The past few weeks I have been reading through 1 and 2 Chronicles. I used to not really like studying the lives of the kings of Israel because honestly, I found them quite annoying. I mean, what was wrong with those guys? They just couldn’t seem to stay on track! There would one good king who would follow after the Lord with all his heart and after that would be 2 or 3 bad ones who would cause the whole nation to turn away from the Lord. They never seemed to be able to learn from the mistakes of those who went before them and it was almost like they wanted to bring trouble upon themselves.

Recently I have begun to gain a bit of a different perspective as God has been challenging me to see myself in the lives of those kings. It hasn’t necessarily made me like Chronicles more but it has certainly been eye-opening as I am learning that often I am a lot like those kings that I found so annoying! So many times, I make the same mistakes over and over, refusing to listen to the Lord’s voice and instead becoming focused on myself, my wants, desires, and will.

One verse that really stood out to me was 2 Chron. 12:14 which speaks about the downfall of King Rehoboam.  It says, “And he did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord." I noticed that seeking the Lord seemed to be the missing piece for those kings who went astray. Whether it was wealth, security, relationships or their own pride, somehow their focus was turned from following the Lord to going after their own ways.

I was reminded of the importance of keeping my focus in the right place when I had the opportunity to go horseback riding a few weeks ago. For horses there are so many possibilities for distraction when out on the trail. There are spooky holes and strange objects along the way, green grass to stop and eat, pesky flies and birds that come up out of the middle of nowhere. If a horse is well trained it knows that it must tune out everything else and focus in on one thing only, that is the cues that it receives from it’s rider. These can be verbal cues or physical touch, but it must be fully in tune with its rider in order to not miss the cues when they come.

In my experience, the person I was riding with had spent a lot of time with her horse so it was well trained and  sensitive to the voice of its rider. My horse on the other hand was older and hadn't been ridden much for several years. She was constantly wandering off track and seemed to be dulled to my commands. Her mind was only focused on one thing and that was getting back home so she could be free of her rider and go back to enjoying her horsey life!

In my own life God has been showing me that in order to not get turned aside by the many distractions that try to pull my heart away from Him I must stay sensitive to His voice and be attentive to His cues. These can come through  spending time in His Word,  being with others who are also seeking after Him or simply while in the day to day activities of life. If my heart is consumed with my own plans and desires it becomes so easy to wander off track and be dulled to the voice of the One who is leading me. God desires that I am continually walking in His presence in order that my heart might remain sensitive to His voice and leading.

Going back to Chronicles and the lives of Israel’s kings, I am encouraged to remember that no matter how many times I fail or refuse to listen to the Lord’s voice He never fails to draw me back to Himself. 2 Tim. 2:13 says “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” I am amazed by His abundant mercy and grace towards the Israelites. When they turned their hearts towards Him and began to seek His face He was always faithful to answer their cry. He could have just said that they deserved the trouble they got and left them in the mess they were in , which is what I would've wanted to do. Instead He promised that when they would humble themselves and seek His face, turning from their wicked ways, He would hear their cry and forgive them. I am so thankful that God in His mercy never leaves me where I am at but is continually working in my life to shape and mould me into His likeness.

 ~ Disciple in the Discipleship Program



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I’ve often wondered how different my life would be if I practically lived out Matthew 25:31-46. This portion of scripture is where Jesus is talking about the final judgement and how those that took care of people in need were welcomed into His kingdom and those who had not were condemned to death. This verse is what the Lord has been putting on my heart, which is causing me to look for ways to minister to those people around me. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ A few verses before this Jesus is shares the ways we can minister to those around us in need and He talks about visiting those who are in prison, clothing those that are naked, hungry and so on.

So, the question is, in what ways can I be Jesus to my neighbours and show love to them? I didn’t need to wait very long to see how to do that. Being part of the GFA Discipleship Program has given me many opportunities bless those around me which has brought much joy. As we were preparing for our first Community Outreach Event there was a growing anticipation in my heart and a bit of hesitation as well for what it would look like to interact with our neighbours. When it comes to crowds I get nervous and want to be behind the scenes; this wasn’t possible because I was assigned to lead the children activities.

Children

Much prayer and seeking the Lord was done beforehand to see what would spark an interest in our community and when all was said and done we hosted a Free Pancake Breakfast. There was much planning and prepping beforehand, making sure all the details came together and it seemed to bring our own home office even more together in getting everything ready, which was an added blessing. Many hands really do make work light.

The morning of our Community Event, which was in celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday, came bright and early with both energetic and sleepy people to help setup for this special time. Soon our neighbours started coming and what fun it was to meet and greet everyone.

Colouring Contest Sign

Our morning was filled with delicious pancakes, good conversations, colouring contest and a pancake race for children of all ages. We were able to share a meal with our neighbours and show them the love of Jesus and it was over way to soon. There was such excitement inside my heart with how we had been able to bless our community that I am ready for the next event with less hesitation. My heart was filled with joy and I was not at all waiting for the morning to be done.



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A while ago I burned my finger while washing a hot frying pan. I’ve come very close several times in the past, but this time around I did actually burn my finger. After the initial “That’s hot!” and the resulting “Wow! My finger smarts!” I started looking at the blister that was rising on my finger.

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First there was the interesting factor that the tip of my finger was half again its normal size. That was fun, especially for typing. But more seriously was the realization that the blister was there for a reason. It was a shield; protecting the smarting and sensitive skin underneath while my body healed. It was a sterile environment where my body could focus entirely on building a new patch of skin and not have to station extra security details in order to prevent germs and dirt from getting into my body. Granted that it was a burn and not a gaping wound; that would have been a completely different situation.

As I was thinking over these things, and having fun with peoples reactions to my oversized finger (Please pop it!, What is that on your finger?, That’s gross!) it also gave me a new sense of how much genius (the word doesn’t go nearly far enough) that God put into creating my body.

Then I moved on to some other injuries. Broken bones knit together, cuts heal over, food poisoning washes itself out of your digestive system, pretty much anything that doesn’t kill you will heal after a fashion. Doctors or surgeons may be required to make sure that your bones are straight after a broken leg, or to stitch a nastier than usual cut. But God has built our body to fix itself in a marvelous manner.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And [that] my soul knows very well.

— Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)


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But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot

— I Peter 1:19

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We are bought by the blood of Christ and the blood of the saints are the seed of the Church. If you would have asked me a few months ago what my church roots are or anything about church history I’d have only been able to tell you a very little bit. The Lord directed me to come for a second year of the GFA Discipleship Program and in this year I’ve been learning about Church History, which is proving to be very beneficial.

I’m in awe of what the death of Christ has done for me in making me a part of the Bride of Christ. The Apostle’s passion to see the nations reached with the love of Christ compelled them to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the extent that it cost them their lives. Those that came after them paid a heavy price of martyrdom, passing on the tradition and the Apostles Creed onto the next generations. Saints like Polycarp, Ignatius, Tertullian and a host of others that would not back down on what they were taught and believed; they gave their lives for Christ in unimaginable ways. If it had not been for them we would not hold a Bible in our hands, have the structure and order in our worship services that we do today.

As I’ve been learning about the lives of the saints the verse in Psalm 116 starts to make more sense. When reading it before I wondered why the death of saints would be precious in the eyes of the Lord. Psalms 116:15 says. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Couple this verse with a quote from Tertullian an early church father. “The blood of the saints is the seed of the church.” This gives a glimpse of why the death of Christians might be precious to the Lord. I don’t fully understand the verse or the meaning behind it but I’m grateful for what others have gone through to give us the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In studying books like “Tried by Fire,” “Early Church History Made Easy” and a few others on early Church History I see that the Church has gone through very dark times. I was reminded in our last lectures that in the middle of all the darkness God is still working and keeping the Church alive, the Bride of Christ and preparing her for Jesus. Just like a seed when it is planted in the dirt, we don’t see what is happening but we trust that the seed dies, germinates and then brings forth life; so God kept His Church and will keep it until Jesus returns. We are one body with many different members and together we are the Church of Jesus Christ bought with His precious blood.

As I’m learning about what the Universal Church is and how it is one body which is being prepared for Christ return, I get excited because I am part of the whole Church. I, as a blood bought child of God, am part of the universal church. It is not about this Christian life being just Jesus and me; it’s much more than that. Every born again believer is part of the Body regardless of what church they go to. This realization makes me grateful to live in a community of like minded believers. We may be different and come from diverse backgrounds, but we are one in Christ.



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Is there a place where one can encounter the presence of God more than in another place?

This question surfaced in my mind after what I experienced a couple weekends ago.  We went camping… and it was amazing. The lake was right near our campsite, the birds sang loudly in the early mornings (not so pleasant for sleeping), the sunrise and the stars were so beautiful. It was so peaceful to go down to meet with God by the lake, in the calm, the wind, which caused the waves to crash against the shore. I could have sat there for hours just to soak in the beauty of God’s creation and most of all His presence. What the LORD showed me during that weekend was incredible! It was like my mind and spirit were so ready to hear from a loving Father everything was so clear. Each night I couldn’t wait to get up and go to the lake to meet with God, it was worth rising early, getting a bit dirty and cold to experience Him.

Only one thing was wrong: the camping trip came to an end. That meant tiredness from late nights and early mornings and being thrown back into weekly routine. But the worse thing was my excitement to meet with the LORD was gone. It was just another thing to do like it had been before. My mind was no longer clear and I couldn’t focus as easily as I had been able to at the camp. I longed for that experience again, but it wouldn’t come back.

Can I not learn? Do I not change? Why is it that some places cause me to experience God in a greater way?

Then the LORD showed me so gently the missing treasure: Expectation.

Expectation: “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” (oxforddictionaries.com)

I get up each morning to meet the LORD in the same place; nothing changes, it’s dark, I’m tired, I pray and read. But there is something I can change, and that is my expectation. On the camping trip I had high expectations, partly coming from being in a new place and in creation, God met and exceeded them. But when I walked into the house again, those expectations left, and everything was normal, just as I expected it to be.

I may not have a choice as to where I can go to meet with God, but I do have a choice as to what I will expect from those times with Him. I want to enter each time of prayer or reading with great expectation as to what the LORD will do and say with the Psalmist, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” –Psalm 62:5 KJV

Written by a disciple in the Discipleship Program



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