Friday, June 19, 2015

A lifetime of service

'I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.' 1 Tim 1:12

I've been challenged over the last week or so listening to Revive our Hearts' series on 'Serving like the Saviour'. Nancy Leigh deMoss made this striking comment:
'We’re never more like Satan than when we’re serving out of a desire to be recognized, and we’re never more like Jesus than when we’re serving with no need for recognition, no reputation seeking, just wanting to lay down our lives for His sake and others.' (Today's Servants)
I think so often I am preoccupied with being applauded, or in serving in the ways I really like, that I miss completely the true heart of servanthood, which is shown so beautifully in Jesus.

The apostle Paul takes time in his letter to thank Christ for considering him trustworthy and appointing him to His service- he thanks God for the opportunity to serve, with no restrictions on the way he serves. He also says Christ has given him strength in order to do it. If we're serving in our own strength, then we're just acting in the flesh and not like one of the branches connected to the vine.

I can see, in myself, the desire for position, the desire for status within the church, and it can be tempting to use service to try to gain that. How contrary to the gospel! How can we, being saved by grace, then proceed to try to build up achievement points before God or men?

If I'm going to serve, I have to imitate Paul in always remembering that I serve because of His mercy and abundant grace (1 Tim 1:13-14). I have to serve without measuring out how much I am giving or having an expectation of what I receive. I need to have more concern for His glory than for my own, and I need to draw from the endless wellspring of His love to do it, rather than from my own, very finite resources which are like a puddle on a dry day - soon depleted!

Rather than wanting to be remembered for great gospel exploits, my goal should be to be known as one who served - if known at all. Lord, shape my heart into that of a true servant, for Your glory! Amen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


It's testimony Tuesday in my church's mission week and we've all been challenged to share something of our stories with our friends, family and anyone who knows us. So here goes!

I grew up going to church and God was always very real to me. I made my own decision to be a Christian; it wasn't something my parents could do for me. I knew I wanted to give my life to God and live for Him.

If I was to sum up what it means to me to be a Christian it would be this: saved by grace to be part of God's community. It's nothing to do with anything good I may or may not have done, it's about the fact that Jesus died for my sins so I can be forgiven.

Being a Christian isn't a one off decision, it's a path you have to walk day by day; it's in every choice you make: do you do things your way or God's way? I definitely do not always make the right choices but I'm thankful that He is working in me everyday to change me and make me more like Jesus Christ.

It's not always easy being a Christian - you have to make some hard choices and you need to listen to God and be directed by His plan and priorities rather than what everyone else is doing, but I can definitely tell you that being a Christian is the best decision I ever made. My life has a clear purpose and I found what I was made for: to know the God who made me and to know who Jesus is in a really personal way. I'm so excited about one day seeing Him face to face.

Maybe you sometimes wonder about what will happen when you die or whether there really is a God. We are made to know God and something within us nudges us to find out more about Him. He has done everything to make it possible for us to know him: you can read all about it in the Bible. Why don't you try reading the gospel of Luke, it's pretty short and would not take you very long but maybe you might find the things you thought about Jesus weren't based on the truth or the real Jesus as we see in the Bible.

I am so blessed to be part of Hill City Church and every week we sing songs and look at the Bible together. I always learn something new and God is very present with us as we learn more about Him together. The church is my family and being part of this community is amazing. It gives me a taste of what heaven will be like: no fluffy clouds and harps, but a mass of people from all different places worshipping God together. We meet every Sunday morning at 11 a.m. in Pontnewynydd Methodist Church, why don't you come and join us and see for yourself?

Thank you for reading this and do you ask me any questions you have. I'd love to talk to you more about being a Christian and what you think about it.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Jesus: tempted and triumphant

In His first 30 years on the planet, Jesus would have known the same sufferings as you or I: physical weakness and emotional sadness and grief. For example, there is good reason to believe that Joseph died at some point as he is not present during Christ's ministry and Jesus deliberately passes the care of His mother to John at the cross. Throughout all this time, He never once sinned. He lived as our representative, the perfect second Adam.

On the cusp of His public ministry, right after His baptism, Jesus was tempted by Satan. This scene in the gospels is in some ways a culmination of His entire lifetime of perfect obedience, as well as showing how at this crucial moment the spiritual attack upon Him intensified.

Jesus was 'led by the Spirit into the wilderness' and after fasting for forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. (Matt 4:1-2). The devil challenged Him: ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ (v3) Jesus refused to allow His identity to be defined by merely His actions or miracles. He was the Son of God even though He was hungry, and He didn't need to exert divine powers to prove it. He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The devil then challenged Jesus to throw Himself down off the highest point of the temple, because the Scripture said God would send His angels 'so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ But Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Finally, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” (v5-10)

Jesus was tempted by Satan to shortcut the suffering of the path God wanted Him to take. The devil wanted Jesus to use His divinity to cut out some of the discomfort of being human, and follow a path of fame and glory instead of the way of the cross, a life independent of His Father. He refused. Jesus valued obedience more than comfort. Do we?

The section reminds us of Israel's 40 years in the wilderness, where they constantly complained about the suffering they had to endure, forgetting their privileged status as God's chosen people, their terrible suffering in Egypt which God dramatically delivered them from, and the beautiful land that was promised to them. What about us? How do we suffer? Do we constantly complain, oblivious of all the blessings we have received, including every spiritual blessing in Christ? Do we forget that we've been delivered out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light? Do we forget our eternal, future inheritance - the inheritance of Christ?

Oswald Sanders in 'The Incomparable Christ' writes this: Jesus 'refused to employ His divine prerogatives to gratify His own natural desires... Jesus had indeed come to obtain all the world of power and glory, but He was to receive it in His Father's way and in His Father's time. And His Father's way included death on a cross. He perceived that Satan was offering Him the crown without the cross.'

How did Jesus beat Satan? His response was to quote the Word of God. He modelled for us how we should fight our enemy; He used no powers beyond our reach. And He returned triumphant, 'in the power of the Spirit' (Lk 4:1, 14); enriched, not impoverished, by the experience (Sanders). May this be our experience in every trial.