Sunday, 22 February 2015

A City On A Hill

Geographically speaking, Christchurch is far from being situated on a hill. We lay in more of a valley with surrounding hills and mountains that tower over us, but yet I felt God speak this phrase to me very clearly yesterday evening. I quickly hopped on the web and searched the passage of scripture that this came from.
In Matthew 5:14 it says

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.’ (NIV)

February the 22nd marks the four year anniversary of the earthquake that destroyed this city, but it also marks a time where we became the most malleable form in which God can use us- I will touch in this more in a moment.  We were suddenly in the public eye, news channels jumped on this disaster and it spread like wildfire. I feel this is what really placed us as a city on a hill. This scripture will continue to ring true as we rebuild, slowly building up fresh infrastructure, birthed from minds that suddenly had a whole canvas of a city to work on. Community projects have blossomed like pop up dance-o-mats, poetry walls, and outside movie screenings have adorned this city with hope during this ongoing restoration project. This rebuild will not be a quiet task, it will draw attention no only nationally but internationally and it is pushing me to continue prayerfully that God’s hand is upon this whole process. If we are a city on a hill that cannot be hidden, I want to be a city that shines the light of Christ from every rubble ruined street corner, and every sleek new office building. I desire to be a part of something that has Christ as the centre, and know that if God can speak the stars into existence, he can take the brokenness of this city and make it whole again.

This leads me onto something I touched on before, being malleable in God’s hands. After the quake we became our weakest, as we mourned over loves ones and watched bricks that built up our homes and buildings, tumble around us. The city became a mess of road cones and tears, and we watched as we became very different versions of ourselves than we once knew. But not only did God speak to me about being a city on a hill, the thing that hit me the most this evening was two verses a few above that read,

3You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. (THE MSG)

How incredible is it that God loves our brokenness? A person who is willing to become completely undone for the sake of being put back together to become more like him is someone who is treasured in God’s eyes. This evening I began to see God’s heart in the way I view this city. I see how I am intrigued by the fading shop signs and smashed bookcases behind windows. I look upon broken dollhouse-like buildings, and I am reminded of my own brokenness and how lovingly God looks upon my every fault, knowing he has work to do in me. I see how when this city and it’s people are at the end of their rope, there is far more God can do because we are willing for him to take the reins. I see how when we have lost what is most important to us, the embrace of our father is that much more comforting and needed. But most of all, I see myself in these broken city streets and hear my Dad call me his child and let me know the passion I have for this broken city is the passion he has for me. He wants me to run into his arms when I reach the end of my tether, or when I feel I am crumbling in the way this city did, because in times like these he will grow me the most.
I encourage you to be attentive to what God is speaking to you about, and don’t ever feel discounted because of your faults of weaknesses. For when we are at our weakest, it is at this place we are most able to be used by our Father- and he can use you in incredible ways.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

To rejoice or not to rejoice- It's your choice!

Today I want to take you on a journey. A journey of discovery. One that hopefully will open your eyes, your heart, your mind; like it did to mine. A journey that for me this morning started with reading 'Streams in the desert' (Which I must add if you don't have a copy of this book, go! Go! right now, stop reading this devotion and go buy yourself one!)

Any ways, I was re-reading over a devotional I had skimmed read across a couple of days back.

It was based on a verse from the book of Psalms.

'He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot- come let us rejoice in him!' Psalm 66:6

It went on to say that this verse is a very profound statement. That 'through the waters' the very place which we would have expected nothing but trembling, terror and dismay and yet they, the Israelites were still able to'Rejoice.' I mean imagine walking on land that once was covered with sea, I would be afraid. Wouldn't you? and yet the children of Israel still stopped to 'Rejoice in him!'

It's pretty incredible if you ask me. It got me thinking as well, Could I do this? or really; Do I do this? When I'm right in the midst of distress, sadness, loneliness, confusion and so on, have I been able? Am I able to rejoice? Am I able to be so deeply thankful, that my heart  it is overflowing with praise to God for the trails I am enduring? Like the Israelites, am I able to stop and 'Rejoice in him'?

I continued to think, and this is one place where the over thinker in me was actually a positive thing for once. I thought this `Well if I'm not able or find it hard to be joyful in my trials then when do I 'Rejoice in him?'

And as I continued to read from 'Streams in the desert' it said this,

'How close God is to us through His promises, and how brightly those promise shine! Yet during times of prosperity we lose sight of their brilliance. In the way the sun at noon hides the stars from the sight, His promises become indiscernible. But when night falls- the deep night of sorrow- a host of stars begin to shine, bringing forth the God's blessed constellations of hope, and promises of comfort from His Word, Just as Jacob experienced at Jabbook, it is only once the sun sets that the Angel of the Lord comes, wrestles with us and we can overcome. It was at night, that Aaron lit the sanctuary lights. And it is often during the night of trouble that the brightest lamps of believers are set ablaze.'

It continued on to talk about John, and that during his dark time of loneliness and exile he had a glorious vision of his redeemer.

"Many of us today have had our 'Isle of Patmos,' which produces the brightest memories of God's enduring presence, uplifting grace, and love in spite of solitude and sadness."

I loved this part, but I was lacking full understanding to fully comprehend the power of this sentence. What happened on the Isle of Patmos? or even more, what is the Isle of Patmos?

So I headed over to my friend good old google.

Searh: Isle of Patmos


I learnt that 'Patmos' means 'my killing' and that it was a sterile island. Crops could not produce. Food was scarce. Basically it was a place where many probably could not survive. And John was sent there not on his own desire, he was there because he was being persecuted for proclaiming the powerful message of Christ. John probably was left to die, and how interesting it is that God used such a place to bring John the revelation he had of Christ.

And that was when that sentence; "Many of us today have had our 'Isle of Patmos,' which produces the brightest memories of God's enduring presence, uplifting grace, and love in spite of solitude and sadness."
became a powerful testimony of how God uses our darkest moments!

 How he uses the times when we question if we'll ever come out of the tunnel we are in, to reveal to us more of his nature. It is these times where things are revealed to us, just like John and his revelation of christ, God reveals things to us. Because it is in those moments, even thought we find our self in utter chaos we find our selves,still. Still because this is where we are needy, needy for Christ. And God knows this. It is the darkest, driest, desert like places that we walk through which God uses. And we can look back and be filled with memories of how God taught us things which will never be forgotten and continue daily to walk with us as a humble reminder of the doings God did within us whilst we where on our 'Isle of Patmos'

And I realized why and how one can be Joyful through trials, tribulation, suffering and despair.For it is the place where ones soul it's developed and carved by Christ. It is molded. For how can one move forward in their relationship with Christ, if they stay stationary. My eyes have been opened. I am thankful, thankful for trials. My soul is going to sing of God's endless promises.

For Deuteronomy 31:6 states,

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

'How many travelers today, still passing through their red seas and Jordan Rivers of earthly affliction, will be able to look back from eternity, filled with memories of God's great goodness and say, "We 'passed through the waters on foot' and yet even in these dark experiences with waves surging all around, we stopped and said 'LET US REJOICE IN HIM!' -Streams in the desert

And so what now?

Are we willing to be people that 'Rejoice in Him' through every circumstance we face in our life?  Can we trust him with these circumstances? Will you have faith that God 'who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus?' (Phil 1v6)

It's a hard thing to do, we're humans and we like to have control. I know I do! And it's a constant lesson God is teaching me. Hes teaching me that I can't go through life the good parts and trials in my own strength. It's about letting go and letting God. For it is when we let go that God can do so much more with us and through us than we could ever have imagined or done in our strength.

And that alone is something to rejoice about!

"There I will give her back her vineyards, and I will make the valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing! - Hosea 2:5