2014 -Simplicity of Heart

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‘One moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.’– Rainer Maria Rilke

As I look back on the year 2013 I see a year filled with opportunity, uncertainty, pain, hard lessons, confusion, misunderstanding, feeling misunderstood and towards the end- being totally blindsided by love.

In the economy of God, a wounded heart coupled with pain and confusion can be swiftly transformed into a heart learning to embrace and enjoy love again. God is simply good to us. He never has an ‘off’ day, never misunderstands our hearts but knows the deep motivations and desires that drive us.

Simplicity is something I plan to focus on this year. I refuse to complicate following Jesus anymore. It is either true that if we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord then we are saved… or it isn’t. It is either true that the work of God is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ… or it isn’t. God’s written word and the assurance of His Spirit remind me continually that this is indeed true.

If this is truth, then I want to live according to the simplicity of this Gospel. To not create complexities where there are none, to avoid putting up unnecessary barriers and hoops to jump through for those who would seek to know the living God.

‘But alas for you, you scribes and Pharisees, play actors that you are! You lock the doors of the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces; you will not go in yourselves neither will you allow those at the door to go inside…’– (Matthew 23 v 13)

I believe God loves simplicity, after all, He chooses to reveal His greatest mysteries to the simple over the ones who consider themselves wise (Matthew 11 v 25-26).

My goal this year is to keep my life simple, without unfounded restriction or limitation, without falsehood or show. I desire to love God and others with a simplicity that puts others at ease, makes them feel valued and seen. Cooking meals, showing hospitality, remembering birthdays, remembering to send cards…

Making that phone call to see how friends are, preferring to listen rather than rushing to speak my mind. Honouring God through creativity, building relationships, spending time with the one I love just because…

As God’s eyes roam to and fro about the Earth I don’t want to be found judging others by my own religious standards, or declaring my own criteria for those who are pleasing to God and those who are not. God forbid.

To take a lesson from light; we don’t need to fight the darkness we just shine the light and darkness flees.

I want to be found simply enjoying Jesus; admiring and imitating Him and not anyone else.

I want to be found using the gifts He has given me; doing what I can to spread the fragrance of life which leads to life and extending His kingdom.

I want to be found reading His word and believing it.

Living simply is not a matter of disengaging our brains. It is not a matter of limiting our knowledge or settling into mediocrity. It is a conscious focusing of our minds on what really matters in the grand scheme of life, on what really matters to God.

Living simply for me means not bowing to the expectations of others, resisting the need to please people and checking out my heart with God on a regular basis. We can check our hearts with God without fear as He understands us completely and created us just how He wanted us- He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

All the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qUOHjnDIFs

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Return to the Source

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‘Come to Me, I’m all you need
Come to Me, I’m everything’
– Bethel Music

God does not want to be first in our lives. He wants to be the first, the last and the everything in between. He wants to be the one we turn to and the one we return to- in times of distress and fear, or times of joy and elation.

He alone is the source of our witness for Christ and the fire within us. We’ve heard it before but could stand to hear it another ten thousand times; without Him we can do nothing. Without Him, we wouldn’t want to do anything. He is the one who works eternal significance into every ministry effort or good work we put our hands to.

Before we turn to anyone else for advice, guidance or words of assurance, let us turn to God. Throughout the scriptures He repeatedly invites us to come to Him, when we are weary, thirsty or heavy laden. He ensures we know we are welcome to come to Him for forgiveness, mercy, wisdom and provision.

Like the man at the train station waiting for the love of his life to get off the train and run into his arms, God waits. Unfortunately, the scene sometimes plays out with the beloved jumping off the train and running into the arms of another…

Yet still, God waits. He continues to extend the invitation, rejection or no rejection. How great is our God?

We want to reach people; we want others to know the reality of salvation and a living relationship with the fully alive Jesus. We want to see people set free, healing manifested and broken hearts made whole again.

But we come to Him first. We listen to His good, pleasing and perfect directions, and then we move. This is a cycle that is designed to repeat itself; we continually have need of hearing from heaven. At every road block, at every bend in the road and wall in front of us we need to seek the heart of God.

Returning to the source is a necessary part of the process.

‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.’– John 15 v 5

How much do we believe this? Nothing means nothing worth anything in the kingdom of God.

The good news is that we can make a difference. Possibly one of the most encouraging verses in the whole of scripture tells us that it is:

‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’– Colossians 1 v 27

Therefore, if Christ is in us (and He is if we have believed and professed faith in Him), there is hope… the hope of glory.

Windows of Opportunity

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“The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are.” 
― John Burroughs

Seasons come and go in the kingdom of God just as they do on the Earth. There is a divine timing to receiving and activating things in the kingdom- windows of opportunity that could be missed if we fail to have ears to hear what Jesus is saying to us as His church.

The prophetic amongst us will recognise that tug in our Spirits upon hearing a certain message, when watching the news or reading a book on a specific topic. It is the nudge that alerts us to sit up and take more notice. We lean in and listen a little closer, we read slowly; taking in each word and mulling it over, we sense God wants to do something specific with the information or knowledge we are receiving.

This means more than jotting down extra notes in a keepsake notebook, more than an in-depth discussion after a service…

Maybe we need to pray strategically into that area? Maybe we need to focus our strength and resources into developing that area as a church community? Should we begin to declare and decree something into being? On a personal level, maybe we need to fast and actively seek God, believing that TODAY is the day of salvation. Now is the time of breakthrough for that specific issue in our homes, families and communities.

It could be simply recognising the right time to share our account of coming to faith in Jesus- with that strongly atheistic friend.

Timing is a common theme in the scriptures…

‘For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.’- Habakkuk 2 v 3

‘Therefore Jesus told them, “ My time is not yet here; for you any time will do….I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.’- John 7 v 6-8

‘And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.’- Luke 5 v 17

‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.’- Ecclesiastes 3

What nudges in our spirit have we experienced lately? What revelation has reached its appointed time in our lives- and what are we going to do about it?

Do we know when the time is ripe and the season has arrived for a particular breakthrough in our families and our communities? If we sense it, why not trust our discernment and go after breakthrough with all our hearts. Why not proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour over our cities and nations…

Our God longs to rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated, to renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

Let’s move beyond merely gazing through windows of opportunity in the Kingdom, to flinging the windows wide open and letting His Kingdom come and His will be done. 

On earth as it is in heaven.

Monday Prayers

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Father God,

You know the end from the beginning

Nothing takes You by surprise

You exist in the eternal realm

And are not held by the hands of time

We ask You to keep us centred on truth

Keep us from cowering in fear when we hear of wars

And rumours of wars

When nation rises against nation

Kingdom against kingdom

In the face of famines and earthquakes

In various places

The beginning of birth pains on the Earth

May we remain steadfast, immovable

Abounding in Your work Lord

When persecution arises

May we not turn away from our faith

Or hate each other

Or betray one another

When the love of many grows cold

Because of the increase of wickedness

In the world

We ask this above all else…

Ignite our hearts to love, love, love

And in this love

 Stand firm to the end

In the name of Jesus (Messiah), Amen.

Matthew 24 v 4- 12 

Monday Prayers

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Father God, we ask that You would remind us of the ways of Your kingdom.

That we would listen to You.

Remembering to love our enemies and do good to those that hate us.

To actively and purposefully bless those who would curse us.

May we commit to speak well of those who have hurt us.

Enable us to respond to people from a place of love.

Help us to remain secure in You.

Knowing that we are called to do unto others as we would have them do to us.

This is what makes us stand out; this is how we become salt and light.

 Not just loving those that love us, or doing good to those who do good to us.

May our desire be to enlarge our circles of love.

To let those that are different to us enter in.

May we give generously without looking to receive anything back from those we have given to.

For we trust that our reward comes straight from Your hand.

Thank-you Lord that we can be merciful.

 Because we are Your children, You are our Father…and You are merciful.

In the name of Jesus (Messiah), Amen.

 

Luke 6 v 27- 36 

Monday Prayers

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Father God,

 We pray that we would know Your government over our lives.

That we would know and experience You as our Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.

 

May Your government increase Lord over every area of our lives, over those we come into contact with each day and in every place we go.

Establish Your kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit through our lives.

Empower us and teach us how to practically uphold Your kingdom in justice and righteousness.

Show us what that means for us as individuals and as a people together.

We thank you Father, that Your almighty zeal will accomplish this.

In the name of Jesus (Messiah), Amen.

Isaiah 9 v 6-7 

On the Right Track

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‘If alignment does not focus on magnificence it is not worth anything. We are lining up with Jesus, in Jesus and behind Jesus…’- Graham Cooke

Alignment with Jesus is love. Then the assignment is power.’- Leif Hetland

God wants us to live in alignment with Him. He wants to release out of us what He has put into us. He wants us to experience and know the joy of coming into alignment with Him.

Alignment is defined as the act of aligning or state of being aligned, the proper positioning or state of adjustment of parts in relation to each other. Being rightly aligned with Jesus is to allow ourselves to be moulded and shaped, perfectly positioned to fulfil His purposes.

It is getting in line, playing our part, walking in our anointing and living out the call we’ve received. It’s being strategically placed as signposts directing the lost to Christ.

Alignment is a glorious thing. To see a person aligned is to witness the wisdom of God in action. Their countenance glows, their lives have momentum; they flow in the gifts and abilities God has given them. They are focused, undeterred, running with the vision planted within their hearts. We are drawn to them, everyone is drawn to them. We want what they have got; they exude righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. They reflect the beauty of God’s kingdom.

They do not waste time distracted by the cares of this world or succumb to the pride of life. They have understood that ‘The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever’ (1 John 2 v 17).

Most of all, they practice love.

Alignment with Jesus is love, walking in the love of the Father is a sure way to align ourselves with Him and get on the right track. Being aligned with Jesus will always lead us to a place of radical love (radical to us). It will lead us to His plan and purposes where demonstration and activation of His love is the only way to live.

So, how can we stay rightly aligned with God?

By regularly reviewing our hearts;

Trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and leaning not on our own understanding. When we do this, He has promised to align our paths. Keeping our hearts loyal to Him and the things that are important to Him…

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the Earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him…’- 2 Chronicles 16 v9

By making space in our lives to hear from Him;

Our God looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. May He find us seeking and listening attentively for His voice.

By staying free and rooted in His grace;

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Let us stand firm then and not let ourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. We must be free to move into alignment.

By recognising what God is doing and getting involved;

‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’- Ephesians 2 v 10

Being in alignment brings us to the place where we can fulfil the good works He has prepared for us.

Alignment is on a continuum, it is not a destination. Being rightly aligned one month may look different to being rightly aligned in the next.

May we all come into alignment and find ourselves firmly on the right track. May we hear the voice of God saying to us ‘this is the way; walk in it’ (Isaiah 30 v 21).

Have you come into alignment?