Do you remember when you first gave your heart to Jesus? You gave him it all even though you most likely did not know what that meant at the time. Maybe you followed him for a couple of years learning what He was all about, but one day it just felt like he left you, or something you heard made you question why you were even involved with him. You are not alone in this, almost all believers have this time in their lives. It was the same for the disciples.
“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting their nets into the sea; for they were fisherman. Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ The immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Matt 4:18-20
We see here the moment Peter and Andrew left their lively hood. The reason the word their is italicized I believe is to emphasise the fact that these men owned the nets, they were not just some workers who left their job owned by someone else. They left everything they owned behind to follow this man who, like most new believers, didn’t know a lot about. Over the next three years they learned much about who Jesus was, they say incredible miracles and were personally taught by Him. Peter even confessed Jesus to be the Son of God; “He said to them ’But who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” Matt 16:15-16. So here we see that Peter knew who Jesus was and loved Him, yet when things got tough Peter like all the other disciples ran away from God. When Jesus was arrested in the garden we read that they fled and we hear nothing more from them until after the resurrection. We, however, hear of Peter who denies Jesus three times when asked if he knew or was an associate of Jesus.
As we read about what happened to Peter we see that he like many believers went back to his old way of living. He returned back to what he thought he knew which was fishing, defeated and wonder why he had wasted his last three years. Jesus found Peter here in John 21, I encourage you to read the full story. In this second experience Peter became a different man then He was the first time he met Jesus. His confidence and knowledge of Jesus had changed. He was ready to become the man who God was calling Him to be, he was ready to change.
So today Jesus wants to invite you to see Him for who he truly is. The resurrected saviour who love you no matter if you decide that you no longer believe in Him. He is calling you back to do amazing things, you are important to God. If God can change a fisherman into a founder of the church what does He have in store for you? I can tell you from experience that God has called me from serving my country to serving as a Pastor, and it is scary the amount of work involved in this transition yet each step forward I fell confident in the calling. Not everyone is called to this path but you are called to something. Have you taken the time to ask him what it is? If not lets change that and ask him today.
Father, Peter is a beautiful example of your love and grace. He could have been easily dismissed for his actions yet you used him to build the early church. We cannot ignore that you use people to do amazing things if they would only submit to you and trust that your ways are much better then our ideas. I pray that if anyone reading this today asks for the direction that you will guide them to your plan for them. I know it may not be the full plan but get them started on a journey where they feel purpose and hope. Use your people to reach the lost, Holy Spirit provide us with the wisdom that only comes from you. We trust you, God, that you are in control so it is time for a change where your faithful step up to their callings. Use us. Amen
“I was pretty angry towards God and pretty bitter towards his world. How could a loving God blind me? Why? Anyway, [he said] God’s plan is like a beautiful tapestry, and the tragedy of being human is that we only get to see it from the back, with all the ragged threads and the muddy colours. We only get a hint at the true beauty of what would be revealed if we could see the whole pattern on the other side as God does.” (Daredevil, S3E15, Matt Murdock)
How many would read this and understand the feeling? Maybe you’re not blind as the character in the show, but you lost a child, parent, or a host of other things that cannot be explained.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
I have been looking into the problem of evil in this world for my schooling and it is startling how many people will run into this wall and easily walk away from God. I have this thought that in this day and age we have so much information that one might think that we would be able to answer life’s questions, yet we have so many people focusing on disproving God’s existence that the information is so muddled that it is hard to know the truth anymore. That’s the issue with lies, when you peel off a layer there is another right there that has to be disproven. What makes it even more difficult is we have been neglecting to teach and discipline our fellow believes on what truth is so that when the lies come, they can protect themselves from them. But they get distracted and many falls to them. This responsibility is not the Pastors, he or she has an hour each week to instil wisdom and truth. The adage goes it takes a community to raise a child, well it takes a church family to raise up strong believers. If we want to see the next generation avoiding the pitfalls that have plagued believers for years, then we need to teach them the truth.
Here is the problem, how can we teach what many of us just do not know? If we do not know how to defend our faith basics and just use ‘because the bible says so’ we will fall flat. It takes a motivated person to take some time studying what the Bible and solid Christian scholars use to defend the faith. We have a plethora of solid teachers who have been sharing their knowledge through books, talks online and teachings. C.S. Lewis, James Taylor, William Lane Craig and many others have worked to defend the faith against others who want to tear it down. We need foundations, Jesus reminded us of that himself when he told us to build our house on a foundation so when the winds and storms come, we will not fall.
Can you answer any of these three questions that might shake a believer’s faith?
- Why would a God who is all loving let bad things happen to good people?
- Wasn’t the bible written long after the events after years of storytelling? How do we know it wasn’t written in that Jesus was resurrected and it never really happened?
- Why follow Christianity, don’t all religions end up in the same place?
Small groups of believers who meet weekly and work through these types of foundational truths, investing the time will become the leaders of tomorrow. The church needs to change from just one man or a small segment of the church doing all the work. If we follow Jesus example, he trained up a group of people and sent them out to do the work. It took a few years but when it was all said and done, they were ready to lead and became the first generation of Christian leaders. In those preparation years, we see them making mistakes, misunderstanding what they were being taught, and more. Yet what the learned and the experience made them so much stronger.
It is time for a change.
Father, we need to build our foundations. Many have been swept away by little theories and questions when they couldn’t get the answers they needed. The church family needs to be ready to help answer the questions or even better prepare them to defend against them before they happen. Give us the fortitude to start preparing believers for this, Holy Spirit give us the wisdom to mentor our brothers and sisters in the faith. We pray for a revival in the hearts of believers to defend their faith, with knowledge and love. Use us God to reach the lost all around us. Amen
In the journey to change it is time to recognize who we are in Christ. Are observers of the faith, watching and hoping someone else will do something? Are we senders expecting others to do the work while we throw money at them, so we can feel like we have contributed? Are we bench warmers hoping one day to be called into the forefront, but until we get the audible call we just sit and wait? No, we are called to be much stronger than that, we are called to be so much more than that. We are called to be ambassadors of our faith.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as through, God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
Ambassadors do not sit idly by and expect someone else to do the work. They do the work, they put in the hours the effort and the preparation. Jesus gave us the job description himself;
“As you go, preach, saying ‘the kingdom of God is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:7-8
This isn’t just a suggestion, Jesus was not giving this as a one of speech to the disciples, he said it again in Matthew 20:18-20. We are to reach out to this world as if this world is not our home. Ambassadors belong somewhere else, as believers in Jesus and those who have a relationship with God we no longer are citizens of the earth but are citizens of heaven living on earth. As such we need to be reaching those who are still clinging to the hope this world offers. So as ambassadors we had better start learning where our strength comes and start applying it in our lives.
We need to be reminded that God made the plan, Jesus fulfilled the plan and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to live within the plan. We often forget about the power the Holy Spirit has for us. We think God and Jesus and leave the breath of God as some sort of lower part of Him. But it isn’t like that, Jesus himself understood who the Holy Spirit was and how important he would be for the believers as they traversed in this world. In Jon 12: 15-18 hear Jesus promise about the Holy Spirit;
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray to the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever- the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in You. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
What a promise we have that we are not alone in this mission. Yet I know personally I feel overwhelmed and afraid at times to share my faith. Why is this, why if I have the Holy Spirit empowering me am I afraid and timid? I believe it is because I don’t spend enough time talking to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We pray and ask and ask, yet there are times we just need to embrace and listen. Work through the situations with God and let Him show us the truth. We need to trust that the Holy Spirit has our back, He will help us in our faithfulness. What is it going to take for you to stand up and be an ambassador for the kingdom of heaven?
Father, for far too long have I been sitting hoping others will rise up and reach the lost in my place. I can’t expect others to learn about you from just seeing me being good but they need to hear the hope I have in you. There are lots of good people in this world who they can follow, but they will lead them down paths that lead to nowhere. Holy Spirit gives me strength and wisdom to step out of my fear and into the role you are leading me into. Use me to be the man of God you need me to be. Let me be a strong witness to my friends, neighbours and family. Amen
I wonder how many believers take the time to pray and fast? I can honestly say I am not in the category of those who have. I have taken time away from things using the excuse that I work too hard to give up food, but I could give up something else. Sure, it can be giving up something else, but I believe there is something about fasting in the traditional sense that has meaning to it. Here in Nehemiah, we see the prophet of the same name hearing the stories of the broken city of Jerusalem and her walls in shambles from those who had escaped. In his heart, he knew something needed to be done but he did not know what, so he prayed.
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you”
This is only the first part of his prayer but it is the cry of many believers who felt they have lost their way. Those who feel like they haven’t heard God’s voice in such a long time, maybe they have just been going through the motions. Then one day something breaks them, brings them to their knees with an unbridled passion to repent and crying out to the one who loves them. Nehemiah didn’t just expect God to answer, he fasted and prayed for some days, how long is not important but he prepared his heart to listen to what God would say. He trusted that God would answer and give him some sort of guidance in what was happening. We don’t hear what exactly God says to Nehemiah but what we do see is the confidence he has to speak to King Artaxerxes about what he needed to do.
What I love reading in 2:4 it says: Then the king said to me, “ What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. Think about it. He didn’t respond right away. Nehemiah stopped and went to ask God for what to do. I know all to often I have made brash and rapid decisions that have changed the course of my life. Did I stop and ask God, I wish I could say yes or that I took more than a 2 min moment with Him? No, I rushed into things and expected it to be okay. Why, because we love to make our own decisions. We don’t know how long Nehemiah took from the moment he was asked till his answer but the king waited, and he gave Nehemiah what he requested.
Imagine with me if you will a church that takes the time to fast and pray for their communities.? What if believers when making life decisions took the time to ask God what he thought about the situation? We need to be church inside and outside of the building. Sunday is a place where we gather and grow but for the rest of the week, we need to be sharing the love of Jesus all over the place. How much more effective will we be if we take the time to ask and listen to what God’s thoughts are?
Maybe you have been living a life that is on the outs, you once served God but now you’re not so sure. God loves you and is calling you back. Take the words of Nehemiah and make them yours, let God know that you have fallen and you want to get right with him again. That’s the awesome thing about our relationship with God, he is not vindictive and will always be ready to welcome you back. Don’t ever think that you have done something that there is no returning from. Take some time and pray, I encourage you to try to fast a meal and focus on him. It is one thing to skip a meal but if you don’t pray and focus on him you might as well just eat. Fasting and Prayer go hand in hand. I am going to try to myself, are you up to see what God has to say to you?
Father, I am done making excuses for my actions. I choose things without prayer and wonder why life isn’t going the way I expected. This shouldn’t surprise me as I know that when I trust you it all works out. So forgive me for my arrogance. I give my life back to your hands and I will work at strengthening our relationship with more prayer and fasting. Help me to reach those around me that need to hear about the love Jesus has and the hope found in him. Let me now hide in the shadows but step out and share. Like Nehemiah, my heart breaks form those who are hurting living in shambles. Use me. Amen
All too often we get to a point in our lives where we wonder where God has gone. We want to hear him speak to us and wonder where he has disappeared to. I was reminded again today about the old saying that when it feels like God is distant it isn’t Him that moved. He is faithful and just and longs to have this relationship with us that is inconceivable to those who don’t know Him. When I took a break from writing it was only meant to be two weeks as I was moving, yet life happened, and the excuses flowed, and I never started up again. To be honest, I felt like I was done with this chapter of my life, when I started, I dreamed of a following of readers that would change the world. High expectations from an unknown writer yet aspirations and hope stove me forward. After three years of seemingly minimal results, this felt like a good time to jump out, it wasn’t like anyone cared that I had stopped.
I don’t write this to ask for pity or comments of encouragement. I write this as an apology to you those who did read what I have written. You are important and there have been many moments where I have received confirmation that what I was doing was important. My pride and ego wanted something I don’t think that I would have been even close to prepared for. I know that God has called me to ministry and a journey I began three years ago is still going. But I had once again begun filling my life with distractions that have been working to silence God in my life. So here I am halfway around the world in a hotel room reconnecting with God and knowing that I cannot live the same anymore.
So, I am asking for forgiveness, I haven’t always followed through on what I have written in the past. I posted about accountability, yet I have not been able to find anyone to hold me accountable. I don’t put myself out there to help my brother be accountable either. I get scared and wonder what they will think of me if I call them out on their actions. It is something I have to work on, easy to say but harder to put into action. It confuses me how one can go to church on Sunday then get drunk the next week. How do I reach out to someone like that who I want to see grow in their faith yet give themselves into drunkenness? Are they ready for that sort of spiritual intervention?
Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father.
Matthew 5:15-16 Living Bible (TLB)
For far too long I have been hiding my light, embarrassed by the glow and the power it has. Our lights are meant for more than out gatherings on Sundays, we are called to so much more then that. Far too long have I(we) been tiptoeing around the fact that this world that we live in needs to see who Jesus is. Who he is to them. Our brothers, sisters, families, friends, co-workers and more. I(we) have become so over sensitized into believing that what we have will offend others if we share it. That we will lose them in the process never to speak to us again. Jesus himself told us that following him would not be easy. He knew that some would forsake you for your choice, but that the reward would be far greater than the pain caused by losing the loved one. We focus on the pain we receive here on earth when it is only a blip on the grand scale of eternity.
It is time for a change. It is time for believers to step up to the calling we have been given. It is time to wake up from the slumber and rise to the occasion. I for one am so tired of the distractions and the excuses that I have been giving to live like this. It is time for a change. In writing this I am giving each and every reader permission to hold me accountable for my actions. If what I say or do contradicts what Jesus asks of me then please let me know. If you take the time to share this, you are making the same request of anyone who reads it. Are you ready for that?
If you are reading this and don’t quite know what this is all about, it boils down to this.
- God Loves you, he created you,
- God wants to have a relationship with you,
- Sin separates us from having this relationship, and due to a serious of events all mankind is living in sin,
- God sent His Son Jesus to live as a man, and die on the Cross, taking on all the sins past, present and future, paying the ultimate price, his life.
- Jesus did not stay dead, he rose again after three days defeating sin once and for all,
- And he is ready willing and able to take your sin from you if you would only ask it of him.
I would like to say that if you follow Jesus everything will change, and life will be filled with rainbows and puppies, but that would be further from the truth. You will, however, feel whole, love, joy and peace. You will be joining a family of millions who lift one another up. We will fall as you might assume from my writings above, but without these moments we cannot grow. In storms trees send their roots deeper to avoid falling over, they grow stronger because of the storm. If we continue to trust God in the storm, we come through it we will be stronger because of it not despite of it.
So will you join me in another 50 Days of Pray? It’s time for a Change.
Father, forgive me for my inactivity and laziness. I ask that you strengthen me in all that I do. I no longer can sit back and just watch the days go by not doing anything. I need to be a man of action and working to share the love you have for others to those around me. Remove any fears I may have of failure and insecurities I am holding on to, no more excuse. The harvest is now and I want to be counted among the workers. Help me to be effective in sharing your love with my world. I know I have prayed this in the past but it still rings true today, they matter to you so they have to matter to me. Amen
As we conclude this 50 Dyas of 3:16 we see that many of these verses all lead us to the same thing. That God loves us and desires to know us more.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
1 John 3:16
The words teach us how to live as believers.
Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3:16
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
These words teach us how to be bold in our faith.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.”
It reminds us that sometimes we must wait on the Lord but that he will speak to us.
After seven days the Lord gave me a message. Ezekiel 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness
2 Timothy 3:16
Remember that God is always with you seeing what is happening and waiting for the right moment, our ways are not his ways.
“Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me. He told me, “I have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you.“
Take some time to study your bible. Grab hold of a scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to connect you to God through it. You will find that he can speak to you through his word. There is truth in the scriptures that will help you manoeuvre through this life and become effective in reaching the lost.
Father use us to be a people who want to hear from you. Holy Spirit gives us boldness to step out of our comfort zones and share our faith with others. Bind our fears and help us to be great witnesses and fishers of men. Use me. Amen.
Thank you for following with me through his 50 days. I will be back in September with a new series.