Posted By Nan

Colossians 3:1-17.
Over the course of my holiday, I have had the opportunity to spend time away from the normal busyness of my day at home and focus on God. Coinciding with the time I was to be away was an unpleasant incident with someone I know who avoided resolving a misunderstanding that had come up. I have spent much time in prayer for that person. An individual who is lost and hurting and far away from God’s comfort. Like a wounded animal, she hits out and wounds those who come close. I so want to help her more than just holding her in prayer, but I don’t know if I can. God used my time away to prepare my heart for the long haul and to accept that help for her may not come from me and the rupture in our relationship may never be healed.
I had to deal with her accusations that I had done something wrong, even though I know, and witnesses confirmed, that I had done nothing wrong.
I have had to deal with my hurt at her behaviour and the fact that we may have to continue to be in close contact with her trying to avoid me. Difficulties between people are never pleasant and it is not always possible to resolve those difficulties.
I have accepted and thanked God for the opportunity for me to grow through this. Grow by learning not to mind what others think or say about me. Grow by learning a new dimension of patience. Grow by learning to wait on God’s timing and continue to pray through the uncertainty of the outcome.
In the course of this praying I was led to this section of Colossians. This is what I am going to base my next blog series on. I will largely be focusing on verses 12 to 14 but will include the other verses where relevant. As I am currently reading through the Psalms in my own quiet time, I will occasionally include comments on the Psalms I am reading as well.
For today, Verse 17 struck me as important. That is the message God has been giving me over the past few weeks. Whatever I do. Whether it is an action, or something spoken. I must do it all in the name of my Lord Jesus. I must do all giving thanks to God, my Father, through Jesus. Ultimately that is all we can do in life. The Bible does not have a passage to clearly cover every eventuality. We rely on prayer and meditation and being open to listening to God to understand how we are to respond to life events. We are to always remember to wait, and when we act to do it in Jesus’ name.
As verse 15 and 16 remind us, we are to allow the peace of Jesus Christ to rule in our hearts. We are to be thankful for what God has placed in our lives. We should encourage one another when we can, but if you find yourself without access to encouragement, look to the psalms and join with the psalmist in crying out to God and praising Him. Allow the psalms to instruct you in experiencing gratitude to God. Allow that gratitude to fill your heart and transform you. Most of all, allow that gratitude to fill you with the peace that God blesses you with.
Never forget that your confidence is in God through Jesus Christ, the source of your salvation.
 

 
Posted By Nan

Psalm 3.
“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” Psalm 3:5 NIV
Having finished my blog on Following Jesus, I have no idea of what direction my blog is going to take. I am about to take a long needed holiday, so this is my last blog until 17 November. As I was praying for direction on my blog, I was directed to look to the Psalms that I have been reflecting on for the past few weeks. Psalm 3 sprang to mind.
The historical setting of Psalm 3 is at the time in David’s life when he was forced to flee from his son Absalom after he was deposed by him.
David had fled. He did not know what the future held. He had many enemies who threatened him. Yet he had great peace. He knew that God was watching over him. He knew that God was protecting him. He knew that God answered him when he called. He knew that God would protect and watch over him as he slept. He knew that God would deliver him from his enemies in His timing.
We all have times in our lives when the world, or part of it, seems to be against us. We feel alone, vulnerable and isolated. We feel we are in a dark place with no way out. Yet we can know one thing. When we lie down to sleep we will wake up again because God watches over us. When we surrender to the vulnerability of sleep we do not need to fear, because God is the one who protects us and keeps us safe. Deliverance may seem a long way away. Deliverance may come in a way that does not resemble your idea of deliverance. But deliverance will come. Because God sustains us.
 

 
Posted By Nan

Psalm 1
During the course of this blog series, I have explored many passages in the Bible and read a lot of books about following Jesus. Books written about historical people who were great followers in their time. One of the most inspiring has been Hildegard of Bingen. Reading her works has been inspirational and has transformed the way I follow Jesus.
One thing that really struck me was her instruction that we see creation around us as being full of God, because all creation was created through the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit was present in all creation. It reminded me of my own relationship with God as a small child.
As a child I was amazed, overwhelmed, full of wonder at the natural world. When my children were little I tried to instil that wonder in them. I still catch my breath in awe at a magical sunset. At a full moon. At a majestic cloud. At a beautiful tree. At nature. When I am cut off from nature I lose my sense of self.
The child, full of the wonder of nature. Of what God has created. Of God’s life in all nature has a full soul. The child naturally worships God. And that child seeks God. But organised religion that has become about creed, discipline, habit, authority, the past and has forgotten God, takes the wonder away from the child and strips away its soul. Then in the emptiness the child walks away from God because all the child knows of God is religious institutions and the child wants to worship that which it has been worshipping all its life. The determined child will continue to worship God but that worship will be termed New Age movement or some anti God worship. The child seeks what it felt in childhood, that wonder in all the glory of creation. The child is looking for God and finds echoes of Him in all the wrong places. The child is worshipping God. Because God is about faith, worship, life, today, and the voice of compassion. But the child cannot reach God because it does not know how to find Him.
That is the sadness of so many people’s lives. My small child had a throne room experience of God as a jaded teenager and continues to follow Him today. But I learned that God is not only and often in organised religion. There are those in organised religion who know and follow God, but that is often lost in the bureaucracy of the organisation. In short, much of Christianity has become enfeebled.
Enfeebled religion is not sufficiently moved and exalted by the greatest gifts of God: human compassion and passionate admiration of the universe. So often, those who profess faith in God are too busy championing the strong to remember that God requires us to stand for the weak. We should give more offence and take a stronger stand for the weak rather than considering the possible right of the strong.
I am reminded of a friend who started her counselling practice by buying books of frameworks to follow rather than listening to her clients and trusting God to give her the insights and words that would allow her to become a truly great counsellor. Sadly that is what many people who attend religious institutions encounter. They buy the books rather than learning to listen to God. And those who mentor them frequently buy the books as well.
People need to be educated. Education is about cultivating wisdom through cultivating creativity not about knowledge for powers sake. Do not be like the newly graduated curate who sermonised on how we can only speak when we have the authority earned by years of study! Yet this man never demonstrated a great love for God or a great knowledge of God. He had a great knowledge of the Bible and Biblical commentaries, but little insight into what God was saying through the Bible.
Life is preferable to religion. Never forget that God is the God of life not religion.
Those who become adherents of religion become lukewarm, experience inertia, sadness, depression, boredom, cynicism, couchpotatoitis and passivity. That is not the vibrancy of faith in God.
The converse of this, true faith in God, is zeal. In true faith there is an intense experience of the beauty of things and that gives birth to the zeal and true faith in God.
In one of the books on Hildegard of Bingen that I read, one by Matthew Fox, he explores spiritual practices that we can adopt to be able to see God and follow Him the way Hildegard did. The first practice is in keeping with the practice of the Benedectine Nuns, of whom Hildegard was one. They would daily chant the psalms. He suggested we form the habit of sitting with one psalm at a time, daily reading through that psalm. Reading it slowly, preferably out loud and stopping whenever something in that psalm struck us. Then to meditate on that part. In the Hildegard way, we dwell on the insight and allow what has stopped us to work its power on us. To learn what God wants us to learn from it.
So start with Psalm1 and read about what God teaches about the one who follows Him.
 

 
Posted By Nan

1 Peter 2:13-25
This section contains a strong message of how to live as Jesus did. In other words, how to follow Jesus.
Jesus chose to put God’s will ahead of His own needs as a human. He chose the path of destruction of his fragile human body, extreme pain, humiliation, unjust punishment, separation from God and death.
When Jesus spoke of our need to deny ourselves and pick up our crosses daily this is what He meant (Matthew 16:24-26). When John the Baptist spoke of becoming less and Jesus becoming more this is what he meant (John3:30).
In following Jesus, we need to do as Jesus did and put our selves in God’s hands. Just as Jesus did.
We need to die to self. This means that sometimes we do not insist on our rights, because God has other plans. It means that sometimes we have to endure situations we could walk away from because God wants us there for that moment. It DOES NOT mean we have to stay in abusive situations. It is not virtuous to suffer Domestic or Family Abuse. That is an abomination to God.
To understand this section, we need to understand its context. During the time that Peter wrote his letters, there was great persecution of followers of The Way. He instructed people to live as good citizens, in contradiction to what they were being accused of. He did not ask the people to defend themselves, or start an insurrection against the government of the day. He asked the people to be good citizens so that others could see that Jesus’ followers were not a danger to society. This does not mean that in all cases of abuse people are to not resist, but in this situation they were.
The message is that we are to put God first and self last. We are to ask God for His instructions. We are to do as Jesus did and put God’s will ahead of our own desires.
 

 
Posted By Nan

1 Timothy 1:18
In this passage Paul prepares to hand over his ministry to Timothy. Paul acknowledged he was only able to follow God because Jesus made him adequate for this work. He had no training, deeds, or reputation to commend him for this work. Imagine how that would have gone in this world where you have to have a certificate for everything! Paul was the worse sinner, a persecutor of those who followed Jesus. Yet he was given this powerful and important ministry. And he was the proof that Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Without Jesus’ endless mercy he would never have become a follower of God, a man of faith. He attributed his work as being necessary to demonstrate the greatness of God and of Jesus’ work on earth. To provide those on the edge of accepting faith in Jesus that God could be trusted.
Then Paul handed the work over to Timothy. There had been prophesies spoken about Timothy and Paul had been praying for Timothy to grow into the prophesies. All Timothy needed to do was to stand firm in his faith and to be careful to respond to life’s situations. Respond with Jesus guiding him. Not stepping onto another path of reaction. As far as Paul was concerned, this was the fight we as followers have. The fight to stay on the path and not wander off it. To remain true to what God wants for us. To see God in all His majesty and not be sidetracked away from Him. That does not mean legalism, boxing God into narrow dimensions through fear of encountering the uncertainty of faith in Him. It means stepping out into that uncertainty and trusting God.
 

 

 

 
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Nan
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