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NO EXCUSES

(This piece was such a blessing that I asked Gerhard Papenfus’ permission to place it on my blog. Trust it will also be a blessing to you. Nico)

Within the current South African political context we are constantly confronted with information which points to a very bleak future. The situation we find ourselves in, if not viewed from God’s perspective, will surely paralyse us.

I want to share with you two pieces from God’s word which steadfastly indicates that what is happening around us is no excuse for us to depart from that which God has called us to do.

In Matt. 24: 45 and 46 Jesus says the following: “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the Master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time. It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns”.

To God, no obstacle is big enough to serve as an excuse not to fulfill your purpose. That includes being a very small minority in a country with a very hostile government.

In the well known passage about the talents (Matt. 25: 14-30), the man who hid his talent because he ‘was afraid’, received no sympathy from the master. The message is clear: no matter what we might contemplate as a sufficient reason for not doing what we are called to do, living the ‘abundant life’ we are called to live, will stand up to Gods scrutiny.

Jesus has called us, chose us – regardless of what is happening around us – “to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last”! (John 15:16). Thus, God calls us to make the kind of contribution the enemy, in whatever form it presents itself, cannot interfere with. It is this ‘fruit’ which will feed the world; without which those in our sphere of influence will staff. We dare not withhold it.

Here’s the key, given to us in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit: apart from me you can do nothing” – nothing! – whether in good times or in bad times.

Whilst not ignoring what is happening around us, let us value it for what it is; it is overwhelmingly incomparable to the indwelling Christ, the only source of abundant, powerful living.

 

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Take courage – it is but a season

I meet a lot of people on my travels, and many share their discouragement and stress. They see little or no  future for their family in our country. Some emigrate, others work on Plan B, C and even D. The advice of so-called financial ‘gurus’ is so pessimistic that I wonder why they have not left.

And yet, God says “Take courage…take courage and work, for I am with you” says the Lord Almighty…”don’t be afraid”.  (Haggai 2:4-5) The instruction is clear, take courage, work and don’t be afraid for the Lord is with us.

As nature has seasons, so a business, a country and life has seasons, and seasons don’t last. They come and they go and I am reminded that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. The work is not done on the mountaintop, it is done in the valley where it is tough and where we have to dig, and plant and sweat and hopefully harvest… and it is in the valley where our character gets shaped according to God’s plan, not on the mountain top. He never promised that it would be easy and yet, I constantly try to get away from the cold winter in the valley and long for sandy island beaches basking in the sun.

I cannot appreciate summer, if I have not experienced the cold of winter. Let me not trust in my own ability but let me trust and take courage in Jesus to also take me through this winter in my life. Therefore, let me not dwell on the past, “for I am doing a brand new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness…and create rivers in the desert!” (Isaiah 43:18+19)

Let me take courage – it is but a season.

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Tick-tock, tick-tock…time is running out


Tick-tock   tick-tock

The opening scene of the Irish dance group – Lord of the Dance.

Tick-tock  tick-tock

You are forced to listen to the seconds slowly ticking away, one second at a time.

I am on my way to attend a second funeral in as many weeks. The one a young boy of 17, the other a lady of 88. Death knows no age.

Tick-tock   tick-tock

Look at the watch, yes, time is running out.

As the seconds tick away I was forced to think about my own life. Am I leading a life of significance, or am I still busy with the cares and the worries of the day? What is my definition of significance, the one thing we would all like? Surely there should only be one definition and not to each his own?

Significance comes from fulfilling the God-given purpose for which we are made.
(Os Hillman Today God is First Vol 1, Sept 5)

No matter whether I clean toilets for a living or build an empire – I am significant when I fulfil my God-given purpose. Therefore, no matter what your circumstance are, if you are busy fulfilling your God-given purpose, God will pour “rivers of living water” through you (John 7:38) and then your life will have significance. I cannot ask for more. Rivers of living water…to be a blessing and in turn be blessed.

I hear someone asking – “How do I know what my ‘God-given purpose’ is? Where do I start?”

The journey starts on our knees, seeking God’s face, building a relationship with Jesus first and foremost. And then, when we ask, He will answer us gladly and reveal to us the wisdom we all so desperately need and, through His wisdom, His purpose for our lives. (Read James 1:5)

I man walked up to me at the funeral, said I looked familiar, and then shared that he read my first book and his life was dramatically changed. He had to start over, doing things God’s way…and in the process becoming significant in God’s eyes.

Where do I stand?

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick… be encouraged, our Lord will not permit our departure from  this earth one second before our work is done. Let us live a life of significance, before our time is up.

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Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid

At times I can identify with the Psalmist that says “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.” (Ps 73:3-5)

Then God reminds me of the numerous riches I have in Him. His Grace. His Peace. His Favour. His Power. His Love….even when I forget.

How can I forget you may ask? Because of the cares and the worries of the day forcing my eyes away from Jesus…while fear sets in.

And all that Jesus wants us to do is ‘look!’ Look to Him that is the only one that makes the impossible, possible and takes away the fear. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Heb 12:2)

God has said Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”, so we say with confidence “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” (Heb 13:5+6).

Then I see the first part of verse 5 …”Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…” and only then do I start understanding the full meaning of Jesus saying to the disciples

“Take courage!   It is I.  Don’t be afraid.” (Mark 6:50)

…as He climbs into ‘my boat’ and my mind stops – unable to take it all in – and with my eyes fixed on Jesus I hear Him say “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest for your souls.”  (Matt 11:28)

Take courage my friend, and don’t be afraid. God is with you.

 

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How real is God in my Life?

For some time I have been wondering about the reality of God in my life. I have no doubt that God is a loving, peaceful and almighty God (excuse my inadequate vocabulary) that cares for His children in untold ways. I have seen hosts of Biblical promises, given to me over many years, come true. I have seen wonder upon wonder unfold before my very eyes.

And yet, I have to ask “how real is God in my life?”

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