Monday, 20 February 2017

Becoming God’s Ambassador

God at the Centre
Wednesday, February 122 2017
“Becoming God’s Ambassador”
Matthew 29:19

                After Jesus rose from death, he commissioned his disciples
to make disciples of all nations. They went to Jerusalem and then in to all Judea and Samaria and ultimately around the world. Hesitation was on the minds of those first century Christians but Paul challenged them by truly devoting his life to traveling and proclaiming Christ. Paul traveled extensively and proclaim the gospel of Christ (Romans 15:19) Even Paul’s enemies had stated that Paul had saturated the provinces. Paul wanted to expand his travels to include those who were in power. He wanted to reach the entire known world for Jesus.
                We are God’s ambassadors and our vision should also be to win as many people to Jesus as possible. Evangelism is not an option even when people misunderstand what this means. Telling others about Jesus is evangelism.
                When we are new believers we are so excited to know Jesus and we are willing to tell others. Yet as we grow in faith our complacency seems to grow as well. Sometimes our hearts grow hard and we may be cynical. Jesus challenges us, “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…”John 14:12.  We must remember this challenge. God did not intend for us to sit and do nothing. He wants us to plan so that these dreams will come true.
                What is your unbelief in God- that is what do you not know about God? Confess this and say, God, renew my vision of your power. Renew my confidence in your abilities. Renew my trust of your resources. Renew and build my faith.”
                One can only imagine if everyone in the world heard about Jesus and then committed their lives to him. This would be great but the work never ends—the next generation needs to do the same! We need God to move us into compassion for others.- individuals who do not know Jesus. We can talk about the crowds of thousands who need to hear Jesus’ story, but what about the person down the street?
                The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Matthew 9:17) God and do the work of Christ, become God’s ambassadors for life and for the sake of those whom you meet.

Have you ever told anyone your faith story? That is, when you came to understand and believe, when you accepted Christ as Saviour, when you were so excited that you had to tell others?  Try it. Sharing the good news as you have experienced it is what is at the heart of evangelism. Tell your story and those listening will respond with questions and prayerfully with willingness to follow Jesus.

Holy One we praise you and thank you for Your Son who loves us and calls us to be his disciples where we live and around the world. Show us your way O God and as to what to see and say, what to do and pray as we reach out to others in Jesus’ name. Amen.

This completes this series of Reflections on Luis Palau, “God at the Center: Habits for Spiritual Growth” ODB Ministries, p.27-32. 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Serving God and Others

God at the Centre
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
“Serving God and Others”
Galatians 2:20

                What characterizes a genuine and successful ambassador for
Christ? A person who has God within them.  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved e and gave himself for me.”
To truly serve Christ one needs to depend on the indwelling, resurrected almighty Jesus and not oneself. God needs to be in control of you.  And you are to dream great dreams because anyone who believes in Jesus can do the great things He did—spreading a message that reconciles people to God.
This is possible because 1) Jesus was going to the Father and He would send the Spirit to indwell us. With the Spirit indwelling us as believers, Christ does His works through us.  2) Jesus adds a condition to His promise. Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing. Christ challenges us to have faith- not more faith but faith in Him which continues.
Reflection: In this chapter, Palau writes of the burning bush from which God spoke to Moses. We are not sure what kind it was but it does not matter. God’s Spirit dwelt within that bush for a period of time making the ground around it holy. It was an ordinary bush much like another probably a few feet away. But this one bush is the one in which God’s Spirit was within and from which God spoke and called to Moses. You a not just an ordinary bush—You are human and have thoughts and feelings and God’s Spirit has spoken to you .The question remains—how do you respond to God’s Spirit? Does God’s Spirit dwell within you? How do you know? What drives you to do what God leads you to do? Where is your focus and what does this mean for you each day?
God’s Spirit is within you if you have received Christ as Saviour. To serve God means to respond to the voice of the Spirit and to do so by serving others. Are you listening? Are you responding in faith and is your faith continuing to grow as you live out the work of the Spirit in your life?

Holy God as we discern your way and your Spirit in our lives we pray that you would enable us to live and love and to reach out to others. Hear us and move your Spirit within us so that we become more than a bush—we become your faithful people called to tell others of your love. Amen.

Luis Palau, “God at the Center: Habits for Spiritual Growth” ODB Ministries, p.21-26. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Practising Obedience to God”

God at the Centre
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
“Practising Obedience to God”
Proverbs 28:13

                In forming a habit of obedience to God the first thing
one must do is experience God’s forgiveness. Confession is a prerequisite to God’s forgiveness, whether for salvation or daily fellowship. This confession involves repentance and if/when necessary, restitution.
                “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Prov.28:13)
                But what about restitution? Is this a necessary step to be obedient to God? Sometimes restitution is the forgotten part of confession. But if what one had done deprived them of something that was rightfully theirs we must not only apologize to the offended person but also seek to repay him as soon as possible.
                God forgives those who confess their sins Manasseh built pagan altars in the Lord’s temple and practiced witchcraft and even sacrificed his own children. Yet he served as king of Judah an had overturned Hezekiah’s reforms to follow God. But after being captured by the Assyrians, Manasseh greatly humbled himself before the Lord and God forgave him. God forgave him because he confessed his sin. I John 1:9  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  And God forgets them too!  “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17
                God’s fences for freedom are the 10 commandments which is holy ,righteous and good but for many they were what determined the oppression of living. God’s commands are not burdensome, but they are life. Experience and the Bible tells us that we cannot keep the 10 commandments perfectly even if we tried so they will be broken because we are sinners. Yet God calls us to obedience and to do this we seek his forgiveness. The purpose of God’s commandments is to lay a foundation for us on which to build a life of love, freedom, and obedience.
                Read the 10 Commandments  Exodus 20:1-17. Then answer these questions:

1)        What does each commandment reveal about eh character of God?
2)      What does each commandment liberate me from?
3)      How does each commandment protect me?
4)      What does each commandment reveal about love?

Pray:  Holy God, “direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.” Ps 119:35

Luis Palau, “God at the Center: Habits for Spiritual Growth” ODB Ministries, p.17-20. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Cultivating Dependence on God

God at the Centre
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
“Cultivating Dependence on God”
Joshua 21:45; 23:14-15

                Does God keep His promises? Throughout scripture God’s
promises are called ‘very great and precious” 2 Peter 1;4.  Some of His promises were made specifically to an individual, a group, or a nation. We must be careful not to claim promises intended for someone else. But many of those in the OT are ours to claim today. “Joshua 1:5  “ I will never leave you nor forsake you.” In Hebrews13:5 God transfers this promise to Christians.
                God’s promises are to be believed and used. We are to learn what they are through reading and memorization, by seeing our need for them through meditative prayer and by giving God time to work them out in our daily experience. And of God’s promises that we can claim in Jesus’ name are guaranteed and will be performed for us by God.
                We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). That promise is a solid anchor when we are troubled. Paul knew this for he knew what it was to suffer hardship, persecution, indifference, betrayal, loneliness, stonings, beatings, shipwrecks, nakedness, destitution, sleeplessness and pressures. But Paul had confidence in God who promised to sustain him and us also. For near his death, Paul stated, “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” (2 Tim.1:12)
                Each of us face difficult situations from time to time. Every trial we face is an opportunity for God to demonstrate that He is the One we can always depend upon, no matter what. An example of this is when King Hezekiah saw God demonstrate his care.  Isaiah 37
1.       Hezekiah acknowledged that he had a problem. V.1
2.       He sought to know what God’s Word said about his problem v.2-7
3.       He didn’t allow anything to distort his perspective vd.8-13
4.       He prayed to God- worshiping Him and then presenting his request and finally asking that God would be glorified v.14-20
As a means of facing difficulties these same steps may be used to receive God’s help and to get to know God even better
1.       Acknowledge the problem.
2.       Look to God’s word about this problem
3.       Don’t distort your perspective
4.       Pray- worship present the request and ask that God be glorified..
WHAT a difference it will make!!

Luis Palau, “God at the Center: Habits for Spiritual Growth” ODB Ministries, p.13-16.