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Transcendence - Beyond our wildest dreams

Transcendence - Beyond our wildest dreams
Mahlet Abebe 21/07/20

Transcendence - Beyond our wildest dreams

Isaiah 55:8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts”; Christians often have a narrow minded view of God. Now this doesn’t mean we limit God intentionally, or assume God is not able, but it just means that our minds aren’t able to stretch out, because we are humans. We are conditioned to this world and when we accept Christ into our lives we are opened up to this completely supernatural and beautiful reality, that even by the time we die we won’t be able to completely understand, which is completely normal. You see this is the wonderful thing about Christ, because he doesn’t expect us to understand and make sense of him completely, all he wants us to do is have faith in him, especially when things don’t make sense, which can often be difficult because as people we try to rationalise everything.

In my own life I have had to catch myself when I’ve been closed minded and limited the ways in which God can speak to me. Often we think that God will show us these obvious and in-your-face signs, coming down to us in an audible voice and telling us exactly what to do when often that isn’t the case. Now, it is VERY possible God can speak to you in that way but God is so much more creative than that, I mean he created every single thing we use today and imagine that is probably just an inch of what he can do, it literally says in Job 5:9 that he has done “wonders without number” - what he has done cannot even be counted. God always replies, and is always working however the way in which he will deliver his message isn’t always in the way in which you anticipated, so when you are so focused on having that vision or having that dream, you can miss out what God wanted to tell you. Getting out of a narrow mentality and actively seeking God in ALL ways can avoid disappointment. It's important that your faith and relationship with God isn’t stagnant, but that you are always on the move seeking and actively looking for him in places you wouldn’t usually. For example if you were to lose your keys in your house you wouldn’t just stand in the middle of the room and look with your eyes, you would move things around, flip over cushions and properly dig for it until you find it. This is the same with God; the way he moves is nothing like how we expect so we must look around and open our minds until we find God’s answer.

It's important to remember that God is so beyond our understanding and we can never fully grasp his greatness and glory. We should then use this understanding to open our minds to God working in our lives in different ways. Your prayers and cries haven’t been ignored or didn’t go missing somewhere - God heard it and will/has answered it, it just might not be in the way you expected it.

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Clarity: Now show me your glory

Clarity: Now show me your glory
Hasset Yoseph 27/07/20

Clarity: Now Show Me Your Glory

Matthew 6:10 "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in Heaven."

Life today continues and whilst we pass through the different stages of our education, careers and livelihood, the whole thing almost seems systematic. Most of the time through it we are continually asking things from God, we need Our Father to reveal Himself to us within the times which are difficult, and where we need some support. It’s only natural to ask for a sign of reassurance that the near future will be much smoother, if your currently in an uncomfortable predicament, such as financial or health issues, affecting you or your loved ones. However, many people we read about within the Bible were placed in these uneasy, sometimes even agonizing situations, all to later reveal the glory of God. Take our own saviour Jesus, who was crucified and died the most painful death, whereby only three days later He exhibited the glory of God as He rose again. Although Jesus had foretold His death, He in Luke 22:42-44 prayed before His crucifixion ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. An angel from Heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground’. This is the exemplar to which we should follow; when in distress, we as followers of Christ should pray with faith for God’s will to be done, the steps following, will then be led by Him – ultimately to display the glory of God.

Some days we may not even be in places of discomfort caused by external factors, but more from questions we have from within ourselves, such as individual purpose. Our entire lives we may have worked hard to reach a certain goal that we thought was it, and the final stage may not seem as simpler to obtain. This would essentially leave massive space for doubt internally and pleading to God in order to not leave us within the final phase. But how can one leave us if He is omnipresent! The example of Moses in Exodus 33:18 where he asked God, ‘Now show me your glory’ to which God responded from Exodus 33:20-23 ‘You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live. There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.’ We can see that God allowed Moses to see part of Him, but He did not reveal His entire self as essentially, Moses would have not been able to handle it due to the fact that he is only human. This is similar to when we ask of God of all the plans that He has in store of us, just for our OWN assurance and comfort. Imagine God revealing to us all the things that he has in store for our future at one time, our profession, our family, our relationship with Him – we wouldn’t be able to comprehend it all, leading to questions like how did I end up here or with them? Our next steps if exposed to this could be completely different. The fact that God sometimes does not reveal all things completely or asks of us to be patient is because He knows we’re only human so He does things in His perfect order so we fill out His will in this life, so all glory goes back to Him. Along with this, if God had revealed His entire self to Moses, this could have led to vanity, Moses could have gone around to others feeling prominent if He was exposed to God. We, like Moses are only human who have flaws and as God is our protector, He had perhaps prevented Moses to be led into sin by just revealing a small part of Himself to satisfy His need.

Imagine God showed you that in five years’ time you may be in a struggle, but you didn’t know that only five years after that you’d be completely successful - or even seeing yourself in a position completely different to something your currently working on - your own image of yourself would be tarnished, and you could even work harder against His plans for you or completely slack off. God is our Father, think like a parent of a young child, would you give a baby a completely open yogurt pot enabling them to easily spill it everywhere, or would you open it halfway so they are still able to eat but are less likely to make mess. He knows what is best for us at all times, even though sometimes we may think we know better, we should continually be asking, as Jesus had done until His last moments, for His will to be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

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In, but not of

In, but not of
Henoch Girma 19/08/20

In, But Not Of

John 17:16 "They are not of the world, even as I am not of it."

As a Christian, I sometimes struggle with enjoying the world we are living in and still following Jesus’ example to be apart from it and I hope this blog helps other people who have faced similar problems. We, believers, are called to be ‘in the world but not of the world’. But how do we do this? What does it mean to be of the world? These are questions I aim to answer.

Jesus' Example

Jesus tells the disciples in John 17:14-15 ‘I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of this world any more than I am of the world’. When we read of the "world" in the New Testament, we are reading the Greek word cosmos. Cosmos most often refers to the inhabited earth and the people who live on the earth, which functions apart from God. Satan is the ruler of this "cosmos"(John 12:31; 16:11; 1 John 5:19). The world Jesus talks about is one ruled by sin and as believers, Christ says we are no longer of this world as we are not ruled by sin, nor are we bound by the principles of the world. Also, we are being changed into the image of Christ, causing our interest in the things of the world to become less and less as we mature in Christ.

Being “in” the world also means we can enjoy the things of the world, but should not immerse ourselves in what the world values, or chase after worldly pleasures. Because pleasure is not the calling of our life but rather the worship of God.

Not Of, But Sent Into

In Matthew 5:14-16, we are called to be “the light of the world.” This idea shows that we are to “shine” for God in the midst of the darkness (sin) of this world. We were sent to the world so that others may see our works and beliefs and follow Christ so we cannot be lights of the world and still be ‘of the world’. We may be afraid as Christians to be lights of the world, share the Gospel and our beliefs out of fear.

However, Christ was the ultimate light who lived a sinless life and was perfect yet he was crucified and persecuted for his faith. In Matthew 5:11 Jesus says ‘blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.’ This is reassuring knowing Christ is with us when we feel persecuted for being lights of the world. Persecution is not only physical where you are stoned or flogged like Jesus but can be emotional where people are mocked and laughed at for following Christ.

Hope you enjoyed the blog (my first time doing one) and learned something. As Liverpool FC said ‘you’ll never walk alone’ as we always have Christ by our side and remember to strengthen your walk with God and keep him at the centre of our hearts and be lights to the world as that is how we live in the world and not be of it.

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Trust: The long road ahead

Trust: The long road ahead
Rowena Gebretensae 04/09/20

Trust: The Long Road Ahead

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.”

Whenever we embark on a new journey or a life changing decision, as Christians, we normally utter the same well-known proverb of “everything being in God’s plan.” Sometimes those words are helpful, as they bring a sense of security, but after a while they start to fall on deaf ears. With a lot of change happening amongst us, whether that’s a new school, or a new job or even a completely new city, it’s important to fully understand what we mean when we say everything is in God’s plan.

As humans, we have our own ideas of what is best for us and what we want for our futures but our plans are flawed, as they lack the knowledge of God. Throughout the bible, God is described as our Father, a parental figure, and similarly to a parental figure, God guides us on the path He deems correct for us. Contrarily, as children, we have our own ideas of what we view as good for us, but God holds knowledge and understanding that we don’t. He has a greater understanding of our future, of what our “perfect” path may lead to, so His plans for us may contradict our vision for ourselves. And, sometimes, that’s super frustrating. However, when we fully realise the enormity of God’s wisdom, that’s when our plan for ourselves become insignificant against the greater works God has in store for us.

Once we’ve accepted that God’s plan for us is far greater than we imagined, trusting in God’s plan is our next hurdle. Going back to the parental figure analogue, we’ve probably all been in the car with our parents, driving to an unknown destination, with many questions, “Are we nearly there yet? How long left? Where are we going?” But we trust our parents. We know our parents would never take us somewhere unsafe, they want the best for us. So, despite not knowing where we’re heading, we put our trust in our parents to, not only get us to our destination, but for our destination to be good. And the same can be said for God’s plan for us.

Yes, there may be some uncertainty in where God is taking us, and yes God may not answer all of our questions, but we can rest assured that wherever He is taking us is good. The journey may also be long and tiring, riddled with traffic and road works, but you will eventually reach your destination. Remember the story of Joseph, a young boy bullied and sold into slavery by his brothers and wrongfully sent to prison, yet he became the prime minister of Egypt. God’s plan for us won’t happen overnight and we may face hardships but, again, we will reach our destination.

During this journey you may get restless and argue with your parents about your journey and the significance of your destination. Many famous figures in the bible argued with God and his plan for them. Moses debated with God’s plan for him to confront Pharaoh and liberate the Israelites, but, because Moses eventually trusted in God’s plan, he saw his destination, the Promised Land, on Mount Nebo.

You may also fall asleep on this journey, not observing what’s going on around you but we should not fall asleep when following God’s plan for us. We should learn and observe our surroundings to strengthen our knowledge and to admire God’s creation. Sleeping through the journey may make the journey feel shorter but it takes the enjoyment out of the whole experience.

Isaiah 40:31 reads “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” When we trust and hope in God’s plan for us he will, not only aide us on our journey and guide us to our destination, He will strengthen us, for the plan of the Lord is much greater than we can even imagine.

To view a graphic version: click this link

God's peace within us

God's peace within us
Hannah Girma 10/09/20

God's Peace Within Us

Ephesians 2:14-15 “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility... His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace.”

The verses above from Ephesians act as a reminder and to encourage us that despite the world being full of trouble and heartache, in the midst of these things it is possible to have peace, through the Lord. We learn that Jesus’ purpose was to also bring peace which we see in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born... He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Even when we face trials of many kinds, we can take examples from the bible when the disciples were beaten and imprisoned but still worshipping God from their prison cells and didn’t lose hope even in extreme circumstances, so we shouldn’t feel discouraged whatever life may throw our way and when we experience pain in this life, we should rather know that God is within us and will not fail us.

Colossians 3:15 (NIV) tells us to, "Let the peace from Christ rule in your hearts since members of one body you were also called to peace. And be thankful...” and not only should we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, but also let it rule on how we react to everything in our lives, such as being slow to anger and controlling our temper (James 1:19). Jesus is the true meaning and definition of peace that we ought to look up to and our biggest role model as we attempt to be Christ-like and to put past us all our bad habits and bear the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

We have this incredible life and peace within our born-again spirit which we experience; whilst many others try to achieve this through worldly and materialistic items, they experience constant failure because the Holy Spirit is not their compass and guide, yet true happiness and peace is found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They are living out of their own efforts rather than living a life of faith. To have true victory in life we must be in tune with the Holy Spirit that was given to us. His function is to instruct, help and comfort us but just as important, He reveals and reminds us what Jesus told us about peace. It is the most blessed gift along with salvation that we received from God.

Also, we learn that the natural mind is hostile to God. We cannot understand the things of God on our own as I Corinthians 2:14 teaches us, "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" which emphasises the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives and just how much He guides our hearts.

I pray that our hearts are softened and receptive to the Holy Spirit’s direction in our life. With this change of heart, we experience effortless change by Him, and our mind will naturally align with His direction to have a heart filled with peace.

To view a graphic version: click this link

Shadow of Doubt: The Light in the Darkness

Shadow of Doubt: The Light in the Darkness
Yohanna Kahsay 30/09/20

Shadow of Doubt: The Light in the Darkness

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Most of us have different versions of ourselves, we act differently with our friends, our family or at jobs, school or uni. We get so lost within the chaos of our lives that we all tend to keep things hidden. Hidden even from those who are meant to be closest to us, there is so much stuff only we know. We continue to say we are fine, even if we might not be.

In the last 6 months, nearly everyone’s world has transformed in some way. There is still a sense of uncertainty and insecurity globally. We are all having to adapt to this new normal.

I feel like within our society this has caused a lot of anxiety and pressure. Anxiety about the future. There is a constant pressure on all of us to get the best grades, to get into the best universities, to secure a job straight after graduation and somehow manage to look the best version of yourself and have an active social life. Our generation has grown up with social media, and even though we have benefitted from the ‘fruits’ of social media, it has also led to the constant comparison to these social media stars who only give us a glimpse of their lives, allowing us to believe they’re perfect. Really and truly there is a pressure on all of us, for us to be perfect.

However, we are not meant to walk this life alone, but in union with Jesus Christ our Saviour.

These are three verses which I come back to when I feel anxious, uncertain or am feeling a sense of insecurity.

1) Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”

God works in everything for our good. Not everything in our lives will be pleasurable, we all will go through seasons of hardship and tough times. In this world evil is all too consuming, even though we may not be able to see the light, God turns every circumstance for our long-range benefit. I feel like a lot of us are quick to thank God when He grants us our desires but forget to lean on Him for strength in our worst moments. What I now understand is that God does not work to make us happy but to fulfil His purposes. His promise can only be reached by those who claim to love Him and dedicate their lives to Him. Leading us to have a new perspective, a new mindset where we trust God and seek the Heavenly priorities rather than indulging in the earthly treasures.

2) Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Each and everyone of us are made in the image of Christ. When feeling unworthy or undeserving, you must remember that God’s Spirit is ready to work within you. As because of Jesus Christ we now have a new spirit in Him, we should have as much respect and love for ourselves just as our Maker has.

3) Psalm 46:10 “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” ”

I have learnt to accept that there will always be seasons of difficulty, and war and destruction is constant in our world, but we should find happiness in the fact that God’s final victory is also constant. There will be a time when we all stand before the Lord and we should take each day as a chance to honour his power and majesty. Take time to simply be still and surrender to God.

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Living with Integrity

Living with Integrity
Hannah Abebe 14/10/20

Living with Integrity

Proverbs 10:9 “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.”

Integrity, it's a word that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean? It can be a tricky topic to talk about, it's not as clear cut as explaining for instance kindness or trustworthiness, but the dictionary defines it as ‘the quality of being honest and having strong morals that you refuse to change,’ which as christians we know better as biblical principles/fundamentals.

It's a demonstration of who we are in Christ, and that our faith is real and backed up with our attitude and word meaning, we should both talk and walk in the way of Jesus and our lives should line up with our belief in God and illustrate a trust that his ways are best (proverbs 3:5-6).

All through scripture we can identify the importance of integrity as God's word provides us with many wonderful accounts of what integrity does and doesn’t look like. Jesus is the perfect example of a man with integrity. After being baptized by John, he went out to the desert wilderness to fast for forty days and forty nights, during which Satan came to him, to tempt him and break his integrity. However, despite the fact that Jesus was tempted three times he didn't fall into the temptation once but instead resisted it. Hebrews 4:15 reads, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he did not sin.” and this is the true definition of integrity as Jesus was both wholly man and wholly God at the same time and was the only one who was ever without any faults and completely truthful.

But as christains how do we live a life of integrity? It's a quality we most want in our relationships with others, whether it be our friends or future partners etc, but are we cultivating it in our own lives? Living with integrity in the sinful world we live in today, where the corrupt seems favored, on top of our personal battles with our own sin nature, can be very challenging. But It's only through God's spirit that we are able to aim towards true integrity for ourselves and still at the same time everything in the world will try and rob us of it. People and situations will intentionally and unintentionally corrupt our integrity. We aren't born with a heart of integrity but if we want it we must fight for it. This means we must intimately, not only know but understand and love God's truth as it's his truth that develops wisdom in our lives and helps us discern and put into practice standards and boundaries that form a heart of integrity.

However, we are not perfect. We all fall down and make mistakes. No matter how much integrity we have we will never be perfect and this is especially true in times of fear and disaster. But integrity is something that you prove you have during difficult situations and the key is to take responsibility for our actions, as a heart of integrity helps us recognize where we went wrong and reach out for God's grace and forgiveness. It is important for us to understand that integrity is not something you either have or don't have but is a lifestyle that we must intentionally strive for. I just want to leave you with a few questions for you to think about; What place does integrity hold in your day to day decisions? Are you willing to do the right thing even if it may cost you something and even if God and your conscience are the only witnesses?

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Learning and Understanding

Learning and Understanding
Elias Daniel 20/10/20

Learning and Understanding

Proverbs 18:15 “Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.”

All living organisms have the ability to adapt to changes to their environment; as humans we exercise this ability from when we’re in the womb, till the day we die; when we’re awake and when we’re asleep. This is the ability to learn. We learn to improve and enrich our life, the life of others and for the generations to come. Additionally we enrich our spiritual life by learning from God how to live our life accordingly for God, with God.

For us to live with God, the relationship must be established with trust and faith as the foundation of it. Trust in his love, trust in his compassion, trust in his word. His word will equip us with the necessities we require. 2 Timothy 3:16 emphasizes on God’s unwavering words, stating “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work”. Timothy depicts God’s word as knowledge, knowledge that must be used objectively and as a guide. This bridges us onto the next topic of conversation, knowledge.

Whether in school or church we’re always learning, amassing knowledge; we learn to understand the knowledge, to understand its purpose and context. How we use what we’ve learned dictates the wisdom in our judgement. This then leads to the question: how do we make wise decisions? Throughout the bible especially in psalms and proverbs we see that knowledge is but an aspect of wisdom. God’s word must coexist with understanding of his word and the application of his word. This is seen here in Proverbs 3:13 “Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding” and in Proverbs 9:10 “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment”.

This leads us onto the topic of wisdom. Just like the previous passage stated, wisdom involves putting the Lord as our primary priority, it is to seek solace in his word and commit mind, body and soul to it.

Proverbs 15:33 “Fear of the LORD teaches wisdom; humility precedes honour”.

Jobs 28:28 “And this is what he says to all humanity: The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.”

On top of all this, additional themes we see in the passages are discipline and consistency. As said earlier to grow in wisdom you must be consistently gaining knowledge, understanding its use and applying it. Our relationship with God should never stagnate, the same is said with our spiritual wisdom. We should be sharpening our tools and developing more tools. Proverbs 18:15 “Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.”

Wherever you go off to try to make the best of any situation, maintain a relationship with God and enjoy yourself. Dedicate yourself to improving and growing. God bless.

To view a graphic version: click this link