Saturday, October 29, 2016

Impacting Albania



It is now nearly two years ago that we felt God lead us to partner with Craig and Odette Bredenkamp to establish a church in Durrës, Albania. For those of you who have been a part of the journey: you’ll remember that Albania (Eastern Europe) is a formerly communist country which is now a constitutionally atheist state.  A 2011 census revealed that 0.2% of the Albanian population are evangelical Christians; 56% are Muslim. Albania is largely an unreached country and in the area that we have planted a church there is no other evangelical church that we know of.


Two years ago God gave us a vision to reach into the city of Durrës and into the country of Albania. He specifically showed us that the church in Albania would be a springboard to reach the nations of Eastern Europe which are largely Muslim, closed and/or unreached. Over the past two years we have sent different teams to lead the Church because we were unable to get long-term visas for anyone until this past year when Carel and Alecia Erasmus obtained the correct paperwork to stay long term. This has helped to bring more stability to the church and has helped to better disciple the people. As is usually the case in this type of environment, the work there has not been easy and the fruit has been seemingly slow to grow - but we have seen a number of people receive Christ and their lives have changed as they have received discipleship. The work in Albania may seem to be small right now, but it is really just the beginning: the growing of roots and the laying of a foundation. The potential is huge, and we are already seeing radical change in the people’s lives that we are ministering to.



A number of people have questioned why we aren’t rather focusing on reaching people locally, and why we aren’t focusing on building a bigger and stronger Stellenbosch church first. The answer is simple. Firstly, we are focused on building a strong church in Stellenbosch; we are not neglecting Stellenbosch to build in Albania. Secondly, Jesus didn’t tell us to wait until we had a perfect church before we reached out, He simply told us to “go into all the world” (Matthew 28:18) and that when we receive the Holy Spirit’s empowering we would be witnesses in all the world (Acts 1:8). Jesus has called us and commissioned us to impact the world. Lastly (but just as importantly), God opened the doors for us in Albania and He directed us to go.

Since we started in Albania we have had a number of different ministries express their belief in this mission and partner with us to make it a success. Tree of Life Church in the UK, Jong en Vrij  in Holland and Charis Ministries in Zimbabwe have all either sent teams to help with the work or have sent financial support (or both). It’s exciting to see how the Lord has brought like-minded ministries alongside us to help us reach the people of Albania and help establish a strong church. This is really only the beginning of the great things God want to do through us there.


Marna and I last travelled to Albania right at the beginning, two years ago. At the time, Marna was about 6 months pregnant with Elliott and William (who travelled with us) was around a year and a half. It was not easy, but so worth it! We believe that it is time for us to visit again to evaluate what’s happening, connect with Carel and Alecia, strategize on the way forward, and to invest into the church through outreach and ministry. It’s best for us to go during our quieter season here in South Africa (December/ January) and so we are planning to go just before or after Christmas (depending on tickets) and stay for a month or so. We know that this trip will strengthen the church there and that much fruit will come from it.
We’d like to invite you be a part of this important trip by partnering with us for a gift of any amount. Every bit helps and plays a big part in helping to reach the people of Albania and establish a significant work there. In the next few weeks we will be purchasing our tickets and applying for visas. Please pray for us with all the planning and logistics!


Your financial seed for this trip can be sent directly to:

GraceLife Ministries
First National Bank
Account Name: GraceLife Ministries
Account Number: 6230 8158 452
Branch Code: 200610
International SWIFT: FIRNZAJJ
Please reference your gift:
“MISALB YOUR NAME” or “MISALB” should you wish to remain anonymous.
You can also give online here! 
(if you give online please add "MISALB" under order additional information and make the total cents ".77" so that we can easily identify the gift. Eg. R1000.77)

Please also let us know if you are planning to partner so that we can plan accordingly.
We love you and appreciate your support!

Shayne & Marna
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What is true happiness?



“I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 TLB
 
 
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]
John 16:33 AMP


True happiness isn’t a trouble-free life; it’s a troubled-free life.  Jesus told us that in this life we will have trouble, and so we have to learn to deal it and not just go with the flow. As believers we are not “under the circumstances” because we are seated in heavenly places with Christ (Ephesians 2:6); we are more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37) and God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). We are not victims and should not embrace a victim mentality because greater is Jesus in us than anything that we could ever face in this world (1 John 4:4). We are not exempt from troubles in this life - but we can choose whether or not the troubles trouble us.

I am not saying that we should ignore our problems and challenges. That’s passivity and it could destroy you. We have God-ordained authority to deal with problems (Mark 11:22-24) and we need to resist the devil and his attacks if we want him to flee (James 4:7). We don’t ignore the problems – we deal with them. And we don’t focus on the problems – we focus on Jesus and His Word! We’re choosing to value God and His Word over our circumstances. We’re choosing to place our hope and trust in God and have an eternal perspective rather than allow the temporal things (which are subject to change) to determine our joy and peace.
 
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed (is fixed) on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
Isaiah 26:3 KJV (brackets mine)
 

If we fix our minds on God and the promises in His Word, we will experience perfect peace. To fix our minds on something means that our minds cannot move from that position – they are stuck. When we dig our heels into the ground and decide to not to allow anyone or anything to shift our focus from God and His promises, we will start to experience perfect peace. But when we are unstable and allow our minds to be filled with God’s Word one moment, and then allow our minds to be filled with fear and unbelief the next, we will not experience peace.


We need to choose not to focus on the troubling things happening around us because circumstances and people will never make us consistently happy; our joy and happiness is only found in Jesus. We can be filled with joy; we can be courageous and confident no matter what comes our way because Christ has overcome the world and His victory is eternal. And we are in Christ - therefore, we have overcome, too! His victory is our victory!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Comfort In Difficult Times


It is very comforting to know that God is not the author of tragedies in our lives, nor is He allowing them. He is a loving Father who wants the best for us. He is not insensitively standing by and allowing us to suffer, but rather He is seeking to help us through the difficult times.
 
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. Instead, we have one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet he never sinned.” Hebrews 4:15 ISV


Jesus has compassion for you; He sympathizes with you. He loves you and doesn’t want to see you suffer. He is not some cold-hearted, distant God who expects you to act right, look right and do right – He wants you to be well in your heart, and out of that place of being well He desires that you experience wholeness in every area of your life (3 John 2). He has also sent His Holy Spirit (called “the Comforter”) to comfort us when we go through trials and challenges which affect our hearts.
 
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father who is full of mercy, the God of all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ERV


He is “the God of all comfort” who wants to strengthen you through His comfort so that you will stand strong, press on and be enabled to comfort and strengthen others with the comfort that you have received from the Lord.

In times of discouragement and grief, we need to invite and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to our hearts. The Holy Spirit desires to minister to us, but it doesn’t happen automatically - we need to invite it and receive it. We invite that ministry through prayer. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to minister to you. Pray in the Spirit and allow Him to flow from within you. In all likelihood the Holy Spirit will probably remind you of and lead you to Scripture. This is how He brings you comfort: through God’s Word (Psalm 23:3; Psalm 119:50; John 14:26). You will have to accept the truth that He reveals to you in order to receive the comfort and experience freedom from the pain and heartache. Comfort doesn’t happen by accident - you have to receive it. The Word is powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and if we accept it and choose to believe it, it will bring us comfort, strength and victory.
 

I’d like to recommend the following resources for further study: Why bad things happen (Job & Paul's Thorn) - Audio, Sovereignty Study - booklet, Jesus wants you well - audio, and Relationship with Father - audio set. You can order by contacting our office (info@gracelife.co).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

God is not causing your problems.


You can be happy in the midst of a difficult time or a crisis knowing that God is not the one causing your problems. He is the answer to them! Many people have mistakenly blamed God for everything because they think He is in control of everything - but that is not true. If we blame God for our problems how can we run to Him for help?


“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Romans 8:37 ESV
Through Christ we are more than conquerors, not more than conquered. God is for us not against us, and yet many people wrongly believe that God is the source of all their troubles (Romans 8:31).


“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9 KJV
You can’t get it any clearer than this: It is not God’s will for anyone to perish. He wants everyone to experience His abundant life (John 10:10) both in the here-and-now and after they die. All of God’s free gifts (grace) have to be received by faith (Ephesians 2:8). If someone doesn’t receive salvation, they are not saved (Romans 10:9-10) - but God wants all men to be saved. Clearly, God’s will doesn’t automatically come to pass.


“13 “You can enter true life only through the narrow gate. The gate to hell is very wide, and there is plenty of room on the road that leads there. Many people go that way. 14 But the gate that opens the way to true life is narrow. And the road that leads there is hard to follow. Only a few people find it.”
Matthew 7:13-14 ERV
Jesus said that most would enter through the broad gate which leads to destruction instead of the narrow gate that leads to life. This is directly against God’s will. God does not destine people to go to hell and it’s incorrect to say that He allows it. All of us have a free will and we are free to choose life or death, blessing or curses. Salvation must be chosen; received through faith.


“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28 NKJV

God is able to work all things together for our good, but that does not mean all things are from God. He doesn’t cause everything in your life. James 4:7 shows us that some things in life are from God and we should submit to them (otherwise we could miss out) and other things in life are from our enemy the devil and should be resisted (otherwise we will suffer). If we don’t resist the devil and his attacks then he will not flee from us. It’s our God-given responsibility to resist the devil and his attacks.

Sickness is a work of the devil (Acts 10:38) – it is certainly not “abundant life” and it’s not God’s will for us. Neither are tragedies or suffering. You can learn from any tragedy, and God can bring much good out of it - but He never causes our problems. He is the solution to our problems.

You may feel like your suffering is “your cross to bear” - but that’s simply not true. Jesus suffered on the cross for you so that you would not have to suffer. You may feel like “it’s your thorn in your flesh” and that God is trying to teach you something, but that simply isn’t true either. God want to use His Word to teach you and perfect you (2 Timothy 3:16-17) not hard knocks. Paul’s thorn (suffering) wasn’t sickness but persecution (we’re redeemed from sickness, but not from persecution [2 Timothy 3:12]). You may feel like a modern-day Job, who is experiencing extreme suffering and losing everything because God allows it – but that is not the case! Job was alive long before the cross. He was not redeemed. Identifying with Job rather than seeing yourself in Christ is a misunderstanding of Scripture and it’s wrong.

Just because you are struggling to see your healing or the answer to your suffering doesn’t mean that God is withholding your answer and it doesn’t mean that He wants you to suffer a little more – never! God is not withholding what He has already freely provided for you through Jesus.

I’d like to recommend the following resources for further study: Why bad things happen (Job & Paul's Thorn) - Audio, Sovereignty Study - booklet, Jesus wants you well - audio, and Relationship with Father - audio set. You can order by contacting our office (info@gracelife.co).

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Light Afflictions


“I’ve told you this so that my peace will be with you. In the world you’ll have trouble. But cheer up! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (GW)
  
The Christian life is not a trouble-free life; it’s a troubled-free life. In this life we will have trouble (Jesus told us so) but we don’t have to allow the troubles in this life to trouble us. We can be full of cheer and maintain a victor’s attitude because in Christ we are victorious and more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). When we face a tragedy it helps to put it into perspective (see things in light of eternity), and that will minimize the impact on us. Many of the things people grieve over will be completely forgotten in a year and all grief will be completely forgotten in eternity as we experience the comfort of Jesus.


“We have sufferings now, but these are nothing compared to the great glory that will be given to us.”
Romans 8:18 ERV
 
The apostle Paul suffered more in his life than any of us probably ever will. What he suffered physically and emotionally most of us would not even be able to imagine.


“24 Five times the Jews have given me their punishment of 39 lashes with a whip. 25 Three different times I was beaten with rods. One time I was almost killed with rocks. Three times I was in ships that were wrecked, and one of those times I spent the night and the next day in the sea. 26 In my constant traveling I have been in danger from rivers, from thieves, from my own people, and from people who are not Jews. I have been in danger in cities, in places where no one lives, and on the sea. And I have been in danger from people who pretend to be believers but are not.

27 I have done hard and tiring work, and many times I did not sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty. Many times I have been without food. I have been cold and without clothes. 28 And there are many other problems. One of these is the care I have for all the churches. I worry about each group of believers every day.”
2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (ERV)
 
The interesting thing is that Paul didn’t experience any of this while he was an unbeliever and while he was persecuting the church; only when he became a believer and started living for Jesus did things start getting intense. The truth is that the devil would love to stop us from sharing this good news about Jesus with others, and so he attacks us. Many believers and ministers give up because they can’t endure even a little of what Paul had to endure. Paul knew that eternity was waiting for him and so he was willing to endure suffering now to help impact others’ eternity. Paul didn’t magnify his problems by focusing on them; instead he focused on God and the mission he had from God. He chose to actively dis-esteem and devalue his problems.


 “We have small troubles for a while now, but these troubles are helping us gain an eternal glory. That eternal glory is much greater than our troubles.”
2 Corinthians 4:17 (ERV)
 
I like how the Living Bible puts it: “These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long.” Paul had the right perspective and that enabled him to not only get through and survive, but to thrive and make a massive impact in the world for Jesus. Paul saw his difficulties and suffering as “light afflictions” – he didn’t magnify them and talk about how bad things were. He saw that the challenges that he faced were only temporary and wouldn’t last forever.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Dealing with Death


“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
 John 14:1 ESV


Even if everything in this life looks terrible for us, we as Christians always have the promises of complete victory in heaven. We can experience victory in the here-and-now, but even if we don’t experience it here and now - we have the ultimate victory! It can help us endure difficult circumstances when we put them in light of eternity and think about the fact that one day this will all be over and we will be in perfection, with Jesus, for eternity. In 10,000 years’ time whatever challenges you are facing now will be forgotten.

Many people mourn the death of a loved one as though it’s final, but it isn’t. We are created for eternity, and death in this world simply helps us pass from this life into eternity with Jesus, or eternity without Him.
 

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13 NLT

As Christians we do not mourn as the world mourns. When a believer dies they do not simply cease to exist but rather they pass on into eternity with Jesus. The world doesn’t have this hope and so death fills them with fear and uncertainty, but as Christians we have hope. We therefore have no need to fear or have any uncertainty with death.
 
“21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.”
Philippians 1:21-24 NLT

Paul had a great perspective on death. He knew that death is not final and was torn between staying here and reaching people for Christ or dying and going to be with Christ. Most Christians haven’t established the truth about eternity in their hearts, and as a result when it comes to death they are uncertain and tend to fear.

When a loved one dies, we mourn because we will miss them. The grief that we experience is in proportion to the depth of relationship that we experienced with them. It’s not wrong to mourn and be sad for our loss - but if you want to move on in the purposes of God for your life, then you need to deal with the grief by putting things into perspective (in light of eternity).

When a believer dies they pass on into eternity with Jesus. To deal with our grief we can stop focusing on what we’re going through and start focusing on what they are experiencing in heaven. My Dad passed away in 2010 and my first response to the news was thanksgiving and praise to God that my Dad was a believer and is now with Jesus. From that day for the next few years the temptation was to think things like “He’s missing out on seeing me get married”. But if I put things in perspective, heaven is far better, and I am missing out on him more than he’s missing out on my wedding. “He’s missing out on seeing any of his grandchildren”… but who says? Maybe he’s watching and enjoying it from the comfort of heaven. Maybe he’s not. Maybe he’s just so distracted at the awesome glory and presence of Jesus that in comparison, the things he is missing out on here on earth are really, really insignificant.

I often think of my dad and miss him. But I choose not to indulge in those feelings of sadness, and I always immediately thank God for his life and that I will see him one day in heaven. We do not mourn as those without hope.


The enemy will try to use the death of a loved one to cause us to stop moving forward in the purposes of God. It’s not wrong to mourn the passing of a loved one, but we should not camp there and allow the mourning to overtake us.


When my dad was alive, I often thought about how I would handle his death one day - because he wasn’t a believer. But I thank God that I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with him and lead him to salvation. It is something to be mourned when an unsaved loved one passes away. In a situation like that you can only allow the supernatural comfort of the Holy Spirit to help you – there are no words. Jesus called the Holy Spirit “the Comforter” (John 14:26) and so you can experience supernatural comfort to help you through.


Thinking about this should stir us up to live out our calling to be witnesses of Christ (Acts 1:8) and share God’s message with our loved ones (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). It should cause us to pray for them even more earnestly, and take and create opportunities to witness to them. Don’t allow passivity to keep you from ministering to your unsaved loved ones, and don’t lose hope concerning someone’s salvation – as long as they are breathing there is hope.

You Are Not Alone

Your enemy (the devil) wants to use situations of grief and disappointment to stop you from moving forward in the purposes of God, and living the abundant life that Jesus has for you. To deal with grief and disappointment we need to have a biblical perspective about things, because perspective largely determines your experience and the outcome of these situations.

 
We are often temped to feel like nobody knows what we’re going through, no one really understands; but the truth is that many others have gone through the same or even worse, and survived and even thrived.


“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man”
1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV
 
There are no unique temptations or challenging situations, but the devil lures us into the trap of thinking that no one understands. The temptation is to believe that no one understands because no one has gone through what you’re going through. If the enemy can succeed in selling you that lie, then he succeeds in isolating you - which prevents you from receiving help, and takes away your hope. If you believe that you’re alone and no one can help, you will also start pushing people (who could help) away from you. No one is called to be a lone ranger. God wants to minister to you through His body, the church. To truly heal and move beyond grief and disappointment you need your brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to humble ourselves and allow others to comfort us and help us. Self-pity and other destructive emotions which can come as a result of grief can only function in isolation. But when we are exposed to the joy and hope in others the negative effects of grief begin to die. If the enemy can cut you off from others (like a wolf separating a sheep from the flock) then he cuts you off from receiving much needed love and care from others, and it makes you easy prey.


“But encourage each other every day, while you still have something called “today.” Help each other so that none of you will be fooled by sin and become too hard to change.”
Hebrews 3:13 ERV
 
God has some encouragement for you in your situation, and He probably wants to deliver it to you through someone who went through a similar situation. You will never receive that encouragement if you stay in isolation. In difficult times, don’t run and hide, choose to surround yourself with godly people who will encourage you.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Move on by looking forward



“Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before. I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:13-14 ASV
Disappointment and grief will hold us captive and prevent us from fulfilling our potential and reaching our destiny - if we allow it to. One of the ways that we move on from disappointment and grief is by taking our focus off of the situation and placing it onto what lies ahead.
Jesus had many opportunities for disappointment and grief. Think about Peter denying Him, three times. Think about Judas selling Him out and betraying Him. Think about the amount of people He ministered to who didn’t receive but from Him but rather rejected Him. And yet you never read anywhere in Scripture where Jesus focused on the past upsets. You never read anything like, “Peter, you really hurt me when you rejected me…” or “I can’t believe what that Judas did! Wasn’t he grateful for what I’ve done for him?”. Jesus never focused on the past; He never wasted time or emotional energy talking about negative things that had happened and how it affected His emotions. He knew how to deal with disappointments and grief: He chose to love, forgive and focus on His mission. An effective way to deal with today’s upsets is to walk in love towards others, choosing to forgive them and keeping focused on your mission (on what lies ahead). A lot of people struggle to move forward from grief and disappointments because they haven’t discovered their mission and they aren’t living out their purpose. It’s difficult to move on if there isn’t really anything to move on to!

“… who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:2 KJV
Jesus went through a great deal of suffering with the cross and Scripture shows us that He “endured the cross.” To endure means to suffer patiently. Jesus suffered patiently through the whipping, the torture and the agony of the cross knowing that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) He knew what His pain would accomplish and He knew victory awaited Him, and so He chose to focus on the joy ahead and not on the pain of the present. You can get through a difficult time and you can overcome disappointment and grief by taking your focus off of the present and putting it onto the future.
Your enemy, the devil, will try his best to distract you from your mission in life. He would love to stop you from moving forward in God’s purposes for you. He has no shortage of people willing to work for him, and so all he needs is someone willing to push the right buttons to upset you or disappoint you, and if you don’t deal with those situations properly (in love and forgiveness) he will succeed in immobilising you. If he can use a situation of grief to get you to stop focusing on your future filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11) then he will. If you don’t deal with grief and disappointment by walking in love and forgiveness, and if you don’t choose to focus on what lies ahead (on your mission) then you will allow the enemy to kill, steal and destroy you. You will be allowing him to rob you of the blessing that is waiting for you. Choose not to indulge in the self-centered emotions of disappointment and grief.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pressing on


“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”
1 Peter 5:8 KJV
 
You have an enemy who would love to destroy you. But don’t worry - because greater is Jesus in you than the devil or anything in the world (1 John 4:4). This verse says that the enemy is looking to see who he can devour. That means that he can’t just devour anyone. He doesn’t have free rein in your life - unless you allow him. If we resist him and his attacks he has to flee (James 4:7), but if we accept his attacks we allow him to come and steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). We accept his attacks when we don’t resist him; passivity is an invitation for him to come and bring destruction. I believe that one of the ways that we accept his attacks is by indulging in disappointment. Your disappointment may be 100% justified, giving you every right to be disappointed, but every minute that you wallow in disappointment and self-pity you are allowing the enemy to hold you back from moving forward in the purposes of God. If you want to keep moving forward in the purposes of God to fulfil your destiny, then you can’t afford to indulge in disappointment; you need to forget the things which are past and start looking to what lies ahead.


“Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before. I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:13-14 ASV
 
Paul isn’t telling us to forget everything in the past. The Bible encourages us to remember the good things that God has done. There are some things that we should purposefully remember, and then some things that we should purposefully forget! If we fail to forget the disappointments of the past we will fail to embrace what God has for us today. We need to choose to let go and move on. If something upset you 5 minutes ago, it’s already in the past, and every second that you don’t let go you are allowing the enemy to hold you in captivity. The longer you linger in grief and disappointment the more opportunity the enemy has to bring destruction and the more difficult you make it for yourself to move on. We need to learn to forgive others when they disappoint us, and move forward in love. And we also need to learn to forgive ourselves when we disappoint ourselves. It’s important to forget about things which bring guilt, condemnation and shame in our lives – especially since the Lord has forgiven us (Romans 8:1; Hebrews 10:17).

 
Wallowing in disappointment can bring on increased stress and can even lead to health issues, but the biggest problem is that it will prevent you from enjoying what God for you today and hinder you from moving forward in His purposes. So, how do we move on from disappointment? Firstly, it’s important to remember that in light of eternity, it’s not the end of the world. And then one of the ways we move on is by taking our focus off of the situation and placing it onto what lies ahead! Focus on the good things God has done and is doing; focus on and be thankful for the many blessings you have and for the prosperous future filled with hope that God has planned for you! (Jeremiah 29:11)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

How Everything Works Out


“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
John 14:1 ESV

One way in which we can deal with disappointment is to remind ourselves that it’s not the end of the world – it really isn’t! Yes, maybe you expected things to go a certain way and they didn’t, or you were promised something which was never delivered, or you were hoping for something which didn’t materialize – it doesn’t matter how bad it is, it really isn’t the end of the world. Jesus knew that His disciples were about to go through a massive crisis; they were about to see their hope crucified. They most certainly would have experienced some grief and disappointment. Jesus knew what was coming and so He prepared them for it by teaching them.

Firstly, Jesus says “don’t allow your hearts to be troubled.” That’s powerful! You have the power to allow your heart to be troubled or not – it’s in your control. You choose to worry, or not to worry. Then Jesus says to have faith. Faith comes through the Word (Romans 10:17); through knowing what Jesus has done for you and focusing on it (Hebrews 12:2). You can’t overcome a crisis without being strong in faith. Then Jesus moves on to talk about eternity. He starts moving their attention onto heaven where they will be one day, forever. Basically He starts telling them that even if your world falls apart, in light of eternity, it will all work out and we (as believers) ultimately win. If you have that mentality (that it’s not the end of the world) then it disarms the enemy’s attack against you because he can’t get you into panic or fear. In Christ there is only ever perfect peace (John 16:33) but it doesn’t fall on us by accident; we have to receive it and co-operate with God to experience it (Isaiah 26:3-4). A great way to respond to upsets and disappointments is to adopt an attitude of trust - trust that God will work things out for your good.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28 KJV
 

Many people are wrongly optimistic and think that “everything will just work out.” But unfortunately, for many people, things don’t always work. Sometimes things just get worse. Romans 8:28 has a few conditions to it. The verse before it reveals that we should be praying in the Spirit to co-operate with God in the situation which needs to turn around and work out for good. The power of the Holy Spirit is unleashed in a situation when we pray in the Spirit. Then, God works things together for the good of those who love Him – not everyone loves God. Also, the promise in this verse only works for those who are called according to His purposes.
 

“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
1 John 3:8 KJV

 
It’s important to note that this verse isn’t saying that “all things” are from God, but that God works all things together for our good. Many people wrongly see the crisis as sent by God with some divine purpose, but not all things are from God. James 4:7 says that we should submit to God, but we must resist the devil if we want the devil to flee. If we’re accepting negative things in our lives as if they are from God, it will lead to passivity. It’s not resisting the devil. The attacks of the devil must be resisted. Jesus’ purpose was to destroy the works of the devil. If we are not resisting the attacks of the enemy in our lives then we are not operating in the same calling as Jesus. To be “called according to His purposes” means that we operate like He operates.

 
We have a great promise from the Word that things can work out together for our good. When things go wrong we should take a stand and be expectant of things to turn around and work out for us. But things only work together for our good if we’re praying in the Spirit, if we love God and if we’re operating in the purposes of Jesus, which is to destroy whatever the devil is up to.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What Does Jesus Say About It?


“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”
Proverbs 13:12 KJV
 

You allow for discouragement when you have hopes that don’t come to pass; it makes your heart sick, which leads to physical sickness. If you aren’t prospering on the inside, you cannot truly prosper on the outside.  But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have hopes. Hope placed in the right direction (like in the Lord and His promises) is a “tree of life” when it comes to pass. Seeing what you are hoping for encourages you. You just have to make sure that you have realistic and godly desires.


One of the keys to dealing with disappointment is learning to let go of the disappointment, especially when it’s justified. You may have every reason to be upset and discouraged; maybe you were promised something from someone and they just dropped you without warning? You have every right to be discouraged - but you also have every right not to be discouraged. You can choose. A lot of people will walk around in discouraging circumstances and choose to stay in it. They will even say to themselves (and everyone who will listen) things like, “I’m so disappointed that…”. And then they camp there for a while. Instead of using their weapon (their tongue) to get them out of the situation, they’re using it as a weapon for mass (self-) destruction (Proverbs 18:21). Even if the disappointment is 100% justified - if you do not deal with it, it will deal with you. You cannot afford the luxury of indulging in negative emotions. The enemy will throw whatever he can at you to distract you from your destiny (to positively influence people for Jesus) by getting you into self-centredness and not to move on from offense and disappointment.  If you want to live in victory and fulfil your destiny, then you need to learn to respond correctly to disappointment and move on.
 

One way in which we can deal with disappointments is to remind ourselves that it’s not the end of the world – it really isn’t! It doesn’t matter how bad it is: if you put it into perspective in light of eternity, it will all work out and as a believer, you’ll ultimately win. That’s how Jesus encouraged His disciples just before He went to the cross. They were about to see their hope crucified, and I am certain that they experienced some grief and disappointment. Jesus knew what was coming and so He prepared them for it by saying many things.
 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
John 14:1 ESV
 

Jesus was encouraging His disciples that they didn’t have to allow their hearts to be troubled. We have control over our emotions. He encourages them to have faith, and then to put things into perspective. It’s as if He’s saying: “Even if it seems like the end of the world, just think about eternity: in My Father’s house are many rooms… we’re going to be there, in complete victory, together for eternity one day”. God wants us to experience victory in the here and now, but we aren’t guaranteed an easy life. If everything is falling apart around you, you can be full of hope and peace and joy because as believers we have the guarantee of an amazing eternity waiting for us.
 

“I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 TLB
 

Jesus assured us that challenging circumstance would come our way, but that we could get through with joy and peace. He said, “I have told you all this so that you will have peace”. Why do many Christians not experience peace? Because they do not know what Jesus has said!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Dealing with disappointment

Today is filled with opportunities for great things to happen! But it’s also filled with opportunities for negative things to happen. For example, you will probably have a few opportunities to be disappointed and discouraged. We can’t stop these opportunities - but we don’t have to indulge in them. If we learn how to deal with disappointment and discouragement we will lessen its blow on us and we will stand strong in spite of the opportunities that are trying to take us down.

 
Disappointment is something we’re all familiar with. You’ve invested a lot of time and money into an employee (grooming them for greater responsibility) and then they resign. Or you were expecting a business deal to go a certain way and it didn’t, or you were trusting for healing or a miracle which didn’t come. Disappointment is pretty much the same product with a different story: you expected something to happen in a certain way, and it didn’t. You were hopeful and your hopes were dashed.


“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”
Proverbs 13:12 KJV
 
When you expect something and it doesn’t happen, you set yourself up for disappointment. It’s good and necessary to have hope and be expectant - but if our hopes are not in the Lord and His promises, we set ourselves up for disappointment. If our expectations are unrealistic, we set ourselves up for disappointment. For example: we all want to be blessed and have abundance so that we can be a blessing, but there are no overnight successes. There is a natural course to growth.


“The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.”
Mark 4:28 ESV

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”
Zechariah 4:10 NLT
 
We often expect to be at step 100 even though we’ve just taken step 1. It’s important to remember that things take time to grow, and that healthy things grow. So focus on the health of something rather than the fruitfulness because fruitfulness is a by-product of health.


“When hope is crushed, the heart is crushed, but a wish come true fills you with joy.”
Proverbs 13:12 GNB
 
Unmet expectations can crush your heart; it’ll make your heart (emotionally) sick or weak. It’s important that your heart is strong because a weak or discouraged heart cannot flow strongly in the blessing and power of God.


“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”
Proverbs 4:23 NASB
 
From your heart flow all the issues of your life (decision-making, what you say, your desires, your actions, and even your health) and so it’s important that you keep watch and guard over what you allow into your heart. You need to protect your heart and keep it healthy. Jesus said that your heart determines what your mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and Proverbs shows us that the power of life and death are in what we say (Proverbs 18:21). If you heart isn’t healthy then what you say won’t be healthy, and if you are speaking death then you’re also fuelling death in your life.


“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
3 John 2:1 KJV
 
You prosper on the outside in proportion to the degree that your soul, or heart, is prospering. True prosperity flow from a healthy, happy heart. Watch over your heart and keep it healthy by having healthy expectations and learning to deal with disappointments. Choose to place your hope in the Lord because then you will never be put to shame.


“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31 NLT
 
Recommended scripture for meditation: Psalm 62

SEEK FIRST




“Therefore do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”
Matthew 6:31-32 AMP
Jesus is encouraging you not to worry or be anxious; He’s even encouraging you not to be distracted by your needs. The unbelievers are rightly concerned about these things and seek after making ends meet - but you have a loving heavenly Father who knows your needs and who wants to supply more than enough to meet your needs and for you to be a blessing to others. Jesus said that you shouldn’t be distracted by needs and your prayer-life shouldn’t be about making ends meet. The question that we need to ask is: “What is this thing that we shouldn’t be distracted from?”. The next verse gives us the answer:


“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Matthew 6:33 NKJV
Our focus shouldn’t be making ends meet and seeking after money; we should be focused on God and His kingdom. This has a number of applications, but it really just means that God should be our number one priority - which results in us seeking Him more than we seek anything else. According to the world, you need to seek after money and making ends meet. But according to God’s kingdom, we seek God and make Him our priority - and provision and prosperity come to us.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

THE WORRY-FREE LIFE!



“Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
Matthew 6:27 TLB

Some people just love to worry - and yet worrying doesn’t add any value to your life. In fact, worrying steals life from you – it won’t ever add life. WebMD tells us that “chronic worry and emotional stress can trigger a host of health problems.” Some of the effects of worry, or signs that you may be worrying, include: difficulty swallowing, dizziness, dry mouth, fast heartbeat, fatigue, headaches, inability to concentrate, irritability, muscle aches, muscle tension, nausea, nervous energy, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling and twitching. If you don’t deal with worry and the stress that it brings, it could lead to more serious health problems including: suppression of the immune system, digestive disorders, muscle tension, short-term memory loss, premature coronary artery disease, depression, and it could even cause a heart attack. None of this is God’s will for you - He wants you to be healthy, happy and enjoy life! You can’t worry and be happy at the same time. That’s why Jesus taught and instructed us not to worry.


“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?


“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Matthew 6:25-30 NKJV

The only reason you ever worry is simply because you do not trust God. This is especially true in the area of finances and provision. When we come to know His heart for us as our loving Father, then we would never doubt His Word and that He will provide for us. Sometimes we pay more attention to the challenges we face than to the promises we have from God. Faith accesses the grace and blessing of God (Ephesians 2:8-9), and faith comes as a result of knowing God’s true nature as revealed through Jesus’ life in the Word (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 1:3). The more we know God (through the Word), the easier it is to trust (or have faith in) Him, the less we’ll worry, and the happier we’ll be.


“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
Matthew 6:31-32 NKJV

The unbeliever is consumed with making ends meet and getting more, and rightly so; they don’t have a relationship with God, but you do. So why act like the unbelievers? If we were convinced of our Father’s eagerness to provide for us, we would simply believe. One of the signs that you’re in faith is that you are relaxed; you know that God will be faithful to His Word. You are not the first person that God has ever called to trust Him just so that you can see Him fail. If you trust Him, He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

The Christian life should be worry-free! We shouldn’t be anxious about provision - or anything else for that matter. We have a loving heavenly Father who has promised us an abundant life in His Word, and if we choose to believe Him we will see the fruit of what the Word talks about.