Elevated Eyes

Look above. Fix your eyes on Jesus. See life from a different perspective

Month: March 2016

Thank God it’s Sunday.

It’s Easter Sunday, and Jesus is alive.

But let’s look at  Friday, Jesus the great king is defeated, hanging on a cross.

The crowds gathered at the cross hear the words “It is finished” and they do not see a victorious saviour, bringing an end to sin and death. They see their defeated champion saying “This is the end”

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea take his body, the body of the greatest one they have ever known.

Isn’t this what religion so often tries to do?

“If we can just try and hold onto this old story, this old tradition, this memory for a little bit longer.”

Metaphorically you can feel the tension, they want to preserve this dead thing. There is hopelessness and there is darkness that rolls over the entire earth.

And as the hours roll by and Saturday arrives, there’s a tension in the air. There’s the tension of the promises of Jesus and God broken and unfulfilled.

For some of us Saturday has never ended.  We are still sat in the middle of a failed story, with all our hopes and our dreams left in a tomb somewhere.

All we have is a memory of the past, but no hope for the  future.

It reminds me of the hopelessness of Ecclesiastes.

 “What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. 6 The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. 7 Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. 8 Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.”  Ecclesiastes 1:3-8

The writer draws his conclusion in chapter 2

“So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless–like chasing the wind.”Ecclesiastes 2:17

Do we live like it’s Saturday…

In the shame of Peter,  afraid alone and full of regret. He has rejected the one that he loves. He has walked away from the one that chose and loved him.

Have you ever made a mistake that has brought shame to your life. A mistake that went against the very thing that you believed for yourself. A mistake that you thought there was no way back from.  Can you sit with Peter for a minute and feel his pain. He can’t even say sorry because Jesus is dead.

Can you imagine the regret that Peter is feeling the pain and the hurt.

The hours roll past and Sunday comes. Light breaks over the horizon, the sun rises again.  The breathe of God comes over Jesus and his eyes open.  He is alive, the son of God is awake.   The greatest surprise in human history has taken place and many people don’t even realise it was happening.

As the sun rose on Jerusalem that day it was the first day of a whole new creation.  Do you know most people are still living like it’s Saturday they don’t realise that the son of God has opened His eyes.

The resurrection changed everything for Peter.

In John 21 you see the disciples fishing out on the lake, they’ve been at it all night and  caught nothing. They hear this voice call to them from the shore and quickly remember the voice of their saviour who called them those three years ago. It says they follow the instructions of Jesus and the nets are full of fish. Peter jumps in the water and swims to shore.

Have you ever made a mistake that just destroys you?

Jesus looks at the eyes of Peter and says “Do you love me Simon son of John? You’re going to be a Shepherd not a fisherman, feed my lambs”

“Do you love me Peter?” “Take care of my sheep” Then after a while he looks back over at Peter, I know all you wanted to do was say sorry, but I want to ask you again

“Do you love me Peter?”

“You Know I love you”

“Feed my sheep”

He reinstates Peter for the three times he failed. Three times he welcomes him back with love in the middle of his greatest pain.  The resurrection meets us and takes away our greatest pain.

He wants to meet you if your hopeless

He wants to meet you if you hard work

He wants to meet you if your disillusioned and doubting

He wants to meet you if you feel like you have failed and your unrecoverable, there is no mistake that he will walk away of.

He walks through walls you have put up and doors that you’ve locked.

Because Jesus awoke to resurrection life He is saying no matter the situation no matter who you are. I will restore your worth, dignity and hope.

 

Sunday is here

Change your thinking: Death to Life

Change is hard, we all struggle with it. Maybe it’s those new year resolutions that by this point in the year you have given up on. It’s hard to change but I believe that the call of the Christian life is a call to move from one degree of glory to another.

The biggest call over the Christian life is not so much a change of behaviour as it is a change of belief.
So often our behaviour flows from our belief. It flows from what we believe about ourselves, about our world and about others.

In Christ we have  new identity, we’re born again. The old has gone and the new is here and it’s here to stay.

The learning process is not about getting rid of the old but it’s in changing our thoughts from our old mindset to our new mindset.

In 3 posts I want to set out 3 ideas that need to shift from old to new.

Death to Life

Sin to Saviour

Standing to sitting

 

Let’s look at that first one, Death to Life

1 Corinthians 16-28 says

16-20 If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It’s even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they’re already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.

21-28 There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ.

In life there’s often the idea of digging up old stuff as if it is important. I’m sorry if you’re a fan of that kind of tv show,  you know the kind, where they search through old antiques trying to find hidden treasure.  The truth is that a lot of the time the stuff is just junk with little value.

In life we often try to dig up these old things as if they are still important to us. The truth is they so often aren’t. They aren’t important they don’t have control and they aren’t that relevant to our lives now.

How many of  us believe that Jesus, actually, physically rose from the dead. If we’re christian it would be most of us, I know I do.

1 Corinthians 15:17

‘And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sin!’

Your sins whether they are alive or dead, hinges on this verse. If He rose then your sins didn’t and if He stayed in the grave then your sins rose.

Maybe it makes more sense to look at it this way ‘though we still sin, you are not in your sin’. Which is to say our sins that bind us do not define us, our sins do not stick to you, our sins no longer make us who we are. Because we’re a new creation.

What does it say in 2 Corinthians 5:17

‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come’

You are no longer a sinner, but you are a son or daughter of the king. You are righteous, you are a saint. You can say I am His. Though I sin it cannot change what my risen Jesus has finished.

Because He moved from death to life, and clothed you with new white robes. You’ve been moved from death to life in His power. You have resurrection power in Jesus.

The old has passed away the new has come, we need to change the way that we think sometimes we need to see that Jesus has taken us from death to life with Him.

Let’s jump back to that 1 Corinthians passage just one more time

1 Corinthians 15:17 ‘And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sin!’

If Christ did not rise, you did not rise and you are still in your sin but He did rise He conquered.

Yet we as Christians so often think that sin has resurrection power. We need line our thinking up with what God has finished in our lives.

When Jesus says the words ‘it is finished’ the actual Greek word is tetelestai, it means to endto bring to completionto bring to a conclusionto completeto accomplishto fulfill; or to finish.

In Him you’ve been brought to life and your sins have not.

Have faith that you can walk free from the power and control of sin and live life in the resurrection power of Christ that is in you! You died in first Adam and you have life in Christ, live like it.

What areas of your thinking needs to move from death to life? Maybe it is how you view your finances, your relationships, your spiritual life. Remember today that God comes to speak life not death into every area.

It’s not a manual for life.

I do not like the metaphor that the bible is an ‘owners manual for life’

I have never enjoyed reading an owners manual, whether its for a car or a toaster, owner’s manuals just aren’t that fun. To limit the word of God to a manual that helps us succeed at life does a terrible disservice to the bible. We can’t just pull the bible out when things are going wrong. It is not meant to be a book of quick life fixes.

I believe the bible is a story, it is a story that is still unfolding, it is a story that we have a part to play in.
We have to embrace the Bible as uncensored, wild account of people experiencing the king of kings. It is not something pulled out when we need a problem fixed. It is a messy, exhilarating story of life change.

It has people doubting, arguing with, worrying about, reconciling with, loving, worshipping, thanking and following the one true God.

We cannot put it in a box, we can’t tame it.

The bible is about real people in real places at real point in time writing about their growing understanding of who they are and who God is.

Truth meets us wherever we are yet there is something powerful about seeing the historical contextual significance of the story.

For example, Paul writes to Timothy about women being saved in childbirth and he is making a direct reference to the goddess Artemis, whose temple was just down the street to Timothy who was based in Ephesus.

Artemis’s followers believed that the goddess saved women in childbirth. Paul’s writing has a big social and political impact. He is basically saying that the goddess Artemis is a fraud.

 

The writers of the bible are speaking in a language that the readers of the day will understand. The bible has authority and God is speaking into real space and time. The bible is a story that shows us what it looks like when God interacts with ordinary people. The point in the book of Acts isn’t the early church. The point is that God is using people to change the world. He is using ordinary people to represent His love, power and authority to the world.

We have a choice today to believe that the same God that was at work in the bible is at work in the world today.

He is the same God doing the same kind of things.

Ask God what He is up to in your world today?

Partner with the King of kings and allow the story of God to unfold.

Live life with a green light

One of the main questions I’ll get asked by teenagers, students and adults in my church is how do I know I’m in the will of God? How do I know that the decisions I make and the things I do are in the will of God for my life.

Who should I marry?

Should I take that job?

Should I move city are questions we all think about.

If we see our lives as a set course and the will of God like a program that we walk along then it is very hard not to be troubled by these questions.

The will of God is not one little road for your life, it is a way of living and it is a state of being.  If Jesus is our good shepherd that gives His life for the sheep. If through His love He welcomes us into the pasture and provides us with fullness of life. Do we have freedom in the pasture? Does the Shepherd bring a blade of grass to us, and then when we have eaten that, He brings another one and then another. Does He direct what we are allowed to do.

Paul says in the letter to the Corinthians that where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

How is this way of living in the pastures of our Shepherd freedom?

This is often the lens that we interpret and see the world through.

When God is ready He will speak, guide and direct us to that ‘next thing’. And yes of course He speaks, guides and directs but He also gives us the responsibility to live our lives with wisdom in the power of the Holy Spirit.

There’s so much more freedom than we realise.

I believe that as we enter the kingdom, through the good shepherd we’re given freedom in the pasture. We’re given the green light, to eat, enjoy life, live and learn to love well.

So if there is so much freedom and it isn’t about a pathway through life. What is the will of God?

Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The will of God in Christ Jesus is to

rejoice always

pray continually

and give thanks in all circumstances.

This is the same that any good husband would want for his wife. We are the bride of Christ. Does our good husband Jesus want to control us with one clear, set pathway. We say to our loved ones  I want you to be happy, communicate and that you are content. Jesus is saying to us, be happy, communicate with me and be content. That is His will for us it is a state of being.

‘For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.’ Philippians 2:13

God is in you and is working out his will in you (A state of being) for his good measure.

‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ Romans 12:1

What is God’s will for you? To have your mind renewed and transformed from the way of the world.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.’  James 1:5

We are in God’s will and now.  It is a state of being in Christ Jesus. We are in the flock the pasture and now you need to ask for wisdom. The will is a state of mind, when you are in the will you need to ask for the wisdom of God.

The apostles lived with a green light. They didn’t spend their lives waiting for the green light as to whether to serve, help, preach or pray. They went, they lived and the loved. They spent their lives living in the green light of the Spirit of God that says I am with you, you are my representatives on the earth and I give you authority to represent me well.

If you were an ambassador in a foreign country and every time you’re asked to help and see an opportunity make the country better you said “I need to wait and double check if the country that has sent me will allow me to help” you wouldn’t be a very good ambassador. As an ambassador you have been given authority by the home nation to go, make a difference. In Life we have been given authority by the king of kings to go.

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.’

Acts 16:6-8

The apostles lived with a green light, they heard go and they are going, they are healing the sick, preaching the good news and casting out the demonic. Then as they are going they are asking for wisdom and guidance and they’re then blocked by the holy spirit. They are directed by a vision in the night. The direction came as they went, not as they sat and did nothing.

We’re not supposed to live in fear of being blocked and redirected. We’re meant to have a green light, enjoy the pasture. We aren’t meant to let anything hold us back until the holy spirit redirects us.

Ask for wisdom in the process,

live life not questioning the will of God,

live life with the green light of the Holy Spirit,

rejoicing always, praying constantly and always being thankful.

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