Here I am

I’ve not murdered anyone or raided a bank, but I am still a sinner.In God’s eyes. I don’t believe there are degrees of sin. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.but God can still use us fallen creatures. In the Bible we read of many men and women who at first were too busy to hear His call. – Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Ananias Paul, Samuel. Nevertheless they eventually replied with the words, ‘Here I am.’ But God also says to them ‘Here I am.’ God used and responded to sinful men, they were to be a partnership.

God still speaks today, He calls us into His service. We pray we may not be too busy to hear His call. In answering His call we are not necessarily called to be Brother Andrew, Billy Graham or Mother Theresa, He needs foot-servants and well as admirals. Who else will speak to our neighbours, shop assistants or taxi drivers? We can speak words of hope, encouragement and salvation. We can give a helping hand to a neighbour or make a meal for a hungry family. God has a whole list of jobs for us to do. As God says to us, ‘Here I am’ may we always say to God, ‘Here I am.’

Listening to God.

Here my voice.’ the Bible tells us. ‘My sheep hear My voice.’ John 10:27 and Give ear and listen to My voice.’ Isaiah 28:23 The Bible clearly gives us the instruction that we need to listen to God. He has all wisdom and knowledge, so it surely makes sense to pay attention to what He has to say. Why should I trust my own finite wisdom when I can draw on His? God wants to be there for us, He wants us to hang on His every word.

How often do we make our own decisions and go our own way? As we have never been this way before, we need the guidance of Someone who has. There are times we find ourselves going down the wrong path and our life begins to unravel. We regret the decisions we have made because of ignorance and self-will.

A look at the Bible will tell us that we are not alone in this, holy men and woman of the past have also made mistakes. David often got it wrong as did his son Solomon. The disciples of Jesus certainly got it wrong; they didn’t listen carefully enough to what Jesus had to say. He told them that He was going to be killed by wicked men and then on the third day would rise again. Admittedly the news was almost unbelievable, but they were amazed and unbelieving when it actually happened. They found it hard to believe that the risen Lord was the risen Lord. We can’t blame the disciples, we too are guilty of not listening to God.

My Hiding Place

‘I look up to the mountains, does my help come from there.?’ Psalm 121:1

We know that God is everywhere and that He will be with us wherever we are. If I go down to the deep You are there, yet often in the Bible we read that the men of God went up into the mountains to pray.- David, Elijah and Jesus. Maybe there they found less clamour from the world, less distraction and escape from the burning high temperatures. Though David admits that help doesn’t come from the mountains but from the Lord Himself.

Many of us have a special place where we can feel closer to God and more in touch with His spirit. My widowed friend told me, ‘This chair is where Peter used to sit and pray.’ She now sits there frequently. Those who know me would not be surprised that my special place is in the garden. Although not fully developed yet, in my mind’s eye I can see what it will eventually be like, – secluded and private. Even now I can sit there and with a a small table on which to place my books, I can pray and commune with God. I share the space with the birds who are becoming quite tame, along with an increasing number of butterflies, bees and flying insects. I am fortunate that there is no sound of traffic or neighbours, only the sounds of nature. It is my hiding place shared with my Lord and Master.

Obedience

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For many years I was on the prayer team of a large Christian convention. Yet during that time I was only once directly involved in a person giving their life to Christ. When working in several secular offices I never knew if any of my halting words of witness made any impression. I have lived in five different homes during my adult life and although I’ve talked about God to my neighbours, I never knew if any of my words made any difference. But this is not for me to know.

My call and yours is to obedience. When I feel God’s nudge to speak or not, it is my call of obedience to obey. On the times I have obeyed, it has been in God’s hands,and the results are in the realm of God. We are the hands of God. Jesus is not here in person, the job is up to us, guided by the Holy Spirit. He needs us, He will cope with the results, that’s not our part.

As Jesus tell us, ‘One sows and another reaps’ John 4:37. It may be that God has called us to be the evangelist, but alternatively we might be called to be the messenger, speaking the first words that a person has ever heard about Christ. We may be called to be the person who is reviled and persecuted for speaking the words of hope. Whatever our calling, obedience is what is necessary.

Passive Witnessing

In this day and age witnessing for the Lord is not easy, perhaps it never has been. I find I’m not having bad conversations with people neither am I having good ones. Having just spent a couple of hours with my neighbour, who I know is opposed to anything Christian, I feel very dissatisfied.. I reasoned with the Lord that she knows I’m a Christian and she knows that I know that she is not. I had prayed that if the Lord wished me to say anything of a spiritual nature, He would prompt me. But I’m thinking I might have got this witnessing thing all the wrong way round.

I’m thinking that I’m guilty of fear and disobedience. More and more I’m finding that opportunities to witness are not arriving. ‘Wait on the Lord,’ we’re told. Yes, I think I should be waiting in anticipation, but is that enough? Each time I leave my home I should expect to speak to someone about the Lord. It is up to Him to tell me who, but I should be expecting it to happen.

God in His grace has shown me salvation. My question to Him should be ‘Who is it you want me to speak words of salvation to today?’ At the start of each conversation I need to be asking ‘Is this the person?’ Lord, I pray that You will fill my conversations with Your love.

Abraham Waits

There must be periods of our lives when we can relate to Abraham’s time of waiting. He was getting older, his wife was getting older and still he had no heir. Then God took him to look at the night sky and explained that his heirs would be more that the number of the stars. With the clear Palestinian skies, even the number of stars visible to the naked eye would have be uncountable. We then read ‘and Abraham believed the Lord.’ He needed extreme patience; he had to wait more that ten years for God’s promise to be fulfilled..

We and others can have the same experience. We may have a promise from God and then have to wait. In our waiting do we lose faith.? ‘Did God really promise?’ we can ask ourselves. We know that God only wants the best for us so when God’s promise is finally fulfilled, we can look back and see God’s perfect timing. At other times we look back and don’t understand the reason for the delay. There are promises that may not even be fulfilled until after our life time.

It is all a matter of trust, do we trust God or not? It could be that He has more to teach us, that we need to be more mature in our Christian journey. I know in my own life I’ve needed to trust God more, before He has been able to trust me with the answers to His promises. Can the God of all the earth do wrong?

Pride

‘You will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ Genesis 3:5

From the Bible we learn that in heaven the devil thought himself equal with God and because of his pride was thrown out. There is only one God and there is no room for any other. Satan then planned to trap mankind and tells Eve that by eating the forbidden fruit she will be like God, knowing good from evil. Following her pride Eve was tempted to be like God.

Pride has been playing it’s place ever since. It is the desired elevation of self that has led to wars and fighting. In world affairs pride is rampant. Not content with the territory that some leaders have, they want more power and more land and start wars to get what they want. Today we teach our youngsters that they can achieve anything, be anybody they want to be. It is all a matter of will-power and striving. Surely we can be teaching them that by the will of God they can do anything He wills. Pride will eventually be overcome; It is not for nothing that we get the phrase ‘Pride goes before a fall.’

There is no such thing as a self-made man. Every man and woman is God-made whether they want to admit it or not. Do dictators and despots not realise that every breath they take could be their last, that they are not ultimately in control, God is? Indeed, every breath we as Christians take is also under the control of God. Thank goodness, God is still on the throne.

The Garden of Eden

I thought this morning of the garden of Eden and how very beautiful it must have been. There were flowers and fruit of every kind as well as animals, fish and birds. The beauty of that garden is unimaginable to us and above all, God walked there. Adam and Eve would not have known the devastation that we know today – floods, droughts, earthquakes, avalanches, tsunamis. They would not have witnessed the ravages of war and destruction until they left the garden.

One is nearer to God in the garden then anywhere else on earth.’ Dorothy Frances Gurney. ‘ I don’t completely go along with this sentiment, God is everywhere. But I want God in my garden; He makes things to grow. Less than a mile away is our local river, the River Eden.,it’s a good name to have for a river.

My newly established garden is only 5 metres by 10. Really quite small. This week I had my first picking of raspberries for breakfast. (I didn’t offer my first fruits to God, I ate them!) There was no soil in my garden when I arrived, only stones. Now that I have planted a number of flowers and small shrubs, the bees, butterflies and insects are starting to visit it. It is my very small attempt to combat global warming and our loss of natural habitat. I’m in partnership with God.

My Sun and Shield

‘For the Lord God is our Sun and our Shield.’ Ps 4:11

These days we are very aware of the damage that the sun can do to our skin. Exposure to strong rays of the sun can cause skin cancers and other harmful conditions as well as excessive wrinkling. Children’s skin especially need to have protection. Sun barrier creams and protective clothing are to be recommended. I remember a student at college who spent every moment she could out in the sun and all the year had a beautifully tanned skin. I sometimes wonder if her health paid the price.

Psalm 84 tells us that God is our sun, which penetrates every area of our lives, so that we can shine like Him. but i read that Moses had to cover his face after he had spent time with his God, because he radiated the presence of God so much. We are told that God is our Sun, which can burn intensely at our sin but He is also our Shield. His sun’s presence could burn us, but His shield will protect us. We need both. We give thanks to God that He is both to us, because we need His Sun and Shield.

In His Time

I sometimes imagine myself living in Biblical times, actually being with Jesus, seeing Him and hearing Him preach. I imagine the heat, the dust and political times when the disciples were around. In my present tiny periods of trouble I wonder if my Christian walk would be easier if I could hear my Master teach and have His touch. Then I stop myself, God wants me to be living in 2024 not AD 31.

Our prayers should include wishes to do His will and that will of His is for us to be in the here and now. Jesus has work for us now. He wants us to be kind to the woman down the road, or the people we work with and the people He puts in our way.. He needs us to be here in a particular place, listening to a particular sermon, on a particular Sunday. It is no good thinking that living in Christ’s time would have been easier. Neither would life have been easier if I had been born richer, more talented or more beautiful.

Doing His will means means doing His will not mine, walking His way not mine. Instead of wishing my pilgrimage to be different I need to give thanks that I was in a particular place at a certain time, helping and working in a particular way. I can rejoice that He can use me, even me, to do a specific small task for Him.

‘If other hands should hold the key, or if He trusted it to me, I might be sad.’Joseph Parker