Beautiful

The lame man was carried by his friends each day to beg outside the Beautiful gate. It was his routine but one day was different - the day Peter and John saw him on the ground and healed him in the name of Jesus.  There seemed nothing different about the day when he sat down on his mat but it was going to be the day that God would make beautiful.  The word “beautiful” in Acts 3.2 here doesn't mean beautiful in appearance as we might think but beautiful in timing and effect.  The beggar received in that divine moment much more than he asked for or expected.  It was a “kairos” moment for the man.  The Apostle Paul expected every believer to understand the difference between “kairos” and “chronos”.  “But concerning the times (chronos) and the seasons (kairos), brethren, you have no need that I should write to you” ( 1 Thessalonians5:1)  “Chronos” is earth time - regular, linear and predictable.  “Kairos” is God's moment; the due time, the right time when eternity intersects with “chronos”.  It is sometimes unexpected, it's often miraculous and sometimes it even seems to come too late.  Think Lazarus.

Joseph's “chronos” was difficult and challenging, including a pit, a promiscuous princess and a prison. It looked bad but God was about to make it beautiful.  Gods “chronos” made him a prince with power.  He came to see you that “My times are in your hand” (Psalms 31.15)

Zachariah and Elizabeths “chronos”, included 60 years of childless service to God. It looked too late and hopeless but God was about to make it beautiful. Gods “chronos” was a miracle son who would be a forerunner of Jesus Christ. It was more than they could have asked for or expected.  “Chronos” can produce the results of human reaping and sowing but “kairos” has an outcome that is beautiful, miraculous, abundant and necessary for destiny!

Friend, in 2019 if you'll stay faithful in your service and even in your suffering, our Father will make all things beautiful in His time.

Trust

Abraham might have been walking slowly but his mind was racing as they climbed to the summit.  He had strife in his home and now his promised son was to be taken from him.  Sometimes ancient deities demanded the offering of a child and that day had come.  “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.”  He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:1-2)   The promised and precious was about to be taken away with no warning and no word from God about how it was going to end.  Sometimes God wants for us some things that we don’t want for ourselves.   We imagine in life that we will ask things from God; not that God may ask something of us.  Abram received his son back again but others didn’t.

Tests of faith are costly to us, usually because we lose something from our life.  Maybe a loved one or a cherished child that turned away from God.  Perhaps mobility was lost as the use of some part of our body permanently disappears.  Did we lose a partner through divorce or was it a simple request to remove a headache that went “unanswered.”

Of course, Jesus said to pray and we need to ask but if God answered every prayer as we wished, would we be as god and would He would end up the genie in the bottle.  We almost want to be God or at least we want God to do our will. Greater difficulty can come when we think we know His will and He doesn’t seem to act!   St. John the divine coined a term called the “dark night of the soul.”  which as Pentecostals we prefer not to deal with.  We are more comfortable with the bright day of victory yet if we walk longer than a few years with God, we will find the sun does set.   These dark nites could be called the test of love and in the darkness, we learn to live with mystery.  Our self-revealing God is still unfathomable in many ways. Our redeemed spirit and renewed mind can only know Him a little. We know that He is faithful, that He cannot be unjust and we know He is pleased by faith.  Hebrews eleven tells us that it is not receiving the answers to faith that pleases God but keeping the faith through the test. Being people that still love God when there is no answer from God.

Friend, trust Him when you can’t track him. Reward and complete understanding are reserved in heaven for you. You are pleasing to Him. If something is necessary for your destiny God will intervene.  Abram walked down the mountain with his son and with a greater love for God. God will again speak to you in your darkness to reveal His greatness and to keep your promise alive.

The Top Job

It is amazing who God calls to be ministers.  If I was God I wouldn’t have chosen Aaron to be the High Priest of Israel.  The first day on the job didn’t go well the Aaron. In Ex 32.24-25, Moses had gone up the mountain to meet with God and was told that Aaron was to get the top job.  As the High Priest, Aaron was going to bring the sinner before God and God’s mind to the people. When Moses comes down, Israel is dancing naked around the fertility god. Aaron had turned the worship service into a strip club.  He seemed the biggest failure ever.  If we were God, we wouldn’t have chosen him for the job but God is looking people who can be touched with the feelings of the infirmity of others.  Aaron would now never be a self-righteous, judgmental or condescending High Priest.
Jesus was full of mercy to sinners of every type, even those who came to kill him.  When the High priest’s servant, who led the mob to arrest Jesus, got close enough, Peter cut off his ear. The servant of the High Priest was likely studying to be the next High Priest. Think Elijah and Elisha. However, the Old Testament forbade a person with a physical blemish, from holding a priestly office so Peters sword made sure he would never hold an office he didn’t deserve.  But Jesus “touched his ear and healed him”( Luke 22.51).  Jesus not only healed his blemish and restored his office but he gave the man an experience of mercy that qualified him to be a merciful High-priest to others.
Friend, doctors and nurses who have had injuries are the most empathetic. If you have gone through failure and pain in your life,  you will likely find that your agony is necessary for your destiny.  You know well that you have received the mercy of Jesus,  He has restored your ear to hear His voice, and you will be a merciful “priest” to the people of your world. It’s the Top Job.-- 

JIM Shaw
Great Expectations

Charles Dickens book, “Great Expectations,” tells of a poor young man who dreamed that one day he would be a wealthy man and marry a beautiful and rich woman.   As often happens, his great expectations turned into a great disappointment.

Young people get married and expect to never have a difficult moment.  But a lot can happen between the wedding cake and the silver anniversary cake.   It seems that those that do the best in life are those who are able to handle failed expectations without becoming offended at people or God.

The word “offence” means a trap or a stumbling block. It is when you allow an offence to become a snare or allow it to cause you to stumble.  Jesus said that offences were inevitable, so the key is not to let those offences stumble us.  Paul knew this, so he constantly guarded his heart against being offended at God or man. Acts 24:16.  And he had plenty he could have been offended at!  While trying to serve God, he was allowed to be beaten, flogged, imprisoned, shipwrecked and rejected by the very people he was trying to save.  We can be offended by people who correct us or that don’t meet expectations but we can also be offended at God.

John the Baptist, a boyhood friend and relative of Jesus, who ate bugs for a lifetime in order to serve God the best he could, was put in prison but he imagined that Jesus would get him out. After all He broke Daniel, three Hebrew boys,  Jeremiah and Joseph out of prison so why not John?  Jesus left him in prison to die and said.  “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew  11:6) 

We could almost excuse JB from being offended, it seems like a raw deal, but God saw it differently.  Jesus told the whole planet that John the Baptist was the greatest person ever born of women.  Mat 11:11. That is greater than Moses, David, Samuel and Elijah – the greatest man in 4000 years. And he will be eternally honoured for that. He was the only other man who the Bible says was sent from God. John 1:6 . John had a divine mission, to prepare the world for Salvation and thereby change the entire universe.  Since his death he has impacted more people than in his short life, just like Jesus.  And he was elevated to heaven to be part of life with Heavenly Father and family. He was a victim for a second but a victor for eternity. If nothing else good happens to us in life and we still get to go to heaven, it’s the grace of God and that is a great life.

Friend, To serve Gods purpose in the years we have on earth and then be with God forever, is the grace of God and that is a great life.  How are your expectations? As William Carey said “We should expect great things from God and attempt great things for God”   but are you expecting from Him more that He actually promised. Don’t take offence at God- He is planning a great ending for you. If every day in this life is filled with troubles, we still have a great heavenly expectation.

JIM Shaw
Blurred

A number of years ago some teenagers from a local school were killed in a tramping tragedy.  Heavy rains had fallen and the swollen river had washed them away. Some cried out to Jesus and were saved but others died. Presumably, they were praying too, wanting to be rescued, but they weren’t.  The parents gathered around and wondered why some children were saved and others were lost. Outside the theologians defended the sovereignty of God and consoled themselves with the mystery of Gods plan for the accident.  Others may have looked at the tragedy and thought that God is either powerless or if he is powerful maybe not as loving, as we hoped.

We know from scripture and reason that God is loving and powerful but we have to admit, there are mysteries when it comes to tragedies in people’s lives. God is not the only player in the events of the world. Satan does all he can to destroy people, the selfish will of man can do monstrous evil and human beings have insufficient wisdom or foreknowledge to escape every natural danger.

A man called Helmet Thielecke said “When you look through a magnifying class at some cloth, the fabric is sharply in focus in the centre and blurred at the edges. We know edges will be fine because we have seen the centre.  Life is like that too. There are many edges that are blurred but because we have seen the centre, the cross, that greatest demonstration of God’s love, we can accept that the edges we don’t understand, will be woven by Gods love too.” When the King is still in focus, the game is not lost.

Friends, we can trust Gods character, when we can’t understand our circumstances.

JIM Shaw
Perfect Storm

As the boat slipped effortlessly out into the harbour from the bustling docks at Joppa, Jonah sat down on a coil of rope. He felt pleased to be on board. His plan was working but in spite of the relief he felt, he also felt a deep foreboding with in his heart. Jonah was running from the presence of the Lord but thankfully God prepared a great storm and a great fish to help Jonah succeed in his ministry.In 2 Tim 4.7 Paul said “I have finished my course..” (A sailing term) Paul the great pattern man and apostle, completed his course not because he had a perfect knowledge of God’s will but because circumstances beyond his control (storms)but completely within the control of God, blew him to the mark.  In Nahum 1.3, it says that God has His way in the storm. Many of the circumstances that came into Paul’s life were uninvited and unpleasant. Mostly we don’t volunteer to go to the places where the growth and stretching of our faith takes place, but Gods faithfully blows us there in His storms.  In His storms, even people like the sailors who threw Jonah over, are unwittingly part of Gods plan to help us stay on course. Our difficult circumstances are all conspiring for our success. Most of all, God wants to reveal Himself to us in a way that He never could without the storm. The disciples in Mark 4.35-41 learned of Gods sovereignty over all and Jonah found out just how much God loves sinners. So right now in the midst of your storm, hold on because there is something more of God that He wants to reveal to you, that you can only see by going through the storm and you should know that when God planned the storm for Paul, he had already prepared a people for harvest and when he planned a storm for Jonah he had already prepared a fish to help Jonah end up a success.
Friend, I have found that God is at work in us and in our storms and He is preparing some great for you.(Phil 2.12)

JIM Shaw