Discovering the will of God

We live in a microwave society, don’t we?  We know little of delayed gratification and waiting patiently for something. We also find many who are not prepared to put in the hard work but still expect massive results and benefits. “I need it, I must have it, and when… Right now!”discover-you-life-purpose-with-hypnosis

People come to me for a coffee and expect that one cup of coffee will resolve twenty years of marital struggle.  When I ask questions like, “Are you prepared to put in the hard work, make some changes and forgive some offenses” there is often a reluctance.  “But Andrew, can’t you just give us a formula that will make everything better?”

I have a friend who is a Doctor. He has similar struggles.  A patient will come to see him and have a heart and cholesterol problem.  When he suggests, eating right, exercise and a change of lifestyle, patients get upset.  Can’t you just give me a pill, so I can carry on as I please.  He doesn’t say this, but we do joke about it, “A pill is not going to resolve your health issues after your 40-year-old love affair with bacon, chocolates, crisps and beer”

I do baby dedications and often will say to couples, “This is not a magic formula, I am not waving a magic wand and it is not something to tick off on your to do list” I go and challenge them, “This is a commitment to walk out your days serving the Lord and bringing up your child according to biblical values.  This ceremony means little of you are not going to follow through.”

Think of all the vitamin adverts we see in media and the promises they make.  The quick fix benefits of a multi-vitamins. 

No need to change anything in your life just take a  – Berocca - Gives you your bounce back… One-A-Day Multivit - A better tomorrow starts today… Centrum – (life will be) Always complete… People want to believe that there’s some magical, all-natural, healthy supplement that they can take that’s going to make them feel and look better without making any lifestyle changes.

I wonder how we respond to this thought?  How far are we from living a similar kind of Christianity? Do we think, “Lord I go to church, to life group, I tithe and serve.  That my bit, now I don’t want to get any more involved than that and please Lord, don’t ask me to change.”

The only place in the bible that I see God saying “Test me in this” is to do with the subject of Gods provision and the Tithe in Malachi 3:10. “Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”  In John, we don’t see the words “Test me in this” from Jesus, but I believe there is a litmus test that is similar to the challenge laid out in Malachi.  A litmus test is defined this way - a decisively indicative test

If you want to find out the will of God for your life, the directions are to be found in this John seven passage.  Jesus lays out a litmus test for us (a decisively indicative test) When He says, “If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (John 7:17) 

A wise person once said, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it."  Jesus invites you; come and make a test. A litmus test…

It's so easy to sit on the sidelines watching rugby and be a couch potato coach. We love to tell others how it should have been done or to speak our mind without really knowing.  It’s easy to criticize the players and the game from the sidelines… “HOW COULD YOU DROP THAT BALL!!” But never get on the field and play the game.

I go to church, read my bible but never really take that step into what Jesus is saying, “If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” That is the wonder of God.  If you are willing, God will make His will real to you. And the Holy Spirit will confirm it to you. Do you see it?  We look for the will of God in our lives and situations but expect that it will just fall into our laps.  Or we will get an email from heaven or a plane will write it in the sky.  Some magical moment that is going to change everything without my participation.

There are so many who read the bible, sit and listen to sermons week after week, and they learn and know as much but don’t apply it and live it. However, the change happens as we love, as we go, as we obey, as we seek to live out our lives with kingdom values, being true to what we believe Gods call is, He begins to change things, He begins to reveal things.  We begin to see His will and that this whole thing is true.

James Jesus’ brother challenges us his book, saying that the person who only hears and knows the Word soon forgets what he has heard. If we don’t put in to practice what we learn, it soon fades from memory. It is just forgotten, and it never becomes a part of our life.

This happens so often. We hear the Word and are convicted of some defect, some shortcoming, some failure that we need to clean up. But as soon as we walk out, we are distracted by the world and its affairs and we soon forget to do what God told us to do. However, as James encourages us, the person who hears and does the Word of God is blessed – “respond to the truth they hear and are strengthened by it—they experience God’s blessing in all that they do!” (James 5 TPT)

When we do we find that we are free from everything that enslaves us on this earth.  We discover God’s will for our lives, love, joy, and peace—a soul that just soars with a sense of as Adam Clarke puts it, “Freedom and liberty, purpose and meaning, security and safety, victory over temptation, joy and rejoicing, assurance and confidence, life over death and deliverance from sin.”

It’s a permanent lifestyle of living this out.  It isn’t a one-time deal.  Say this prayer and everything is sorted.  It is a moment by moment decision to work toward transformation and Christlikeness. Three little girls were talking about their dads. One said, "My father is a doctor, and he practices medicine." Another said, "My dad's an attorney, and he practices law." The third said, "My father is a Christian, but he doesn't practice anymore." There are a lot of dads like that today, and a lot of other people too. John Brokhoff. Pulpit Digest, Mar/Apr 1991, p.66. SOURCE: INFOsearch Sermon Illustrations. A Christian's transformation is not a one-time event or a cause we take up today only to abandon it later. True transformation lasts a lifetime!69

Think of it like a healthy lifestyle and diet.  I want lose weight and be healthier.  I read about the Keto diet, Banting diet, Blood group diet, Herbalife, Fit for life, Gluten Free, Low-Carb, Atkins, Low-Fat, Vegan, Vegetarian. I join Virgin Active, Walk for life and buy a bicycle.

I can have all that knowledge stored up in my mind, I have the gym membership and bicycle.  I can go to the gym and sit and drink healthy smoothies but never do a moments exercise.  I can share my knowledge with people.  I can teach on it, I can develop a business around it.  But unless I apply some of what I have learned in my own life I will not see any results.  Unless I go to the gym and exercise, get on the bike and cycle, unless I eat properly, I will not lose one gram of excess weight, my energy levels will not change and my health or lack thereof, will remain the same. If I want to be healthy, if I want to lose weight, I must apply some of the principles I have learnt.

Christianity is the same!  The litmus test is Jesus saying, “If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” I can learn the scriptures, come to church but unless I apply what I have learnt and endeavour to live my life according to Jesus’ words, I will not discover Gods will and the reality is that not a whole lot is going to change.

You want your life to change?  Chose to do the will of God and see the results. What is Jesus saying to you as you read this, is He challenging you to take the litmus test?  “If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” Is He saying to you “Test me in this?”

This is my paraphrase of what James says to us – “If you respond to the truth you are reading, you will be strengthened by it—and you will experience God’s blessing in all that you do!”  Will you take the test?

About His House

I awoke today with a feeling of gratitude and awe at how Jesus loves us.  Who are we that He seeks us out?  We are but mere grains of sand floating on a speck called earth in the universe.  Yet the creator of all, is with us, and loves us so much that while we were sinners and didn’t know Him, He gave His life for us.  Why? In order that we may be reconciled to Him.  What kind of love is this?  At our church yesterday, we had a Presence and awe filled morning.  Weeping through worship, people were ministered to powerfully and the overwhelming sense of Gods love was manifest.  The very atmosphere was pregnant with love and expectancy.  Man, I love this thing Jesus has called me to serve in called His church!

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I believe in the Church of Jesus Christ, and I believe one Day Jesus will return for her. I will not give my life for the church, but I will give my life for Jesus and His call. But Jesus’ church is where I believe I am called to serve and build. I love our community of faith, they are amazing people. Many of whom have been through deep waters of life but have found solace, care, comfort and very often healing.

This quote or my memory of it by John Wimber sums up my feelings well in a sentence. Of Church John said – “I believe you can find your spirituality in solitude, but you can only fulfill your spiritually in the context of community.” Our church at willow is not perfect, but we are doing our best to live out Luke 4:18-19, Mat 28:20 and Acts 1:8.  I love the way Derek Morphew puts it, “The church is a company of believing, confessing individuals whose eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit to see the true-identity of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.”

In between the gathering of the church its members are scattered into society as leaven, salt and light. The gathering and scattering goes on continually, like breathing in and breathing out. When it stops, the church stops breathing and dies. The church is therefore a living, functioning and moving organism of God’s people.

Christianity is not about rules to respond to but the reality of relationship with Jesus. It’s not about what I must do, it’s what I get to do! I get to serve Jesus. I get to go to church today, I get to worship my king, I get to take communion and remember my Jesus. I get to share my heart with His people, I get to pray for the sick, the broken and the struggling. I get to hang out with fellow believers who are family in Christ. I don’t have to do any of this, I GET TO! You don’t have to serve Jesus, but because you love Him you get to. You don’t have go to church, you get to…

We are called to unity and love as the body of Christ. Let’s learn from one another, as long as we can agree that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, then let us love one another. Let’s learn from church history both the good and the bad. Let us unite around Jesus and agree to disagree on that which is not foundational to our faith. As for me church is a time, church is a place, where we can stand face to face with Jesus (I understand that you can do that anywhere).  A place for the broken, a place for the strong, it’s a place to belong, a place to worship and a place to allow the Holy Spirit to be the administrator.

While the Lord gives me strength and grace I will continue to serve and be a part of a community that I love and loves me.  A community that encounters His loving Presence, empowering, equipping and sending. And you know what the kicker is?  Jesus is building His church, not me!

Consider this passage by Dietrich Bonhoeffer – “Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial. God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church. Whoever is mindful to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it, for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess he builds. We must proclaim, he builds. We must pray to him, and he will build. We do not know his plan. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are the times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point are great times for the church are times when it’s pulled down. It is a great comfort which Jesus gives to his church. You confess, preach, bear witness to me, and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is not your providence. Do what is given to you, and do it well, and you will have done enough…. Live together in the forgiveness of your sins. Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.”

Why wouldn’t you want to engage with and to belong to such a place?  Just come as you are. Could I invite you to engage with us, or a healthy community of faith close to you?  Where you don’t have to dress up.  You don’t have to be a particular age. A place where you don’t need to worry what culture you come from or what you look like. And a place where please, you don’t feel the need to pretend about anything.  For me church is a place where God meets seeking people who are far from perfect.  That means anyone is welcome, no matter where you are in your spiritual journey.  So, learn at your own pace.  Ask questions.  Seek.  I believe you will find what you are looking for.  You’ll learn how to relate to God.  You’ll experience Christian community.  And here’s the big thing – You’ll change.  So, join a community of faith and seek God together.

Love Andrew

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The Team

imageAndrew Christie (Senior Pastor)
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Phone: 066 327 1945
 
image Rob McDonald (Pastor)
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Phone: 072 413 6285
 
image Steph McDonald (PA)
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Phone: 066 327 1945
 

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