Monthly Archives: April 2013

Tri-dimensional life!

In a meeting we had at our church tonight we were reminded of the tri-dimensional life that each Christian should have and indeed each church.

We need to look up! Look up to the God who gives us everything. The God who sent His own Son to rescue us by dying on the cross. The God who holds the Universe in His hands. The God who has a perfect plan for each one of His children. We need to let God rule over our lives and we need to get to know Him better!

We need to look around! Look to our fellow Christians and encourage one another to live lives that will be pleasing to God. We need to show more love to one another and build each other up. Be stronger in the Unity that comes from Christ.

We need to look out! We would not be following God’s hearts if we kept to ourselves as Christians. We need to reach out to people who do not know the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I thank God for simple, but very powerful reminder of how we should live for God’s glory.

 

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No foolishness!

When I was a teenager in Brazil, I used to attend a Baptist church with very good Biblical teaching. I remember being encouraged to read the Bible and also good Christian books. I always liked reading and made the most of my free time to devour lots of books. One of the books I read was called “Through Gates of Splendor” by Elisabeth Elliot. The books tell the story of her husband Jim Elliot and four other missionaries who had gone to show Jesus to the unreached people of Ecuador called the Waodani.

I remember reading the book and being amazed these men would go to a place where they knew they could possibly die because o Jesus. In their hearts the desire to see those people saved burned more than the desire for their own life.

I read many other things about Jim Elliot and one of his most famous quotes has always made me think: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” I have come across it many times and still amazes me. We cannot keep our lives and if we give it up because of Jesus we are no fools. And what we gain is Eternal life and that we will never lose. It is guaranteed in Jesus himself. Paid with His own blood.

In Jim’s case he literally lost his life when he was killed in Ecuador, but in our case, loosing it might simply mean giving God full control of it – letting Him lead us where He wants us to be and do what He wants us to. it might also mean standing firm on Him and going against the flow of our society. It could also mean something costly to us – for example: being abandoned by a friend because of Jesus or sent away from home because of Jesus.

The Christian life is costly. Sooner or later every Christian faces opposition or discrimination and we should not be surprised when that happens. What we need to keep in mind is what is secured for us. Eternal life with Jesus and that we will always have. Jesus tells us in the Bible that in this world we will have trouble, but He overcame the world.

John 16:33 “‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’”

I pray that God will help each Christian understand more and more that the cost of following Him is not foolishness. May He help us keep our eyes on Him always.

God bless.

Love and Knowledge

One of my favourite books of the New Testament is Philippians. We are studying it at our church in our Mum’s Bible group. This morning we looked at 3 verses that I really love. Paul was in prison and he is praying for the Philippians. How encouraging is that?

We looked at Philippians 1:9-11

“9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.”

What a remarkable prayer! Paul is asking God to help the Philippians love more in the knowledge and depth of insight or discernment. Two key ingredients essential for any Christian to live a life that is pleasing and glorifying to God: love and knowledge. Both are important and need to work hand in hand. If we only have love, everything would be a bit fluffy. We would always try to please those we love and we would lose sight of the most important thing: pleasing God. If we were only wise and discerning, we would be cold and would not be sensitive to the needs of those around us and would probably become like the Pharisees.

We need to love more and have knowledge that only comes through Jesus. We need to know Him better and we need to imitate Him. He gave us the ultimate example of love and knowledge and discernment. Only through knowing Him deeply we will be able to follow Him. Our lives will then be pure and blameless and what we live and produce will be righteous and will be pleasing and glorifying to God.

My prayer is that this wonderful prayer Paul prayed for the Philippians would be true in my life and in the lives of those who love Jesus.

Completely restored!

Today’s sermon at our church in the morning was very challenging! We finished the book of John. We looked at John 21:15-24

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 16 Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ 17 The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’ 20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is going to betray you?’) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ 22 Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’ 23 Because of this, the rumour spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’ 24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

Jesus and Peter were having a conversation. That same Peter that had denied Jesus just before He was crucified. Jesus was asking him if he loved Him. Not once but 3 times Jesus asked the question: Peter, do you love me? (verses 15, 16, 17) Each time Peter answered Jesus was working on restoring him completely. He was forgiven, accepted and chosen to carry out an amazing but very hard job: to look after Jesus’s sheep (verses 15, 16,17). Peter like most of us, failed greatly in his walk of faith and trust in Jesus, yet, Jesus in his mercy and grace offered him a part in building his church here on Earth and leading His people.

Jesus being God and knowing all things also presented Peter with the reality of the task ahead! Peter was to follow Jesus – in everything. In life and in death. It would not be easy. Christian life is not easy. We may not live in a country where we are killed because we confess to be Jesus’s followers, but standing firm and trusting in Him is not always seen as a good thing. Jesus was clear to Peter though, the commitment to Him had to be complete.

Wow! It really made me think. We are to follow Jesus period. We are to follow Him no matter how hard it will be! No matter how many people will laugh at us, oppose us, hate us, we are still to follow Him. Not only that, we are not supposed to compare our lives as Christians to anybody else’s. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus. It does not matter how I have lived, how many times I have chosen to do things my way, how I have pushed Jesus away from the throne of my heart, if I LOVE Him truly and return to Him, He will restore me and use my life for His glory. How amazing is this? What love is this?

Funerals!

This morning I watched the funeral service of Baroness Thatcher. It was certainly a grand occasion and the attention to all the details from those hundreds of people involved was amazing. I am not going to comment on her life or her political career, or the policies of her government. I remember hearing about her when I was growing up in Brazil.

There is something about funerals that makes people think about the future or maybe even their lives. Perhaps some people might even think about the things they believe. The fact is that funerals happen when someone dies and death is the only certain thing that will happen to all human beings.

During the service the Prime Minister David Cameron read a passage from John 14:1-7

14 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.[a] If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?[b] When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.[c] From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

Jesus tells his disciples: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (verse 6) Although this was not the text used in the sermon it is the most important truth about Jesus. He IS the way to the Father. Only through him can people go to heaven.

It does not matter if someone has lived a brilliant life, has accomplished lots, has done charity or not. It does not matter if someone has lived a pretty horrible life and done nothing, or made the worst possible choices one can make. The thing that matters is Jesus. Believing and trusting in Him is the most important thing in life. That is what is going to guarantee eternal life, with God, in heaven.

As I watched the service and saw so many faces, I couldn’t help but wonder if they understood this truth. I wondered if they would go home and think about Jesus and heaven and trusting in God with their lives.

I pray that God would use this occasion to make people think about Him and how they should be giving their lives to Him for eternity.

Beautiful stars!

We went to a friend’s birthday a couple of weekends ago and when we were leaving the party late at night, we looked up and saw the amazing sky! They live in an area with very little light polution and what we saw was truly beautiful!

So many stars and so bright! I don’t know if I would ever be tired to look up into such sky! When we got home on Sunday and I was checking some emails and Facebook updates, I saw that my dearest friend in Brazil posted a verse from Psalm that I absolutely love:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1

It made me smile as I remembered those beautiful stars I had seen the night before! How is it possible that there are so many people in the world still refusing to see that all creation is proclaming God’s glory? The skies, the meadows, the mountains, the deepest oceans all exalting the Creator!

I still have that unforgetable image of that Saturday in my mind! Have you ever tried counting the stars? I have tried many times and sure enough, every single time I failed. Got lost in the counting even before I got to 20! Well, our Saviour has put each one of them in place and knows their names! Isn’t that amazing? He sustains the whole universe in His hands! He is sovereign over all things!

May our great GOD gives strength and courage to always proclaim His glory as the skies do!

Daffodils

The children and I went to a lovely little park near our house called Highdown Gardens yesterday afternoon and we saw some daffodils there. It has been too cold so everything is growing a bit slow this spring, but still it was lovely! The kids ran around and had lots of fun while I was photographing. I love taking pictures of the kids and of the flowers.

As I was walking around looking at the beautiful daffodils I remembered a passage from Matthew 6:25-33

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God  above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

I am very greatful for the little reminders through the day of God’s promises and faithfulness! We should not worry about things such as food and clothing. Verse 26 tells us about the birds and how God provides for them and then how much more value we have to HIM than the birds. Verse 28 talks about “lilies of the field”, but all flowers are beuatiful and God looks after them. Then verse 30 tells us that God will provide clothing for us as well. In fact these verses all tell us that God will care for all our needs – not our wants.  All we have to do is put Him first in our lives. What an amazing promise!