Retrain your brain

2018-09-24
Colossians 3:10 NLT

Lasting change happens gradually on the inside, often before there’s any outward evidence of it. Pastor Jim Penner says: “A friend of mine recently went through hip-replacement surgery…the joint had worn to the point where he walked with a limp and had to use a crutch. Thanks to the skill of a modern-day surgeon he was quickly up and around again. Yet for months after the surgery his limp remained…I ran into him this morning and the limp was gone. Where did it go? It had been there the day before. Had it vanished in the night? ‘You’re walking great,’ I said. ‘What happened?’ His response was priceless. ‘My physical therapist told me I had to retrain my brain.’ His brain had been trained to expect pain so he limped in anticipation. Even when he didn’t feel the pain his brain said, ‘Hang on. It’s coming!’ The Bible says in Christ you become ‘a new creature: old things are passed away…all things are become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV). But you have to change your thinking by believing, accepting, and acting on it. Christ has already done the restoration ‘surgery.’ Just like my friend was given a new hip, God has given you a new life. The old one is gone along with all the bad things you’ve done, thought, or said. You’re a brand-new creation. But you have to retrain your brain to accept God’s forgiveness and the restorative work Jesus has done in your life.” So: Retrain your brain.

Soul food: Zech 1-4; Luke 22:63-71; Ps 3; Prov 24:23-25

What’s in a name? Everything! (5)

2018-09-07
Jeremiah 23:6 NLT

The name Jehovah-Tsidkenu: The Lord our righteousness, was given by God through Jeremiah, announcing the coming of Jesus the redeemer: “I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line…And this will be his name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness'” (vv. 5-6 NLT). Before Jesus came, our righteousness lay in our own efforts. “We will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands…God has given us” (Deuteronomy 6:25 NLT). We absolutely failed that righteousness test! But “The Lord our righteousness” became our solution. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV). Notice: It’s only “in Jesus” that we “become the righteousness of God”! You’re not to try to do right so you can feel righteous before God, or to generate a supply of good works to draw from when needed. You’re to draw continually from the “righteousness” deposited in your account by Christ. It’s useless to look within yourself for humility, patience, kindness, love, etc. They’re not there! You must take them by faith from the supply stored up for you in Jesus. Guilty hearts can draw forgiveness, anxious spirits can draw peace, and weary souls can draw strength from Jehovah-Tsidkenu. You received salvation by faith alone. And in the same way you must draw righteousness, and everything else you need, by faith in what God has accomplished and stored up for your use in Jesus, The Lord our righteousness!

Soul food: Josh 16:1-19:23; Luke 20:9-19; Ps 20; Prov 23:10-12

Integrity

2018-07-28
Psalm 25:21 NIV

Integrity is all about us being a whole, honest person. And that means we are the same wherever we are, whatever we’re doing and whoever we are with. We can often end up putting on different masks or identities, depending on the situation. Maybe how we are with our parents is totally different from how we are with our friends. Or how we are at church is different from how we are at work or school. But if we have integrity, we are the same person. We may show different sides of ourselves to different people; we won’t always be completely vulnerable with everyone; but the essence of who we are, our true identity, is the same. The Bible says: ‘Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out’ (Proverbs 10:9 NIV). We live in a culture that celebrates talent over integrity, but we’ve got it backwards. Talent could fade over time. So could intellect and appearance. But integrity can last a lifetime if we prioritise it. Unfortunately, when we make mistakes our integrity can be damaged. Our good reputation can be shattered in seconds when we choose the wrong path. So we need to be asking God to help us stay on the right path. David prayed: ‘May integrity and uprightness protect me.’ And we can pray that too. If we do end up with damaged integrity, we can rebuild it again, it may take some time for people to trust us again but we don’t have to lose hope or give up. We just need to return to God, ask for His forgiveness and get back on the right path.

Zeph 1-3; Luke 9:46-56; Ps 42:6-11; Prov 19:15-17

Responding with grace

2018-06-09
2 Peter 3:18 NIV

At the Last Supper, John’s gospel tells us that Jesus sat down and washed the disciples’ feet. It was a horrible task, after having walked the dusty streets all day in sandals, and it was usually done by the lowest servant of the household. The disciples must have been shocked to see their leader doing such a lowly, disgusting job. Peter even tried to protest (take a look at John 13:8). But Jesus told them, ‘Since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow’ (John 13:14-15 NLT). Think about those disciples – there was Peter, who would deny knowing Jesus; Thomas, who would doubt Him; Judas, who would betray Him; and all the others, who would desert Him in His time of need. But that didn’t stop Jesus. He was encouraging them to treat others with the same grace, humility and forgiveness that He was showing them by washing their feet. It didn’t mean He endorsed their sins. It didn’t make it okay for Peter to deny Him, or Judas to betray Him, and so on. When we receive God’s grace, it doesn’t mean He’s turning a blind eye to our mistakes. And when we follow Jesus’ example and show grace to others, it doesn’t mean we’re unaware of the damage and pain that their sins have caused. Instead, grace chooses to see God’s forgiveness even more. Where there’s no grace, bitterness grows. But where grace is abundant, forgiveness grows. So let’s work towards developing a Christlike character by showing grace to everyone we meet, whatever the circumstances.

Ezek 16:53-19:14; Mark 14:53-65; Ps 1; Prov 14:29-32

Accuser vs. advocate (2)

2018-05-08
Romans 8:33 NCV

Paul writes: ‘Who can accuse the people God has chosen? No one, because God is the One who makes them right. Who can say God’s people are guilty? No one, because Christ Jesus died, but he was also raised from the dead, and now he is on God’s right side, appealing to God for us’ (vv.33-34 NCV). Even though we may have read this verse many times, we can often still have that feeling of guilt. It’s important to remember that not all guilt is bad. Guilt can remind us that we’ve stepped away from God’s best and need to confess, repent and seek His forgiveness. The problem comes when we start to define ourselves by our guilt. But doing something that’s not good doesn’t mean that we’re not good. The guilt reminds us to bring it to God, but then let it go. We don’t need to found our lives on it, define ourselves by it or be trapped by it. Every day God gives us a fresh start. The Bible says: ‘The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness’ (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV). When a woman was brought to Jesus, after being caught in adultery, Jesus said to the people accusing her that the first person to throw a stone should be someone who doesn’t sin. Gradually all the people walked away until it was just Jesus and the woman left. He said to her: ‘Neither do I condemn you…Go now and leave your life of sin’ (John 8:11 NIV). However many accusing voices we hear and however much guilt we feel, Jesus says the same to us today.

Deut 14-17; Mark 7:1-13; Ps 37:25-31; Prov 12:1-3