HIGHLIGHTS 2

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Some of my favourite excerpts from the brilliant Radical Together by David Platt:

Simply put, in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need, gospel-believing, God-exalting men and women do not have time to waste their lives pursuing a Christian objective.

The last thing you and I want to do is waste our lives on religious activity that is devoid of spiritual productivity—being active in the church but not advancing the kingdom of God.

We must be willing to sacrifice good things in the church in order to experience the great things of God.

I want to be part of a people who are calling on the Lord day and night, refusing to leave God alone because we hunger for God’s Word in our lives and God’s power in his church and God’s glory in all nations.

We are selfless followers of a self-centered God. We exist for the glory of God, and God exists for the glory of God. The ultimate key to joining together in radical obedience to Christ is found in fostering a humble view of ourselves and a high view of God in the church.

For when we see ourselves as completely dependent, utterly desperate children of God who live exclusively for him, then we will give ourselves in total abandonment to him for his great purpose in the world: the declaration of his gospel and the demonstration of his glory to all the peoples of the earth.

The reality is that you and I, your church and my church, all the structures we have constructed and all the stuff we have created could turn to dust, and God could still make a great name for himself among the nations.

God does not involve us in his grand, global purpose because he needs us. He involves us in his grand, global purpose because he loves us.

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HIGHLIGHTS

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Here are some recent highlights from a book that i am reading by
Ann Voskamp – One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

They say memory jolts awake with trauma’s electricity.

Keep the body moving to keep the soul from atrophying.

Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.

Do we ever think of this busted-up place as the result of us ingrates, unsatisfied, we who punctured it all with a bite?

I have lived the no. I have. Infected by that Eden mouthful, the retina of my soul develops macular holes of blackness.

I hunger for filling in a world that is starved.

With memories of gravestones, of combing fingers through tangled hair, I wonder too … if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see. To see through to God. That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave. Maybe so.

PRAY FOR RENEWAL

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There is a deep hunger for a greater awakening for my soul. Often I know what’s missing but sometimes I just don’t know where to start. It’s somehow easier to ‘feel’ the hole in my life than to know how to ‘fill’ it.

Here are some Bible verses that i sometimes turn to – as I pray for a refreshing renewal over my soul. I trust that as you read, ponder and maybe even pray them – your heart will be ablaze with affection for the Saviour.

“We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”    2 Corinthians 3:16

“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength.”    Ephesians 1:17-19

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work with us.”    Ephesians 3:16-20

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.”   Philippians 1:6, 9, 10

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”      Colossians 3:16

MORE THAN WORDS

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Only words, they say… Yet these ordered collection of letters printed or uttered can build or break a life. Most people I know have been shaped by words, either negatively or positively.

And one of the most heart-breaking truths about words is that we can never, really, take them back. We can apologize for wrong tone or wrong timing or make excuses – yet they are un-erasable.

But we can use the words for good as well!

Read Ephesians 4:29 (HCSB)

‘No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.’

• Say what people need

• Say what will build people up

• Say what is good for them

Watch your heart today and every day, that’s the source of your words. Watch your mouth, that’s the vehicle for your words and realise that in your own strength you cannot do it.

Ask for help, the Holy Spirit is the Counsellor who supplies much needed help for both self-control and to influence.

Here is one of my favourite stories.

Author Mary Ann Bird shared this very personal story in The Whisper Test. She wrote, “I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech.”

“When classmates asked, ‘What happened to your lip? I’d tell them I’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.”

“There was, however, a teacher in the second grade that we all adored—Mrs. Leonard [was her] name. She was short, round, happy—a sparkling lady.” Annually we had a hearing test . . .Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back—things like “The sky is blue” or “Do you have new shoes?”

I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth. [They were] seven words that changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said in her whisper, “I wish you were my little girl”

HYMN OF AFFECTION

These words penned centuries ago seem quite a contrast to some of the modern self-centred ‘love songs for boyfriend Jesus’ stuff we sometimes sing in our congregational meetings. Just saying.

My God, I love Thee; not because

I hope for heaven thereby,

Nor yet because who love Thee not

Are lost eternally.

Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me

Upon the cross embrace;

For me didst bear the nails, and spear,

And manifold disgrace,

And griefs and torments numberless,

And sweat of agony;

Yea, death itself; and all for me

Who was thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,

Should I not love Thee well?

Not for the sake of winning heaven,

Nor of escaping hell;

Not from the hope of gaining aught,

Not seeking a reward;

But as Thyself hast loved me,

O ever-loving Lord.

So would I love Thee, dearest Lord,

And in Thy praise will sing;

Solely because Thou art my God,

And my most loving King.

Francis Xavier, 1506-1552 

Translated by Edward Caswall, 1814-1878.

DEPTH OF MERCY

Someone tweeted a few verses from this Charles Wesley hymn and it caught my eye.

I have to admit that I have never sung it or even heard it. Some of the poetry is superb and the depth of emotion behind it’s words is almost tangible.

Depth of mercy! Can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear,
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?

I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls,
Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

I have spilt His precious blood,
Trampled on the Son of God,
Filled with pangs unspeakable,
I, who yet am not in hell!

I my Master have denied,
I afresh have crucified,
And profaned His hallowed Name,
Put Him to an open shame.

Whence to me this waste of love?
Ask my Advocate above!
See the cause in Jesus’ face,
Now before the throne of grace.

Jesus, answer from above,
Is not all Thy nature love?
Wilt Thou not the wrong forget,
Permit me to kiss Thy feet?

If I rightly read Thy heart,
If Thou all compassion art,
Bow Thine ear, in mercy bow,
Pardon and accept me now.

Jesus speaks, and pleads His blood!
He disarms the wrath of God;
Now my Father’s mercies move,
Justice lingers into love.

Kindled His relentings are,
Me He now delights to spare,
Cries, “How shall I give thee up?”
Lets the lifted thunder drop.

Lo! I still walk on the ground:
Lo! an Advocate is found:
“Hasten not to cut Him down,
Let this barren soul alone.”

There for me the Savior stands,
Shows His wounds and spreads His hands.
God is love! I know, I feel;
Jesus weeps and loves me still.

Pity from Thine eye let fall,
By a look my soul recall;
Now the stone to flesh convert,
Cast a look, and break my heart.

Now incline me to repent,
Let me now my sins lament,
Now my foul revolt deplore,
Weep, believe, and sin no more.

 

SPIRITUAL HONEYMOON

If you are wondering today about love – here is a glimpse of what God’s love is like via a quote from John Piper.

‘Sometimes we joke and say about marriage, “The honeymoon is over.” But that’s because we are finite. We can’t sustain a honeymoon level of intensity and affection. We can’t foresee the irritations that come with long-term familiarity. We can’t stay as fit and handsome as we were then. We can’t come up with enough new things to keep the relationship that fresh.

But God says his joy over his people is like a bridegroom over a bride. He is talking about honeymoon intensity and honeymoon pleasures and honeymoon energy and excitement and enthusiasm and enjoyment. He is trying to get into our hearts what he means when he says he rejoices over us with all his heart.

And add to this, that with God the honeymoon never ends. He is infinite in power and wisdom and creativity and love. And so he has no trouble sustaining a honeymoon level of intensity; he can foresee all the future quirks of our personality and has decided he will keep what’s good for us and change what isn’t; he will always be as handsome as he ever was, and will see to it that we get more and more beautiful forever; and he infinitely creative to think of new things to do together so that there will be no boredom for the next trillion ages of millenniums.’   

HYMNS OF THE LAODICEAN CHURCH

From my sermon illustrations archive – here is something I have come accross some time ago. It is a tad funny but probably true.

Maybe it should make us think twice about what we sing and how we sing in the our congregational songs.

A Comfy Mattress Is Our God
Above Average is Thy Faithfulness
Be Thou My Hobby
Blest Be the Tie That Doesn’t Cramp My Style
I Surrender Some
I’m Fairly Certain That My Redeemer Lives
Joyful, Joyful, We Kinda Like Thee
My Hope is Built on Nothing Much
Oh, for a Couple of Tongues to Sing
Oh, How I Like Jesus
Pillow of Ages, Fluffed for Me
Spirit of the Living God, Fall Somewhere Near Me
Take My Life and Let Me Be
What an Acquaintance We Have in Jesus
When Peace, Like a Trickle. . .
When the Saints Go Sneaking In
Where He Leads Me, I Will Consider Following