Times of Refreshing

Inspiring hearts to worship


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Fully Clothed

forgiven

Easter time gives us the opportunity to remember God’s greatest act of forgiveness – forgiveness for our sins through the sacrificial death of Christ. Even though we did not deserve God’s grace, by allowing His son Jesus to die on the cross – taking on our sin and punishment – not only are we forgiven for our wrongs but we can now enter into sweet fellowship with the Father.

This reminds me of another example of forgiveness found in the Bible.  In the book of Luke Jesus tells the story of a son whose selfish desires led him to demand his inheritance. This he readily took and it wasn’t long before he squandered everything (Luke 15:13-14). Eventually he came to his senses and realised if he was going to survive he would have to swallow his pride and return to his father’s home.

He was so despondent that he knew he didn’t deserve anything good from his father, so much so that he reasoned with himself that he would be willing to return not as a son but as a hired servant (17-19). Yet in the verses that follows we find a real demonstration of love and forgiveness. Rather than his father being angry and disappointed in his youngest son, overwhelmed with joy and compassion for him, he commissions his servants to ‘bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet’ (22). But what exactly do these items represent and what do they symbolise for us as believers today?

Firstly, the robe represents the robe of righteousness provided through the shed blood of our Saviour, and a symbol of our new life in Christ.  When the father placed the robe on his son he was showing acceptance, healing and renewed purpose for his son. When we accept Christ, our unrighteousness is remembered no more but rather we are clothed in His righteousness. When God looks on us, He no longer sees our sin, but the righteousness of Christ. It is this robe that symbolises our acceptance into the body and family of Christ.

Secondly, the father put a ring on his son’s finger thus symbolising authority, wealth and honour. In scripture we can find examples of the ring representing power and authority (Genesis 41: 41-42; Esther 8:2) and that is exactly what the father was showing his son here. In placing the ring on his son’s finger he was indicating to him that he had special favour, and that the sealing of his position was secure.  In placing the ring on his son’s finger  he was showing the elevated position the son was being lifted up to, and our position has been elevated because we are now seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6). In Christ we are now in a position of authority: authority over the enemy and authority to live a victorious life.

Finally, the father put sandals on his son’s feet – symbolising his loving welcome home.  In ancient Palestine it was customary for servants in the home to be barefooted. By placing shoes on his son’s feet his father was making a bold statement: you are not a servant or a passing visitor – you are still my son! In Christ we are adorned with sandals of son-ship and with it we receive all the benefits and rights, for we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

Like the prodigal son we were undeserving of anything good. Yet when we consider the grace and mercy of God and His lovingkindness, we can acknowledge that He has made a way of redemption for us. To those of us who acknowledge this truth He has placed a robe on our back, a ring on our finger and sandals on our feet granting us freedom, exaltation and dignity of position. What a great act of forgiveness demonstrated by our heavenly Father!

If this is a truth you have never acknowledged before, take a few minutes now to say the prayer below:

Thank you for your great act of forgiveness in sending your son Jesus Christ to die for my sin. I did not deserve your grace but I am so grateful that you loved me enough to send your son to die in my place so that I could be brought back into fellowship with you. Today, I receive your gift of salvation through the death of your son for my sin.

Thank you Father.

Amen

[Image credit: forgiven]


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Picture Perfect – The Selfie

the-rise-of-self-photo-selfie-infographicFrom high profile celebrities to world leaders, we all seem to be doing it – taking selfies. Selfies have become a part of our everyday lives, and like them or hate them, it seems like they are here to stay.

Thanks to social media, it doesn’t matter who you are, you now have a personal platform available to you where you can be placed centre stage. Instead of focussing on that beautiful landscape and bringing it to the foreground with a well captured photo, set yourself in the frame, take a selfie and the landscape becomes the background to a much more important image: YOU!

Today, not only is it important that we capture ourselves in every photo, but even more disconcerting is the obsession with capturing the ‘perfect’ selfie. Admit it, how many times do you delete your selfie before actually posting the image that captures you in the absolute perfect pose? Selfies allow us to present ourselves to the world at large in the exact way we would like the world to perceive us. It is the ideal opportunity to depict ourselves as more than we truly are.

Yet as great as that may sound to many, as I write this I am filled with trepidation as I question whether we are in fact turning into a society of narcissists (someone who has an excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance). Today more than in any other time in history, image seems to be everything.

While image may be important, seeing ourselves as we truly are is what really matters. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 it says: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (NIV).

Rather than being self-centered, the Bible calls on us to be Christ-centred. If you want to capture the perfect self-image, project the image of Christ by inviting the Holy Spirit into all that you do, and by spending time in the presence of The Lord. When you begin to ask the Holy Spirit to transform you continually from glory to glory then you will begin to project the perfect self-image as you reflect the glory of Christ. And in so doing then the world will be able to see you as you truly are. And in Christ that will be the perfect selfie!

[Image credit: the selfie]


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Don’t Drift Away

driftwoodHave you ever stood on the edge of a shore and watched a piece of wood as it drifted away into the horizon? One minute it is in sight – and in some ways may appear not to be going anywhere – yet slowly but surely it gets carried off into the distance. Thinking about this parallels what can happen in our relationship with the Lord when we neglect spending time in His presence.

When we neglect the precious time we should be spending in prayer and fellowship with Him we, like that piece of wood in the ocean, begin to ‘drift away’ from Him, and with that there are consequences. Our prayers become ineffective, old habits begin to creep in and take hold, and we begin to do what is comfortable rather than what is right.

Yet, what we can be assured of is that, when we are willing to turn ourselves around and ‘forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,’ (Philippians 3:13), there is hope for spiritual refreshment that can lead us back to that position of precious fellowship with the Saviour.

Have you become complacent about spending time with the Lord? Have you become lethargic and allowed your spiritual life to run on empty? If so, let today be the start of a new beginning. Forget the past and begin from now to look towards brighter times being spent in His presence.

                 Lord, I know I have allowed myself to become complacent about spending time with you. Father, as I turn back to you, may being in your presence remain the place where I will always want to be.

In Jesus name

Amen

     [Picture credit: driftwood]


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What’s Yours is Yours

dream

David said to him, Fear not, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul

2 Samuel 9:8

What is it that is preventing you from believing that you deserve God’s best for your life?

In ancient kingdoms, often when dynasties were replaced with another king, surviving members of the previous king’s family were killed. King David was in such a position over Saul. Yet, David chose to show undeserved kindness to Saul’s household. He asked, ‘is there not still someone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?’ (2 Sam 9:3). When David discovered that Saul’s grandson Mephibosheth was alive, he sent for him and told him: ‘I…will restore to you all the land of Saul’ (2 Sam 9:7).

However, Mephibosheth could not get his head around the fact that he deserved the blessing King David wanted to give him: ‘Who is your servant, that you should show kindness to a dead dog like me?’ (2 Sam 9:8). It was because of a covenant made between David and Mephibosheth’s father Jonathan that Mephibosheth qualified for the blessing – David’s covenant with Jonathan automatically extended to all Jonathan’s children and descendants! (1 Sam 20:14-16).

This story is a great reminder that God’s mercy and kindness towards us is not based on what we think we do or don’t deserve, but rather on who we are: sons and daughters of God. Acceptance into the family of God gives us automatic rights to receive all that belongs to Christ, because we are heirs with Him (Gal 3:29).

Stop limiting yourself and the blessings you should be receiving simply because you think you don’t deserve them! They are already yours – just receive them from the Father, who is ready and waiting to give them to you. Don’t limit yourself from being all that you could be, or from having all that is yours to have.

Don’t live below the blessings you deserve but instead stand up and run towards what is rightful yours.

[Image credit: dream]


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Destined for Success

lightbulb

‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left…’

Isaiah 54:2-3

Do you have a dream, goal or desire that is slowly withering away? Often we give up on them simply because we fear failure. Thomas Edison, who discovered the light bulb failed more than 10,000 times before he succeeded. Despite many failed attempts, he refused to give up, famously saying: why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” If you could display such tenacity, what could you achieve? No matter where you are currently at in your life, I want you to know that you are destined for success. As you read this I want to encourage you to never give up on your dream.

One person in the Bible who from birth was destined to fail was Jabez. He had a bad start in life. Having caused his mother excessive discomfort in childbirth, she named him: ‘He Will Cause Pain.’ Talk about negative words being spoken over one’s life!  With that name, Jabez had been set up for failure. Every time someone called him, he was reminded that ‘He will cause pain!’  But Jabez did not allow this to limit him. Instead he called on God knowing He could reverse the curse and turn his life of failure into one of great success, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ (I Chronicles 4:10). He knew that with God on his side success was guaranteed. With God in your life, there are no limitations to the level of success you can achieve.

In order to succeed you must:

  • believe that God wants you to succeed. Yes, God wants the best for you. Know this: God is committed to your success.
  • see failure (rather than a negative) as something positive. Each failure is an opportunity for you to learn and grow.

So don’t give up on your dreams, and one day success will come.

[image credit: lightbulb]


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The Apple of His Eye

apple of his eye

In Mathew 14:24-32 we read about Jesus walking on water. Intrigued, Peter asks Jesus to command him to come. Casting aside all sense of rational reasoning, he steps out onto the water.

Peter, captivated by Jesus, did not think twice about obeying Him, but immediately responds to Jesus. In an instant Peter had unreserved faith that Jesus could and would enable him to walk on water.

Yet as long as Peter’s gaze remained on Jesus, all is well. It is only when Peter allows himself to be distracted that he begins to sink! (Matt 14:29-32). It is only when Peter turns his focus away from Jesus on to the raging storm that fear takes over.

When we are faced with challenging situations,we should realise that they are external to the internal spiritual peace that we can have, if we allow our focus to remain solidly fixed on Christ. We need to remain fixed on God’s promises that He will not leave, nor forsake us (Joshua 1:5). Isn’t it comforting to know that He promises to be there for you no matter what?

The scripture goes on to explain that as Peter begins to sink, IMMEDIATELY Jesus reaches out and grabs him! What this reminds me, is that even when we do allow our gaze to drift away and focus on our circumstance, rather than on Him, God will immediately come to our aid. Be assured that He loves you so much that He will not cause you to drown, because you are the apple of His eye!

‘…because you are precious in my eyes…I love you.’ (Isaiah 43:4, ESV)

Thank you Father, for loving me no matter what. Even when my heart has drifted away from you, that does not stop you from loving me, or from considering that I am precious in Your eyes.

Thank you for your unconditional love towards me.

Amen

[image credit: apple]


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A surrendered heart

heart2

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding

Proverbs 3:5

In Proverbs 3:5 we are encouraged to trust in the Lord with ALL of our heart. In thinking about this verse I am reminded of David. In facing the Philistines, David had total trust in God to come through for him in defeating the giant Goliath.

David knew how to trust God with his WHOLE heart. Our spiritual heart consists of our mind, emotions, conscience, and will. If we are to trust God with our whole heart, every area of our spiritual heart has to be completely surrendered into God’s hands.

So for example, Moses failed to surrender his heart totally to God in the area of his mind or intellect. When God informed him that he should be the one to go before Pharaoh, his intellect reasoned that because of his inability to speak, that he should not be the one to go: ‘I have never been eloquent….I am slow of speech and tongue’ (Exodus 4:10). His intellect led him to believe that it was not possible for him to be the one to speak to Pharaoh. God in His mercy accommodated Moses’ insecurity (Exodus 4:14-16).

What shortcomings do you have that God has had to accommodate because you have failed to surrender all your heart to the Father? Have you, like Moses, failed to surrender your thought-life to God? Or have you held back in regards to your conscience, emotions or will? God requires our WHOLE heart – nothing held back. If we fail to surrender our heart totally into God’s hands, then we will struggle to overcome the difficulties we face on a daily basis.

If there is any area of your heart that you have not surrendered to God, then surrender it to Him today and be released into the power and authority He has for you.

Heart1

 Stay blessed!

[Picture credits: heart 1; heart 2]