Growing to be all that God desires you be is the result of many strands, or decisions that you make on a daily basis. To grow spiritually does not happen by chance or as the result of good genes. To grow into maturity is not the end of the process but rather it is part of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in you. The goal is to experience a “transformed” life that has so radically changed that the result is a new set of values and purposes. We live to the glory of God through difficult circumstances and heart-wrenching suffering.
Time always reveals the truth! I recently celebrated my 59th here on the planet. The reality of the quick passing and brevity have hit me like a ton of bricks. More than ever I am aware that the majority of my life is behind me. If I was to counsel my younger self what would I say to him? Good question, isn’t it?
By the grace of God, he has given me the awesome privilege to serve some very incredible people in some awesome places on planet earth. But…it could have been much better than it was. I often wish that what I know now I could have learned much earlier. It is not as if there were not people who tried to tell me but I was too stubborn to listen!
First, I would say, “Be patient with people and circumstances.” I often wanted people, and ministries, to change their point of view. Instead of working through situations I decided to move on. They may never have changed into what I wanted them to be but grace teaches me to give room for God to work in you and in them.
Second, I would not have listened to the opinions of others who were negative against administration and people in authority. My older self would now say that God knows what he is doing, there could be a greater purpose for why that policy was brought forward that you know nothing about. Furthermore, they could be right!! The horror of horrors! I could be wrong!
Third, allow God to mature you where he has placed you. I have often thought about people who are “lifers” in those places I left. There is such a maturity when they speak of their ministry. They speak with the wisdom that can only be grasped after years spent investing in a place and people.
Finally, I am thankful that I am still learning. God is still teaching me that there is much yet to be done. I don’t look backward with bitterness or depression but I optimistically use the lessons from the past to move forward. Philippians 1:6 continues to give me hope, ““And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
I am not 60 yet, I have 360 plus days to go! But I am excited to build on the foundation that God has established in my life. I’m still in process, still learning and still want to learn! How about you?
Pastor Bill Finch
Tis the season for setting goals, resolutions and then, plunk! Nothing! It was a good college try but it will have to wait until the weather is warmer, or until I get over this cold, or maybe even when my schedule clears! Have you ever thought that way? “Tomorrow” is always the best day to start a new project but inevitably something else comes up that gets in the way or has greater importance on our priority scale! Continue reading
Before us lay 365 days that are like a blank canvas awaiting the brush strokes of the artist. Our confidence and hope lay in the brilliance of the artist who will not waste a stroke, every one being intentional and mindful of the final outcome. Like the artist, God has in mind what he wants to accomplish in and through us. Every action, every so-called “coincidence” has the final product in view.
Listen to what God is designing through you and I:
Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another-showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shapedup for the tasks God has for us.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 The Message
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Philippians 3:7-8 ESV
God is designing us to be people who grow to maturity in Christ to become like him through the application of his Word to our life. And, we grow to become mature in Christ because we understand that to be the greatest priority of our life.
How does God do this in us? He does so as we make daily choices over a long period of time to honour him through our obedience to his Word. It is not an overnight, quick process. One choice at a time, one decision at a time and one day at a time. It is not complicated but requires a God-centred obedience that aims to please him in everything.
He also does this through the refining fire of suffering. Sickness and disease, difficult relationships, our own bad choices, unexpected and unwanted circumstances all are a part of the Master’s brush strokes as he carefully paints on the canvas. This is where daily life happens and daily choices are made. God refines us into the mold of his Son. Our experience of suffering causes us to yearn for more of God and less of ourselves. We slowly come to realize that everything in life has a spiritual component to it. Yes, I did say everything!
Before us lay a years worth of opportunities to experience his grace. Our goal as individuals who belong to the community of faith is to encourage one another to patiently allow the Artist the freedom to create what he has in mind. For far too long in my own walk with God I attempted to use God to get what I wanted. I used spiritually sounding words to manipulate people and circumstances. But God would have none of it! He had a greater plan in mind that he persistently and patiently continued to draw on the canvas. Save yourself some time and heartache, my friend, do what he asks nothing more, nothing less UNTIL he tells you what the next thing is.
I read years ago that our lives are the result not of the dreams we dream but of the decisions we make daily. Personally, I choose to awake early to read the Scripture and pray. Nothing mystical or magic about that but it is determinative. It speaks to what is priority and what is the goal of my life. If you have developed this habit, keep going, it is worth it, if you have not yet, do it and find someone to keep you accountable.
This blank canvas before us called 2018 will slowly begin to be painted upon. Each hour, each day, each week and each month will uniquely contribute to the final product. Think about these words of the Apostle Paul as you consider what you desire for this year,
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Jesus Christ was born to buy back you and I from the cruel taskmaster of sin. I have attempted to draw a picture with words this month of the beauty and humble majesty of his coming to dwell among us.
My prayer is that he would be exalted as the King of my life everyday and that everyday I would worship him with every fibre of my being! Would you join me in that prayer?
Here are the 4 blogs, really personal devotional thoughts, that reflect the desire to live for him daily!
I would like to tell you the story, if you would indulge me. I once was lost but now I have been found. Yea, I know you have heard that before. But in my case it is really what happened! The puzzling thing is that for many years I didn’t know, and I had no idea that I was lost. I was like the proverbial pig in the pig pen who wallows happily in the mud not knowing being clean is even a possibility. I was happy to live as if God didn’t exist and didn’t love me. I was “happy” with my circle of friends who lived for sports and getting wasted on drugs and alcohol.
I knew of the story of Christmas but didn’t really think too much about it. I never stopped long enough to realize that Jesus Chrust voluntarily stepped out of heaven to become a baby and eventually die at the hands of those he had created. I was unaware of such humiliation and the love that motivated him to take such a step. I had never taken into consideration these words,
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)
Now when I celebrate Christmas I cannot but help think of these words. Jesus voluntarily left heaven to become the sacrifice for my sin! Those words continue to rock my world! Love came down to earth so that I could realize why God had placed me on the planet! I could only find purpose and significance in life through understanding the ramifications of Christmas.
Our celebration of the birth of Jesus is one of love. One of the well known verses of the Bible is John 3:16,
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
You and I are loved more than we could ever imagine! My story is that once I discovered God’s love I have never been the same since. Oh, yes, there have been times that I have been tempted to turn my back on God’s love. But I have learned that there is nothing the world has that is worth as much as the freedom and joy God has gifted me when love came down! Absolutely nothing!
As you celebrate Christmas this year, yes please enjoy time with your family. By all means taste with delight the delicious food that you will partake of. Celebrate with your loved one the exchange of gifts! But please make Jesus the honoured guest, give him his rightful place at the head of the table and the rightful heir of the centre of your heart!
Thank you for taking the time to read! Please share if this has been helpful to you!
Pastor Bill Finch
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”
The relevancy of the message of the angels to the shepherds is as important today as when they were first spoken. Like those days, the time in which you and I live are days when “good news of great joy” is the right message for today. Our human race has made efforts almost since time began to cure itself with disastrous and deadly results. Peace agreements between nations and neighbours are at best short-term. We are in desperate need of good news of great joy.