do have. Now I am not suggesting we do not have healthy ambition and a need to work hard. This is normative for a healthy life. But perhaps we should be more caught up in Christ than anything else. He is the only One Who is able to bring calm in the centre of your storm. Fix your eyes on Jesus, seek Him, let Your identity be in Him and watch His abundant life come to fruition in your own life. Let's shift our thinking and come to a place where we can truly as Paul said, say of our own lives - "I live now not my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me!" If you apply this what implication would it have on our own life? Growth? Purpose? Peace? Contentment? Healthy relationships? Blessed marriage? And a whole lot more...
Just reflecting...

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