Archive for December 2010

Develop Convictions

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Develop Convictions

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“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

The model - (Deuteronomy 6v4-9)

  • Incarnational
  • Instructional (Deuteronomy 6:7)
  • Internalization (Deuteronomy 6:8-9)

Everybody has 2 sets of convictions. Firstly are those that you think are your convictions and secondly the ones by which you live your life.

Where do we get the basis for developing our convictions? As Christian Disciples, the foundation of all our convictions is located in Scripture! Jesus is to be our life! That is one reason why we are to read the Bible regularly and apply it to our life. And we are not alone in either the reading of Scripture or in its application to our life. Remember that the interpretation of Scripture is part of the Holy Spirit’s role in the life of the Christian Disciple as the great teacher (John 16v13) and in its subsequent application (Ephesians 5v26; 2 Corinthians 7v1).

Definition of a conviction - A conviction is a principle that I cherish or prize highly enough that I practise it in my life. There is a vast difference between your belief system and your convictional system. A belief system is something you will argue for. A convictional system is something you will die for. It is a good thing to ask your self periodically what is really worth dieing for.

How to develop convictions

a. Developing convictions is a process

Dependency leads to inter dependency. A growth equation - THE WORD + OBEDIENCE + TIME = GROWTH. This is the key, and there are no shortcuts.

b. The prevailing attitude of passivity.

Leaders are not passive or dependent people. This is the person who as good intentions but no plan of action. A lot of people trust the Lord for the product but not for the process. Isaiah 40v31 assures us that those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”.

c. The lack of clear-cut objectives and/or standards.

You achieve what you aim for. We don't have clear objectives because we are primarily negative people.

d. The problem of inconsistency

  • The realization that your convictions are different from contemporary society that believes they are determined by the media not ideas. How much are you poured into the mould of your society? "The power of Christianity appears in the antipathy towards, never in its agreement with, the ways of fallen man" - AW Tozer
  • The realization that your convictions are different from your future convictions. The problem about convictions is that you are free to choose them but you are not free to escape the consequences of your decision
  • The realization that your convictions, if they are biblical will be different from the world community.
  • The realization that your convictions are different from your parents & family. Don't just react to your parents negative convictions without knowing their positive convictions
  • Confusing the convictions of Christian Disciples with non-Christian convictions. The convictions of non-Christians are most frequently cultural, whereas convictions of the Christian Disciple are to be always biblical.

· Then there is the realization that there can be no growth without tension. The Lord Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered. There are two things regarding intention - too much tranquillity produces apathy and too much tension produces anxiety.

  • Communicate truth in a reality setting.
  • Communicate truth in a relational setting.
  • Communicate truth in a reproductive setting.

f. How to communicate your convictions

  • Sharpen your own personal convictions, in the presupposition that you have identified them.
  • Help others to devise a clear cut set of objectives and priorities. You are just as spiritual as you choose or want to be.
  • Relationships always precede requisites. People tend to accept your ideas and your philosophy because they accept you. Conversely, they also reject your ideas & philosophy because they reject you
  • Explain your convictions to others. Don’t let anybody go out of exposure to you wondering where in the world you are.
  • Feed others responsibility You have got to give them enough developmental rope to grow. Casualties are essentials of the process. God will give you enough success to encourage you and just enough failure to keep you dependent on Him.
  • Create a desire on the part of others to relate to Jesus Christ and His Will, not primarily to you. A Christian is a person who follows Christ, not you or me. We ought to obey God rather than man.

For more to think about please do read ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Read Luke 10v26-28, How can my convictions be further developed along these lines?

Q2. Read Matthew 5v1-11 What is the core of what Jesus is saying about living His way and following His convictions?

Q3. Read Isaiah 40v31 What role does trusting in the Lord play in the development of my convictions?

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ADD - Standing Alone

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Standing Alone

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Jesus speaking and from the Gospel of John 15:18-21 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me.”

We have a new identity as Christian disciples. What are we to do with it? We are to stay faithful to Jesus and sometimes it is difficult! It means staying faithful to Jesus and His will, regardless of opposition and alternatives, By doing this we are standing alone and be faithful to Him. Satan brings pressure to bear on Christians to reduce their standards and commitment. Christian disciples undergo challenges from the world that doesn’t like or understand us and constantly tempts us to do wrong things or we are tempted not to do right things. So we are to be separate from sin but not separated from a sinful society. This is what Jesus meant when He said we are to be “In the world but not of the world(Jn. 17:15-19). The key to standing alone is constant identification with Jesus Christ in lifestyle and words.

Hindrances to standing alone

As we live the Christian life, as Christian disciples we will face hindrances to identifying with Jesus. Here are four major areas that as Christian disciples, we all undergo.

Firstly there is an inborn fear of what others will think - fear of being different and being laughed at.

Then there is the fear of losing friends. To have the right friends however, a person must be willing to have enemies. Jesus made friends on the basis of who would accept Him and His message. We may be excluded from the company of those who reject Jesus (Luke 6:26).

Another one is the desire to be like those in the world. In Psalm 73 David envied the success of the godless, until he realized their destiny was disaster; and that he had God and needed nothing else. Always taking what is best is no sacrifice.

How to stand alone

So if they are some of the hindrances, what are some of the keys in battling these hindrances? As Christian disciples we have to remember God's way of life is superior. It is a life filled with abundance according to Jesus in John 10:10! Then we realise that acting as light & salt in the world, you are co-operating with God and He is being glorified according to Peter in 1 Peter 4:12-14). Remember; if you give people no reason to ask about the hope and faith you have in Jesus, they probably won’t ask! Jesus said in His final words before His ascension in Matthew 28:18-20, that we are to expect persecution for being his disciples. If that’s how we identify with our lifestyle how do we identify verbally with Jesus?

How to verbally identify with Christ

Never apologize for what you know and believe to be a superior way of life. However, that does not mean to be smug and arrogant about it because we are commanded to walk humbly and meekly. Then just be natural about it. As a college principle told me a long time ago and I still remember the words “Let your spiritual life be natural and your natural life be spiritual.”

One way to do this is to project the idea that you are not your own boss - Jesus is your Lord and let him take both the strain and glory. Remember that those who reject you also reject Jesus.

Making right decisions in questionable areas

Imagine you are in a situation and you have to make a correct decision in a questionable area. What do you do? Why not you ask yourself questions and tell yourself statements such as:

  • Does it bring glory to God? (1 Cor.10:31)
  • Can I thank God for this activity - could Jesus accompany me?
  • Does it build Christian character? (1 Cor.10:23)
  • Will it cause another Christian to sin/stumble? (1 Cor.8:9-13)
  • It should not control me habitually (1 Cor.6.12)
  • If in doubt, throw it out. (Rom.14:22-23)
  • Ask other people for advice. It is important what other people think.
  • Abstain from all appearances of evil (1 Thess.5:22)
  • Rely on the Holy Spirit to help you! Askfor His help and guidance!

For more to do and think about please do read for yourself, John17:15-19. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1 – Have I given every area of my life to Christ in order to be faithful to Him?

Q2 – Am I prepared to be holy and obedient to God in all circumstances?

Q3 – Am I willing to sacrifice my desires for God's Will, so that I can clearly be seen identifying myself with Jesus in lifestyle and in words?

Thank you.

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WOW

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Jesus' WOW Factor

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Christmas time is the season when the name of Jesus is on a lot of peoples lips - even if they don't believe he existed or don't care about him now! For those people, the vast majority, they are comfortable with a Jesus who is a baby in a crib... But Jesus went on to live a full life, die an agonizing death and rose again on the third day! He has the WOW factor! The existence of the church itself owes it to Jesus Christ and his WOW factor! If there was never any Jesus or He didn't rise from the dead, then the Church would have died in its infancy and Jesus himself would only be a footnote in history! WOW!!

Jesus is WOW!

What does WOW stand for? It means "Worthy Of Worship!" Jesus Christ most certainly is that! The Jesus WOW factor involves Jesus being radical and relevant! Even a brief look of the Gospels will reveal that about Jesus! Some people even back then didn't get Jesus, and people still don't get Him two thousand years later! And whose fault is that? Its not Jesus' fault that people today still don't respond to Him! It's a result of the church and christians down through the ages, including today, not following Jesus and obeying His commands as closely as they could or should!

People out there are looking at the Church - looking at how we behave, how we speak, how we drive our cars and looking to see if we are any different to them and looking to see what difference Jesus Christ has made in our lives! That's why my parents thought churches were dangerous places and Christians brainwashed and deluded people. They did not hesitate to tell me that that is what they thought about Christianity! But I responded to the call of Jesus, rebelled against my parents and became a follower of him 30 years ago next year. You could say I am the white sheep of my family - so far anyway!

Unique

The first word I would use for Jesus is Jesus is unique - totally unique! Never before and never to be repeated ever - Jesus Christ is the standout person from all of history! Indeed, history is divided into BC and AD - ‘Before Christ' and ‘After Christ'. In all of history, Jesus Christ is incomparable and totally unique! Yet in human form, we read that during his earthly ministry he had no physical beauty that would draw people to him. We read that Jesus' body on the cross was disfigured and tortured! So much so that it was described as being beyond that of human likeness. His perfect life, His salvation work on the cross and His subsequent rising from the dead, is what makes Jesus Christ totally unique - a once and for all lifetime Messiah or Saviour for the entire world! WOW!!

Majestic

Then the Jesus I see is full of majesty and awe! He is not simply a king with a crown on his head. He is the King of all Kings! This Jesus Christ did not decay in the grave - He overcame death in the grave and was raised again majestically! Paul writes in Colossians 2v3, that in Jesus Christ, all the majestic treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. Jesus Christ the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who with unparalleled majesty is the head of the church.

Tender

Next I go to look into his eyes - his tender eyes! Jesus looks upon people with love, adoration, justice, tenderness and compassion. Eyes filled with the tears of mercy, grace, love and compassion. Eyes that are also filled with rage at injustice! His penetrating eyes that can separate flesh and spirit!! This Jesus is kind and sympathetic - his look of love on a world that is separated from God, and a world He is calling back into an active relationship with God. The love Jesus had when he wept in the garden as he sweated drops of blood, before he was betrayed and crucified.

Wise

Then there is Jesus the wise man! When Jesus spoke words, people were amazed! They were astounded that He spoke with elegance and yet with authority. They had never heard anyone speak like He did - with both grace and authority. The same is true today, if we are listening. That is why we read the Bible to find out what He would say to us. That is why we seek to hear Him speak to us and why we speak to Him. That is why preaching is to be seen as an act of worship - by both the preacher and the listener!

Strong

Strong! Jesus is strong enough and capable enough, to carry any burden that we can lay upon Him. Jesus Christ gives a solid and sure foundation for all aspects of life. If something has a solid foundation, it will not fall and cannot be destroyed. Indeed Jesus Christ will never fall or decay such is His imperishability as the everlasting God. He is solid, dependable and strong; nobody and nothing can stand against Him. If we are truly His, then we ought not to fear or worry about anything, for we will be under his protection.

Lovely

Finally, my Jesus oozes loveliness! He gives out a sense of exaltation and joy. Joy is not always externalized loudly as some people think but also internalized quietly! So if somebody is filled with joy, don't always expect it be seen! Jesus is altogether lovely and lovely altogether! Jesus is beyond compare for the things He has done and the things He will do. He is altogether lovely in regard to his person, humanity, birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, exultation, glorification, grace, protection, tenderness, power, wisdom, vengeance, judgment, majesty, redemption and pardon. I could go on and on! That is my Jesus -unique, majestic, tender, wise, strong and lovely.  That is my Jesus, whom I seek to serve and obey every second of every day. This Jesus I seek to obey in every facet of life. And it is this Jesus whom I depend upon and personally know to be totally reliable in every way. Is this your Jesus?

Is Jesus your whole life and your whole life Jesus? That means does He have total authority over every aspect of your life. All aspects of life such as relationships, family, work, bank accounts, possessions, worries and troubles? By authority, I mean power! Following Him and carrying your own cross means that - a life sacrificed for Him and obedience to Him alone! Jesus wants to influence every area of your life - not just certain parts you are willing to give up but all aspects of life! Jesus came to earth to give comfort to the uncomfortable and we are to do the same - give comfort to those in need. Maybe you are feeling the desolation and loneliness because of decisions made in the past. Christmas can be a very lonely time for some people. Give it up willingly to Jesus and don't keep trying to take it back like a security blanket! If you have something even partially blocking your relationship with Jesus, get rid of it - ask Him to take it away! Let Him give you the WOW factor. Let the WOW factor going and see your community transformed.

Merry Christmas from Partake Ministries!

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Tale of 4 Christian Disciples

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Tale of 4 Christian Disciples

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Meekness

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Meekness!

In Matthew Chapter 5 verse 5, Jesus said "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." In other words: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

It must be said right from the beginning that meekness is NOT weakness. It takes a strong character to deliberately set aside their rights. For example Moses was the meekest man in all the earth (Number 12:1-3) and Moses was not a weak willed character! Meekness is accepting God's dealings with us as good, without dispute or resistance. Meekness is effectively trusting God to be God! The Christian disciple is to be a person who claims no rights of their own, and who is willing to yield all possessions and personal rights to God. The Christian disciple sees possessions as being loaned to them by God for His work & glory. We see this in Jesus’ example (Philippians 2v5-6) and also in the early church (Acts 5v12). It is also a necessary part of carrying our cross as Jesus commanded in Luke 9v23.

But why should Christian disciples give up their rights? We do so because we belong to God, through our own volition. Remember that as a Christian disciple, "You are not your own, you were bought at a price" writes Paul to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Contradictory to this is the way of the world, which insists that every person has rights and that they have a right to use their rights!

What do Christian disciples gain by handing over their own rights to God? Amongst other things we gain inner satisfaction and peace (Ps. 22:26; 37:8-11) and an increased joy in the Lord (Is. 29:19)

When we as Christian disciples insist on our own rights and they are violated, there are two main consequences - anger and worry. When we get angry or worry, we are trying to control or change something that God never intended for us to change or control. Anger or anxiety is a sign that a right God wants me to yield is involved. Jim Elliot put it thus: "He is no fool, who gives up what he can lose, to gain things he cannot lose" -

I wonder what makes you angry or worried! For me its different things at different times. Sometimes it will be my computer failing or taking too long! At other times it may be due to the car in front not moving quick enough when the traffic lights go green! Anger and worry result from thinking that the so called problem is bigger than God. What steps can you follow which may help you overcome the terrible twins of anger and worry?

Firstly identify the areas which tend to get you angry or worried. Allow your heart to be a workshop of the Holy Spirit and prayerfully think through each area and yield each one of them to Him, with no strings attached. These areas may include things like lifestyle; marriage; friendships; reputation; possessions; health; money or time. When these are yielded to God, God is then responsible for these areas of our lives and we can live on the basis of “Everything works for the good of those who loved Him..." Romans 8:28-29 2. Expect God to test His rights. As each right is yielded, God will probably allow situations to occur which will deny you these rights. These are opportunities to see if the right was really yielded. It may be necessary to once again yield that right to Jesus Christ. Finally, acknowledge you are God's possession and His responsibility (1 Cor. 6:19-20) and thank God in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18)

For more to think about please do read Philippians Chapter 2 verses 1 to 11 and Philippians Chapter 4 verses 6 to 7.

  1. What rights or areas are you holding onto that you need to give to God, in order to exhibit meekness?
  2. How can you show and share with somebody outside the Church, what meekness is?

I Thank you.

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9. Partake – Towards Healed Emotions in the Christian Disciple

The psalmist wrote in Psalm 139 verse 23 to 24: Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; see for yourself whether I've done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.”

As a Christian disciple, did you know that God wants all parts of you to be following Jesus! That includes your thinking, your actions and your attitudes! It means your mind; your body and will are all to be under the control of the Holy Spirit! This includes your emotions. It must be said that this is contrary to some modern thinking, which stipulates that showing emotions can be a ruinous thing! In Scripture, God reveals Himself as emotional! Our Lord Jesus Christ displayed the full gamut of emotions! But for us humans, there are two extremes with which people exhibit emotional responses. One extreme is the kind exhibited where emotions are stifled and suppressed! The other extreme is where the emotions control the person! Both extremes are erroneous and as Christian disciples we seek a balance whereby we exhibit emotions but under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes weattempt to excuse our bad emotional responses & attitudes and turn them into problems as well as into sins. Whilst wrong responses must be dealt with as sin, it is also very helpful to find out what has caused these bad responses and attitudes, so that we cannot sin that way again! For example, we confess our sins of anger or resentment, but it is also helpful to discover why I am an angry or resentful person..

David Seamands in his book “Healing Damaged Emotions”. 'Just as the rings of a tree reveal the developmental history of a tree, so it is with us. Just a few minutes beneath the protective bark, the concealing, protective mask, are the recorded rings of our lives, - scars of painful hurts and damaged emotions.

Firstly let us discuss briefly what may well be some of the evidence of damaged emotions within us:

1. Deep sense of unworthiness: a continuous, nagging feeling of anxiety, inadequacy, & inferiority. Such a person feels they are no good & will never amount to anything.

2. Perfectionist complex (The IORTA person): This person is always striving, struggling to succeed, feeling guilty and a failure. They are trying to please themselves, others, & God by trying harder, usually to keep a set of rules. They are bound by a tyrannical twins of "oughts" and “onlys” - I ought to do better; If only......

3. Hypersensitivity: This person has usually been hurt deeply, having reached out for love & affection and been rejected. Often these people cover up their feelings by being hard or tough & often hurt & dominate others.

4. Fear: These people are so afraid of failure that they never get involved in anything risky, where they may make a mistake or look weak. They are often defeated, indecisive people.

Now having seen what may be the evidence of damaged emotions, what principles can the Christian Disciple follow to help them come under the full control of the Spirit?

1. Face your problem squarely acknowledge it to yourself, and to someone else.

2. Accept your responsibility in the matter. Now you may have been the victim, but what about your response, and especially the continued response.

3. Do you really want to be healed? Sometimes there is a sense of satisfaction in being the 'problem person', the centre of attention, and the underdog.

4. Forgive everyone involved in your problem. Some people won't forgive because then there would be nobody left to blame, except himself or herself.

5. Forgive yourself: you can & must, if you have received God's forgiveness. God is not surprised or shocked by our sin; He knows what we are capable of. (Jeremiah 17:10)

6. Finally, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your real problem. Acknowledge that when Jesus died on the cross, it was not only for your sins that He died, but also for your entire sinful nature!

For more to think about please do read 2 Corinthians chapter 2 verses 5 to 11.

What emotions do you still need to place under the control of the Holy Spirit?

Are you holding onto something from the past, which is in turn holding you back from coming under the full control of the Holy Spirit?

Where can you demonstrate a balanced Christian response to an event and thereby demonstrate the Gospel to somebody who is not a Christian?

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