In one Accord

‘Their widows were being discriminated against.’
Acts 6:1 NLT

The Bible says: ‘As the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.’ These widows were facing discrimination because they were outsiders/outcasts. These women didn’t grow up in Judea or Galilee. They came from the distant lands of Greece, Rome, and Syria. If they spoke Aramaic at all, they did so with an accent. The Hebrew women were given the first pick. So, how did the church respond? ‘The Twelve [apostles] called a meeting of all the believers’ (v.2 NLT). They knew that discrimination was an issue that needed to be sorted quick, they wouldn’t tolerate it. And we should be standing against it too because we all one body of Jesus Christ. Jesus came for the least, the lost, and the last. He said: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (Luke 4:18-19 NIV). Here we see the six things that God sent Him to do:
1) Preach the gospel to the poor.
2) Heal the broken- hearted.
3) Proclaim liberty to the captives. 4) Proclaim recovery of sight to the blind.
5) Set at liberty those who are oppressed.
6) Proclaim the year of the Lord.

That was the year of Jubilee when all prisoners were set free, all debts forgiven, and all that was taken was restored. Jesus meets every need: body, soul, and spirit. We’ve been called to share that message with others. And we’ve been called to care for the least, lost and last, too. hence extending the heavenly kingdom to earth.

Who can you share the good news of Jesus with today? Why not take them for coffee and talk to them about your faith, the restoration that the Lord desires to work upon in their lives.

 

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Just the Changes

 

‘The things we can’t see now will last forever.’ 2 Corinthians 4:18 MSG

We often enjoy the BLESSINGS of change, but not the PROCESS of change. We’re creatures of habit. We form our habits, and our habits form us. Then we start to see things just from our own perspective. And when that happens – we stagnate. The truth is, without change there is no growth. When we have the right attitude, every experience – positive and negative – becomes an opportunity for progress. Trees need more than sunshine to produce fruit. Rainy seasons are productive seasons as well, and they always come before the harvest. We probably won’t like the rainy seasons in our lives, but we need to understand their purpose and the benefits that come within them. The Bible says that every day ‘the Lord…makes us more and more like him…we are changed into his glorious image’ (2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT). But to become like Jesus we must follow wherever He leads. That means following Him through the wilderness of temptation, the pain of rejection from family and friends, the surrendering of plans and ideas and those rainy seasons. It also means being prepared to avoid all forms of self-centered living. Following Jesus may mean being in a different location tomorrow than we are today. Once we understand this, we’ll stop fearing and resisting the changes taking place within us and our surroundings and start seeing God at work in them. Paul says: ‘So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace…The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG).
Think about the last rainy season you experienced in your life. What good changes came out of it? Be thankful because of the rainy season, the best is yet to come.

 

Obey Now

‘All these blessings will come upon you…if you obey the Lord.’
Deuteronomy 28:2 NIV

If asked a simple question: What’s the best thing that’s happened to you in the last five years? What would be your answer? Would you be able to list off a whole load of blessings? Or would you struggle to think of anything at all? God’s Word promises us daily blessings, yet sometimes we can struggle to even think of one good thing that’s happened to us in a particular day hour or moment. Psalm 68 says: ‘Praise the Lord; praise God our saviour! For each day he carries us in his arms’ (v.19 NLT). Every day God is with us; each day His mercies are new (take a look at Lamentations 3:22-23). The Bible says, ‘All these blessings will come upon you…if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and…in the country…You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated…They will come at you from one direction but flee…in seven…The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity…The Lord will make you the head, not the tail’ (Deuteronomy 28:2-13 NIV). Verse 2 says ‘if you obey the Lord.’ God’s love is guaranteed and unconditional. But His blessings require cooperation on our part. We need to be walking in line with His word and directions. We need to be reading His Word and obeying what He tells us through His word beacuse surely every single time He is communicating through our hearts which are so important and precious to Him. We can’t make God bless us by striving and sweating off our best through activities that we think will twist His hand towards us. We should be obedient because we want to follow Jesus and live like Him. The blessings are just an extra. We’ve already got God’s love and salvation – and they’re the biggest blessings we could possibly have.

what instruction have your recieved from God in the last few weeks or months, and how obedient have you been to following or walking in line with what the Lord has instructed you?

Peace

‘If…possible…live at peace with everyone.’ Romans 12:18 NIV

‘Live at peace with everyone’ is overwhelmingly general when it’s taken out of context. However, Paul gives us a lot more advice on how to live that instruction out if we go back to Romans 12. He writes: ‘Do not repay anyone evil with evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord’ (Romans 12:17-19 NIV). What Paul is encouraging us to do is to take responsibility for our own actions. We can think of peaceful living as an idyllic world where everyone is happy and loving towards each other, but Paul makes it less about the world being lovely in general, and more about our responses and reactions to circumstance’s and with people. He seems to define living ‘at peace’ as having everything to do with how we respond to actions committed against us. We can choose to live at peace with those who make life difficult for us, whether they regret their actions or not. That is how peace depends on us, and also how we can avoid the mentality that someone else’s wrongdoing can excuse our own if we’re putting them to right. Romans 12 shows us that we are called to live to godly standards even when those around us don’t. We’re told ‘not to be overcome by evil, but [to] overcome evil with good’, hate with love and grace. (Romans 12:21 NIV). And that is the major key to spreading peace. Even when we’re faced with wrong, we can still forgive and live right.

The world looks to your peace, you’re an ambassador of the kingdom and you carry the peace of the Lord within you.
Think of the last person who annoyed or did any wrong to you. Pray that God will bless them and speak over their lives that the love, peace and mercy of the Lord shall reign in the inside of them.

Living spirit

‘I pray that…he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.’ Ephesians 3:16 NIV

God’s Spirit is alive in us. He lives right within us. We know that the world that we live in isn’t perfect, so, in turn, we’re not always the perfect people for Him to work in, and through. However, when we live for Him and pray to have the Holy Spirit in our lives, we begin to see His power. We can forget that sometimes, in the day-to-day activities and circumstances that fill our lives, but it really is true. He’s here with us. God has promised that if we ask for the Holy Spirit, He’ll come to us. If we put ourselves in a position to receive Him, He’s there for us. We have to remember that He’s not always in wind, flames, and miraculous tongues, though. The Holy Spirit is able to give us what we need in any given moment, or season of our life. Sometimes the Spirit is doing huge miraculous things, like bringing Jesus to Mary (Matthew 1:18) and filling people with so much power and joy that they look like they could be drunk (Acts 2). More often, though, He’s in the quiet moments. As well as changing lives in dramatic ways, the Holy Spirit changes our hearts and minds on a daily basis.He is working within us on a daily. We’re told that He is the one who helps us feel and show God’s love (Romans 5:5). He teaches us truth, helps us to understand, and keeps our focus on Jesus (John 14:26). He comforts us when we need to know that God is with us (John 14:16). We need to remember to look for Him, and thank Him, for the small things, as well as chase Him in the bigger miracles. When we remember to do that, we’ll start to see the movements of the Spirit in every day.

write down the  big and small ways that the Holy Spirit has manifested in your life over the past few weeks. If you can think of lots of amazing stuff he has done for you(surely He has), pray a prayer of thanksgiving. If you can’t think of many/any, pray that you’ll see Him manifest more and clearly today because when you call on Him, He is always with you.

Rest

‘You will find rest for your souls.’
Matthew 11:29 NIV

One of the greatest promises Jesus ever gave us was, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls’ (Matthew 11:28-29 NIV). A yoke is a harness that goes around the necks of two oxen so they can pull a load. How could Jesus talk about being yoked in a harness, which suggests hard work, and about rest in the same breath? To most of us, rest means sitting back with the TV on or maybe getting a few more hours of sleep or having to do nothing at all but just eat,sleep, eat more. That’s not the kind of rest Jesus was thinking about when He promised to give us rest. Accepting Jesus’ yoke is a picture of submission. It’s also a picture of help because it means we’re not pulling the load alone. In each team of oxen, one is the leader and the other follows. Jesus will take the lead but you must be yoked to Him to get the benefit. So to enjoy intimacy with Jesus, we have to surrender to Him and His will. Jesus promises that His yoke won’t choke us, In fact, the irony is, if we want to be truly free we have to allow ourselves to be yoked to Jesus. Once we’ve accepted Jesus’ yoke, we can find ourselves starting to pull against it when life doesn’t go the way we want it to. We try and take back control. But peace and rest only come when we relax in the yoke, and allow Jesus lead the way.

Take some time to surrender your life to God and ask Him to give you the rest that He promises in Matthew 11.

check your soil

“The  sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown.” Mark 4:14-15

In  jesus’s teaching of the parable of the sower, he illustrates the seed landed on four types of ground, producing four different results. ‘The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and snatch it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have get in situations or face problems that test them or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things(work… etc), so no fruit is produced. And the seed that fell on good or fertile soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted. The seed of God’s Word can’t fail. The Bible tells us that ‘it always produces fruit’ (Isaiah 55:11 NLT). So if God’s promises aren’t being fulfilled in our lives, we need to ask ourselves, ‘What kind of soil am I?’ Are we a surface person – thin-skinned and easily offended? A shallow person with no spiritual root system? Are we thorny ground? Are ‘the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things’ choking the spiritual life out of us? Or are we rich, fertile ground that produces results? Let’s check the soil of our heart.

What Now?
Take some time to check the soil of your heart and ask God to help you have a heart that’s open to Him.

Read back through Mark 4:1-20.