Luggage

Accept my teaching. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest. Yes, the teaching that I ask you to accept is easy. The load I give you to carry is light. Matthew 11:29,30 ERV

 

When going on a flight, if you are like me, you will decide early on that you will travel light, and well within the allowable baggage limit. You start well, and are convinced you will manage the impossible. Have you ever managed to get your suitcase under the limit on the first attempt? Me neither! I am wrongly convinced that I know my limits, but how wrong can you be? The truth is we don’t know our limits very well, and that goes for many areas of life.

 

We have a friend and wise Master who knows exactly how much we can carry in our ‘suitcase’ and He doesn’t let us become overweight. We carry the burdens of guilt, remorse, fear, unforgiveness, hatred, resentment, and the list could go on. We think we know our ‘limit’ but we are not good at knowing when enough is enough, and when to shut that case. I like the way Paul puts it, and we can take this to the bank!

 

The only temptations that you have are the same temptations that all people have. But you can trust God. He will not let you be tempted more than you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 ERV

AntiSocial Media

If you live in the UK, you will know the sad story of Charlie Gard, a little 11 month old baby who had a life limiting disease, and how his mum and dad had been through the court system, trying everything in their power to save him. His life maintaining tubes and medical paraphernalia were recommended to be removed to allow the little boy die ‘with dignity’. His parents were distraught, and were been faced with a situation which at the end of the day is the life and death of their only son, and one which no parent should ever have to face. This whole situation was played out in the media court of worldwide public opinion, which made it worse. I even saw a USA newspaper report which blamed the UK NHS and the government for Charlie’s death. In my opinion, that is one country which has no room to talk about health care and politics.

 

As if this heartache wasn’t bad enough, thousands of mindless people took to ‘social’ media to question the medical staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and their care for Charlie. Death threats were even made on so called ‘social’ media against the very people who cared night and day to keep this little soul alive while a court case raged around him. All the medical opinion was that his condition was irreversible and his life support should be removed, but these ‘not so wise guys’ who make Facebook and Twitter (there are other social media sites) their weapon of choice, think they know better. No qualifications or medical experience. No connection to the family. No heart. Just anger at a hospital who do what they can to improve the health of children when they can, and are distressed when they get too close to their tiny charges, and the unthinkable happens. Then there was the American doctor who raised false hope by claiming his revolutionary experimental treatment  could turn Charlie’s situation around. It took him months to come to London to see the baby for himself and view the case notes, and it was too late to prove anything. That speaks volumes. Heartless? Do I hear a cash register ringing in my ears? The Pope and Donald Trump also offered ‘any help they could give’, but that went silent as well.

 

If there was ever a case for believing our society has reached the tipping point of understanding true compassion, this is it. These thousands of mindless trolls represent the kind of society we belong to, and I am ashamed that I am seen as a part of it. This is only one part of an obviously broken community, country, and world. I believe the only thing that will help is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will sort out the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff, the good from the evil. Only then will we rest in the assurance that the death of this little boy has been defeated, and our literally ‘God-less’ society has been set straight.

How Close?

It’s a game some Christians play all the time, and although the rules can change from person to person, it goes something like this. I want you to think I am a good person, and even a Christian, but I don’t want my friends to think I am so different from them. Basically, I don’t want to look or sound weird to them.

 

I can make an effort to dress like them, with provocative clothing. This would apply more to the ladies, and shows itself in lower necklines and shorter skirts. The lower and shorter the better you play the game.

 

Or..We might want to talk like them in everyday conversation by using words and language which go close to the bare bone. Some will even use words which rhyme with and sound like you are using a swear word, but the good thing is, you are not. You get very close but don’t cross the actual line. The more you can sound like the unsaved, the better you play the game.

 

Or…We would never read the same secular, racy magazines, but we will be seen to know about similar reading material, all in the quest to look like them. You know, just human. Yet another way to play the game to better effect.

 

Or…It is so easy  to use the internet to see what they are watching, just for research purposes you understand. And anyway, who will know what level of ‘racy’ or ‘adult’ material you happen to come across in your desire to be like them. It can also give you common ground for striking up a conversation. Not a Christian one of course, but who knows it might lead there eventually. A way to get your information without being caught in a compromising situation which would be difficult to defend. You are playing the game really well with this little sleight of hand.

 

Or…When we mix in the same company, no matter where, we show them that although we are a Christian, we can go to the same places as them, and no one will bat an eyelid. The more we behave like the ‘regulars’, the better we play the game. And we can do that so convincingly. So we go to church, but also go to the pub and/or club. By now, we have pretty much mastered the game, and feel very comfortable. We can so easily defend ourselves by saying that Jesus sat with sinners, unlike the Pharisees who knew what their Bible said but had no love. We are only trying to be like Jesus, right?

 

Of course the ways to play the game differ, but the aim is always the same. To make it look to our Christian friends that we are in fact Christians, while at the same time, making it look to our unsaved friends that we are human, just like them. My only concern is how could we be a convincing witness for our unsaved friends to want to be a Christian when there is so little difference?

 

Let me leave this thought with you. There are other Christians who do not play this game, and have no need or desire to walk so close to the cliff edge. What effect do you think it has on them, particularly the younger ones in the faith? Would they be in danger of falling over the edge of the cliff? The cliff edge that you have so carefully tried to avoid? Other lives do matter, both the saved and the unsaved, so why play games which do not help either, and only serve to play to our own ego?

 

When I reach heaven, I want to be greeted with “Well done, good and faithful servant”, not “Well you cut that close”. How about you?

Confirmation

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Romans 8:15-17

 

How do we know we are a child of God? In fact, how do we know this constantly, day by day, no matter how things are going, or how we are feeling? Resting and relying on our feelings is not the most reliable way to decide anything, because we can be up one day, and down the next.

 

If you received Christ as a child, I think you have an advantage. You see, as we get older we tend to over analyse things, but when we are younger it is natural to trust and believe without second guessing ourselves. So, how do we know for sure that we are saved and heaven-bound? It is too important to be left to chance.

 

But how exactly does the Holy Spirit confirm with our spirit that we are children of God? It can come in many ways, and always with an unmistakeable tug in your heart. Perhaps you get this assurance in something said from the pulpit. Or in the Creation that only God could have made for us. Or the words and melody of a hymn, chorus, or gospel song. If I am being honest, this is the way I feel the Spirit confirming His presence the most. I am often reduced to tears as we sing songs about God’s gift, and our promise of a heavenly home. Or as we read the Bible accounts of God moving in the lives of His people, in the Old and New Testaments. Or when a new Christian gives the story of their own encounter with the living Christ. The ways we are affected are many. John Wesley said it this way, “My heart was strangely warmed” and that about sums it up.

 

Don’t doubt it. If you have prayed, confessed your sin, and repented, the Spirit will not let you forget it. He will tug at your heart from time to time in unexpected ways, just to remind you that you are a child of God. Isn’t our God good? We are certainly blessed!

Walter Mitty

Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:8 NLT

 

Walter Mitty is a fictional character who lives in a dream world. One in which he is far removed from the mild mannered person he really is. In fact his real life and his hidden life are very far distant from each other, but it’s only a bit of fun, isn’t it, and quite harmless?

 

The Bible tells us that we are in great danger if our loyalty is divided between God and the world. Yes, we must be in the world, but not of the world. If our loyalty to God is not divided and is clear, we are stable in everything we do. Did you catch that? When our loyalty to God is undivided, we are stable in everything else we do!

 

Jesus had stern words for the church leaders of His day, and He described them as whitewashed tombs. Clean in appearance on the outside, but inside it’s a different matter. Full of death. We say it another way nowadays and it is every bit as clear.. We must “walk the walk, and talk the talk”. How else will the others around us know which part of us is the real, or greater part if we are divided? Who we say we are, or who we really are?

 

Are we playing the character of Walter Mitty with spiritual things? Good and pure during a Sunday, but no different than our worldly friends Monday to Saturday? Do you really think they don’t notice? Whether they say it or not, they have already made up their minds if we are loyal and stable. I pray we are up to the challenge, because unlike Walter Mitty, that’s certainly not harmless either to ourselves, or the witness to our friends. It has eternal consequences.

The Good Work

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

 

In my youth, there was a badge that some wore on their lapel with the letters: “BPGIFWM” and I thought it was all wrong, and just an excuse for some wrongdoing in the name of being human. The letters stood for, “Be Patient God Isn’t Finished With Me”. The older I get, the more I see the truth of the badge.

 

Paul says it in different words in our text. Be sure of this. Once God has started the good work of salvation in us, He will complete it. It is certain, and it will be in His timing. Maybe at the time of Jesus return, or our passing into glory. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter to me, because either way I will be suited and fit for heaven.

 

This won’t happen because of anything I have done to deserve it, but as a direct result of God’s grace after confession of sins, and salvation. Aren’t you glad it’s all in God’s hands? So, it really is true. God isn’t finished with us quite yet. Amen to that thought!

Look Up!

I look up to the hills, but where will my help really come from? My help will come from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1,2

 

I need to do this a lot more often. Not sure about you, but there are times in my life when I am watching my feet when I should be looking heavenward. Up, not down is the best way.

 

There are some who are naturally optimistic, and others who are pessimistic. Then there are those who call themselves realists, but we all know the folks who say that are really pessimists who don’t want to admit it!

 

I think it’s fair to say we all want to be more optimistic in our outlook, but don’t you find that life can get you down, and once again you start looking at your feet on the street, and not with your eyes on the skies? I suggest right there is the time I need to count my blessings. You know, all the times in the past when God has come through loud and clear to banish the clouds and doubts, and give me back my mislaid once brave faith.

 

The Psalmist is clear where his help ‘really’ came from. Did you notice the word ‘really’? Perhaps he was bothered with the same mundane worries we have today, and he needed to remind himself that his help really and only comes from the Lord. Lesson learned? I hope so!