Seven Day Detox

Outside of Jerusalem some time after the Crucifixion a young man named Stephen was stoned to death for adhering to, and preaching, the message of Jesus Christ. As the stones flew Stephen begged that his death would not be held against his killers. It would be hard not to include in their number a man named Saul of Tarsus who had approved of the execution. He was a hard liner, a student of the old laws who despised the new message of salvation, love, joy and forgiveness, that was being preached by the disciples of the man whom the High Priest had handed over to the Romans for execution; Jesus Christ.
Saul was proving more than adept at throwing the followers of Jesus into prison. This was not just a dutiful man doing what he thought his job demanded, he was going above and beyond the call of duty, he hated Christians with a passion, he was obsessed with stamping them out in any way possible, and top of his hit list where the disciples.
To these ends he asked for letters from the high priest to the synagogues at Damascus that would allow him to arrest Christians and take then back, bound to Jerusalem, to be imprisoned.
Saul was accompanied by heavies and enforcers who would do his dirty work for him, no less eager than him to get down to business. As they made their way on the last leg of their journey they saw what looked like lightening flash in the daytime, so close that they surely must have escaped death by a hairs breath, their horses shied and reared and Saul was thrown heavily to the ground. As they struggled to regain control of their mounts they suddenly heard a voice, but to their terror they could not see the man who uttered the words: "Saul, Saul, why are you Persecuting me"
"Who are you Lord?" they heard Saul answer from the ground into the light.
"I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, now get up, and go to Damascus, and do what you are told to do"
When Saul got back to his feet he was blind.

Many people use the story of Paul and the road to Damascus as a rally cry to seek the Holy Spirit, to find the reality of Jesus, but there are two directions to every road. Paul's life changed forever on the road to Damascus, but though that was the defining moment of his life he, still had to go forwards on the road From Damascus after he got his new direction. There is in front of everyone who begins again or starts something new a road from Damascus. And just like for Paul when we start out on a new course, we are blind to what the future may bring.
The new year is one of those benchmarks that defines a beginning and an end. The old year has gone and with it all that you did and didn't do, reliving the glories and getting distressed about the failures can profit you nothing so give the Glory to God and put your behind in your past... I mean put your past behind you!
Memories are fine, they can remind us of happy times and of things you know better than to do now. So take that step forwards and see with the eyes of faith.
What was it like for Paul when the scales fell from his eyes, he was new, (all bright and shiny), not the same as before, transformed into a new person, with new goals and ideas he was on the start of a road to something new, mysterious and probably a little scary, (old Saul had a goal, new Paul had only the beginnings of an idea) his later saying of seeing through a glass darkly cuts very close to the bone when you look at it like that.
In those days after he found the truth, he could see his future only through faith, he had to, because the future he envisaged was no longer a priority. God had given him a new destiny. And he was filled with a desire to find out more about it, he had come into head to head contact with Jesus, and had received the Holy Spirit, he felt compelled now to turn his entire life upside down and throw his camel, or whatever type of animal he liked to ride into reverse.
The change was instant and it was noticeable because he had always had a fire in him, a great capacity to take whatever moved him and pursue it with all of his ability and fervour, and what was once used to harm he now used to teach.
Paul fearlessly took that first step forwards into the unknown and he put his trust in Jesus, who only a few days before, he had been persecuting and began speaking in public about what had happened to him.
What had changed in Saul that made him Paul? (Well to start with probably some change of address forms, and a letter substitution...) What made him want to find out more and then share what he found out? (It wasn't a love of ancient Roman detective novels) He came into contact, physically and spiritually, with Jesus he became certain that not only was he real, he was alive and that all that he had heard was true and was now filled with the Holy Spirit, and that impelled him to want to move on, to move ahead, he was inspired and on fire and he literally had to go on, that's what happens when the reality of Jesus hits you.
So what can we take from this, how can we take this message and apply it to the New Year? Well since it is a convenient starting point look at it like this.
You are starting a new year, if you have a goal or a dream be fearless, put your faith in Jesus and move on it. If you don't, ask for one and see where the Holy Spirit leads you. The past is gone now, it's finished, no matter what you did wrong, or has been stopping you, it's time to trust in the love of God whose grace covers our imperfections, (I mean Have you seen Paul's rap sheet? You think you've got problems? that's allot of Grace I'm telling you!) if there was a way for Paul there is a way for you.
You know a painter only has a mental image of what he is going to put on a canvass, an inspiration, and a writer has only a whisper of an idea before he writes. It takes great courage to make that first brush stroke or write that first paragraph but with each stroke and each word it gets easier and easier, momentum builds and soon you're in your stride and unstoppable, it's the drive to see the thing completed to see where the road ends, to see the view from the mountain top. Why climb Everest? Why fly to the moon? It wasn't because they where there, it was Because someone started to do it.
We have the Holy Spirit in us and Jesus watching out for us, take that step don't look too far ahead, you can't see that far anyway. Ask for direction, trust in Jesus, be fearless and move onwards.
With his help you, just like Paul (because the same Spirit that raised Jesus was in Paul and that spirit never changes so you and Paul have the same fundamental ammunition, add to that great faith and you can do anything.)
You can overcome the obstacles that has come up and go on to bigger and better things. Say it over and over to yourself "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" pray it over yourself and others, believe it, say it, do it.
Write it down and put it in your pocket, then when uncertainty comes, dig into your jeans and read it, and remember what feats those people who believed it, said and did.
The road from Damascus is tricky you can't always see what's in front of you and sometimes you trip. But Jesus said that a road that is fraught with obstacles and that is narrow and tricky to traverse will eventually lead to salvation, and a wide road that is flat and easy leads to destruction (So look out for bumps and then long periods of calm, if you hit a pothole and then all goes smooth you should bear in mind the phrase "It's quiet, too quiet" and ask for confirmation that your doing the right thing, if the enemy isn't attacking you he's got nothing to fight you for). Jesus said to run the race and to fight the fight of faith, well what athlete ever saw the finish line before he started? And what soldier saw victory before the battle?
Whenever we go after something new all have a Road from Damascus to follow, a road with nothing behind us and nothing in front of us but the promise of better things to come. If we trust in Jesus like Paul did, and listen to what the Spirit tells us, like Paul did, we can dare to strive for those better things, and not only strive for them but attain them. Go on what are you waiting for? Let's not start 2013 just walking, let's start running, and lets achieve more than we dared hope, dream or imagine.

Happy New Year, Keep it real and May God Bless you in it.

Josh

(And now a general service announcement)
The relevant scriptures pertaining to the Damascus road incident and the stoning of Steven can be found at the following references.
(Acts 7:58-60)
(Acts 8:1, 3)
(Acts 9:1-3)


Dade

Todays scripture is about knowing that before us has gone many people, contained in the word of God, who ran their race well against all the odds, and overcame everything to become champions of the faith. They're written there as inspirations for you!

Hebrew 12 Chapter vs 1: "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"

Each day, we will publish a thought to motivate/inspire you. take the thought, and encourage yourself by repeating it within yourself as many times in a day as you can. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23 vs 7).

"It's time for me to give up negativity and believe for good things to come out of me."

Prayer is really communication with God, so we're including suggestions as to what your could particularly be praying about for today.

1, Pray to God to put good people in your life that will inspire you, stretch you and motivate you.
2, Ask God to inspire in you strength wisdom and courage to change where needed
3, Pray for God to motivate you to so that you are not in the "Neither hot nor cold" bracket of lethargy that God does not respond to.
4, Pray for God to visits upon your heart compassion, for those who need help around you.

Take a look back to the time when you had a dream, a purpose in your heart, a plan for your life. That was a great time, a time of optimism, but, if you are like the vast majority of the population, those dreams were from a time gone by. They where the optimism of youth, where, future seems to stretch endlessly before us. If you are one of the small percentage of the population, to whom achievement and greatness occur naturally, you probably will not be reading this, because, you will be one of the few amongst us, who need no encouragement to be successful in your chosen field. YOU will be living your dreams, because you will be driven to accomplish, or you will be an anointed vessel, belonging to that bracket of the gifts given to the church, and your ministry will make room for you.

I want to talk to the rest of us, not the incredibly special, US, the majority, we can have dreams, big crazy beautiful ideas, for our lives, ideas and thoughts about what we want to see happen in our lives, and in the lives of those we love.
I want to talk to those of us, who don't even have a dream any more because now we are all grown up, and life has got us past the moment, for new beginnings. Those of us who thought big once, but now the mortgage needs paid, by the job we don't particularly like, the spiritual ideas of helping others, gone by the way, for the nine to five necessity, and gone also through the negative voices declaring inadequacy, and lack.
I want to talk to those of us who have just never had a dream, never felt that they wanted to achieve anything. The not spoken of majority, who when asked about future, think only of retirement and not of making a difference. Who cannot verbalise success.
Whichever of these is you, or a combo of them all, YOU are who I want to talk to.......

I want to talk about FINDING YOUR DREAM and making it HAPPEN.
No its not impossible, its actually relatively easy.
Its time to stop the lie that is pushed upon us, that mediocrity is the way. Rubbish! All of us who signed up for this Christian life have THE most opportunity clad life ever, don't throw it all away, and just get through life. We have incredible potential on the insides of us, yes thats ALL of us. God is no respecter of persons. He will help you, he will help me, that is who he is..... no you are not to old, as long as you have breath, IT IS NOT TO LATE.
I have simple suggestions for finding your Dreams.... and finding them is the start of making them happen.


One... tedious i know, but you have got to want it, want it with all your heart. Half hearted desire don't work, get your insides longing for a change, lusting for a better.... something. That is what will fuel you, the determination, to see ........The whatever that is going to be your dream.
Two... Get a dream in your heart that will work, get the measure of your faith mixed with good old common sense. The movers and shakers in life don't need to kick start themselves, so admit to yourself that your not one of them, and find out what is good for you. We can follow the pattern of those who are great (in our eyes), but if we were one of them, then we would be getting on with that call, it would burn in our hearts.
Three... Dreams that work, its only an example, but if you are in a really bad job, then reaching for a good one, seems like a pretty good dream to me, especially if it seems beyond the you that is you. Or maybe you need a new house, a partner. Dream of serving God full time, want to be a preacher, start a business, the lists are endless... Don't get all, “Thats not what dreaming dreams means”, on me now. It so is! I am being real, letting you know that God has stuff that is special for you to do, not stuff that is going to be so neck breakingly impossible, that you are just not going to do it no. He has given you, the measure of faith that is right for you, the expectation that is right for you, and best of all, he will empower you to achieve what he puts within you to do.

So lets get busy, putting expectation back in our hearts, reviving old dreams, finding new ones. Then we will be able to have a look at how to get them working in us..... but thats for another time!!!!

Written by Jade