Choices

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 3.29.52 PMThroughout life, there are a numerous decisions to make. Everything from the small ones to the big ones. Sometimes they can be subconscious, like flicking the light off to go to bed, or sometimes they can be seemingly impossible. One thing that I feel like God has put on my heart recently is about exactly this. How do we, as Christians, make our decisions. Do we sit down and think about? Do we ask other people for advice? Do we toss a coin? What does God instruct us to do?

In Philippians 4:6 (NASB) it is written, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” God wants us to to ask Him. He wants us to come before Him and ask for His advice. This is really the first thing we should be doing. If we truly believe that the outcome of any given situation is in God’s hands and we are giving it to Him then we should be relieved of all anxiety and stress. God is good and He is all knowing so He will make sure that when we ask Him for help making decisions He will open doors up for us. His way is really the only way.

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Servanthood

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-2-15-38-pm“[Christ] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,  He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8 (ESV)

What does servanthood look like? Well probably a lot like the Lord Jesus when He lowered Himself from equality with God to be as one of us. And if we would follow in His example of servanthood at all, it will take a life lived by the Spirit, because the flesh will want no true part in it! Christ’s obedience went to the point of death, and if we would truly humble ourselves below God I don’t think it would be much different for us, although perhaps it would not include a physical martyrdom. 

Christ being given a physical body found it then imperative to serve. In Hebrews 10, Christ’s words are, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me;…Behold, I have come to do your will, O God…” His body was prepared for the direct purpose of fulfilling God’s will, which meant offering it once for all as a sacrifice for sins. Now it is in the blood of that sacrifice where He offered Himself through the eternal Spirit without blemish to God that we have our conscience purified from dead works to serve the living God. (Heb. 9:14) Merely wanting to serve God and to follow the example of Jesus is not enough. It takes the sanctifying work of Christ by His blood in our lives, otherwise we will be left in the deadness of our works trying to make up for our sin. As God’s servants, we should not operate from a position of debt paying, but from a cleansed conscience in loving obedience. 

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God equips the called.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-12-09-51-pmRecently I have joined full time staff here at Capernwray Harbour! When considering being on staff during the summer, I looked at my inexperience, and became a little fearful about the job I was getting into. I knew God was clearly leading me to be on staff, so I brought my concerns to Him in prayer. He spoke to me as I read His word the next morning, and I was really encouraged by what I read.

Exodus 3:10-12

 Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth My people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.

 And Moses said to God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?

 God said, I will surely be with you; and this shall be the sign to you that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain [Horeb, or Sinai].

The Lord gave Moses a job to do: Deliver the Israelites from Pharaoh. God had given him a number of promises and made it clear that He would act on Moses’ behalf. God made it clear that it wasn’t Moses’ abilities or strength that would deliver the Israelites, but God said, “I will surely be with you”.

A man named John Henry Jowett wrote:

“ There need be no “buts” in our relationship to God’s will. Nothing will take the Lord by surprise. The entire field has been surveyed and the preparations are complete. When the Lord says: “I will send thee,” every provision has been made for the appointed task. “I will not fail thee.” He who gives the command will also give the equipment.

This quote greatly encouraged me that morning. I can see this principle throughout scripture. We are just like Moses! For whatever task God has given us, HE is the one who will equip us for it.

Philippians 2:13

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

It is God who gives us not only the desire, but the POWER to work for His good pleasure.

Hebrews 13:21

Now may the God of peace… Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it).

  God Himself equips us, and again, works in us. HE accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, Through Jesus Christ!

Another time I had another experience like this. The Holy Spirit brought to mind a familiar verse, and a good reminder for when we are faced with things we feel inadequate for:

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

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Man does not live by bread alone

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-10-02-12-amThe Lord has been speaking to me about the deeper meaning of these words, “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3.
Jesus responded to the devil with these same words when He was tempted to turn the stones into bread to satisfy His hunger.
God provides for ALL of our needs at all times and in an abundant fashion. When Moses spoke these words to the Israelites, he reminded them of God’s faithfulness during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
I must live my life in a state of constant dependence on the Lord, but also with unending thanksgiving! He indeed IS everything that I need. He IS the Lord, I can’t make Him Lord. I can’t MAKE Him anything.
What I can do is acknowledge Him, obey Him, and thank Him.

 

 

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Patience Through Difficulty

13307470_644378264674_4868038915905368514_nBeing back home after spending a year at Bible school definitely has had its challenges. It’s like being submerged into a place that you once fit into and coming to the realization that it’s a lot different. It’s almost like looking at the same world you’ve always known  through a pair of tinted glasses. Anyhow, I’ve been working through some stuff and in the process I went to a service at my church on Sunday. The sermon that was being preached was that of Patience. Specifically patience through difficulty’s. It is so important that we wait on God and trust him through everything. Impatience can actually be seen as distrust in God. When we trust in God we know that He has our entire life in the palm of His hands. We know that everything He does in our life is for a reason and we need to trust Him because of this. He loves us and He will take care of us. We just need to be patient.

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Repentance

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-11-04-19-am“Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, declares the Lord Jehovah. therefore, repent and live.” Ezekiel 18:31-32

Being repentant is not merely the better option to choose out of a collective of alright choices. Really, it is the only viable choice if we would rather live than die. And it is made clear here that God truly does want us to repent, because His pleasure is never in our death!
This repentance is the choice of throwing out the garbage we have made in our lives; tearing down the old structure of things, and completely rebuilding according to God’s instructions and plans. When we look at our lives as Christians, are they built upon the truth of God’s word, or is the way we talk, think and act more characterized by the world?
If the Holy Spirit is convicting us of areas of improper building, renovation is not just a good idea, it’s an imperative!

“Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd, but reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge.” Proverbs 19:25

If we are people characterized by naivety in regards to knowing God and His word, when disciplined we are likely to simply figure out ways to avoid consequences. Yet, if we are people characterized by an understanding of God and what He says, when reproved we gain knowledge, because the reproof contrasted with what we already understand reveals the horrid nature of our rebellion towards God’s ways, and so if there is a change in our ways it is because first there was a change in heart.
When stopping our bad behaviour out of simple-minded self-preservation, we change what we do because what we do hurts us. However, when in understanding we throw out our bad way of thinking – that brings about our bad behaviour – we stop our bad behaviour because we recognize that what we do hurts God. Repentance is not merely a change of the outward action, but first a change of the inward attention; from what hurts me to what hurts God. The correction in our lives is not simply to bring us to correctly adhere to rules, but to correct our often wayward mind.

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:6-9

The nature of light is that it brings exposure to whatever it shines on, whether it is beautiful or grotesque. So if we are to walk in the Light, we must be prepared for our lives to be exposed in such a manner, and that takes  a repentant heart! If we are not ready to agree with God about our sin as He bears to light what we would rather hide, we are hardening ourselves to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and so are walking in darkness. If we walk in darkness we are hiding ourselves for who we really are from God and from others. If we are hiding who we really are, we are keeping ourselves from true sincere fellowship (with God and with others). Therefore, if we want to live in true Christian fellowship, we must live in an attitude of repentance.

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What I learned this past summer: God will help us!

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-11-33-57-amWhile working at Capernwray in the summer, amid all the tasks set before me, I learned practically that God is faithful to help me with each one as I depended on him.

“After that I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse [appeared]! The One Who was riding it is called Faithful (Trustworthy, Loyal, Incorruptible, Steady) and True, and He passes judgement and wages war in righteousness (holiness, justice, and uprightness).” Revelation 19:11

After giving my different tasks to the Lord, committing them to Him in prayer (Psalm 37:5) I saw over and over again that He is totally faithful. Whether it was planning a game for kids, writing a rap, or playing drums, He was faithful to use whatever task I gave him for His glory.

What stood out to me about this passage in Revelation is that Jesus is CALLED “Faithful”. As we learned at bible school, God’s names show his character! While reading scripture, it’s easy to find verses about God’s faithfulness… but this was the first time I saw a verse where He is called “Faithful”!

In many of my preparations for games and lessons for the children during the summer, I would pray, and seek Him in His word, and the Lord would encourage me.

1 Samuel 12:22 says:

“The Lord will not forsake His people for His great name’s sake, for it has pleased him to make you a people for Himself.”

God has promised over and over again in scripture not to forsake his people. If we are his children, made right with him by believing in Jesus, and he gives us a job to do and we depend on Him, committing the task to Him in prayer, he is faithful… He won’t forsake us!

“For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage.” – Psalm 94:14

Again, God isn’t going to abandon us!

Another promise I’ve seen in scripture, concerning doing things or praying about things for HIS glory is in Isaiah 41:10,13, and 44:2

“Fear not (There is nothing to fear)… I will help you…”

“For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; I am the Lord Who says to you, Fear not; I will help you!”

“Thus says the Lord, Who made you and formed you from the womb, Who will help you: Fear not…”

I’ve seen it again and again, how God is faithful to help us as we depend on Him, committing the tasks to Him, trusting Him, giving it all to Him in prayer. He will not forsake us! He will help us!

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Prayer Is Essential

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 4.55.13 PMPrayer is something that I’ve never seen to be as crucially important. I’ve never had a problem doing it but I simply didn’t see the importance of it you could say. God has been continuing to teach me over the last couple of months how very important it actually is. There have been instances where I’ve prayed for a unique situation that I maybe wouldn’t originally pray for and my prayer would be answered within a couple days. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that God tangibly answers all prayers within a couple of days because I don’t believe He does. He answers prayers in His own time and in His own way that may be very different then what we would expect. I do believe, however, that God really does want us to be in constant prayer. As Philipians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It’s been my experience that I feel God prompting my heart to talk to Him about all things, especially things that I find important to me. I think it’s important to ask ourselves, who are we going to first when we have something that needs tone dealt with? Other people of God. We need to always bring it back to God. He’s the only One even capable of dealing with the situations or challenges we find ourselves in. Why shouldn’t we go to Him? We’re not called to lean on our own understanding but to lean on Him. This all leads back to prayer as this is the way we communicate with Him. Prayer is not overrated. Prayer is essential. Our souls hunger and thirst for communion with God and we’re really robbing ourselves if we don’t take part in prayer.

James 5:13-16 reads, “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven of him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous manna accomplish much.”

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All To His Glory

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 10.40.59 AMRomans 9 – 11 

 

“For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” Romans 10:3

 

We may have a form of zeal for God, very active, very disciplined, but it may be a zeal that is not according to knowledge. The knowledge of God’s righteousness, which is not on the basis of works, but on the basis of God’s gracious choice to show mercy to us who were once disobedient, giving us righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. So, if it is on the basis of God’s choice, then it is rooted in His purpose, and if rooted in His purpose, then it is for His glory.

Yet this way of living must be condemned in our hearts. There is none righteous, no not one. For us to establish our own righteousness is futility in it’s highest endeavors; we are fighting against God’s design to shut us all up in disobedience and to show mercy to all of us, and so by doing this we are refusing His mercy and stumbling over the Rock of Offense as we try to support the root when we are but branches. To subject ourselves to the righteousness of God is to place ourselves in a position of dependence to receive that righteousness. As Paul stated in Romans 10, “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” In other words, ‘I am trusting in Jesus and His work to make me righteous, I am declaring by my life that He is Lord and that I am dependent on my Master’s will.’ In calling on the name of the Lord, I am not calling on any other help but Jehovah Himself, because by this point He has revealed clearly enough that there is salvation in no other. In all of this I am laying down dependence on all others, including myself, and placing it solely in Christ Jesus. In this way I subject myself to the mercy of God, and reject the efficacy I placed on my own works, my heritage, my standards and my zeal to make me right before God. All we have is Christ and by His grace He will live, the righteousness that He Is, in and through us. If it does not originate from God then it still comes from us, and that is not true righteousness. If it is true righteousness, it all comes from Him, and so He gets all the glory! We did not make the first move, we did not want God before He wanted us. We are at the mercy of His choice, and praise be to God He has shown us that mercy! There is nothing we have that we did not receive, and there is nothing we have or can give God that He should owe us repayment.

Now is the time to subject ourselves to the righteousness of God – Jesus Christ – and to trust in Him so that we will not be disappointed. For this takes the glory we were striving for and rightfully ascribes it to Christ; the righteousness we sought secretly for our own praise, now is ours, but to the praise of Jesus Christ. Therefore we must reject the righteousness that comes of works, and submit ourselves to Jesus Christ, that His divine influence in our hearts might outwork in our lives.

“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy; For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 9:16; 11:36

tobiasulrich
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Dealing with fear.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.35.46 AMSomething I’ve learned lately about the Christian life: It’s not easy. The enemy can attack in all sorts of ways when we’re depending on the Lord and seeing Him do amazing things in and through us.

One thing I’ve been dealing with in my own walk with Christ has been fear. The other day, after feeling afraid, I turned to Jesus and asked Him to guide me as to where to read in His word. I ended up reading Psalm 34.

David records that in times in his life, when he was going though trouble, the Lord delivered him from all his fears. There are 4 verses in that one psalm that mention that!

Psalm 34: 4, 6, 17, & 19
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me,

And delivered me from all my fears.”

 

“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him

And saved him out of all his troubles.”

 

“The righteous cry, and the Lord hears

And delivers them out of all their troubles.”

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

I find it so comforting here, that David mentions that God didn’t deliver him from only some of his fears, but ALL his fears! It really gives me confidence in moments when I’m afraid to look at these verses and realize that whatever I may be going though or foresee myself going through in the future, God WILL deliver me from all my fears. He is a Deliverer! He’s done so for David, and I know He has even done so for me in the past! He will deliver me!
We truly have a good reason to “bless the Lord at all times” and let “His praise… continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1)

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