During this season particular words and phrases have come to the fore. We really mean it now when we say, “Take care” or ,”I hope your well” or “stay safe”. We are hyper vigilant about a whole manner of things and rightly so we want to stay healthy. Looking after our physical health is paramount but what about the health of our souls? The soul is the heart of a person, their character, personality, beliefs, love’s, losses and life’s experience. The Bible highlights its essential role : Beloved I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers; 3 John 1v2. In truth who we are on the inside turns up on the outside. We may look to others to care for our soul, a kind word of encouragement here or a sense of value or worth there but the real job of soul care is ours. We must become the shepherds of our own soul its essential to the quality of our lives.
Soul care is not an invitation to self obsession, our soul will never flourish when self absorbed infact it always finds its greater vitality when seeking to live beyond self interest. Absolutely soul care requires a measure of self awareness but it invites us beyond such to a greater revelation, God Himself. Living reunited in love with God through Jesus is the foundation and catalyst to any abundance in our soul. When Jesus offered us life it was indeed this He is offering. A life where our soul so prospered its spilt out into every area of our lives. So how do we begin the adventure of into shepherding our soul. The Psalmist David offers some spiritual direction to those seeking guidance; ‘My soul, waits silently for God alone,’ (Psalm 62:5). David identifies the greatest spiritual warfare in his life is who will win the war for the attention of his soul. He aspires to teach his soul to silently submit to God. He is teaching His soul to be quiet, demanding the noise stops, the distractions abate and room is made for the presence of God. David in silencing his soul instruct it to focus on God. He commanded everything within him to bless the Lord. He is telling every conflicting emotion to be quiet. Soul care must begin from a place of rest It must be centred and saturated in the nature character and person of God. We need to live in rest and learn to live from rest So often we rest from work, not work from rest. Soul shepherding is spiritual intelligence, its God centred living, its abiding in the reality of Gods peace, His presence and the person of Jesus. From this view point we can see the world differently, from Gods perspective and we can be ourselves courageously. All this is necessary before we can truly love others effectively.
In spite of what we think we really do live in privileged times. More than any other time in history more of us have more than we need, but not necessarily want. More access to information, better education, more choices more opportunities and more recourses. Although this is true many live with a sense of lack or want in our souls this has for some grown to be so powerful it drives our lives and determines our choices. The haves have more and are in violent pursuit of treasure not stopping to consider the cost to their lives. One of the fruits of this is the sense that we deserve more, need more and are entitled to more. This distracts us from appreciating what we have and valuing what we have been given and leaves us lacking in gratitude and thankfulness. In the upside down Kingdom of Heaven more isn’t always more, often less is more. We must guard our hearts against any sense of entitlement it will rob us of true abundance and heavenly blessing. It will undermine the purpose of God to train our hearts and minds to become overcomes and it will leave us with a bad taste in our mouths otherwise known as bitterness.
A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations Psalm 100:
There are two ways in life we can make sure we always have enough. One is get more and the other is to desire less. In trying to get more we still find room. When there’s room for more, there’s room for desiring more. The cycle never ends. Interestingly when attempting to desire less the likelihood of living a fulfilling life increases. But how does anyone want less? The only way this possible Is to identify the deepest desire present in every human heart, the one thing we are truly longing for, to know God. Once we satisfy ourselves with His presence, we require far less of what the world has on offer.
We may not understand the deepest longing within our life to be a desire for God it may simply feel like a sense of dissatisfaction with life. With God less somehow becomes more and empty’s a space for us to receive.
Psalm 16v11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand
God is present future in His communication. He speaks in the now inviting us into the there. Consequently reminiscing for a Christian is a luxury the bold of heart cannot afford. We are futurists living today in the light of tomorrow. Retrospection will only guide us backwards not onwards. The need to understand what has happened can sometimes prevent that which could happen. Our energy must be invested in our destiny not understanding our history. The future requires our undivided attention and the present keeps us connected to it through celebration.
Psalm 118 v24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it
I sometimes settle too easily for “borrowed light” positioning myself in the shadow cast by another’s revelation. But living from borrowed light is less than God intended because borrowed light casts a shadow offering partial not personal revelation. This undermines the journey of discovery and can’t offer authentic authority and personal victory. I must behold Him if I am ever to be like Him. I must abide in and live from the revelation He has strategically invited me to. Personal revelation offers heavenly wisdom that supersedes human capacity and lifts us to a higher realm of affection and authority. Without it we are easily seduced by lesser voices and sadly sometimes just an echo.
Ez 43v2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory
As we embrace each season we must become clearer about one thing, Gods’ kind intentions. Every season invites us to discovery. The big questions must become: Who are you becoming for me God? or what aspect of your nature and character are you seeking to reveal during this time? Every season has an invitation from Heaven to find Jesus as our treasure even if we are surrounded by trash. Hidden in every problem is a promise, submerged in every trauma is a triumph and every adversity is simply pointing to the doorway to Gods Glory. When we think like this every season is filled with possibility. Jesus demonstrates this; Jesus who descended took captivity captive, He predetermined the outcome deciding if He had to go “there” He wouldn’t leave empty handed; Ps49v15; 86v13; 89v48; Eph 4.
Every season carries upgrades to our revelation and fellowship with the Lord. It helps when we understand the enemy is not after the temporal but eternal. He comes to steal our our Faith hope and love but God offers an alternative. His kind intention is to upgrade in every situation. In fact circumstance has an attachment which invites us to expand our faith, strengthen our hope and deepen our love. We decide the outcome. Change is inevitable however disruptive or disorientating its here to stay. Transformation however is optional. Whatever we do, let’s not leave this season empty handed.
Rom 8v28; And we know that in all things (every season) God works for the good those who love Him (upgraded fellowship and revelation) who have been called to His purpose (expansive faith, robust hope and deeper love) (emphasis added)
Jesus said if you want to find your life you must first loose it .Losing anything fills us with anxiety we do everything within our power to attain control. Losing ourselves is counter intuitive because everyone is so intent on finding themselves . But only in the assent can real life in Christ be found. only In the downward is the upward, only in submission is the admission granted to live in the abundant.
Matt 16v25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
As humans we love certainty, essentially we are looking for security. But the human heart has a more noble quest, the cry for mystery. Mystery makes me vulnerable to heavens possibilities. It moves my heart from the familiar to the undiscovered. Mystery awakens my soul to God’s greatness and here surrounded by His nature I begin to live in and from consistent revelation. Mystery invites me in, it calls me home, it quenches every thirst and satisfies all hunger. I belong here, hidden amongst the triune community of love known as Father, Son and Spirit. Set amidst majesty it redefines reality, awakens curiosity and releases Heavens authority. Life is dull without such an adventure so Im making the move from my need for certainty towards my cry for mystery. To know Him is everything.
1 Cor 2v9-10 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets
There is only one place in the New Testament where Jesus tells us directly about His own heart. Matt 11v29. “I am gentle and lowly in heart”. Jesus is simply stating this is who I am, this is my very nature, my truest reality. When the Bible speaks of the heart, New or Old Testament, it is talking about the centre of a person. In other-words their heart defines and directs them in all they do, it is who they are. Jesus discloses His heart as “gentle” meek and humble, not harsh or reactionary. In other words the posture most true of him, is not a wagging finger but wide open arms. He is also “lowly” or tender and available. Jesus says for those who come to me there are no tests to pass or mountains to climb. Gentle and lowly is the heart of Jesus to anyone who comes to Him.
Our lives as a Christians are shaped and defined by the revelation we have of God. I first experienced God’s love the night I became a Christian. That night changed everything the way I saw God, myself and others. I beheld a God who loved unconditionally who forgave indiscriminately cleanse me completely. From this moment on I grew more and more in love with God. Everyday was an adventure. The Apostle Paul writes about this to the church in Rome; Romans 14:8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. Paul lived his worship, everything he did was an offering to God. No trial hardship or persecution could stop him. To live simply meant Christ. Everything was about Christ and for Christ. A life well lived is a life given in love to God. Each day becomes an opportunity to express that love.
The greatest spiritual battle believers face today is the battle of reclaiming of the truth we are chosen. This battle rages fiercely especially when the world does not choose us. Eph 1v4-5 even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will. Before any human set eyes on us God saw us. Before anyone heard us God heard us. Before anyone spoke to us Gods eternal love created us. Our value and uniqueness are not given to us by those we meet on life’s journey but by the One who has chosen us with an everlasting love. This love existed from all eternity and will last through all eternity. Our greatest spiritual battle today in all we think and do is to live as those who have been chosen by God.
Sometimes we need to take a good look at our lives with regular humble honestly. This is important if we are ever to see who we truly are. It is only when we see who we truly are, that we recognize our biggest problem is us. This reveals our greatest need for God. Our brokenness is the perfect place for His beauty to manifest in 2 Cor 12 v8-10 says Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness”. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. If you are broken, don’t run or hide from it move towards it and ask God to bless you. You may be bruised or broken but He can bless you with His Beauty. The most broken part of us can become the most beautiful when submitted to the blessings of God.
There has never been a more cluttered, complicated and captivated society than today. However we have learned a great lesson during these difficult times. That much of what we have accumulated in our lives really is not essential. We can so easily be driven by a value system that celebrates business and the many choices we have, and we are consumed in the pursuit of more. Life is not simple and we keep adding not subtracting from our hurriedness. Keeping it simple seems has fallen on hard times. Jesus teaches us that freedom is not found in having and doing but in keeping God and His will first in our heart, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-2 1). He invites us to step into the story of the Kingdom where somehow life becomes much more simple when one thing matters the most; Christ.
There is a order that clicks into place when God’s people take their position and learn to love Him with all their hearts. The Bible says that all creation waits and groans for this with eager expectation. Taking our place in Gods Divine order through prayer and worship positions us above the problems we face opening us up to His promises. This elevated spiritual posture is described by the Apostle Paul in Eph 2v6-7 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Positioned above and partnering with God we pray, repent and war confidently living and resting in the reality that He has overcome. This kind of prayer is joyous full of hope and soaked in faith flowing from God’s abundant nature and character.
Without forgiveness we just keep repeating the same old habits, delusions, and half truths. But Grace re-creates all things. Grace redefines everything only here do we find true acceptance and forgiveness. Gods forgiveness does not leave us feeling small and judged, but liberated and loved. 2 Cor 12v9 says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Great is the grace of the Father upon us His children. His Grace re-creates,it re writes our story of our lives,It immerses us in the love of God and realigns us with our truest identity. Gods grace is sufficient for you. We all need a Grace awakening.
Generosity is the heart of Christianity. For God so loved the world that He gave His most precious Son (John 3v16 ). God demonstrates to us that true fulfillment and connection is found in giving our lives away. Living beyond ourselves opens up the Spirits power making us vulnerable to hope and awakened to possibility. Generosity reflects the heart of our Father who delights to give and positions and aligns us with blessing as we live poured out we truly reflect Him. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6v38
Faith requires a focus that is more intent on becoming more like Jesus than staying as it is. This type of faith gives way to God’s purposes just like grace makes a way for a sinner to become transformed. Faith always pleases God even if its immature or misguided because it invites us to partner with Him to reveal His beauty. Faith is a reliance and dependance on the one who gave it to us and opens up our lives to encounter. Rom 1v17 :For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith. Faith to move mountains is the aspiration of us all, but faith to move me is where faith begins! Faith that moves me from apathy to activity is vital: Faith requires my engagement. It demands my movement, and it invites me into Kingdom advancement. Perhaps the biggest mountain we have to move is ourselves
Letting go only happens when we recognize not everything is about me. Literally everything, every breath, heartbeat, meal, relationship or success is a gift from God. Because of this need to recognize we are utterly dependent upon Him for everything. This reality is counterintuitive and difficult to understand mainly because we live in an individualistic, competitive, and consumer society. But the truth is your life does not really belong to you. You belong to God. It is in giving of our lives to God that we receive. This is what Jesus modeled for us through His life, death, and resurrection. Luke 6v38 (The Message) Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back, given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Giving or holding on is a tough choice somedays but if we understand the abundance of the Kingdom we wont need to hold onto the temporal because giving has an eternal quality that is much more attractive.
By now I have come to realize I can’t think myself into a new way of living, I need to live myself into a new way of thinking. Theory and theology are so important but faith is also about how I live on a daily basis. As a christian I have tried for many years to help others move doctrines and dogmas to the level of experience and lifestyle. Discipleship somehow seems to focus more on what we believe rather than how we live. But in Jesus I see an invitation to something more than this. Jesus called people to a movement that demonstrated God’s goodness to the world. He sent us into the world to make not just believers but disciples. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20. The abundant life promised by Jesus is given to those who more than believe but to those who are disciples.
Our general human tendency is to want what is right, but at the same time fail to commit to the kind of life that produces it. We desire what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality. Society sells us shortcuts, easy routes and convenient truths their rewards are superficial and short lived. We must be clear, avoiding the necessary pains of discipline will cause us to miss out on the abundant life promised by Jesus. If we want the life Jesus offers we need to live the life Jesus lived. This is aided through spiritual discipline. Shortcuts and quick fixes wont heal our brokenness so let’s seek Gods grace and apply our effort to a disciplined Christ honoring lifestyle. Hebrews 12v11 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Wisdom is not the result of intellectual ability and cannot be gained through study alone. Even our life experiences don’t always make us wise. The Bible teaches us wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord Prov 9v10. This type of wisdom is rooted in submission to God and requires a complete shift away from self reliance towards God dependance. Only then can we be fully open to understanding beyond our rational thought alone.This requires us to pay attention to the here and now living consciously aware of the prompting of the Holy Spirit within us. God is simply the most intelligent person we know. He has all wisdom and knowledge on every subject or situation. Living in submission to His word and will will cause me to have access to unlimited truth. To be wise is to live dependent on the one who is all knowing. His truth triumphs over all
Authentic Spirituality is always in some way found in letting go. Sadly In a consumeristic society, we have little training in how to let go of anything. Our lives so easily become about getting and if we are honest we resist the concept of loss passionately. Our world promotes the concept that more makes us secure and if we fall for that we could miss a secret to the Kingdom that is costly. John the Baptist knew this secret he states :“He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3v30. John knew that making room for God requires a diligent and consistent orientation to reduction. In the Kingdom less is more and empty is a space for us to receive. The mystery that God seems to be drawn to emptiness is remarkable.
What foundation is your life built upon? For Christians Love is both our foundation and our destiny. It is where we come from and its where we’re headed. The apostle Paul states: “So faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of these is love”, 1 Corinthians 13:13. We recognize our human resources for love are limited but God’s love has been planted inside each of us in the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit, “will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you”. Love is who we are. The foundation for our lives is and will always be Love. We must practice remaining in love because its only then can we see love and goodness in the world around us. Abiding in love causes us to becoming a loving person in mind, heart, body, and soul. Then we will see what we need to see.
Change is often associated it with new beginnings, but I’ve noticed that real transformation often happens, not when something new begins but when something old ends. This kind of disruption invites the soul to listen more attentively. It also forces our hearts to a new place usually because we cant go back to the old as its not there anymore. Whatever we call this “place” it doesn’t feel good or like God. I think that’s why we try to hang onto the old. Jesus is describing this process when He says, “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” Matt 7:14. I have discovered change either helps people, or it causes them to shut down and become bitter. This is decided by the condition of their heart. Change just happens; but spiritual transformation requires a process of letting go, living in confusion for a while, and allowing yourself to end up in an unexpected place. Change is disruptive, disorientating and inevitable but transformation is optional. In every problem we are invited to find God promises.