Obeying God (4)

2017-12-14
Genesis 6:8 NIVUK

What does it mean to have God’s favour? The Hebrew word translated as favour is chen, which can also mean ‘grace’ or ‘acceptance’. The first time the word ‘favour’ appears in the Bible is Genesis 6:8, telling us that ‘Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD’ (NIVUK). God had decided to destroy the inhabitants of earth because they’d become so corrupted and evil. The only ones spared were Noah and his family, because Noah had God’s favour. He was ‘a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God’ (v. 9 NLT). He hadn’t allowed the world to influence and corrupt him, and instead stayed true to God, so God saved him and used him to re-establish the human race. One of the things that set Noah apart was his obedience to God. And our best example of obedience is Jesus, who ‘grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man’ (Luke 2:52 NIVUK). So how can we also find and grow in favour? It all starts when we surrender our lives to Christ and accept God’s grace and love, and continues as we show our obedience to God through the way we live. And as we do that, we’ll notice God blessing us in all kinds of ways. He wants to favour every aspect of our lives and help us in every possible way. But first, we’ve got to position ourselves to receive that favour by being obedient. If God knows He’ll get the glory for what He’s doing in our lives, He’ll bless us beyond our ability and beyond our resources.

Est 1-4; John 19:18-42; Ps 105:23-36; Ecc 7:5-8

Free from people’s approval

2017-09-19
1 Thessalonians 2:4 NIV

There’s a world of difference between performing for people’s approval, and being free to minister to their needs because you know you already have God’s approval. Striving for approval is like any other drug; you can never get enough of it. And like all junkies, you go crazy when it’s withheld. It places you at the mercy of other people’s opinions, and as a result you live on an emotional roller coaster. That’s not how God wants you to live! Paul was free to speak the truth in love: to confront people or to be gentle with them. When someone told Paul they didn’t like him, he didn’t lose sleep over it because his security and self-worth weren’t built on their acceptance. “We speak as men approved by God” (v. 4 NIV). Paul didn’t go around comparing himself with others, demonstrating his superiority by trying to be top dog or the one who’s always in charge. Knowing he already had God’s approval set him free from such anxiety and meant he could enjoy the life God called him to. When we’re immature, we worry about what others think of us. But as we become more mature, we realize that most of the time they aren’t thinking about us at all. They’re too busy thinking about themselves – or worrying about what we think of them! Knowing you have God’s approval gives you the strength to deal with criticism and conflict because you’re secure in your identity. And your identity is this: You’re redeemed, called, and approved by God.

Soul food: Zech 1-4; Mark 14:1-11; Ps 39; Prov 24:26-28

Identity (1)


1 Thessalonians 2:4 NIV

We can often fall into the trap of people-pleasing. We find ourselves performing, or acting a certain way, in order to gain people’s approval. We become tied down by shoulds and oughts, thinking ‘I should do this’ and ‘I ought to do that’. When what we really need to be doing is meeting other people’s needs knowing that we already have God’s approval. When we’re trapped in the people-pleasing cycle we end up being controlled by the opinions of others and it can feel like we’re constantly living on an emotional rollercoaster. And that’s not how God wants us to live. Paul was free to speak the truth in love: to confront people or to be gentle with them. When someone told Paul they didn’t like him, he didn’t worry about it because his security and self-worth weren’t built on their acceptance. ‘We speak as those approved by God’ (v. 4 NIV). Paul didn’t go around comparing himself with others, demonstrating his superiority by trying to be the best or the one who’s always in charge. Knowing he already had God’s approval set him free from worrying about those things and meant he could enjoy the life God had in mind for him. When we forget that we already have God’s approval, and that our identity is in Him, we stress ourselves out trying to be everything to everyone. The truth is, living for God won’t always make us the most popular and people won’t necessarily understand us or our decisions. Paul wrote: ‘If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave’ (Galatians 1:10 MSG). But knowing we have God’s approval gives us the strength to deal with criticism and conflict because we’re secure in our identity.

Zech 1-4; Mark 14:1-11; Ps 39; Prov 24:26-28

“Precious blood – precious you!”

2017-06-12
1 Peter 1:19 NLT

The Bible says, “The ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ” (vv. 18-19 NLT). You must come to a place in your life where you are secure in who you are “in Christ”; where you don’t allow your sense of worth to be based on the opinions or actions of others. Stop trying to find your worth in how you look, or in what you do for a living, or in how people treat you. Your worth in God’s eyes is incalculable because Jesus shed His blood for you. “Precious blood, precious you!” Yes, you have faults. Yes, there are things about you that need to be changed, but God is working on you just as He is on everybody else. Don’t let somebody else dump their issues on you. You’re a blood-bought child of God! Don’t allow them to make you feel worthless or useless because they don’t know how to treat you right, or love you as you deserve to be loved. Don’t spend your life trying to win their acceptance or approval. You’ve already been accepted and approved by God, so make sure your validation and sense of worth come from Him. You’re redeemed by Christ’s blood, covered by Christ’s blood, and accepted through Christ’s blood. And since His blood is “precious,” that makes you precious too! Satan, who’s called “the accuser,” would like you to forget that and see yourself only in the light of your flaws and failures. Instead, get up every morning, look in the mirror, and announce, “I am precious, because I have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus!”

Soul food: Ezek 27:25-30:26; Mat 16:13-28; Ps 80:1-11; Prov 15:11-14

Born identity


1 Peter 1:19 AMP

The most defining moment of your life you won’t even remember. You had absolutely no choice in it – you were born. When we become a Christian the Bible describes it like a second birth: ‘For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God’ (1 Peter 1:23 NLT). Just like your first birth, this is the defining moment of your new spiritual life, and although you make the choice to follow Christ, the promise of a fresh, new start is all down to Jesus: ‘[you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ.’ That’s why Jesus’ death is spoken about so much in church. At first it can appear strange to celebrate a death, to eat bread and drink wine to remember His body and His blood. But it was something Jesus asked us to do: ‘Jesus took some bread in his hands. He blessed the bread and broke it…and said, “Take this and eat it. This is my body.” Jesus picked up a cup of wine and gave thanks to God… and said, “Take this and drink it. This is my blood, and with it God makes his agreement with you. It will be poured out, so that many people will have their sins forgiven”‘ (Matthew 26:26-28 CEV). It’s only because of Jesus that we can be forgiven and be born again with a new identity.

Ezek 27:25-30:26; Mat 16:13-28; Ps 80:1-11; Prov 15:11-14