Resolutions Into Realities

As we end one year and look to a new one, we pause to take inventory. In a rare moment of reflection and honest self-assessment, we admit our failures. We pledge to learn from them and move toward a better future.  We all want to be better, to live our lives fully and to love one another more selflessly. So, we make resolutions.

As we repent for the failures of the past year we resolve to do better in the coming year. We face the reality of sin and make attempts to correct them. We know that our resolutions to change often end in failure. We are prone to making wrong choices in daily life. But the difference between resolutions and reality is Christ.

In and through Jesus Christ, there is a path to being made new. He walked that path up the mountain of Golgotha, and through the tomb to the Resurrection. That promise of being made new, being born again, is at the heart of the Gospel, the Good News! St. Paul reminded the Christians in the City of Corinth – and reminds every one of us – “whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

New Year’s resolutions can be an important first step to change, but they are a far cry from real, lasting change when we rely wholly on ourselves and forget the One who makes all things new. On many occasions we hear people’s promises that this year will be different, “New Year, New Me”; they’ll own that new car, get that promotion, etc. yet we see no change. It’s not our circumstances that need to change, but our mindset, our way of thinking – we need not to walk another year outside of the path of righteousness.  If we really are resolved to see our hopes and resolutions for 2017 become a reality, we will do well to keep several basic truths in mind at the outset of a new year.

1. The Fewer the Better
The excitement of a new year, and desire for change often leads us to bite off much more than we can chew for one year. If you have too much on your plate chances are you’ll be left with leftovers of unresolved resolutions.

Consider one focus (or maybe a couple or three items) for the new year, or just the first three months of 2017, or even just January. A year is a long period of time in terms of habit-forming; typically we would do much better to just make one resolution at a time than to attempt many things and for so long a period as twelve months. Commitment to several things for a long period of time scares many and with that fear comes the breaking of resolutions.

2. Be Specific
Bible-reading, devotionals, and prayer are likely too broad. Give your resolution a more specific focus like reading the whole Bible this year, or not just devotionals but daily devotionals, or not just prayer but a prayer journal that you spend time writing in each morning, or before bedtime.

3. Craft a Realistic Plan
On many occasions our biggest let down for the new year is ourselves. We often devise unrealistic plans and end the year with disappointment because it didn’t come to fruition. I’ll be honest, last year I told myself I’d read the entire bible in a year. I tried to commit to reading 5 books of the bible a month for 12 months. As I’m sure you could already tell that did not happen. It was an unrealistic plan. While it worked all the way until September when I had more time, with the start of school came the end of my resolution. Map out clearly and concretely what it would take for a full month to cultivate your desired habit. Think long term and make sure it’s realistic given the things in your life. Part of being realistic is accepting a measure of modesty and patience to your goals.

4. Flexibility
If not now then eventually. Your resolutions don’t need to start in January and end in December. Some resolutions don’t need to take all year while others require more than a given year. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Like life your resolutions need to be flexible.

5. Cover Your Efforts in Prayer
In prayer, we re-consecrate ourselves again and again to pursue our resolves “by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). We would be fooling ourselves if we made regular efforts into new habits without explicitly asking God to make it truly fruitful.

And so we pray – not just act, but ask – “that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11).

Happy New Year! May the Lord bless you all in the Year of 2017

**I want to thank EVERYONE for tuning in, reading, encouraging, commenting, sharing, liking and following my blog. I am entering this new year with so much peace, love and happiness thanks to you all**

xo

The Christmas Story

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE 🙂

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people” (Luke 2:10).

In Luke’s account of the Christmas story, an angel announced the birth of Jesus to a group of shepherds (notice that it’s a group of shepherds and not merely three wise men).

The joy was not for a few people, but for all. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son” (John 3:16).

In order to share this good news we must correct ourselves from some of the most common misconceptions about Jesus Christ’s birth. The problem is, the Christmas story may be entirely wrong. The events surrounding the birth have been retold so many times and in so many ways- in plays, poetry, books, songs and movies – that mot people have a distorted view of the true events. The only accurate record is found in the Holy Bible, God’s Word.

Firstly, there were not three wise men as movies or plays would suggest, rather, many wise men or shepherds as Luke noted. scripture does report wise men (“magi”) came, but it does not say how many. Also, the wise men did not visit Jesus when he was still lying in the manger, as commonly shown on greeting cards  and in plays. The “magi”did not arrive until sometime after Christ’s presentation in the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:22-39).

Secondly, Jesus was not born in a manger as the songs would suggest, rather, he was placed in a manger after birth. Scripture simply reports that they laid Jesus in a manger because there was no room for him in the guest room.

Thirdly, there was no little drummer boy. Th drummer of is, of course, not in the biblical story, but his presence has become legendary in our modern Christmas imagination.

As we share the life changing message of Jesus with others, like God intended, we join the worldwide chorus proclaiming “the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.” We must share the Christmas story, free from myths or tales with only what the Word of the Lord tells us an account given by Luke who saw no little drummer boy, witnessed not three but many shepherds who came to see Jesus after his birth. We must share why Jesus came – to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), save people from sin (Matthew 1:21), and tone the saviour of the world (1 John 4:14).

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”

Xoxo

Myth Busters

With the mark of Halloween I find it necessary to bring about a look at myths. There are many myths surrounding this day of ghosts, mummies, vampires, goblins… the list goes on. But, Halloween is not the only place where myths arise. Many of us, in the church, are guilty of continuing the problem of myths. I’m not talking about the things that are in the Word but the things that aren’t but are believed to be Scripturally accurate.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word as “a widely held but false belief or idea” and that perfectly describes how many Christians pass on sayings that are believed to be true but hold no truth in the Bible.

If you’ve heard the saying cleanliness is next to godliness or God helps those who help themselves or the countless others then this post is for you! While Scripture supports the purposes of some of the sayings while contradicting others. Some of the most familiar Christian sayings turn out not to be Christian at all, but a myth. Let’s correct these myths today by bringing light in truth to this darkened myth filled world.

The list of sayings not found in scripture below may blow some minds while proving obvious for others.

1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
While the biblical parallel to this saying is “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12) the saying does not appear in its common form in any of the more literal translations of Scripture although its sentiments is certainly biblical.

2. God helps those who help themselves
The Bible teaches something entirely different than the above saying, because God makes special provision to help the helpless.

Romans 5:8
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Proverbs 28:26
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But he who walks wisely will be delivered. 

Jeremiah 17:5
Thus says the LORD,
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength, 
And whose heart turns away from the LORD.”

3. Money is the root of all evil
The expressions stems from the biblical phrase that says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10). There is a big difference between the two statements. Money is a neutral, it doesn’t have the power in itself to be good or bad but it is the way money is viewed. Money, therefore, is not evil but the love of it is the root of all kinds of evil.

4. Cleanliness is next to godliness
This is the favourite of almost ALL Mothers. I heard it just yesterday and because of the knowledge I’ve gained from the Word I’m aware of the error in this saying and that it is but a myth. While the book of Leviticus frequently deals with the issue of cleanliness it mentions it in relation to the cleaning of the believer’s life… not room.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

John 15:3
You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

5. This too shall pass
Trials and difficult circumstances are difficult to bear and one comfort this saying developed as a way of helping others deal with the many problems of life. The question to ask is how biblical this comfort is and brings us to the need to remember from Romans 5 that the believer that suffers produces hope for the kingdom of God; if we simply take heart in the temporary end of a given earthly trial, we are finding comfort in the wrong thing.

6. The eye is the window to the soul
I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve heard this one growing up in the church. The Bible does not speak of the eye being a window to the soul, but it does represent the lamp of the body.

Matthew 6:22
The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.

Luke 11:34
The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness.

7. God works in mysterious ways
I laugh simply remembering those who have fallen into the trap of there being Biblical truth to this saying and refusing to believe the inaccuracy of such a saying. God lets us know explicitly in his Word the plans he has for his children. Though we may not understand the purpose of our circumstances in God’s plan, we are assured that every detail will work for the benefit of the Redeemed – I’d say that’s pretty clear. The only mystery of our God is in his return, which Jesus himself never claim to know.

Mark 13:32
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

8. Pride comes before the fall
This saying seems to be missing a crucial part. The original rendition states that prides ends in destruction, not a fall.

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

9. God don’t like ugly
This has to be the most outrageous yet common one. While some may want to suggest that this saying is used to sum up ungodly behaviour, they are wrong. The saying, as profound as it may be, is not found in Scripture.

10. Blessed and highly favoured
How many of you have heard this saying when asking someone how they are? While some may find it to be a Biblical saying brought forth by Paul he never wrote to the churches in Corinth to be “blessed and highly favoured.”As good as the saying may sound, it is not in the Bible.

You Are Cordially Invited

 

Not everyone will believe the gospel, but everyone is invited.

We know from scripture, and experiences, that not everyone will trust in Jesus and be saved. In fact, many sitting in the pews of the church across the country are cold to Christ and are harboring impenitent hearts, deceived into believing their presences will get them into heaven.

Have you ever been skipped over in class where the cool kid was handing out invitations to their birthday bashment? Well, consider Jesus as the invitation holder, ultimately the “cool” kid. We don’t have to sit in the corner giving googly eyes in hope of getting an invitation because he invites everyone. The invitation he’s holding out is into the Kingdom of heaven there’s no age limit, no physical or mental requirements. We all have been presented with the invitation the real challenge is our RSVP. Will we regrettably decline or accept with a large smile? Like Jesus we should offer this news of the Kingdom to everyone because of the foundational certainty that Jesus accomplished. John Piper captures it well:

“By his death and resurrection, Jesus has acted out God’s discriminating, definite electing, regenerating, faith-creating, every-promise-guaranteeing, new-covenant love, and thus has purchased and secured irreversibly for his elect everything needed to bring them from deadness in sin to everlasting, glorified life and joy in the presence of God.” (Does God Desire All to Be Saved? 54)

In other words, one of the great blessings that would come to the people of God because of Christ’s death and resurrection is that all the nations would be touched. Christ’s redemption is not just for Jews. It’s not just for us. It is for all the nations.

And this leads us then to The Great Invitation in Isaiah 55.

Let’s look at Isaiah 55:1-3 and ask three questions:

  1. Who are invited?

The answer is, two kinds of people. In verse 1 the first kind is described: “Ho every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money come buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

But there is a second kind of person whom God invites as described in verse 2. In verse 2 he talks to someone who has money, who has strength to labor. God said in verse 1: “He who has no money come!” but the second kind of person has got money and is spending it.

So two kinds of people are invited by the Lord: the thirsty who are broke and cannot pay, and the thirsty who think they can pay and work their way to satisfaction.

  1. What are we offered?

In verse 1 we are offered water, milk and wine: “Ho every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

Water corresponds to the need for refreshment, milk corresponds to the need for ongoing nourishment and wine corresponds to the need for exhilaration.

  1. What are we told to do to get these benefits?

There are 12 imperatives in these three verses numbered below.

“Ho, every one who thirsts, come to the waters [#1]; and he who has no money, come [#2], buy [#3] and eat [#4]! Come [#5], buy wine and milk [#6] without money and without price. 2) Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to me [#7] and eat what is good [#8], and delight yourselves in fatness [#9]. 3) Incline your ear [#10], and come to me [#11]; hear [#12] that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”

What the 12 above have in common is… nothing. We don’t need to be like our neighbour in order to get an invitation. It’s already there; it’s time we RSVP

Ask. Seek. Knock

Blessings
xoxo

But God…

It was on a Thursday of 2014 I remember exactly because the greatest pain hit me. My body shivering, stomach churning, I was going to be sick. This pain continued for days with my inability to hold my food down or even walk for very long. I could no longer take the pain and uncertainty and got taken to the ER. Once the doctor saw me he told me if I had waited another day to see him my appendix would have ruptured but he was able to save it.

‘But’ is a powerful word when facing trouble, tests and temptations, as we see in a many passages.

Psalm 31
In trouble ‘BUT I trust in you’

No one can go through life without facing troubles. If anything David is an example of this, he was in trouble: ‘With grief my eye is weakened, also my inner self and my body’ (v.9). He was facing spiritual, mental and physical challenges (vv.9-13)

Yet, in the midst of all this, he is able to say, ‘But I trust in you, Lord’ (v.14-15). He trusts in God’s unfailing love (v.16). Sometimes when things are hard we believe that God has left us BUT He’s there and like David we must trust that God will deliver us.

Mark 14
In tests ‘Not what I will, BUT what you will’

Sometimes you have tests in life not because you’re doing something wrong but you’re doing something right. All of us face these tests, you’re not alone. Jesus himself did nothing wrong, yet he faced greater tests than anyone in human history.

Jesus faces disloyalty, disappointment and death but puts his trust in his lovingly Father and says, ‘Yet not what I will, but what you will’ (Mark 14:36). Even in his tests he trust that God knows best and is willing to submit his will. Jesus is the supreme example for us when we are fearful of what lies ahead… God is ahead and that’s all that matters.

Leviticus 17 & 18
In temptation… ‘BUT God’

The Israelites were facing many difficulties with sexual sin and getting involved in sexual immorality. However, God spoke to them about the way to live: ‘But you must keep my decrees and my laws’ (Leviticus 18:26).

Sexual sin is not the only temptation we face. Temptation lies around everywhere, everyday we are tempted.

There is often a temptation to conform to peer-pressure and follow the standards of those around us. Take 4/20 for instance (yesterday), April 20th marks the day where those who enjoy being at a high state flaunt it and those who may “hate” the idea get involved. God’s people are called to be different, ‘Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by God (Romans 12:2). This call to be different isn’t new, it goes right back to the earlier days of God’s people (Leviticus 18).

Paul lists some of the cautionary activities in the New Testament that Christians have been involved in. He uses the powerful word, ‘but.’But you,’ he says, ‘were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 6:11). Therefore you are to live differently.

The words “But God…” are filled with glory, power and meaning. “Those two words, just six little letters, one conjunction and one personal noun, may just be the greatest words in the Bible. Those two words tell us where salvation originates. It originates in God” (Alan Carr).

The Genealogy of Grace

jesus_genealogy Have you ever been curious about your family tree and your genealogy? I think it’s fascinating to find out who your people are and where they come from. But it also scares me a little; you never know what you are going to dig up, who you’re going to dig up. There are some family skeletons you would rather remain in the closet.

Consider the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Matthew’s genealogy in particular tells more than who Jesus’ ancestors were but a tribute to God’s grace through history as skeletons upon skeletons are revealed.

Matthew 1:1-17 wants us to see that Jesus, the King of Israel, is like no other king on earth. He is a king coming from a sinful royal lineage. After all, the people God chose to be a part of the Messiah’s lineage reveal the wonderful grace of God to provide hope for every sinner.

Jacob was the father of the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah” (Matthew 1:16)

Jesus’ genealogy started with one woman, Mary. In Mary, God showed His grace by choosing her to be the mother of the messianic King. Although she was a descendant of David who we know despite being a man after God’s own heart (Act 13:14), he was guilty of horrific sins. Contrary to claims of her immaculate conception, that she was conceived without original sin, Mary was just as much a sinner as every other person born but God still chose her.

Before Mary, there were two men:

The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the song of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1)

David was a sinner. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then conspired to cover his sin with the treacherous murder of her husband.

David’s adultery and poor parenting relinquished tragic results in his family life. When his son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar, he did nothing (2 Sam. 13:1-22). That neglect darkened what began to be David’s great reign. As a result, Tamar’s brother Absalom murdered Amnon.

Then there’s Abraham. Though the father of all who believe (Romans 4:11), a man willing to sacrifice his only son after 100 years of waiting he demonstrated cowardice fearing for his life rather than trusting in God in his later years. From here two pagan kings brought Abraham’s wife Sarah into their hands. Why? Because Abraham told them she was his sister out of fear (Genesis 12:11-19). He failed to love and respect his wife and brought shame on her, himself and on the God he claimed to trust and serve.

David and Abraham were sinners, just like you and me. Yet God made Abraham the father of His chosen people and made David father of the royal line from which the Messiah would arise.

Out of Mary, David and Abraham God also used four outcasts to further show the works of His grace through the Messiah’s genealogy.

The first outcast was Tamar, the Canaanite daughter-in-law of Judah. In Genesis 38 she resorted to deception, prostitution, and incest to bare a child. Using a veil, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and tricked Judah into having sexual relations with her. She later bore twin boys, Perez and Zerah. Despite her cunning ways God’s grace fell on her family and they joined in the Messianic line.

The second outcast was Rahab, a Gentile woman who made prostitution her livelihood. In Joshua 2 she put her faith in God and demonstrated it by hiding two men Joshua sent to spy out her city. She became the wife of Salmon and the mother of Boaz – David’s great-grandfather. God spared her life and the lives of her family and brought her into the Messianic line.

Ruth, the wife of Boaz, was the third outcast. Despite being a Moabite and a former pagan God’s grace brought Ruth into the family of Israel. She became the grandmother of Israel’s great king David.

The fourth outcast was Bathsheba. In 2nd Samuel 11 she entered the Messianic line through adultery with David. Although their first son out of their sinful union died, they had Solomon, continuer of the Messianic line.

We see above that all those who entered the Messianic line were sinners and were all a production of God’s ultimate grace. These few were in direct connection to our savior, Jesus Christ.

Matthew wants us to understand that the Gospel is for sinners of all kinds. We may have come from a broken family or a lineage of shame the grace that God brings to all will produce the greatest gift of all, a chance at eternity with HIM. Jesus’ family was far from perfect, but he was made perfect through their imperfection.

Maybe you don’t just have skeletons in your family closet. Maybe you feel you are the skeleton in your family’s closet. This genealogy of grace that we have examined is an invitation for you to come to Jesus and ask him to save you.

“The birth of Christ is not just about a little baby in a manger, it’s the miracle of God becoming man to save mankind” – Pastor Stephen Wright

The Comparison Trap

It started when I complained to my Mom at the family dinner table that “it’s not fair” that my sister got a bigger slice of dessert, it seemed I was constantly looking to my left or right to see how to measure up to those around me.

I’ve fallen into the comparison trap like many others.

First thing in the morning, I check Faebook, Instagram, and Snapchat only to have a list of things I’ve already fallen behind in. Her breakfast looks healthier, his car is nicer, a colleague has written a new e-book. All of this is happening while I’m still in bed, bleary-eyed and not as polished as these few.

Did any of these people post any of the updates to cause tension, I’m sure not. The problem is it is terribly easy to view social media as a constant reminder of all the things we’re not doing. Social media isn’t the problem, it’s a comparison problem.

Sometimes we come up short – she’s skinnier, she’s smarter or she’s funnier. Sometimes, we come out on top – your house is bigger or you have a higher pay. But in this game of comparison there are no winners.

When we don’t measure up we’re left with envy and jealousy and feeling less than. While on the other hand, when comparison ends up in our favour pride and arrogance traps us. The worst of all is that comparison can leave us enjoying the misfortune of others, maybe a coworker was passed up for a promotion, a classmate fails an assignment, or you’re a bit happy to hear about a friend’s breakup.

There is simply no winning. It brings out the ugly in every individual. It stains our relationships with gossip and striving. Let’s decide today to stop playing the game of comparison – it’s a game we cannot win.

Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides. Looks can be deceiving. You have NO idea what it took for someone to get that promotion, or graduate college or even get married. You have no idea what it took for them to get there. Don’t act like this was unearned or even effortless. God makes no mistakes. To save yourself the heartache don’t go thinking because you watched the movie you have a single clue about what’s really going on behind the scenes.

TRY THIS: See how many times you catch yourself in the comparison trap today and make a choice to break free, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and envy evil work” (James 3:16). If you’re too busy looking to the left or right you’re missing out on the perfect plan God has written just for you. The secret to breaking free is with contentment. If you choose to thank God no matter which side of comparison you’re on you’ll come out on top, “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

Break free from the comparison trap today!

No Fear, Know Peace

Say no to fear.

At one level fear is healthy. “Fear” is an emotion introduced by a perceived threat. It is a guiding emotion. It is God-given. It is a basic survival mechanism. It keeps us alive. It keeps us from danger.

However, there is also unhealthy fear. The Greek word commonly used is phobos – from the English word ‘phobia.’ This is unhealthy fear that disproportionately views danger. This is when ‘False Evidence Appears Real,’ in the overestimating danger and underestimating one’s ability to cope.

In my own life I have experienced many fears – from a fear of spiders to blood and a fear of doing anything that might bring dishonor to God.

The difference we see in the Bible is the healthy fear – the fear of God. This does not mean a fear of God; in fact it means a deeper understanding of who God is in relation to us. Fear God and you need not fear anything else or anyone else.

It is no wonder we’ve turned to unhealthy fear, because the fear of God has decreased in our society while all other fears increased. The fear of aging, or unpopularity, etc. we need to return to the right relationship with God.

The expression ‘do not be afraid’ appears in the Bible 366 times – one for every say of the year (including leap years, like this year).

Proverbs 1:20-32 talks to us about choosing to fear God, to listen to him and repent when he corrects.

In Matthew 10:1-31 Jesus uses the very words of ‘do not be afraid’ three times as he is sending his disciples to preach the gospel. They will be opposed by ‘local councils’ (v.17), face hatred (v.22), be persecuted (v.23) and be called demonic (v.25). How many of us still see the relevance of this passage today and face very similar oppositions? *Raises hand*

There is nothing new under the sun; Jesus and his disciples faced it and we are still facing it. Our blueprint to life is in these passages, in the Bible. We don’t need any more keys to life (sorry DJ Khaled), there’s just one… and it’s available to everyone

The Sun Shall Shine on Sunday

“No matter what kind of week you’ve had, God may be pleased to turn it all around on any given Sunday” (www.desiringgod.org)

Even in the fog of the week and the turmoils and struggles of trying our own strength and abilities the Sun shall shine on Sunday. Let us be reminded that He will turn it all around. But, we must…

1. Come to the River
Corporate worship may be the single most important means of God’s grace in the Christian life because it brings together three essential principles (three – the number of completion, will be further discussed in another post): hearing his voice (in his word), having his ear (in prayer), and belonging to his body (in the fellowship of the church).

There’s a great invitation of corporate worship in Isaiah 55.

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live. (Isaiah 55:1–3)

2. Come Thirsty
Imagine it’s a blazing hot day in July and you’ve been outside without the presence of any water and your throat is drying up, tonsils giving out and then you make your way to a well. You take a large sip out of desperation to quench this thirst. This is the way in which God wants us to come to him. Thirsty. Only he can quench our thirst, eternally. Jesus is the true bread who came down from heaven (John 6:50,58), and he is the true drink (John 6:55), the only drink who will satisfy our thirsty soul forever.

In corporate worship we taste together his soul satisfying drink. This does not mean every Sunday is amazing. There are many distractions, energetic children in the pew, off-key singers in our ear, and unfinished work at home to distract us from the sweetness of singing praises together.

3. Come Empty-Handed
Have you ever gone to a banquet hall and come ready with an empty stomach ready to receive? I don’t blame so of you, banquets are expensive and you’re trying to get your dollars worth.

We must not only bring an empty stomach, but also empty hands. The great invitation of his grace is to the one “who has no money.” We need not bring anything but emptiness so that he can fill us.

4. Come Ready
When you clothe yourself on a Sunday morning, clothe yourself in his riches and mercy. Prepare yourself to engage our wills to prime our hearts for the joys of collective adoration.

5. Come as You Are
“Your sluggishness and lethargy are no reason to stay away from his waterfall of grace. No matter how far away from the Father you feel, there is perhaps nothing you need more this weekend, this Sunday than his bounty in corporate worship.” (@davidcmathis)

No Shortcuts to Heaven

Ever since I was smaller shortcuts have been my thing. I’d take shortcuts to school as a child, which called for the deep trails of a forest surrounded by ponds and wilderness. While my sister often times would chicken out and take the long way with streets filled with children I’d toughen up and make my way every morning. Even after hearing about an incident with a young woman being attacked I still wouldn’t give up the shaved 15 minutes from my walk. Whenever my sister would finally make it to school grounds several minutes after me I’d meet her with a sly smile and every time she warned me no good can come out of taking shortcuts. If only I took her 10 years old advice. Years later my shortcuts came evolved. When my mother would insist that I clean my room, which was always covered in clothes, I found the quick solution and stuffed the clothes underneath my bed. It worked too, until my mother noticed a pant leg sticking out from under my bed and found my hiding spot. My shortcuts even spiraled to the way I used a computer, from copy and pasting to all the other quick tricks.

Just this morning I learned the hardest, yet needed lesson in my life of shortcuts. Several days ago I decided I wanted to get my G license and wasted no time. I went online found a website the guaranteed a completed G license in a couple days. Before I knew it I was inputting my info, credit card included and booked my test for Sunday, November 22nd. Later that day I saw a charge of $90.00 on my account, much higher than I expected but if it guaranteed a shortcut to the license process I was A-OK. Several minutes after I sent an email asking for the time of my appointment and the only response I got was notifying me that an additional $30.00 needs to be paid in order to receive a test date. I was shocked. I sent an email in response displaying my outrage and got a response stating that they were a private company that charges more for their services and fast bookings. That’s when the possibility of it being a scam came to me. When I received no answer to the time of my appointment my nerves were shot. I asked my family and best friend for help getting to the bottom of this and sure enough I found out the website I booked through was run by a scam company that pries on those looking for shortcuts like me. With my hard earned money in the pockets of scums I broke into tears. I called my bank and prayed for a way out of this predicament but I knew that was a farfetched dream. As I look back now, all the warning signs were there, I felt robbed and used but never again.

Despite this unfortunate experience God spoke to me. He revealed to me how detrimental my desire for shortcuts were going to be in my spiritual walk. He reminded me that there are no shortcuts to heaven.

Today’s world offers us shortcuts to almost everything. People have taken shortcuts to getting wealth (like the scammers!!!). There are reports of high officials and ordinary persons who have resorted to corruption, gambling, drug trade and other downright immoral and illegal acts in order to amass more and more wealth.

We also know of individual who took shortcuts to justice and killed, putting the law into their own hands.

Men have their own set of rules but it is only by following God’s law that we can enter God’s kingdom. And we often forget that there are no shortcuts to enter the kingdom of God or to receiving His power. God has written His instructions in one book: The Bible. In it he warns us against laziness (Proverbs 13:4) and impatience (James 5:7-8), the very reason for shortcuts.

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do.” – Matthew 7:13

It takes years for us to grow to adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. The development of Christ-like character cannot be rushed. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time. When you try to ripen fruit quickly, it loses its flavour.

While we worry about how fast we grow, God is concerned about how strong we grow. The more we look for shortcuts we are doing nothing but cutting our growth off and taking a longer route. God views our lives from and for eternity, so He is never in a hurry.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)

We must all walk the path He sets before us and seek the truth through faith and the working of the Holy Spirit.

WARNING
Road Test Booking Scam
There is a fake road test booking site called “Book Your Road Test”. This site will charge you a fee to book a test that does not exist.

… Learn from my mistakes 🙂