PERSONALISING PROMISES PURPOSED FOR A PARTICULAR PEOPLE

One of my biggest debates… Okay it was a full on theological argument… was around somebody ascribing a second meaning to the parable of the sower. He had an opinion or feeling of what it meant to him personally in a particular circumstance. My argument was that Jesus a few verses later is asked by His disciples the meaning of the parable, and He tells them.

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: … – Matthew 13:18-23

So granted I am a logical analyst, a rational thinker. Abstract, while appreciated, is odd to me. If Jesus tells us the meaning of the parable how could I ascribe personal alternative meaning to it? Recently I was conflicted by a verse read in its rightful context.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

What a beautiful promise. Who me Lord? You have plans for welfare for my future?

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:12-13

Anything you say Lord? I’ll call on You and I’ll seek You with all my heart. After a promise like that why wouldn’t I?

I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. – Jeremiah 29:14

Um…? Ok…

“Because you have said, ‘The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,’ – Jeremiah 29:15

Clearly this promise in its original context is not directed at me. But it is a promise that reveals to us the heart of God towards His people. Now that we can personalize! We can personalize, from this verse, the nature and character of our God. We can confirm His heart towards us as we align ourselves with the covenant that He has promised to us.

That said… God is God. It’s His Word. It’s His Scripture. It’s His promises. If He would choose to speak through a donkey or even me… Then how dare I assert He couldn’t, if He chose to, speak something new from a promise of old purposed for a particular people.

CONTEXT IS KEY. JESUS IS KING. RELATIONSHIP IS HIS HEART.

Advertisements

KINGDOM SEED ABIDING FRUIT

  I messaged my wife and asked her, “What’s your favorite bible verse / story?” 

“Hmm. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and All His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. Also… For he hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but of power love and a sound mind. Off the cuff…plenty more. Why?”

“Just thinking…”

“About?”

“What is my life message? Kingdom Seed Abiding Fruit. I like seek first… ‘He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.’ – Acts 1:3

KINGDOM SEED

My mission in life is creatively communicating the Gospel of the Kingdom. For me the Kingdom, here but not yet fully established on earth, is sealed in us by the Spirit of God and then advanced through the sons of the Kingdom carrying that seed and multiplying it through humble obedience to the Lordship of Christ.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:13-14

He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, – Matthew 13:37-38

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. – 2 Corinthians 9:10

ABIDING FRUIT

We can do nothing of significance without God. In Him we can do all things. Abide has become the single-word challenge in my journey with Jesus. Instead of running around with my clever ideas and God-given creativity; to rather dwell, rest, live, step by step, breath by breath in HIM. Only then will what I put my hand to produce fruit that lasts. Abiding fruit sown from the leading of the Holy Spirit in and through me.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:4-5

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. – John 15:7-8

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. – John 15:16

40 DAYS ON THE KINGDOM

My favorite and most frustrating verse of Scripture is Acts 1:3

He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

Full stop.

It doesn’t tell us what Jesus taught them for forty days on the Kingdom. But Jesus does go on to promise them the gift of the Holy Spirit – a promise of power to witness – perhaps about the things they learnt about the Kingdom during those forty days.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. – John 16:12-13


The Kingdom of God abides forever. It’s here. It’s coming, in you and through you, by the Spirit of God in you.

JOURNAL A NEW YEAR INTO GOD’S STORY

MOSAIC MEMOIRS 2014

JOURNAL A NEW YEAR INTO GOD'S STORY_A1

A New Year is coming… Are you prepared? As we gear ourselves up for the new year some may reflect positively or negatively back on 2014, while others eager with expectation to start the new year, others still may be going into 2015 with trepidation. Either way, we will enter into 2015, and we will be penning our personal story to the grand-narrative, which is God’s story. All of history is His story.

Again I ask the question…

ARE YOU PREPARED?

As I reflect back on 2014, in this series of mosaic memoirs, I want to suggest three keys to preparing yourself for a new year in which you hope to journal your small story into God’s grand story.

Get Help, Plan and Paint. Simple, right? Let me explain. These three keys are drawn from three sermon series we did in 2014 in which we realize that it’s not only God’s story that our lives are a tiny journal or memoir of, but He is The Helper, He is The Plan maker, The Author, Architect and Artist to which he applies the colour and detail to our Life’s Canvas. The ultimate preparation for a new year is to realign ourselves with Him. That sounds like one key. Well let me break it down for you.

JOURNAL A NEW YEAR INTO GOD'S STORY_B1

THE HELPER

As we go into 2015 we can choose to do it ourselves, in our own strength, with our own wisdom or understanding, or we can acknowledge that the God of the universe; All-Knowing, All-Powerful, All-Wise wants to help us. In John 16:7 Jesus explains the benefits of Him leaving His disciples; “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you…”

The Helper is the promised Holy Spirit, who I could write about in a thousand more pages, but for now I want to simply say that in 2015 The Helper will empower you and give you an unfair advantage that takes you beyond your limitations and weaknesses. The Holy Spirit will guide and lead you with the wisdom, knowledge, insight and truth of God. The Helper is God; the third part of the Godhead. If you want to a part of God’s story then get God’s help – As a believer you’ve got it. The Holy Spirit not only wants to help you in 2015 as you submit to, listen to, follow, and ask Him for more of Him, but He also wants to give you gifts to equip you, character apps if you will, to help you face the year according to His plan and purpose.

JOURNAL A NEW YEAR INTO GOD'S STORY_B2

THE PLAN

As you prepare for 2015, know that God prepared long before you. As you make our plans know that ultimately God’s plan prevails. Ephesians 4:10 tells us; “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”. God’s Plan was to redeem us, to restore us to Him and then to purpose us with His mission, a mission that asks of us to walk in unity, holiness, love, light, wisdom and victory. (Ephesians 4:3, 4:24, 5:2, 5:8, 5:15-17, 6:10-11) 

If we walk in His plan we will show the world His glory, love and grace. Therefore, as we prepare for 2015, as we make plans, perhaps it’s best to enquire of God what His plan is, and to walk in it, with the help of the Holy Spirit and knowing that, as you “Delight yourself in the Lord, … he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

I only recently understood the subtle genius of this verse… as I delight more in God, I inevitably get to know Him more, and begin to delight in His plans for my life. His plans become the desires of my heart, and He will not only give it to me, but also help me in it.

JOURNAL A NEW YEAR INTO GOD'S STORY_B3

LIFE CANVAS

With God’s help and God’s plan you are guaranteed to have a great year. That sounds too simple. It isn’t quite true. There’s an inappropriate bumper sticker, and no it’s not “Jesus loves you” or “God is good” although those are appropriate and true – but one that rather suggests that bad stuff in life sometimes happen. Why does God allow it? Because in the tension of His Fatherly Love and Sovereign Lordship God knows best. Trust Him! While others may sin and mean evil in our lives God can use it for good. Depend on Him!

Is it really that simple. God is good and just and ‘God is painting on a Canvas as big as the universe’. This is a line that Louie Giglio gave us in a talk I played at a Creative Canvas Coffee Connect this year. In this talk, Louie explains that while we are looking at life through our little bitty snap shots of it, God is painting on a canvas as big as the universe, and while He does so He is always committed to at least three things all the time;

  1. To His Glory
  2. To His Plan of Redemption
  3. To His People

We won’t always understand the big picture of what God is doing, it may even suck or hurt sometimes, but we need to trust that He is good, He is love; ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28

GOOD NEWS PLAIN AND SIMPLE, YET DIFFICULT AND CHALLENGING

The good news of God’s Plan is the Gospel plain and simple – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

But once you’re in, and you journey this walk a while, you begin to realize that the other side of the Gospel is that it will cost you everything, and that God’s Big Picture Plan is also difficult and challenging.

‘And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’ Luke 9:23-24

‘[However] let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe…’ Hebrew 12:28

We are not in His plan but a part of His plan, sons and daughters, heirs and ambassadors of an unshakeable kingdom, with a firm foundation of faith in Christ. We are people of a different Spirit, living from the inside out with the Cross before us and the world behind us.

THE MASTER ARTIST

With that as a framework my encouragement is to allow God to be the master artist who applies the paint to His Canvas, yours and my life, in 2015. Trust Him, believe that He knows what He is doing and His plan will work out for good according to His ultimate purpose, His glory, His redemption, His people.

You are His Plan for 2015 – Walk in it.

He is your Help – Ask Him for it.

He is Lord – Allow Him to paint the canvas of your life in 2015.

It’s His story and your 2015 is a part of it – may it be a great entry and a great year for you and your family in Jesus Name.

RESOURCES: THE PLAN – A Journey to Walk In Devotional 

 

JOY AND THE ART OF CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS

MOSAIC MEMOIRS 2014 

MOSAIC MEMORIES 2014 Part 1 of 4

Christmas 2013 at Harvest was themed Faith, Hope and Joy. Joy would be a major theme throughout 2014. Our youth rocked a Party On theme from January to March and we started the year with a preaching series called The Art of Celebration; a title which we got from the Irish folk band Rend Collective. We would conclude the year with a Carols Old and New Christmas theme in which we borrowed a lot of the creative concepts and music style from Rend Collectives new album Campfire Christmas.

THREE KEYS TO CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS

As I reflect on 2014, in this series of mosaic memoirs, I want to suggest three keys to the art of celebrating Christmas. The first key is exactly that, that we would recap and remember the past. The second key is about prophetic vision, promise, and a focus on the future that the Promisor offers us. It’s a faith in Christ and the hope that we have in Him as our coming King as we prepare our hearts for His advent.

As we reflect on a year past, joy is our main key. Perhaps your past has had some valleys this year or perhaps your future seems dark and bleak – the joy of the Lord remains our strength. The key, though not always easy, is to continue to rejoice in Him regardless of our past, present or potential circumstances.

MOSAIC MEMORIES

We started 2014 with hosting guest speaker and musician Andre De Villiers who is famous for his VW TV Advert song Memories;

I remember the days of my life
I recall the faces- mostly yours
Magic moments – life was a mystery
There’s no place on earth that- we’d rather be

Andre shared his life story which has had many ups and downs – but he starts his story with this line “Jesus is the kindest person I have ever met!” Through it all Andre realized, as we pass through this life, that Jesus is our Redeemer, full of grace and kindness, who was shamed for the crime of the world so that we would be forgiven.

The song Memories finishes; “This is my life, And I’m passing on the Memories”. We are called to pass on the memories of the joy of knowing Christ as our redeemer and to celebrate Him in our lives.

300 AND THE ART OF VISION

We also started 2014 with a vision of 300 people coming to know Jesus as their Redeemer, Lord and Saviour and as a testimony to their faith to be baptized. We held monthly Open Days of Prayer to pray for revival and the vision of these 300 baptisms, and though I confess we lost count, we had the joy of celebrating I’m sure well over 300 baptisms throughout our Sunday Celebrations, our Easter Sunrise service at Hobie Beach, in our group life and through our various missions partners. Many came to find their destiny and future hope in Christ this year.

WHY JOY?

Joy is when our hearts are content, confident and hopeful. It is found in a source of delight stirred by a sense of our well-being, success, or blessing. Christ’s Beatitudes speak of the exceedingly blessed position we now have in Christ. Jesus concludes in Matthew 5:12 by saying although we may face persecution, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…” Paul exhorts in Philippians 4:4-5 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand…”

One of my fondest memories of 2014 was at our Young Adults Leaders Weekend Away themed 300 and The Art of Celebration. We traveled out to a seaside holiday home and one of the nights we went down to the river where the team danced and played in the glow-in-the-dark phosphorus. There is so much about the nature of God that can release joy in our hearts. Creation is one of them, dance and song another, grace, love, forgiveness, freedom of worship, victories, breakthroughs, blessings, promises and the hope that we have in Him. He is our Joy.

JOY IS A SONG

“And the singers sang aloud, with Jezrahiah their overseer. Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.”

Nehemiah 12:42-43.

These are some of the lyrics from Rend Collective’s song Joy from the Album The Art of Celebration.

We’re choosing celebration, Breaking into freedom,
You’re the song, You’re the song of our hearts.
We cast aside our shadows, Trust You with our sorrows,
You’re the song, You’re the song of our hearts
We’re dancing to the rhythm of Your heart,
We’re rising from the ashes to the stars.
 
You’re the joy, joy, joy, lighting my soul.
The joy, joy, joy, making me whole.
Though I’m broken, I am running into Your arms of love.
 
The pain will not define us, Joy will reignite us.
You’re the song, You’re the song of our hearts.
The dark is just a canvas, for Your grace and brightness,
You’re the song, You’re the song of our hearts
We’re dancing to the rhythm of Your heart,
We’re rising from the ashes to the stars

You’re the joy, The song in my heart, The hope of my soul.
In the shadows, In the sorrows, In the desert, When the pain hits.
You are constant, Ever-present, You’re the song of my heart.

SO, MARCH

Throughout March 2014 we had many events and courses; a family camp, family courses, Worklife training, a picnic, a girls nights out, a worship event and the casting of a prophetic vision to literally geographically Walk the Great Commission. What stands out, in concluding this memoir, is 4 sermon titles from the month of March 2014; I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, Party On!, Attitude Matters and Salvation Matters.

Our hearts Joy in Jesus is the Art of Celebrating Christmas.

This is the art of celebration,
Knowing we’re free from condemnation.
O praise the One, praise the One,
Who made an end to all my sin.
Rend Collective – Boldly I Approach (The Art of Celebration) 
from the Album The Art of Celebration.

Because Jesus Christ was born over 2000 years ago, because of what He has done for us in the past, because of the great future He has secured for us, and because He is coming back for us, that is why we celebrate Christmas.

May you know the joy of knowing Him like never before this Christmas.

 

RESOURCE LINKS

CHECK OUT Rend Collective’s The Art of Celebration Story

THE GREATEST MISSION EVER: REPLAY 2013 > MULTIPLY

201312_REPLAY_Multiply

We kicked off the year with a vision to Multiply by fulfilling the greatest mission on the face of the planet to ‘make disciples who make disciples’. Our Celebration of Servanthood series with Ps. David Cape took us to the streets one night for a ‘Spontaneous Encounters of Goodness’ outreach where we went out simply to be a blessing to others.

In February, the Joshua Zone Young Adults Leadership Team went away to a holiday home in Oubos where we had a great time doing Survivor challenges, pizza competitions, bonfire worship on the beach. I shared the heart around the Multiply Movement by Francis Chan and David Platt and also what I felt the Lord was stirring in me for the year, namely;

FOCUS

Simplify and cut out all the stuff that burdens us as we focus on what God is calling us to. It helps to focus on the vision, mission and strategy of the local church that you have been positioned in. For us that was among other themes an emphasis on serving and missions.

FANATICAL DISCIPLINE

We need to commit ourselves to a culture of devotion and learning, a culture of prayer, fasting and worship and of a balanced lifestyle of health and fitness. Healthy things grow and it is only when we get our discipline and devotion right that we will see the fruit of multiplication and the seed we sow.

SOW MORE SEED

We need to sow more seed and ‘be a bringer’ – invite friends to church and to small group and have a culture of reaching out, inclusivity and discipleship. Sow the word of God, sow seeds of love, peace, joy, prayer and of the Holy Spirit. We will never multiply unless we sow more of the right seed…

And if we don’t get it right then we need to continue to ask the Holy Spirit to empower us for next year, as we sow more of the seed that God supplies, and to trust the Lord of the Harvest to grow and multiply it.

‘He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.’ 2 Corinthians 9:10

There’s a poem that somebody sent me that carries the heart of our church for 2014 as we draw people into our circles to experience the celebration, the party and the victorious life we have in Jesus Christ.

POEM by Edwin Markham

He drew a circle that shut me out

Heretic, a rebel. A thing to flout

But Love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in!

Churches grow larger, deeper, broader, warmer and stronger as we magnify Christ, as we be on His mission, as we draw people into His family, help them to become like Him and to serve His purpose on the earth. The greatest mission ever continues in 2014…

The Fight We’re In

20130103_This Battle We InMy latest favorite lyrics are from the bonus track ‘Arise’ from the Hillsong United Zion album (Deluxe Edition).

The fight we’re in
Has already been won

Arise
For the kingdom has come

Many of us walk around down and defeated, and while the challenges and trials of life are real, the hope and victory we have in Christ should be seen as evident fruit by how we respond to life’s troubles. The attitude in which we tackle the battle is key to how we represent Christ and His kingdom.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV)

The only way we can show our victory in the midst of trials is through the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us, by His power. In Him we are more than conquerors and the joy of the Lord is our strength.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. (1 John 5:4 ESV)

Our churches vision and mission declares this truth. Our vision is to Take Ground for Christ & His Kingdom and our mission is Drawing the Lost to Christ, the Found to Victory and Being a Resource to Others. Our heart is to impart the victorious life of Christ to those who have been found in Him and to continually pray;

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10 ESV)

So today whatever fight you’re in, fix your eyes on the One who has won the battle for us and arise for His kingdom has come!

LISTEN TO ‘ARISE’ HERE

Dream On…

DREAMON_BNR

WHAT’S YOUR VISION – WHAT ARE YOU DREAMING? What promises are you holding on to?

Recently our church had a leadership conference called Dream On… 

We felt to stir our leaders to keep on dreaming; either the dream that has dwindled or to start to dream again the new thing that God is stirring in their hearts. Below is an excerpt from the conference welcome letter by our Lead Pastor John Scholtz:

We all carry dreams in our hearts of what may be in the future in the place where God has called us. They are genuine dreams, dreams, which God has put there.

For many the journey has been long and hard. The dreams may have led to disappointments and hurts and heartache, but God wants us to “Dream on…”

We need to re-discover the deep secret dreams that we each carry, dreams that have all but died, but need to live on.

Never let it be said that to dream is a waste of one’s time. For dreams are our realities in waiting. In dreams, we plant the seeds for the future.

PROVERBS 29:18 Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Below are some points and thoughts that were stirred in my heart as I considered this topic.

GOD’s VISION The POWER of PROPHECY and Supernatural Dreaming…

ACTS 2:16-18 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel [2:28-29]: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

BOLD VISION SUCCEEDS YOUR DREAM – Dream big and pass on the vision to other in order to leave a legacy.

SET PRACTICAL STEPS TO FULFIL YOUR DREAM – Ask yourself ‘what must I do to achieve the vision through short term goals?’ Action trumps everything!

FAMILY VISION: DREAM MARRIAGE – The secret to success is being of one heart and vision. Consider and consult your family when setting goals – you can’t do it alone!

STRENGTH: POWER UP AND DREAM ON… Prioritise praise in God’s presence, as you abide in His strength and power He will direct our paths as we pursue the vision that He has given us.

WHAT AM I DREAMING? Actively Communicate Kingdom through Admin Support, Creative Comms, Teaching Tools, Strategic Service.