How do you see God at work in your ordinary?

Last Sunday I spoke about Loving the Ordinary and Zechariah’s encounter with the angel as he was performing his once-in-a-lifetime priestly duties. The angel said to Zechariah ‘God has heard your prayer’ (Luke 1:13) and told Zechariah he was going to father John the Baptist. It is a remarkable story of our remarkable God who has a much bigger plan, a much bigger story that He is inviting you to join. Zechariah was doing what was expected of him yet God already had a plan that would change his life, the lives of those around him and ultimately, all of humanity.

We might find ourselves in less remarkable situations than Zechariah. In fact, most days are fairly ordinary, and often repetitive. Yet the ordinary of our lives allows us the time and space to develop trust, patience and joy. It is also an opportunity to develop a spiritual habit, such as prayer. But learning to love the ordinary takes determination, and courage. Sometimes the ordinary of our lives is preparing us for the extraordinary.

This week as I did a google search for something unrelated, I found this quote:

“Let’s see the divine in the ordinary, the big in the small, the meaningful in the mundane and the holy in all things humble.”

How do you see God at work in your ordinary?

Who are those ordinary people God is asking you to love, or walk alongside?

What spiritual habit could you grow in those ordinary activities?

What is God’s story for your life?

Ephesians 4:1 encourages us to “lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.”

Remember, your ordinary is extraordinary in God’s hands. You have been called by God, for God. May God bless you as you continue to seek Him and may you know the presence of the Holy Spirit as you faithfully do what is in front of you to do.

Jonah

Jonah, the reluctant prophet. Tasked with a job he really doesn’t want. To tell a nation he hates that God is going to deal with them. Rather than do that, he jumps on a ship and heads off in another direction. Running from God? I’m not sure about that in the literal sense – he know’s he can’t hide from God. In Psalm 139 the Message paraphrase it’s put like this:
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
    I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too
 
And in Hebrews 4:13 more starkly
 And (no one) is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 
 
So he knows he can’t run away from God. The question is, if he didn’t want to do what God asked him to do, why not stay put? Why get in a boat? Clearly he wanted to get away from God’s presence – that objective is repeated twice in verse v3. So what did he decide to do? To go somewhere where God wasn’t known. To hide in a culture where he wouldn’t be confronted by God through all that surrounded him.
We do that too – we sometimes want to ‘hide’ from God – to get out of the glare of his stare. How do we do that? We shut ourselves off from God’s people.We shun church, we don’t spend time with his people – we mix with others. We distract ourselves – we fill our time with activity, and business, and play. None of which is bad – but all of which is bad if it means we are closing out ears to God.
 
Friends, we can’t hide from God. We have a God who in his love pursues us, and he does so for a purpose – to be his voice in this world. Jonah slept in the boat while a storm raged outside. Those in the storm needed him, and couldn’t believe he was sleeping. 
 
Are we sleeping? Are we being indifferent to the storm around us? The world needs us. We have the message of a new Kingdom that is good news. We can’t keep it to ourselves, that’s not what we are to do. We have to share it – because God in his sovereignty will use us way beyond what we can imagine.
 
Church – we can’t sleep. People are in a storm, a Godless storm that leads to destruction. We need to wake up, and tell them that there is a Jesus who loves them and can still the storm.
 
Who needs to hear from you this week. Who is looking at you expectantly, longing for you to wake up and tell them what God wants them to hear, and what they need to hear?

What an awesome GOD

2 Kings 3.18 ‘But this is only a simple thing for the Lord, …’
 
Simple? A dry river bed, a dry valley, no wind, no rain. People and livestock desperate for water. Watch!! See that dry river bed, I will fill it with water so you can drink. For God, that’s simple – nothing to it. It doesn’t rain, it simply fills with water at the word, the command, the direction of the Lord.
 
As i read those words earlier this week again I was reminded of the awesome power of our God. Nothing is too difficult for him. 
 
I was reminded of his amazing grace. Here he was providing refreshment, just what was needed, for a people, a King who did not deserve it. 
 
We go through those times where what we want more than anything else is a break from the dryness of life. We want something that reminds us that God has not forgotten us. We want something that reminds us God is on our side. 
 
As you have been going through this week, how have you been feeling? Drained and tired? Dry and cracked? Sun drenched, and now in need of refreshment? 
 
Who is the God that you trust in? A God that you know will come through for you? A God that, despite your current circumstances, you know has not forgotten you? A God that you know can do way more than you could imagine?
 
Have you checked in on yourself? Are you working on your relationship with him? Are you taking time to praise him, thank him, soaking in his WORD. Are you reminding yourself  how awesome our God is? Are you longing to be obedient to him, wanting him to direct you and guide you.  Are you putting him first? Letting go of your wants, and asking him what is wants for you are? 
 
Are you showing him the dry valleys in your life and asking him to fill them? Are you letting God be BIG. Are you expecting lots from him, or have you decided he can’t do what seems to hard to be done?
 
Where are you at? Is your soul dry? Are your words dry? 
 
As church what are we longing for? Do we expect God to do BIG AUDACIOUS THINGS ? When we call for prayer, where are you? Are you pointing out the dry valleys of the lost, and asking God to drench them with his presence? Are you believing God will grow our church, and asking him what he wants you to do?
 
Is the God you worship the one you long to tell others about? Is he a God that you know nothing is to difficult for him? 
 
Folks, we need to expect God to do wonderful things, we need to believe that he is true to his word, we need to be earnestly seeking him – it’s too easy to slide into the dry cracks, keep our heads down, feeling ourselves becoming dry and not seeking the refreshing he longs to pour out on us – do what he longs for us to do – love him, trust him, praise him, spend time with him – be patient, be expectant and watch has he pours out refreshment in ways you could not have imagined

Why should we live a life in the Spirit, what’s in it for me?

On Sunday we looked again at this idea of ‘life in the Spirit’, we moved on from the how we live it and what it looks like to the why question. Why should we live a life in the Spirit, what’s in it for me? 
 
In doing so we read through Romans 8.1-17 – a lengthy passage with a whole lot of gold buried in it, and we considered three really good reasons why:

Freedom

Transformation

Adoption

Freedom. Paul writes to the church at Rome and he says, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. No condemnation – we are free. Free from the natural consequence of the weight of the law – a law that we are incapable of fulfilling, and a law under which we are always condemned. We are found wanting, we are weighed and measured and found to be wanting, We dont measure up, we can’t measure up. We know it. Oh we  might fool ourselves a little and think we are doing ok. But when we stop and think, we know we might be good, but we’re not good enough. If the standard is the law, and we’ve got to live by it, then we have to admit, we can’t. And the consequence of that is condemnation . BUT life in the Spirit says, no anymore. You are not condemned, the law has been fulfilled on your behalf. You are freed from it, and you are empowered by the Spirit to be more than you could ever have been. Freedom, that’s life in the Spirit.
 
Transformation. We are transformed. We are no longer what we were. We are no longer lost, we are found. We are no longer weighed down by the weight of the law, we are lifted up  by the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit, Paul says. We are calibrated. We dont think the way we used to, our minds have been changed, reordered. given new life. Our perspective has changed, the way we look at life has been changed. There is meaning and purpose, and it is the Spirit that does that work for us.
 
Adopted. We have a complete change of identity. We are no longer fighting against God, we belong to him in a whole new way. So tightly are we bound to him, that he calls us his children. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. We become children of God, we are now entitled to all that he has promised. His promises are now for us. Our future is certain. Doubts as to what life is all about are gone. We are made new.
 
Why would we want life in the Spirit? Because we are free, transformed and adopted. We cannot be without it.
 
Let the Spirit of God remind you this week just whose you are, who you belong to and how loved and  precious you are

Life in the Spirit

“A spiritual life is basically, in the Christian understanding, a life lived from the direction and the power and the motivations and the character of Jesus Christ Himself. It is Christ in you that gives you a spiritual life. And of course with Christ come His two best friends, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit.” Quote but I can’t remember where from

In the life of Jesus, we by pass 30 years or so of his life. He’s born, we then see him as a 12 year old in the Temple, at 30 or so, he’s baptised, tempted, busy teaching, healing, reading minds, walking on water, tried, found guilty, crucified and raised, ascended, sends his Spirit

That’s a snap shot. Read the gospels to get the full picture.

The point is this. For the majority of his life, it was ordinary. Yet he walked in the Spirit, filled with Spirit, lived life in the Spirit. An ordinary life.

When we think of the Spirit filled life, we easily jump to the mystical, the visible, the miraculous. We think of prophecy, healing, tongues etc.

But the Spirit filled life is for every one now, a  life lived from the direction and the power and the motivations and the character of Jesus Christ Himself.

How do we know we are living a Sprit filled life?Here’s some thoughts.

Do you love Jesus – really love him, and want a deep relationship with him?

Are you wanting to be obedient to him. Not an expectation of being perfect, but a life that is directed to that, to living the life Jesus wants you to live?

Are you reading the Bible – spending time in it. Valuing it as the word of God that is good for you.

Are praying, really praying heart felt prayers. Prayers for the lost, for the church, for how you can live the life Jesus asks of you?

As a church are we seeing the Spiritual gifts at work? Are we desiring them so that the authenticate the word of God. Seeking them,  not for their own end, but because it will point to Jesus

Are we cultivating a relationship with the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

Seek a life in the Spirit – to be empowered to be the witness God has called you to be. A life in the Spirit in the midst of the ordinary

It’s time to go

Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 28  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
GO!! That’s what he says – we’ve prayed together, we’ve done ministry together – now it’s your time GO
 
Church, that is what he says to us – all of us – GO. 
We have been given work to do. We have a purpose – Glorify God by enjoying him (as John Piper paraphrases the Westminster Catechism ) and more – to go and tell others that Jesus has come. That the one who can turn life back to the way it should be, the one who fully understands us, the one who will accomplish all that we long for (that’s if we are looking of love and joy and peace etc) and an eternity of fullness of life, has come and has done everything that needs to be done to put everything right – the whole of the created order to what it is intended to be.
 
BUT wait, there’s more, and Jesus has come so we can know the Triune God in all his fullness, Father Son and Holy Spirit. He has done it.
 
The time has come for us to GO – why? Because it is urgent!!! The world needs to hear the news about Jesus. It needs to. Our friends need to, our neighbours need to, our work colleagues need to, and our family need to. Life in all its vitality and wonder and joy is best with Jesus. Without him, we live a shadow of a life.
 
How? Well he said he’s with us. He hasn’t left us. He has given us his Spirit to give us creativity, and boldness, and wisdom. We’re not alone. We can do it – and it’s for all of us.
 
How? Being a friend is great. Being helpful is wonderful. Being kind is marvellous – BUT we need to speak. It’s daunting. Don’t be put off – pray, pray really hard. Be specific. Lord I want so and so to know you, please help me to be your witness. Lord please give me an opportunity to share your good news today. Lord – give me wisdom and the right words at the right time.
 
Spend time with Jesus, and with people. Especially if it’s possible, those you’d love to know Him.
Be patient – but look for opportunities.
Listen – really listen. What are people saying? What is happening in their lives. What worries do they have? What is it that scares them and frustrates them.
 
Ask questions, be interested in them. 
 
Be brave – ask if they have ever been to church. If they are married, were they married in a church? Have they been back to church? What do they think of church.
Do the like reading? Have the ever read the Bible (consistently the best selling book in the world). If not why not. If so what did they think?
Do the believe in God? If so what does God mean to them, what does God look like to them.
 
Be prepared to give answers – think about your own testimony. What was life like before you met Jesus, how has it been after, what have you learned about yourself and God. How has it helped you knowing Jesus.
 
Be prepared. Be prepared for God to do way more than you could ever have imagined. Be bold and GO

Keep on Trusting God

Matthew 4:1, ‘Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.’
On Sunday we looked at the temptation of Jesus, probably better referred to as the testing of Jesus. Jesus is led into the uncomfortable, dangerous desert after his Baptism. Jesus is baptise, the Holy Spirit descends on him, his father speaks of his love and delight in him – his ministry is about to start, but he is taken by the Spirit into the desert. He isn’t taken to a place of comfort, he isn’t prevented from suffering, he isn’t taken into the central city and declared the Son of God – he is taken to a desert.
He is led by the Spirit into the desert, he is taken out of the desert in power by the Spirit. The Spirit is his constant companion – working in him and with him to enable him to meet the demands that will be placed on him. The devil isn’t in control, God is!
We will all have desert experiences – your desert might be financial concerns, it might be a sickness, it might be getting old, it might be worrying about children, it might be relationships that are teetering, it might be worry about your children.  Whatever your desert might be, you are not alone. The Bible never says that we won’t have trouble. It says the opposite – but it says we are never alone, and that Jesus has overcome – he is the victor, he is the mighty warrior that has conquered the devil.
His testing in the desert proves it – in everything that the devil did to get between Jesus and the will of his Father, he failed.
The lessons for us in this are that we must keep on trusting God – recognise that in the desert times, you may feel distant from God, but at the same time, draw closest to him. Are you seeking the company of the Holy Spirit? Are you trusting in him to hold you, teach, guide and lead you? Are you submitting to him? Are you reading your Bible, allowing God to speak to you? Are you spending time in prayer with God – are building your relationship with the Spirit so that his work in you can be seen by others?
Dont give up – recognise you desert times as growth times – trust in God – lean on him and allow him to carry you through.

You Will Be Saved

This morning we looked together at the concluding comments on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:13- 23. It was great to hear so many engaging with this text that is challenging.
There were three parts to it that we looked at:
1. Matthew 7:13-14  
 ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’
Here is a stark contrast – destruction or life. There is no middle ground. There are only two roads. Christianity makes this difficult and offensive truth claim that there is only one way to God – John 14:6 Jesus says I am the way the truth and the life – no one come to the Father except through me. Here is the truth proclaimed by Jesus that there are no alternate ways to God. There are not a number of paths to God of which Jesus is one – He is the only way. Pluralism doesn’t like this – it doesn’t like an idea that there is a monopoly on truth. So many will look at Christianity as exclusive an intolerant. BUT any argument against Christianity is an argument for an alternate truth – and that is in itself exclusive. Not also the gates – Wide – it’s inviting and easy – the go with the flow, drifting without thought. We are told that in order to find life we have to turn away and find the alternate path. The only other option – and it is a difficult one, and few will find it.
2. Matthew 7:15  
‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.’
The warning for the church to all of us is that there are those who will pretend to in. Who claims to know the way, but are leading people astray. The scripture both Old Testament and New Testament are full of warning against these people who distort the truth – and of the harm, they can do to the life and the health of the Church. So we are called to be discerning – to check what is been said against the Scriptures – and to look at the lives that these people are living, And that includes your church leaders – check what is been said. Test it challenge it if you believe that it is not in accordance with the word of God.
3. Matthew 7:21-23 
‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?”  Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
This is a scary one isn’t it – those who think they are in who all the marks of being a true Christian – they know who Jesus is, they are involved in his service – they are enthusiastic in their proclaiming who Jesus is, they seem to have the gifts of the Spirit. BUT despite this, Jesus says ‘I never knew you.’ These are those who to all appearances appear to be our brothers and sisters in Christ – but Jesus says they are not. What is missing? Maybe it is self-examination. Although we say Jesus is Lord, is he really? Have we really surrendered to his will, and live in obedience to him? NOT perfection, not someone who seems to live the moral life, but the person who is teachable, the person who knows that Jesus is the only way, and that salvation has nothing to do with what that person can do to earn it, but an acknowledgement that Jesus has done it all – we cannot save our selves, Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast”. Look out for pride and conceit – look for humility and teachability. Those who know Jesus has demonstrated his love and grace for them – and their life is one of thankfulness for that truth. It’s not where people are at, it is where people have come from and the change in them and the knowledge God is continuing to change them. And an active pursuit to build that life with Jesus
Have you felt troubled or are you trouble about where you stand? Here are some verses to rely on – I’ve mentioned on, Ephesians 2:8-9, but hold on to these truths too – John 10:27-28 ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:I give them (you)  eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand’ Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’ Acts 2:21 “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” John 3:16-18 (a)  ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, …’ 1 John1:9 “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”
 
You are dearly loved – you are valuable to God, he gave his Son to die for you and when you “ you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Friends keep working at your relationship with Jesus – read the Bible, pray, listen, take time to be quiet and press into him.
God  has promised he will never leave you or forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6

God is patient

God is patient. That sounds a bit silly, we know he’s patient. But do we know what that patience means?

Do we realise that God demonstrates his love through his patience?

God is patient with us. We who make so many mistakes. Either because we are excited, or because we are inexperienced, or because we are careless or indifferent.

On Sunday we looked at fishing, and how someone fishing can get themselves into a reel tangle (pun intended) with excitement of inexperience. A fishing line, a tangled one specially, is a frustration. And those who are excited or inexperienced will get themselves more tangled than others and can make a mess. In church the same thing can happen, and we need to be patient. We dont want to put people off fishing,  we want them to love it, the whole experience of it and to keep coming back to it. And it means dealing with and coping with the mess.

In  we read these words: 1 Peter 3:20 ‘God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was built.’
Here’s Noah who has been told to build an ark – and does so over years and years and years. Was God patient with Noah? I think the patience is with those who were rebelling against God and refusing to see what was coming – the flood – God gave them years and years and opportunity after opportunity to turn to him.

And he shows that same patience to us – he doesn’t just destroy us. He gives us time and opportunity to turn to him – that’s patience that’s love. God allows us freedom to be who we want to be, but longing for us to be the people he has created us to be, and the true freedom that comes with that.

His patient isn’t inactivity. God in his patience sent his Son Jesus to die for us so that we would be saved. Like the ark that was built, Jesus is an expression of God’s loving patience for us to turn to him.

The question isn’t, is God patient? The question is, how will you respond to his patience?

Follow me

“The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” John 1:43

‘Follow me’, simple words. Nothing complicated. Short and sweet. No explanation as to why. No golden promises of wealth, comfort and fame. It sounds like a command, but in reality more an invitation. This is Jesus coming and standing and asking. We can be so busy pursuing what we think will give us meaning and purpose and happiness. What ever that might be – the perfect job, the perfect income, the perfect girlfriend or boyfriend. The fitness, the lifestyle . Chasing it, looking for it, desiring it – we can spend times searching for God or God’s . For a spiritual experience, a cosmic reality that will some how define for us what we are meant to be. 

But here as we read it, there is a deep truth. God finds us – the gospel is about God’s pursuit of us. Jesus came and said – follow me. The question is not are we looking in the right places, it’s are we paying attention. Are we listening, do we hear that call – follow me.

Do we understand what it means? It’s a call to a change of priority. A radical call to life transformation. To follow Jesus means to be fully committed to him. It’s not a half way and that’s ok. It’s to be heart and soul devoted to him.

Jesus calls us where we are.  He isn’t looking for us to get our lives in order. If you look at the disciples, they had some serious issues to work through. But that’s ok – he just wants us – he wants us to be with him and for him.

He wants us to be a part of his life, and he wants us to be a part of his. It’s profound. His call, and the change in us should be too. It looks different for everyone, but there are things we share in common. We love Jesus and we love others. Our love for him and for others is so deep that we can’t help but tell others about him.

When that is what motivates you more than anything else, your love for him, your love for others, your desire to share what he has done, then you know you’ve met the real Jesus.

Follow him. That’s all he asks of you. What that will look like? We’ll that’s his business – but you will alway know you are loved, and the questions of life, the where did I come from, the why am I here, , the how am I supposed to live, and where and I going – over time that will become clearer too.