Elevated Eyes

Look above. Fix your eyes on Jesus. 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.

Cultural Sandcastles

Culture is constantly changing and reshaping, how are we meant to build something that can make a difference, how are we meant to live a life that’ll last in the middle of so much uncertainty.

It feels a little bit like we are building on sand, that is always going to change. God calls us in the book of Hebrews to be a people that are of a different kingdom, an unshakable kingdom.

We live in an unstable culture.  As we look all around we see huge shifts in mindsets, pressures in society. There is a cultural earthquake happening all around.

I believe that culture is shaking and soon there is going to be a revealing of a people that is unshakable.

Hebrews 12:26-13:8

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Sacrifices Pleasing to God

13 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

We’re called to be a rescue team reaching in and saving those trapped and hurting in the earthquakes of culture we see all around us.

Hebrews, I believe is written  by Paul in prison to Jewish Christians in Israel.  Before this text was written, the Jews had risen up against Rome, and the emperor was fed up. So the emperor dispatched his best general and the might of the Roman military machine to crush the zealot rebellion.

The Jewish people knew what was coming they knew the destruction that was on the way.

The Jewish nation was about to live through the reality of Roman destruction.

There was a push from the Jewish Christians to leave the sect of Christianity they were being squeezed on every side. Their world was being turned upside down.

photo-1413977886085-3bbbf9a7cf6eThey were afraid, there was massive upheaval on the way. You know what we all need to be ready, we need to be ready for change we need to be ready for hard times we need to be ready to face tragedy and disaster.

We have been called as the rescue team, as the ones reaching down into darkness disaster and pain and being a rescuer. Being a movement of God here on earth.

The writer gives us 4 things to do at this time and in these moments.

  1. HAVE COMPASSION. You are to keep the compassion of God burning in your heart. Hebrews 13:1-2 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

It is easy to become bitter, to become resentful and angry. Do we judge those that are shaken or do we have compassion on them?

  1. FOCUS ON COMMUNITY. You need to turn away from self-interest and turn towards community Hebrews 13:2-3 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

What do we see in countries around the world hit by devastation? In times of trouble we need to remember to stand alongside each other, to embrace those in greatest need. When everything else is being broken, you need to tend to community. In times of trouble it is not good to isolate ourselves and we need to fight that impulse and build each other up. People want to feel community that is stable. They want some where to call home. A place to find identity to find calling.

  1. WE NEED TO CONNECT PEOPLE TO THE BIGGER STORY. As earthquakes shakes the world, peoples security falls. What they build there identity in, there security in, there jobs there families it crumbles. We need to show people that there is a story bigger than us. As the world around us shakes and falls remember there is a Connection story that connects you to all of the people of God down through the ages, that connects you to all the Christians who love the Lord. There is a bigger story there is more than your here and now. There are seasons coming that you needed to be prepared for and this is a preparation time. Hebrews 13:5-6 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

 There is a bigger picture here, let me show you. Keep holding on keep moving forward. This is happening for a reason, but the Lord is faithful throughout it. We need to show people that there is a connection story that there is something bigger happening. Something that is not about loss but about redemption.

  1. BE A COMPASS POINTING PEOPLE TO CHRIST. Where do we go when there is confusion, when the maps are no longer clear. I believe as a rescue team we are called to point people to Jesus to give them a stable and secure compass. Be a Compass pointing the way Hebrews 13:8 ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever’ follow the one that is unchanging and teach others to do the same. Be a disciple. You have the spirit of God living in you in the midst of a shaking world. We are the people of God. Remember who you are. Point people to Jesus. It is all about him.

Be the rescue team of God reaching into a hurting world. Show compassion, demonstrate community, connect them to the vision and redemptive story, and lead to the unshakable one who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Give your Boat to Jesus

Do you ever wonder if you’re doing what you were called to do. I think this is something that we often struggle with in life.

Am I with who I’m meant to be with?

Am in the job i’m meant to be in?

God calls us to live life to the full with Him, to do what we were built for, which I believe is to live every day with the Spirit of God inside.

If you are ever questioning your purpose, calling or direction ask, am I allowing the spirit of God o flow through my life.

In Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus demonstrated what it means to live life with the Spirit of God

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Now let me ask you a question, what is a boat built for? It is not built to be tied to the shore it is built to be pushed out into the ocean.

It’s not built for the shore, but it is built to sail it’s built for adventure.

You weren’t built for the shallows, you were built to be the boat in the deep.

Life with Jesus is meant to get your adrenaline pumping.

Sometimes we need to let go of that rope, we need to push of from the shore and allow the Spirit of God to take our life and guide it in the direction He has for us.

God longs to take you deeper. He says follow your heart, surrender to me trust my way. The boat was not built to be tied to the shore but it was made with a purpose it was made to sail. Invite Jesus into your boat, push off from the shore and life will never be boring again.

Now the bible doesn’t say that Jesus owned a boat so it is probably safe to assume that someone leant Jesus the boat that day.

I want to encourage you, hand your boats over to Jesus. Give Him all you have.

Give Him your gifts, your time, your talents, your future, your hopes, your dreams.

Give Him your all and your life will be host to the miracles of the king of kings.  Just give your life to him and watch what He can do.

If you notice in the  story the disciples are fearing for their lives, they are fighting to stay alive. They are bailing water out of the boat. I wonder if you ever feel like that in life, just trying to stay above water. The most you can hope for is that you can somehow survivor this.

Like the disciples you cry out to Jesus in the middle of the storm you are facing and with all the tender strength of his heart He stands majestically to his feet and the creator of the universe commands the elements back into order and the waves to lie down.

Jesus commands the waves that are surrounding you to lie down, and peace returns. Your lake is calm and you survive.

But you see in verse 36 of the passage that they weren’t the only boats on the sea that day.

On that lake and in that storm there were other boats, sailing to the left and to the right. That day who got blessed? The people crying out to Jesus yes, but the people on the left and the people on the right. When the blessing fell, it fell to the left and to the right. Some might have been friends some might have been strangers but they all got blessed.

God’s plans for your life are bigger than your life,

God’s plans for your boat are bigger than your boat,

God’s plans for your journey are bigger than your journey.

The plans are bigger than you think. Because there is a world caught in a storm, there are frightened people everywhere and they need Jesus. Every boat on the lake got to enjoy the blessing because some cried out to Jesus.

The miracles are for everyone you come in contact with, His love pours from our lives.

Through His love practically worked out in your life others can navigate their stormy sees. We reflect His love to others so that they can find their peace in Jesus. You are not the only boat on the sea today. Make sure that you surrender your boat to God so that His blessings can flow to others because of you.

What area of your life do you need to completely surrender to God? 

Who do you know around you that is in the middle of a storm right now and what can you do to help? 

 

Open Heart Surgery

When we look at the news it is really easy to see the pain, devastation in the world.

There are some terrible things happening in the world and as Christians it is hard to see what is God’s heart for people that do these things.  Do we serve a short-tempered angry God, or is God a loving father even to those that are evil.

I’ve been thinking about the Heart God has for people. Because as Christians it is so often the heart that God works on and changes.  Maybe God wants to open our hearts up again to love.

Have you ever read the book of Hosea?

In the book of Hosea God begins to paint the beautiful picture of love. Hosea has suffered and faced rejection and God has drawn this parallel to himself and the nation of Israel’s rejection of him.

Hosea 11:8b 

My heart is torn within me,
    and my compassion overflows. (NLT)

It’s almost as if God  is saying  “I’m torn, because I am just and righteous, and sinless but I am merciful, and long-suffering, patient, forgiving and sympathetic. I’m torn.”

Many scholars believe this is similar to the covenant He made to Noah when He said I will not flood the earth any more.

God is still just, God is still righteous, at the end of this life because of who God is there will be a judgement, but because of this illogical and irrational love that pours out of our king, God desires that all are saved.

When God said I love the world. He meant it.

In sending His son He was saying, “I love all of you. I am sending my son not to judge the world but that the world through him might be saved.”

He is not the great critic but the great cure. He is a God of Love and His heart’s moved by His children.

There is evil adulterous behaviour in the heart of the Israelites, yet God is looking at them and saying, I chose to love. In the midst of the darkness He shows mercy.  In the middle of rejection He shows forgiveness.

We need to be a people who emulate the heartbeat of our heavenly father, where mercy triumphs over judgement every time. 

So what does this Heart of God look like for us

1 John 3:16-17

 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? (NLT)

I love how John just brings this home. He speaks directly into our day-to-day lives. We have just made this leap from the son of God laying down his life for us in verse 16 to if you have a bit of money and see someone in need then help.

It’s powerful stuff. He just says if that is you (that shuts up your life to those in need) then how can the love of God be in you?

I believe that through this passage we can see that God’s love is not shut up, but God’s heart is open to all. If there is a being in the universe that has a right to shut His heart to some it’s God. He would be right and just to say my heart is open to one and it’s shut to another.

But His mercy and His grace and His love push through and His heart remains open to all humanity.

John writes, He died for you, He opened his heart for you, and He gave His son for you. If you see someone in need don’t you shut your heart up.

Maybe as His ambassadors as His representatives here on this earth we could be a people of an open heart.

We need to look at the father, because He had an open heart He goes to extraordinary illogical lengths to demonstrate His love even though He knows many will not take notice. He was a God of the open heart.

What is it that you can do today that will demonstrate the open-hearted Love of God?

Father,
perform open heart surgery on us,

expand our hearts,

expand our prayers,

Help us to love the least, the last & the lost.

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.

© 2017 Elevated Eyes

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑