The Christmas Story is one I’m sure we are all familiar with. Most of us will have grown up being involved in our fair share of nativities, we will have sung carols until we can sing them from memory, heard bible readings of the Christmas story and you will probably have heard many talks about it too.
It would be very easy for us to think we have learned everything we could possibly ever need to know about the Christmas story, but to do so would mean to miss out on the wonder and majesty of Jesus’ birth. Have you ever considered why God chose Jesus to be born the way he was? Jesus’ birth was certainly not a royal birth and it wasn’t how they portray it in kids nativity plays. It’s wasn’t cute or funny.
The shepherds weren’t dressed up neat in their robes and tea towels, the stable wasn’t clean and peaceful and Joseph & Mary didn’t have it all together. In fact, Jesus came to earth in chaos. The stable we talk of was actually no more than a cold damp cave, the manger Jesus was placed in was an animal feeding trough, including all the local smells and muck.The shepherds were the outcasts of society and they smelt like their sheep… baaaad.
Mary was only a young girl and was trying to come to grips with giving birth to God’s son, Joseph was engaged to Mary but was considering if he should stay with her due to her pregnancy – This was no peaceful scene and it didn’t stop there as both Mary and Joseph would have had to hear and deal with the snide comments all the way through Jesus’ childhood.
Jesus birth wasn’t a royal entrance; amongst the cold, the smells and the snide comments, Jesus was born into tough circumstances so that he could understand and empathise with humanity. Ultimately, it led him to the cross where through his death and resurrection he offered us the chance for forgiveness and the way back to relationship with him in all it’s fullness. Jesus’ birth kick started the greatest love story ever told, now that is something to celebrate this Christmas!
I went running on Saturday morning it nearly killed me!
I had decided a day earlier it was about time, at the beginning of a new year, to lose some post Christmas pounds and get fit. So up I got on a cold Saturday morning in Hull (we were visiting the in-laws) got changed into my running gear, did the obigitory stretches and set off for what would no doubt be a tough run, little did I know how tough.
I started out with triumphant strides but by the time I got to the end of the road, which was probably a few hundred metres, I was already slightly out of breath, not a good start! I made my way towards the KC Stadium (the football ground of the Tigers, my Father in Laws team, Hull City) and I ran around the grounds, did some running up and down steps hoping to look and feel like Rocky Balboa from the Rocky movies, but if I am honest I probably looked like I was just plain struggling.
By the time I made my way back towards the house, my run had gone from a triumphant run to a struggling jog (although those passing by may have said a fast walk). I felt like giving up! Did I? Not a chance. I finally got back to the house exhausted but so pleased I had persevered through the pain and completed my first run since June last year.
I opened the car door to put my stuff away, thinking to myself, that must have been a good long run 30-35 minutes. When I looked and found I had clocked up only 20 minutes I was momentarily deflated, but then I reminded myself it was the first time I had run in ages, I felt pleased with myself for persevering when I could have just stopped. I certainly felt the effects of the run the next day which wasn’t pleasant, but there was an achievement behind the pain…. but, one run isn’t enough I need to keep going…
One run won’t get me fit, even two runs won’t get me fit, I have to start regularly running, it has to become a part of my lifestyle, I have to persevere through the times when I just want to stop, I have to persevere through the niggles, the wet and the cold weather. Becoming fit takes a lot of effort.
Sometimes my relationship with God can be a bit like my relationship with running. There are times when I really enjoy it, there are times when I want to just stop, hold my hands up and say I give up, I’m beaten. Times when I feel like I am battered and bruised from the things of life and left wondering if I will ever get to where I want to be! But do I give up? No chance!
Just as I desire to be physically fit through my running, I want to be spiritually fit. I want to run the race God has called me on with purpose so I might become the person God wants me to be. I will face obstacles, temptations, trials, sufferings and challenges along the way, but I choose with the Holy Spirit’s help to run with purpose, to rejoice in all circumstances and to overcome all things that come up against me, knowing that eventually I will end up becoming exactly who God wants me to be if I persevere.
The Apostle Paul says in Romans 5 v 3-5 to rejoice in our sufferings “Because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom God has given us.”
Ultimately I want to be a someone who has their eyes focused on the goal of eternity with Jesus. How about you, do you desire that too?
Paul says in his letter to the Philippians in chapter 3 v 13-14 he says “…Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
In order to receive the prize we need to build up our fitness and keep spending time in God’s word, spending time building a relationship with God and our church family, pushing through the trials, temptations and challenges and keep allowing God to shape us.
We aren’t the finished article, but by God’s grace each step we take will shape us to be more like him… Let’s run with purpose, let’s run with conviction and let’s run with perseverance so we might receive the prize.
There have been times in my life when I have questioned whether I truly enjoy my life and seek to make the most of every opportunity…
There are moments that I really enjoy; Holidays to new destinations and cultures, dosage times spent with family, ask meals with friends, times of relaxation; reading a good book, watch a favourite movie or playing on the XBOX (yes I am still reliving my youth).
There are also those stand out life changing moments; like when I married Erika, witnessed the birth our little girl Hannah, made a commitment to follow Christ in my mum and dads room, got baptised on the Isle of Wight youth camp, being baptised in the Holy Spirit on my living room floor, preached my first sermon and got inducted into my churches.
I’m sure like me you have great moments of contentment and enjoyment, it’s really easy to feel content and enjoy moments when things are going well but what about the times when life is challenging, or you feel like you’re going through a desert time, what then? Do you still seek to be joyful and find contentment?
If I am honest it’s not always easy to be content and enjoy the moment especially when we feel like we are just holding on to life with our fingertips. As believers we know that we will face times of challenge, trial, temptation and at times worry and insecurity.
Jesus never said that life would be perfect and he didn’t say that by accepting him suddenly all problems would disappear. The reality is if anything life is much harder than before we knew Jesus, but with one major difference, we don’t have to face life on our own because we have the Holy Spirit there to lead and guide our lives.
Even in the challenges, trials and temptations we face is it possible for us to find contentment to enjoy these moments? I would say YES, I believe it is possible if we learn to ‘Find God in the moment’.
Our default when we face tough times is often to run, to get through the situation as quickly as possible and hope the situation doesn’t last too long. The thought of sticking around in a situation that makes us feel vulnerable and weak is scary so we scarper as quick as we can.
We want to forget it ever happened and move on. But God calls us to wait, to ‘Find Him in the moment’, to open our eyes and ears to what God might want to teach us right here and right now. Matthew 7 v 7 “Keep on asking and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find, keep on knocking and the door will be open to you.” If we seek God in these moments we won’t be disappointed.
The apostle Paul was a man who learnt what it meant to be content in all situations and to enjoy the moment. Paul was a man who was ship wrecked, knew what it was to be hungry, put in prison on numerous occasions, had his character brought into question, was persecuted and threatened with violence and death. Yet he knew all of this was of insignificance as long as he found God in the moment, everything would work for good because God has the ultimate plan.
Paul says in his letter to the Philippians in chapter 4v 4 -7 the importance of enjoying every moment, to rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Then later in chapter 4 v 11-13 he talks about the importance of being content. “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learnt the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
I’m not saying finding God in the moment is easy, it takes heart and courage and it requires us to rely on God’s strength not our own, but I believe it is essential if we want to make the most of our lives. I don’t want to come to the end of my life and have regrets or fail to have learnt valuable Godly lessons I could have learned if only I had chosen to ‘Find God in the moment’.
Albert Einstein once said there are two ways we can live our lives; to live our lives as if NOTHING is a miracle or to live our lives as if EVERYTHING is a miracle. I want to live my life in the latter.
Lets choose to live each day as a miracle God has given and seek to ‘find God in every moment’.
Is it your personality, your job, your hobbies, your spouse, your kids, your possessions, your relationships, what you wear, your fingerprints, your DNA? All these things and many others let people know who we are on the outside, the physical, but is that really who you are?
Every one of us is born with the inbuilt desire to be accepted, secure and have purpose. Everything we do is based on achieving these things…
We look for acceptance from our peers, from our families, from our friends, if that fails we try to find it in sex, alcohol or drugs and the like.
We look for security and acceptance in our wealth, in our possessions and in our relationships.
These things may help us for a while but they never truly satisfy our desire for fulfilment, there is always a gap, we are always left with a desire for something more satisfying and sustaining.
The truth is that jobs lose their appeal, people let us down, possessions break or become outdated, dreams change depending on how we feel, emotions go up and down like a rollercoaster. We were created for more than this…
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and he created man, in his image and for relationship with him. Genesis 1v26 tells us “Then God said let us make a man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them.”
Man found acceptance: Adam walked and talked with God on a daily basis and God also saw man’s need for relationship with others so he created Eve as a confidant and companion for Adam.
Man found purpose: Adam was put in control of the Garden of Eden – over all the livestock, trees and plants.
Man found security: Adam had food and shelter and everything he needed to feel safe and secure.
Everything was perfect. Adam and Eve lived life to the full in total acceptance, purpose and security, the way God had created it, but it all changed when the devil tempted Adam and Eve to take of the fruit of good and evil, the very fruit God had warned them not to take; sin entered the world and drove a immovable wedge between God and man.
Everything changed…light turned to darkness…life turned to death (spiritual death) and consequently the knowledge of God was lost, so humanity became selfish, angry, ashamed, guilty, rejected, weak and powerless. Because of the fall everyone is born into sin, separated from God and blinded to existence by the devil. Romans 3v23 tells us “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Everyone struggles to find acceptance, security and purpose looking to things that will never stand a chance of satisfying our desires. There is nothing we can do to restore things back to the way they were in the beginning – however good we think we are it is only through Jesus that true life can be restored and it is only in Christ we find our true identity, acceptance, security and purpose.
Romans 5 v 8 tells us “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
Jesus came as the ultimate sacrifice, he lived a perfect life, he was tempted in every way, yet was without sin. He died ONCE and for ALL, taking my sin… your sin… the world’s sin, both, past, present and future upon his shoulders.
He died on the cross and then three days later rose again from the grave, defeating, sin and death completely breaking the barrier between God and man and restoring the opportunity for relationship by offering the gift of salvation to all who choose to believe and offering eternal life with Christ when we die and just as special, abundant life right here and right now.
John 3v16 -17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Our identity is found in Christ; if we accept what Jesus has done for us we become a new creation; the old goes and the new appears, we are accepted as children of God…we have freedom…we have an interactive relationship with God… we have life in its fullest.
2 Corinthians 5v17 – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come.”
Our identity is found in Jesus Christ alone, the question is have you found your true identity? Christ is beckoning you with open arms, will you respond?
Three weeks ago I was sleeping all the way through the night…
Three weeks ago I was fresh faced and alert…
Three weeks ago there were just two of us…
Three weeks ago I was imagining what it would be like to welcome our baby into the world…
NOW I KNOW!!!
Hannah Amalie Lili Crosse was born on Monday 27th January 2014 weighing in at a healthy 7lbs 2oz after a rather eventful labour.
I have always wanted to be a dad and when Erika told me she was pregnant I couldn’t have been more delighted. I was so excited about meeting our baby as we made our preparations and we counted down the months, then the weeks, then the days, but nothing could prepare me for how I would feel. I think back to the moment Hannah arrived, I had so many emotions all at once, from the joy of our baby finally arriving to the worry of whether I would drop her. I am not ashamed to admit that I shed a man tear, it was one of the most precious and satisfying moments of my life, one I’m sure I will remember forever.
The first few days went along in a bit of a blur, as I tried to catch up on sleep, visited Erika in Hospital and tried to navigate the challenge of nappies and getting Hannah dressed and how to pick her up properly, but it wasn’t until we brought Hannah home from hospital that reality started to kick in. I remember Erika and I walking out of hospital with Hannah half expecting someone to stop us and say we couldn’t take the baby home. We navigated the trip home fine and as I sat down in our lounge with Hannah in her car seat I remember thinking, what are we meant to do now?!?
Since then the last couple of weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster, there are no amount of antenatal classes or tips from parents that can prepare you for the baby…projectile poo, stunningly brutal smelling nappies, lots of crying and lack of sleep… but you just have to dive in and roll with it.
But you know what I wouldn’t change it for the world because everything pales into insignificance when I hold Hannah in my arms… it’s at these moments that I marvel at the miracle of life, the love I feel towards my little baby girl is indescribable, I would do anything for her.
As much as I love her though I know there is one who knows her and loves her even more… Jesus
Psalm 139 v 13-14 – “For you created my inmost being you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Luke 18v15 – “People were bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 7 v 11 – “If then you though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Children are a gift from God; being a parent is a gift from God, to be a parent is a massive responsibility to take care of them, feed them, clothe them, put a roof over their head, protect them and bring them up in the best way you can with God’s help. At times it will be hard work, but there is not no greater privilege.
One of the things I have contemplated in the early days of being a dad is a greater appreciation of what God thinks about me. I have a deep love for Hannah, but how much more does the God of the universe who loves Hannah… love me.
Have you contemplated recently how much God loves you, values you and appreciates you… how much he desires spend time with you… to be your guide..to be your counsellor… to interact with you.. to hold you close so that you might walk step in step with the beat of his heart… He loves you with an everlasting love, you’re his child!
As a believer, before you are a husband, wife, dad, mum, sister, brother, child of your parents, friend… YOU ARE a child of the king of kings. 1 John 3 v 1 says “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called Children of God! and that is what we are!”
HOW AMAZING IS THAT!!!
Perhaps you’re reading this blog and you don’t know what it means to be a child of the king. Jesus lived a sinless life (he did no wrong) but he was arrested, persecuted, whipped and crucified upon a cross taking upon his shoulders our sin (the things we do wrong) and three days later he rose from the dead victorious, defeating the power of sin and death.
Today this same Jesus offers you the gift of salvation so that you might have freedom and a hope of eternal life John 3v16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Jesus desires to have relationship with you, so that you to can become a child of the king…If you want to accept Jesus as your Lord and saviour today here is a prayer you can pray:
Dear Jesus, I’m sorry for the things I have done wrong, please forgive me, I acknowledge my need for you in my life, please become master of my life and help me to live for you. Amen.
If you have prayed this prayer or you want to know more about what it means to follow Jesus then why not find a local church, or speak to someone you know who is a Christian.
YOU ARE dearly loved by the King of Kings… There is nothing greater!
‘Patience is a virtue that carries a lot of wait!’ – Anon
Would you say that you are a patient person? Are you good at waiting? People always tell us that good things come to those who wait.
I must confess I’m not good at waiting. It doesn’t matter what it is I just can’t seem to be patient or keep still. When I was growing up I always had to be doing something, I lost count the amount of times my mum told me to stop fidgeting, be patient.
On Tuesday afternoon I found myself in the doctors surgery, waiting for what seemed like an eternity, which is nothing new. Before you start worrying it wasn’t for anything serious…in fact it was nothing to do with me… I was with Erika. (Now for those of you who weren’t already aware Erika is pregnant and as I write this blog the due date is only a few days away).
So I am in the waiting room… waiting to be called through for the midwife appointment, trying to keep myself occupied by walking around the room, reading pointless magazines, twiddling my thumbs and counting down time, you know the score. By the time we got called through I was nearly bouncing off the walls and I had a feeling Erika wasn’t best impressed with me. The appointment went well, but the whole experience got me thinking. As the due date gets closer and closer, I seem to be getting more impatient and even a little frustrated.
You see I have wanted to be a dad ever since I can remember, When Erika told me she was pregnant it was one of the happiest moments of my life (Yes I know it’s cheesy). Ever since that day I have been waiting to meet our baby. I want to meet baby Crosse asap, now if possible, I want to hold him/her (We don’t know if it’s a boy or girl yet more excitement) in my arms, I want to feel the joy of being a dad but it still feels like an eternity away, I often ask myself will this baby ever arrive? I am definitely too impatient!
But if I am really honest, what is my impatience really achieving? It’s certainly not going to bring the baby here quicker. If I let the worries or excitement get the better of me I will drive myself mad and probably all the others around me in the process.
God has got our little baby in the palm of his hands and when God wants us to receive our bundle of promise it will happen, but in the mean time I need to learn to be patient. Galatians 5 talks about the fruit of patience, I know that is what I need at this time and in my life in general, probably more than I care to admit and God desires to see it at work in my life and in yours.
I don’t know what it is you’re waiting for, perhaps it’s an answer to a prayer, perhaps it’s a promotion opportunity, or like me awaiting the birth of a child, and I don’t know how long you have been waiting for it to come, whether your journey has been easy or at times frustrating and challenging. However, I do know each one of us will receive the answer/result at the right time, there will be an end to our waiting.
Psalm 37 v 7-9 says “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, do not fret when man succeeds in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; DO NOT FRET it only leads to evil… But those who HOPE IN THE LORD will inherit the land.”
My prayer for each of us today is that we would not fret, but instead we would put our hope in the Lord (who never fails) that we would know his presence as we seek and wait with patience the resolving of our situations.
Next time you hear from me I’ll be a dad… good things really do come to those who wait!
Yesterday I found myself doing something I never do…
I found myself walking around Tesco doing the weekly food shop singing/humming along to Christmas songs. I don’t know what songs they were or even how long I was doing it for, if I am truthful I rather enjoyed it, but don’t tell Erika when she finds out finds out Christmas music will be played all day everyday during the Christmas period.
There is something about Christmas that gets me excited and makes me smile. Perhaps it’s the little child inside me who just loves the thought of waking up on Christmas day to open my presents. As I have got older I have also began to enjoy all the other aspects of the Christmas experience, from enjoying spending time with my family, to eating numerous Christmas dinners, getting competitive when playing board games, to watching peoples faces as they open the presents I have brought them.
But however much we enjoy the Christmas experience, and we should enjoy it, there is something that is vital to Christmas that I haven’t mentioned. Christmas is about the greatest gift the world has ever been given, the gift of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the reason why we should celebrate. Without the gift of Christ all we are left with is a holiday. You may have noticed over the years that more and more people talk about Seasons greetings, festive season or even happy holidays.
As Christians it’s about time we take Christmas back and remind people why we celebrate. I get excited about opening presents, I get excited about eating Christmas dinner, I get excited about seeing my house decorated and watching my niece and nephew open their presents. But the question is do I have the same excitement about the birth of Christ? The birth that changed the course of history and my life!
We need to get excited about Jesus birth as we read the messages of hope in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah and then, as we see the fulfilment of these prophecies through Jesus in the New Testament…
Jesus is worth getting excited about….
Isaiah got excited when God revealed the birth of the future Messiah and he prophesied to Israel hundreds of years before it was fulfilled in Jesus: Isaiah 9 v 6-7 (Message) “For a child has been born – for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be amazing counsellor, strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of wholeness, his ruling will grow and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over the promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep in going with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always.”
Mary got excited after hearing from the Angel that she was with child through the Holy Spirit and that she was to call him Jesus, he would be great and be called the son of the most High. In fact, Mary got so excited that she rushed to tell Elizabeth and she too got excited.
Luke 1 v 39 – 41 “At that time Mary got ready and HURRIED to a town in the hill country of Judea where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
The Shepherds got excited after being visited by the angels and wasted no time in hurrying to find the Messiah in Bethlehem
Luke 2v 15-16 (Message) “As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over “Let’s go over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us. They left running and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger.”
The wise men a few months after Jesus was born were excitedand over joyed in meeting Jesus
Matthew 2 v 10-11 “When they saw the star they were overjoyed. On coming to the house they saw the child with his mother Mary and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”
Jesus is worth getting excitedabout because his, birth, life, death and resurrection changed the course of history changing peoples lives forever and he continues to change peoples lives today… Has he changed yours?
Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve and ever since we have all struggled with sin and Jesus is the only answer. Without the birth of Christ there would be no cross, no resurrection, no forgiveness of sins and no relationship with God.
But Jesus came and through his life, character, actions, teachings and miracles he pointed us to God the Father. In his death taking our sins upon his shoulders and dying on the cross, and in his resurrection, he showed us sin and death has no power over him and forgiveness, salvation and relationship with God can be ours through him.In Jesus there is a hope and future… If that’s not worth getting excited about then I don’t know what is.
May you all have a fantastic Christmas! Enjoy the Christmas dinner, enjoy the presents and enjoy your family time, but most importantly let’s get excited about Jesus, a gift like no other.
Most days when Erika and I get into our car together we have a battle for control… control of the heating. Without fail every time we are in the car I will set the control to how I like it and within 2 minutes I will see out the corner of my eye Erika adjusting the temperature – this battle can go on for the whole car journey or until one of us gives in. Why is it as people we love being in control?
We live in a ‘ME’ dominated society and are encouraged to live our lives with us as no1. We can go after money, the career, a new car, the biggest house, the latest technology, doing whatever it takes for you to get to the top of the pile. You are the master of your own destiny and there is nothing as satisfying as being in control of your own life, making decisions to benefit you and make yourself feel good. Yes, you could share your life with partners, spouses, friends and family, but you don’t relinquish control because the only person you can truly rely on is yourself.
To many being master of your life is natural, after all who wouldn’t want these things especially if by being in control you can make these things happen and you can be happy?
But do these things really make us happy, does being in control of our lives, making the decisions, looking out only for our own needs bring the satisfaction and fulfilment we all crave? From my experience I would say NO, being in control of my own life is not always what it’s cracked up to be.
If I am honest, there are times in my life when I have wanted to take control and become master , I may make the odd right decision, it may be pleasant to think of myself above everyone and everything else, but it doesn’t make me happy or fulfilled and I end up making a total mess of it. In fact the more I think about myself and my own selfish desires the more unhappy I become.
Jesus calls us to take a different stance to society. Instead of being all about self he wants us to submit to his authority and give total control over to him so he can become the master of our lives. Let’s be honest it’s not always easy to give control of our lives over to God is it?
How many times have we convinced ourselves we know better than God? How often have we given into temptation and our desires to please self? How often have we been tempted to trample over people to get what we want? It’s not always easy to allow God to be master.
We must realise we are in a battle every day, the battle between our fleshly nature and our spiritual nature. Our fleshly nature desires for us to live with the ‘ME’ attitude saying “what can I get ” and squeeze God out of our lives, but our spiritual nature wants to become more like Christ.
Every day we will face the temptation to put our own desires above Christ’s desires for our lives, but with the added distraction of the devil, who will do everything he can to encourage you to live for your ‘ME’ attitude, it can be a difficult task to stay on track.
Paul talks about the battle we face when he says in Romans 7v15 – “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
My fleshly nature and my spiritual nature our in constant conflict with each other, they can’t live together, it’s impossible to have two masters, only one person can be in control, something has to give. Either you choose to live for self or you choose to live for Christ… We can’t have one foot in each camp.
As Revelation 3v 6 says “I know your deeds that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were either one or the other. So because you are lukewarm, neither hot or cold I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” and none of us want that.
Throughout life we will always face the battle between us wanting control and allowing God to be in control of our lives. I know who I would rather choose… the creator of the world, who knows me better than I know myself, who has only got good things for me.
We must make the choice on a daily basis to die to self and to take up the challenge that John the Baptist spoke of in John 3v30 – “He must become greater I must become less”
Why? Because when I allow God total control of my Iife, everything else comes together, I become more like Christ and my relationship with him gives me the fulfilment I deeply desire.
Who is the master of your life? – Choose Jesus…. Choose life!
Are you ready to count the cost of following Christ?
This is one of the biggest questions we face as Christians. It is really easy to say yes without giving the question a second thought, mind after all isn’t that what we are meant to say as Christians. But do we realise what that really means?
We must not make a decision to follow Christ based on what everyone else is doing. Our decision must come from our desire to follow Christ because we love him because the truth is at the end of the day we will stand before God to account for our actions. If we are not willing to pay the price of following Christ then scripture says we can’t be his disciples.
We need to know that choosing to follow Christ means we must make him no. 1 priority in our lives above our family, visit this site friends, erectile career, material possessions, hobbies, ourselves and even church.
With this is mind Jesus says we should take stock and think about what he is asking of us. Jesus is asking for total surrender and a whole life commitment (Luke 14v26-33).
Following Jesus is not the easy option, it may mean we have to give up things, it may mean we lose friends, it certainly means we have to die to our sinful nature daily and as the day draws nearer for Christ’s return it will mean we will face persecution and may even cost us our lives.
Yet all of these costs pale into insignificance in the knowledge of what we will receive if we choose to count the cost and follow him. We will receive life to the full, help in all our circumstances and in the future we will receive a crown of life, as well as our inheritance and we will spend eternity with Christ. So much to look forward too.
The truth is the call to pick up your cross and follow Christ is sometimes easier said than done, we live in a selfish culture that tells us to look after ourselves and do what is right for us. The temptation is to follow in the footsteps of the rest of society instead of totally submitting our lives to Christ as his disciple.
As disciples we can’t live in both worlds. We can’t follow the ways of society and then expect to live as an effective disciple of Christ because these two worlds are in conflict. Jesus calls us to be in the world but not of it.
Counting the cost of following Christ is more than just the decision to say yes. Being a disciple of Christ is about living a life of total surrender to the living God. Are you living in total surrender to Christ? Or have you allowed circumstances, interests, family, friends, work or possessions to distract or perhaps even take control of the way you live.
It often happens very subtely, but if we are not careful the pull from the desires of the world and the instant gratification it brings stops our pursuit to follow Christ dead in its tracks before we even realise it.
God knows our hearts, he knows when we truly want to follow him, and he knows we will make mistakes and will not always carry our cross BUT God wants to help us live for him.
My prayer for you and for me is that we make the decision to daily count the cost to follow Christ and to daily ask the Holy Spirit for help to die to our sinful nature.
Yesterday, we launched the new vision for New Hope Centre. The leadership and I are very excited about what God has in store for us as a church. At the start of anything new there is always a mixture of excitement, uncertainty and sometimes apprehension on what is going to happen next. I truly believe God has got exciting things in store for us as we seek to Reveal Jesus…Make Disciples…And Change Our Communities.
No doubt there will be times of great joy and celebration and there will also be times of great challenge and frustration, yet whatever we experience we must strive to keep Jesus at the centre of it all. As you will be aware Sunday 28th April is our “Break the Chains” prayer day at New Hope Centre. Please try to be with us as we pray more fully into the new vision and pray for the lost of our communities.
The future is bright, the future is Jesus, let’s seek to reveal him in everything we do.