Elevated Eyes

Look above: Fix your eyes on Jesus and see life from a different perspective

Category: Devotional

Short devotional content from my heart

New you

In becoming a Christian a change takes place in our fundamental identity.

In identifying and believing in Jesus death on a cross, our inner being is not mended, it is not fixed. Something in the core of who we are dies.  Early Christians called this our ‘old man’.

The idea of our ‘old man’ is said like this by Paul

“For you died, your life is now hidden with Christ in God”

Colossians 3:3

There is this old nature of ours that is broken, selfish and is always pulling us to live in ways we aren’t called to live.

God hasn’t come to fix our old nature He came to kill it. However many times it tries to raise it’s head and pull us back into our old way of life the reality is that it is dead.

God doesn’t only kill this old person but He then gives us beautiful new nature, we have taken on the very identity of Christ.

It’s not that we are perfect now or that we will never struggle again.

This new way of life needs to be consciously brought to mind. It is a process of having our mind renewed as we begin to believe the truth about the life God has given us.

You are a new creation.

You are not who you were.

You are in Christ, when God looks at you He sees Christ.

You are God’s chosen people made holy in Christ. Without blemish and unstained.

The issues isn’t about striving to do certain things that will make me holy but it is about me understanding the work God has already done in me. It is about me waking up to the new creation God has made me.

We are called to live up to what we have already attained in Christ.

As we share our faith, I don’t believe we are to use shame to call people to a list of things that they are not doing. But we are called to share who people are from God’s perspective.

When people fall back into old life we do not shame them but we call them again to who they are in Christ.

We do this not because sin isn’t serious but because we are meant to take seriously what God says about us.

 

You are a new creation.

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

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.

You are a friend of God

In the old testament we read a story of two brothers Moses and Aaron. Most would say that these were pretty great leaders, leading a people out of slavery and into freedom.

It is interesting why God calls Moses instead of Aaron. If you look through the story of Moses in Egypt throughout the plagues you can see that it is Aaron that does most of the talking, not Moses. Aaron performs the wonders, he holds up Moses arms as he prayed for the battle to be won (Exodus 17:12). He was there on top of Mount Sinai when the law was given (19:24). He represented Israel as her first chief priest (28:4) and he even saw God (24:9-11). Aaron the communicator, passionate preacher, powerful miracle worker must have seemed like the star over his mumbling brother Moses.

But why was it that God picked Moses initially? We see the answer to this in the tragic story of the gold calf. Moses leaves Aaron in charge of the camp and heads off up Sinai to meet with God.

‘When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Exodus 32:1

Despite all that he had seen Aaron leads the people in bowing down to the new image, the man that became Israel’s first priest makes them bowl to their first idol. It is clear that Aaron cracked big time, it lead to the death of 3000 people and almost the destruction of the nation of Israel. The cause was people pressure. As you walk your Christian walk you will know that people pressure can be something we all have to face. People will try to pull you in different directions, they will try to pull you in a direction that is not good, healthy or right for you. We can be doing okay most of the time and then like Aaron at the crucial moment when there is a choice between pleasing God and pleasing man, we crumble. Unless we deal with this it could seriously damage our walk with Jesus.

Moses manages to show us the solution of pleasing people. It is being a friend of God! The solution is to draw closer to God so we care more about what he thinks than what others think. Moses has the incredible habit of taking a tent outside the camp setting it up and spending time chatting to God.

 

‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. ‘

Exodus 33:11

Time and time again we see Moses and God talking as friends. Aaron followed man’s opinions Moses looked to God’s. Our steps to a great walk with God begin with being a friend of God. Take time out this week to pitch your tent. To sit and talk to God. Find a space this month where you can step out of your usual routine and just spend time being a friend of God. Take some time today to sit with God and just be a friend of the king of the universe.

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