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Am I Good Enough? Cont..

Yesterday I asked the question Am I Good Enough?  We looked at Moses and how he did not feel “good enough” for the job that God had assigned to him. 

I was going to look at a few different characters today, however, I would really like to devote today’s blog to Paul The Apostle.  I do not think there is anyone in the whole Bible who seems less equipped for the job of apostle than Saul of Tarsus!! 

Saul of Tarsus was a zealous Jew who hunted down believers of The Way (which Christians were called at this stage) in order to persecute them.  Saul stood by and watched as Stephen; the first Christian martyr was stoned to death.  Following this we see him plan his journey to Damascus. “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priestand asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” Acts 9:1-2.

It was during this journey that Jesus presented himself to Saul.  Let us think about that for a moment, Saul is on his way to persecute, imprison and put to death the very family of Jesus and this is when Christ appears to him.  One might think that Christ has come to strike him down in revenge for the death of his faithful disciple Stephen and the many others who have been persecuted yet no, Christ comes to adopt Paul into his family and employ him in the work of the gospel on earth.  Why would He do this?  For God’s Glory of course!

When I first came to Christ, I read many books on Paul and his story really spoke to me, I still love him greatly and thoroughly enjoy reading his letters.  This was a man that truly despised Christ and His followers, a man who would go to any lengths in order to persecute believers and hamper the work of Christ yet in the blink of an eye Saul becomes Paul The Apostle, who in my mind is the most inspirational witness to faith in the whole of Scripture.  

My favourite poem is one by Rudyard Kipling entitled “If” which he wrote for his son.  While reading this beautiful poem let us think about Paul.  I have attached an image of the poem and later intertwined this poem with Bible verses in order to show that Paul meets this criterion and more!     

  • If you can keep your head when all about you
  • Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

1 Corinthians 4:12 “and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure”

  • If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  • But make allowance for their doubting too;

Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

  • If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  • Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Philippians 1:22-26 “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”

  • Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
  • And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

  • If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
  • If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

1 Cor 6:19  “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.”

  • If you can meet with triumph and disaster
  • And treat those two impostors just the same;

Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

  • If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
  • Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
  • Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
  • And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
  • If you can make one heap of all your winnings
  • And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
  • And lose, and start again at your beginnings
  • And never breathe a word about your loss;

Philippians 3:8 “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

  • If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
  • To serve your turn long after they are gone,
  • And so hold on when there is nothing in you;

2 Cor 4:8-9  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;”

  • If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
  • Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
  • If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
  • If all men count with you, but none too much;
  • If you can fill the unforgiving minute
  • With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—

Acts 28.30-31 “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.  He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance.”

  • Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
  • And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Paul would undoubtedly qualify as a man by Rudyard Kipling’s standards, yet he is so much more than that, Paul is the personification of the Man of God.

As Paul sat in prison, likely aware the day was drawing near that he would be put to death he writes to Timothy “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Paul could look back and see just how ill equipped he had been for the work of the Lord, yet he did not allow this to hinder him going forward.  Instead Paul used this as a testimony for God’s glory.  Putting aside all the shame that he must have felt, he boldly admitted his atrocious acts.  Acts 22:4“I worked hard and killed men and women who believed as I believe today. I put them in chains and sent them to prison.  The head religious leader and the leaders of the people can tell you this is true. I got letters from them to take to our Jewish brothers in the city of Damascus. I was going there to put the Christians in chains and bring them to Jerusalem where they would be beaten.”  God sees the bigger picture. Paul would be the last person we would have thought of to write the majority of the New Testament, yet God knew what a righteous soldier of Christ Paul would be!

God will give you the ability if you give Him obedience and when you don’t feel “good enough” just think about this:-

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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What Is A Christian?

If you were to ask people this question, what do you think would be the reply?  I expect they would answer “a person that believes in God” and they would be correct, but we must be more specific.  There are many other religions of this world who believe in a god so we must make clear who the God is that we serve.  A Christian believes in the God of the Holy Bible who is at once one, God and three, Father, Son and Spirit, otherwise known as the Trinity.  A Christian believes in the Word of God.  A Christian does not treat the Bible like a pick and mix, he does not pick the aspects that suit his lifestyle and leave those that are troublesome for him.  Of course, there are those that claim to be Christians and do this very thing.  This is not what God has asked of us. 

I have found on my journey there are two types of Christian, the Sunday Christian, and the Believing Christian.  The Sunday Christian devotes the hours of 10-11 on a Sunday morning to worship God or at least appears to worship God and on exiting the church he leaves God behind.

God demands that we identify as Christian above all else, before identifying as wife, father, nurse, teacher, female, dog lover, body builder, artist, etc. etc. we are to be Christian.  God comes first and we are to love God above all else.  John Baillie, the Scottish Theologian sums this up well “A true Christian is a man who never for a moment forgets what God has done for him in Christ, and whose whole comportment and whole activity have their root in the sentiment of gratitude.”

I love this quote by Billy Graham, the North American Evangelist “The real Christian is a person who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip.”  At first glance you may think, ok so a real Christian is so free of sin that he is happy for his pet parrot to share all the goings on of his household to the whole town.  But is there in fact more to it?  Is it that no man is without sin, but the real Christian humbles himself to admit where he goes wrong?  He does not pretend to be perfect, puffing out his chest as though he were as holy as Jesus but rather, humbly shares his imperfectness with other imperfect people in the hope that together they will gravitate towards Christlikeness.

I used to feel that “Christians” were people who thought they were perfect and sinless, a people who felt superior to others and looked down upon them.  I am sure on some occasions I was right.  There are certainly some tv evangelists who would definitely fall into this category.  But when one is a true child of God, this is not how your mind works, in fact, it is the opposite.  Christians, getting to knowing God and His Word, become more aware of their sin.

When you become a Christian, you become a representative of Christ, the hands, and feet of Jesus on earth.  Therefore, one of faith must demonstrate this by his actions.  This is a mighty task, the most important task a Christian is assigned.  Note Well … You will fail.  Of that there is no doubt.  We will still sin.  Do not let this impede your walk with God, simply ask for forgiveness, apologise to anyone that you have sinned against and start again.  Every time you fall, just get back up.  There are many characters in the Bible who have fallen many times, yet they got back up.  Let us think of Peter, a disciple of Jesus.  While Jesus was being interrogated Peter denied even knowing him, not just once but three times yet it is Peter that Jesus built the Church upon, it was to Peter that Jesus handed the keys to heaven.

The true church of God consists of all Christians throughout the world joining as one family in Christ.

When joining a church, it is important to look for the good fruits of which Matthew speaks, but also look for unity and welcome, above all, look for Jesus.  If you find these, you have found a believing church!

I pray that you are thriving in a believing church or that you soon find one in order that your faith may grow in the fellowship of your brothers and sisters.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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Am I Still A Christian When I Have Doubt?

Doubt is something that will creep into the hearts of each and every Christian at some point in their journey with God.  I would imagine that this has become a factor more and more as we have progressed in science and technology and come to rest on our own abilities more and more.  Thousands of years ago, things were different.  Around the world men had their own gods and they rested in the power of these gods for everything, rain, provision, fertility.  Nowadays we feel we can provide everything for ourselves, we turn on our taps and we have a never-ending supply of water, quenching our thirst and that of any crops we may grow in our gardens.  With an egg and sperm, we can create a human being from a petri dish and we even have the capability of manipulating species to create an entirely new one … just look at all the designer dogs out there!!  Less and less we look to God to provide for us and more and more we stand on our own abilities.  Thousands of years ago and, indeed, in many faiths and cultures today people see their gods work in everything.  They pray for rain and when it rains, they thank their gods, they have a baby and they thank their god for their fertility.  They thank their god for the gift and guidance of their elders etc. etc. etc.  How often do we as Christians look to God this way?  We may say grace and we may show our gratitude to God but moment by moment do we genuinely believe and recognise God’s work in our lives?  Meditating on this can be a helpful tool in times of doubt. 

If you are in a period of drought and your faith is wavering remember this, you are still a Christian, you are not alone in how you are feeling and you are still a Child of God.  I used to allow thoughts of doubt to take hold and go to war in my head.  Before long I was back to my old ways and not really feeling like a child of God at all.  I neglected to go to church, I neglected to read the Bible and before long my faith had withered away and, in my head, I was no longer a Christian.  How wrong I was! How many mistakes I made!  Ever since I accepted Jesus into my heart, I have been a Child of God and for eternity this is what I will remain!   Accepting this reality is so helpful in our walk and is the one focus we need to cling to no matter whether we are standing on a majestic mountain top or curled up in a putrid pit.

Let us look at some Bible characters and see that they were no strangers to doubt themselves!

  • Adam and Eve doubted God when they ate of the forbidden fruit, Genesis 3:1-6.
  • Abraham did not believe God when he insisted Sarah will bear a child for him, Genesis 17:17-19.
  • Sarah did not believe God when he insisted, she will bear a child, Genesis 18:12-14.
  • Israel, despite having seen signs of God still refused to believe in Him, Numbers 14:11.  This carried on for generations, 2 Kings 17:14.
  • Gideon doubted God and asked for proof not just once but twice, Judges 6:36-40
  • John the Baptist despite being the chosen one to proclaim the coming of Jesus The Messiah doubted this was the real Jesus, Matt 11:2-3.
  • Thomas doubted that Jesus had resurrected insisting he would believe it when he saw it, John 20:24-29.

Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1937) – “Faith which does not doubt is dead faith”

Alfred Tennyson, English poet (1809-1892) – “There lives more faith in honest doubt, Believe me, than in half the creeds.”

These examples above are such an encouragement for our times of doubt.  Sometimes we doubt because we are humble enough to ask why me? To awe that there could be such an amazing being such that God is!  Of course, other times, we are just being human and resting on our own mind.  It is during these desolate times of our lives that we often emerge stronger in faith.  This is summed up so well in the quote below:-

Lesslie Newbigin, British United Reformed Church theologian – “The life of faith is a continually renewed victory over doubt, a continually renewed grasp of meaning in the midst of meaningless.”

I am going to leave you with a quote by an English hymn writer called Charlotte Elliot which puts so beautifully our walk-through faith and doubt.

Meantime, have a look at the Bible passages above and be reassured that God is not expecting you to be perfect, no one on this earth is and perhaps many who present themselves righteous in faith, in reality suffer from doubt just as you do but are to proud to admit it!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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How Do I Pray – Part 2

In my last blog I introduced you to the acronym, ACTS:-

Let us look at this in a bit more detail.  At the end of each paragraph I have added some Bible verses which will help relate these passages to Scripture:-

Adoration – How does it make you feel when someone you care for tells you they love you and that you make their world a better place.  It makes you feel a glow in your heart doesn’t it!  Well God likes it too!  It is so important that we take time out to let God know we love him.  God designed man in order that he could fellowship amongst us.  God wants companionship.  God, in his very essence being love wants to see this love in others and this love returned to him.  Start with a simple “I love you God” and then tell him why “because you are always there for me”, “because you have taken my into your family”.  If you are going through a time of struggle and perhaps you are not able to feel love for anyone ask God to help you by pouring His love out to you.”  Deuteronomy 6:5, Psalm 99:5, 116:1, John 15:9, Romans 5:5, 1 Corinthians 8:3.

Confession – How do you feel when someone has done something wrong to you and will not acknowledge it or apologise?  You likely feel anger towards them.  Perhaps you want to cast them out from your friendship group or your marriage, family etc!  God, in his very being is goodness.  Goodness is not just a characteristic of God but his very being and, for that reason, he cannot look upon evil, he abhors evil and this is why it is so important to confess your sins to him.  Of course, he already knows what you have done wrong, even evils you are not even aware of! However, he wants you to acknowledge your sin, he wants you to confess it and ask for his forgiveness and only in this way can the relationship between you and God remain unimpeded.  Acts 3:19, Romans 10:9, 1 John 1:9

Thanksgiving – Imagine that you spend a whole afternoon traipsing around the shops looking for that perfect birthday gift for someone or over the course of a month you knit several beautiful baby outfits for a new mum and now imagine when you hand over the gift that you receive no acknowledgement whatsoever.  Although you have not given the gift in order to receive anything you are still likely to feel a little upset.  Jesus suffered the most horrific death for you!  Jesus hung for 3 hours on the cross, struggling for every breath, the pain would have been agonizing in his hands and feet, but nothing compared to the pain in his chest as the weight of his body bore down upon his organs before, eventually, his lungs could breathe no more and he did this for you! The night before his crucifixion, Jesus sweated blood (a medically understood phenomenon occurring when the body is under great stress).  He sweated blood from fear and anxiety as he cried to his Father to remove this fate from him.  Yet this fate was not taken from him and the next day he faced the dreaded cross for you! If you were the only sinner on this world, Jesus still would have faced this for you!  I think that is worth thanking him for regularly!  I have faced times of heartache and there have been times that I could not think of anything good in my life, my soul was in such torment, however, this is the time you need to get back to basics.  You lie down in a soft bed, thank God, you wake in the morning, thank God because he is giving you a new day and maybe today you will see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can lock your door and be safe inside your house, thank God, you have food to eat, thank God.  Once you get started you are sure to find many blessings to thank God for and this really helps your mental health as bit by bit you find reasons to be of cheer!  2 Corinthians 4:15, Ephesians 5:19-20, Colossians 3:17, James 1:2-4.

Supplication – What would happen if you had a friend that only contacted you to request something, sometimes money, often your time etc.  Do you think you would be in fellowship long with this friend?  Definitely not!  This is completely one sided.  In many ways so is our relationship with God, however, God’s grace far outweighs ours!  God does not ask anything from us but our acceptance of his son Jesus and his work on the cross and if God wishes us to have our requests then He will grant them to us.  Matthew 7:7-11, 21:22, Philippians 4:6, James 1:5.

To Be Continued ….

Meanwhile, have a look at the verses, pick a quiet spot and have a chat with your heavenly Father.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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Do I Need To Go To Church?

There are countless people today identifying as Christian, who read their Bible and pray daily yet never visit a church and there are those who never miss a Sunday service, yet Monday through Saturday their eyes will not as much as glimpse at the Bible and the name of the Lord will not leave their lips.

Neither of the above lifestyles fit with the biblical description of what a Christian should look like.  Luke 6:6 and Mark 1:21  show that Jesus regularly went to church.  Even when only 12 years old he remained in the temple while his parents left to journey home believing he was within their midst.  Later, when they found him, “He said to them, “Why were you searching for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s House?” Luke 2:41-52.    

Being a Christian on your own can be incredibly challenging.  I have experience of this myself.  The world is not always accepting of the faith and it can be extremely hard being singled out and labelled.  For many years I have not been quite sure where I fit in.  I have been at times very much part of the world and far from God and the next longing to be close to him and doing my best to imitate Christ.  Lately, this has changed for me.  I used to think committing myself fully to God would mean having less friends because as far I was concerned there were not many Christians of my age group around me, however, recently, I have discovered the opposite.  I have made many new friends and my walk with the Lord has turned into more of a hop, skip and jump!  I feel at home now.  I occasionally have a wobble, but I have learned this is normal.  Having people around me going through the same journey I can be encouraged at these times and be reassured.  Now I know this feeling will not last because I am firmly rooted in God’s love and I am going to meet more brothers and sisters in Christ as I journey on.  I now have the confidence not to worry what others may think about my decision to accept Christ, I know I am part of something wonderful.

In Colossians 3:16 we see what a church service should look like “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts, sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.”  It is so important to teach one another in the Scriptures, to hold each other firm when one slips away from the Lord, with gentle admonishment guide each other back and worship the Lord with instruments and voice.  This gives us the opportunity to come together as children of God in worship to him.  We are all given a different gift to be used in service to the Lord, 1 Corinthians 14:26 “What should be done then, my friends?  When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.  Let all things be done for building up.”  To neglect to go to church is like living as a hand or an eye without the rest of your body, of course, impossible, and thus neither is it possible to serve God on one’s own, 1 Corinthians 12:17 “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?  If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  Paul teaches us here that we all have something to share and give to the service of God and therefore it is necessary to find a church that one can serve in by whatever gift has been bestowed upon you.

James tells us, 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The power of the righteous is powerful and effective.”  James recognises the importance of supporting each other.  We need each other’s prayers through our struggles with sin or our difficult seasons.

Pop back to see my next post on finding the right church for you but in the meantime, have courage my brothers and sisters, reach out and get that powerful family of God network around you.  If you are let down, do not be disheartened, a true brother or sister will come alongside you, so just keep your arms open.

Love and Blessings

Louise x