come and see

John 1:46 “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked.“Come and see,” answered Philip.


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Mansions

The service at the beginning of this month was inspired by the following quote from C S Lewis:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.”

Readings we used were from Jeremiah 29:11 ““For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And Ephesians 3:20 “With God’s power working in us, God can do much much more than anything we can ask or imagine.”

IMG_0599IMG_0598For a game we used a sets of cards which, when put together properly, showed a picture of a house, giving one set each to small groups of 3 or 4 people. The twist here is that we didn’t give them a guide picture, but left them to put it together as well as they could manage, using this to reinforce the theme that what is being built in us is more than we can ask or imagine. The cards we used are an old set that I have had in my household for many years, but it would be easy enough to make your own version by printing off pictures of houses and cutting them into squares.

Vanessa started her message by reading the quote from C S Lewis, and then continued:
“Imagine yourself as a living house.”
In the Bible our body is talked about as a temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of God and that God’s Spirit lives within you?”

That’s right we have our very own builder, the Holy Spirit, living in us 24/7, every hour of every day. When we become Christians, we accept and realise there are parts of us that are not right with God – as C S Lewis put it “the leaky roof and drains.”  My building jobs: the works in progress or the things on the to-do list will be different to yours. What God is hammering out with me at the moment, will be different to you. That’s because I am special …… and so are you. The important thing is to accept and embrace that we are a building site that gets a bit messy, uncertain, and certainly painful. And also please remember that we are the building, a living house, a temple – NOT the project manager or the architect.

Life is challenging – that’s life. Christians don’t have it easy. Change can be hard.  Letting go of things we are familiar and comfortable with, even if these things hurt us, can be scary. The only thing I know stronger than fear is faith. Have faith in God. He loves you and His plans for you are for good. And to quote C S Lewis again: “I would rather be what God chose to make than the most glorious creature that I could think of. For to have been thought about, born in God’s thought and then made by God is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”

But wait – there’s more. Our God is an amazing overflowing God. “I came so you could have life in all its abundance.” (John 10:10) “Jesus told the men to cast their net on the other side of the boat and it overflowed.” (John 21:1-14).

And so in closing let’s once again hear and dwell on these words from Ephesians 3:20  “With God’s power working in us, God can do much much more than anything we can ask or imagine.”
The Amplified Bible version says “God is able to do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare, ask or think, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams.”

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God – Here and Now (Malachi 3:6)

I heard a term the other day “Change fatigue.” It is the inability to cope with constant change which goes against the common saying “the only constant in life is change.” Change fatigue is becoming more prevalent in Christchurch as we continue to live post-quake. An example is the constant changes to roading with detours and road blocks that seem to last forever, or appear and disappear overnight. I have tried to be clever and beat the system by taking the long way round to avoid roadworks only to encounter bigger ones, and then find out the one I avoided had been finished. Changes in where we live as we have repairs, or feel our lives are on hold as we wait for outcomes so that any change can then eventually happen. There is such a blanket of uncertainty over so much of our lives, more so now than ever before.

Personally I have changed a lot in my 44 years. Of course I have, I am no longer a new born baby, toddler or teenager. I am a middle-aged woman with some grey hair and even more wrinkles. I am a wife and mother. I have had many experiences that have formed me to be who I am today – some good, some bad, some menial and some profound.  And the process is not complete, I will continue to change over the next year, the next 10 years – right up to the day I die.

And God – has He aged? Has He changed?  “I am the Lord, and I do not change”(Malachi 3:6)

When my father died, I couldn’t find God. I prayed, but the God I knew wasn’t there….. why would God leave me in my time of raw grief? Or had I changed?  And here is something I read at that time called “Footsteps”:

FOOTSTEPS…..
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it.

“Lord, You said that once I decided to follow you, You’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

The Lord replied, “My son, My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

I had never been in this place before… I just needed to learn to be carried. Our relationship changed and as a result is now different.

These changes are given to us so that we can grow spiritual.
So we learn to have the confidence and courage to lay our burdens with God so He can give us rest -and that does mean putting them down and not going back to pick them up.
So that as our patience is tested, we learn how to wait in God’s timing.
So by loving the difficult people in our lives, loving the unpleasant parts of ourselves we can experience more of God’s love for ourselves and those around us.

The challenge you are having now (because I know we are all facing something – that’s life) is about us changing to be more like God, more like Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is the one who shows us what needs to be done, and gives us the strength and peace to do it.

Sometimes we learn these lessons quickly, sometimes it takes a bit longer, sometimes we think we passed it, only to find out we have a whole other level to master. And yes, that is life – it changes constantly.

In the midst of change and uncertainly, we can trust in God who never changes. Situations in our lives often change, but God’s promise never changes. Our feelings and emotions can change, sometimes quickly, but God never changes.

The only constant in life is God, and He is here and now. In this present moment, and every present moment. In the calm and the storm, in the noise and the quiet, in the crowd and in your solitude. He is here, he is now. He is in our present moment and our future. Your choice is if you want to be with Him.

Vanessa