Fast Food for busy Christians.
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The preparation phase: Silence please.
Every day Chef Tony gets inspired to prepare a new dish that has not been in his kitchen before.
There is a silence that descends on him that precedes the new idea forming.
It is a new idea or concept that gets the juices of creativity flowing.
Without the creative flair life would be dull.
Excitement is what Chef Tony lives for.
His next-door neighbour is retired and potters around in the garden.
Watching that slow expiration of someone’s meaning and purpose is the last thing Chef Tony needs to see.
He hangs around highly motivated people.
“Get the vision and get envisioned,” is his answer to anyone who is hesitating.
Chef Tony expresses himself in his menu of fresh faith words.
He invites you to taste his new set of treats.
P.S. Dessert will consist of 5 devotional pieces from the Gospel of Matthew.
They have been marinated for a while and are ready to go.
Fresh bread baked for today.
2 Corinthians 5:17(NKJV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Yes, even after all these years you are still a brand-new person!
Your spirit was recreated in Christ and never ages.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
[2 Corinthians 4:16]
If we believe we are getting older and worn out on the inside… we lose heart.
But if we believe we are being renewed on the inside, we will look forward to tomorrow because we will be just as new tomorrow as we were on the day of our salvation.
When you are born again, your spirit is made brand new.
Romans 8:16 says:
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
Notice that the Holy Spirit talks to our spirit not our soul.
My daughter’s washing machine is not working properly and she has ordered a new one.
When the new machine arrives she will have two washing machines in her house.
She will throw out the old machine that does not work and then install the new one.
If her husband is not home when the new machine is delivered, she may try to do a little bit of washing with the old machine.
The results will be second-rate!
If you have a new machine at your house that is not installed then you will be tempted to get by with the old machine.
Having to put up with things you are not happy with.
A similar story can happen when we are Christians for a few years.
When we are saved, we feel that surge of joy and cleanliness deep down inside…but later on we make a few mistakes or go through a fiery trial and over time we end up living our Christian lives out of the realm of our soul instead of our spirit.
It is so important to use a verse like 2 Corinthians 5:17 to continually remind yourself that you are a brand new person on the inside…and that the old self was crucified with Christ on the cross.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him.
When my daughter’s husband gets home from work, she will say:
”Get this old machine out of here.”
She will declare out loud:
“That thing is old and obsolete, it is wasting away.”
Here is a verse that says the same thing.
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
We can declare the same things over our circumstances.
When you declare something is new…you automatically make the other thing old.
If you buy a new car you will get the new model.
But as soon as the car company introduces the next model your new car becomes the old model.
It is suddenly outdated.
And it drops in value.
In Luke chapter 5, we see Peter fishing all night and catching nothing.
Jesus comes along and shows Peter a new way of fishing.
Peter almost misses the opportunity.
He is thinking about the tide, about the time of day.
He is relying on his natural abilities.
Which is fine, if that is all the choice you have.
But Jesus was showing him a new way that relied on the spirit world of the kingdom and the word of faith.
Peter had to be renewed in his mind.
Romans 12:2… tells us to be renewed in our minds so we can be transformed.
And Peter was transformed by the miracle that happened.
He caught so many fish!
He and his partners were astounded.
Jesus told him to not be afraid as he would be living a new life as a “fisher of men.”
Sickness, poverty and fear belong to our old life.
The bible says all things have become new.
We need to declare:
”Get these old and obsolete circumstances out of here.”
Then we need to call forth the new life that is our inheritance.
We are sons and daughters of the living God.
We command every curse to go!
We call blessing into our lives.
We command the new to manifest in every area and every situation.
The word of God says,”If we are in Christ, then we are a brand new person.”
[2 Corinthians 5:17]
Let the word of God divide the old from the new.
So that you can clearly see what should be thrown out and what should remain.
A glass of water.
Jesus gives authority to his disciples and sends them out to the towns and villages to help the lost and heal the sick.
He releases his disciples to go on a mission that they have not gone on before.
He gives them a message that they are to make their own.
On top of all this he gives them the ability to back up the message. Now they need somewhere to stay.
Jesus had given instructions;
“search for a worthy person and don’t leave until you have finished the job.”
You can tell who a worthy person is by your inner peace.
If for some reason you lose your peace, quick get out of there!
Be as wise as a snake when it comes to making decisions.
But, be as gentle as a dove when you tell them your decision.
Be on your guard.
In Joshua chapter 9 there is a story telling us how Joshua was tricked into making an agreement with some very sneaky men.
Joshua got into big trouble because he did not ask God before he made his decision.
The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. [Joshua 9:14]
Jesus had plenty of advice to give. Here is something else he said.
“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.”
It sure is going to be hard for someone to fake it.
If everything is going to be brought out into the open, obviously it is going to be easy to see who is worthy of our company and who is not.
Even something that is whispered in your ear is going to be shouted out loud. This is making it increasingly difficult for the accuser to have any influence in our lives.
How specific are the instructions that Jesus gives his disciples?
Listen to this one.
“Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say.”
That explains why people are so attentive when you talk.
They must be sensing that God is talking to them through you.
Because God knows how to open our ears and eyes to discern spiritual truth, we have an advantage that those around us appreciate.
The disciples visited different towns and villages doing what Jesus had told them to do.
They had a great time walking in the power of God.
But their attitude was very humble in the midst of their success.
When one of the villagers gave them a glass of water they weren’t dismissive.
They didn’t look down on this small gift, because just before they started on this trip, Jesus told them,
” And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
They would have thought to themselves,” We have found a worthy person.”
If they were going to the “lost?”
Doesn’t that mean the end result will be all about finding the “lost?”
Why would God send us to look for something or someone, if he wasn’t going to help us locate what we were looking for?
One of the themes of Matthew chapter 10 is about finding accommodation…that was suitable to their needs.
And if you think about it, Jesus had just trained and re-equipped the disciples for a new career.
It was launch time.
They had sat there listening to Jesus’s instructions.
Now they were ready to go!
Sometimes we are ready before we realise we are ready.
God is good isn’t he?
He can be working through us and we didn’t know… or speaking through us… and we aren’t aware of what is happening.
Maybe even speaking to us and we’ve just woken up and discerned his “still small voice”.
Is this what you are hearing?
Success to you, and to all those who help you.
Peace to you and to all those who bring peace.
Your enemy gives you a meal.
Some of you may feel that you have just survived a shipwreck.
It is a miracle that you have survived up till now.
You could be in prison or feel like you are imprisoned like John the Baptist.
He wanted to know if it was all worth it.
He sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one they were expecting. The answer was Yes!
Hope came into John’s heart. Now he could face the challenges in front of him.
He had spent years preparing for this time of seeing the answer to all his prayers.
His hopes and dreams were on show.
The evidence of his prayer and fasting was manifesting in the signs and wonders that the people of his country were seeing through the ministry of Jesus.
Even though John was confined to his circumstances…the word of God is not chained.
God was confirming his word.
John believed in Jesus and he believed in the word of God.
If Jesus was able to heal the sick and preach the good news to the poor, then he must be the Son of God.
Jesus had no problem operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. The problem was in getting people to repent.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago.
Jesus wanted them to change their minds.
He had hoped that whole towns and villages would believe.
Individuals were believing.
But Jesus addressed the group as a whole.
He wanted the whole family to believe.
The whole community to believe.
Paul and Silas had been in prison.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns.
Suddenly there was a violent earthquake.
At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.
The jailer woke up.
But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself!
We are all here!”
They were able to witness to this man and his household.
Everyone got saved and baptised.
This man and his family changed their minds overnight.
The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them;
he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
The famous author C.S. Lewis had been wrestling with a decision about Christianity.
One day he went for a ride on a motorcycle and while he was riding a change occurred in his heart.
When he finished his ride he knew he believed that Jesus was the Son of God.
He did not know how that change happened… it just happened!
God is able to miraculously do a work within our heart or in the hearts of those around us without any human intervention.
He can even send angels.
“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.”
Jesus explains to the people that John was a messenger sent to get things ready for his ministry of healing, deliverance and good news.
In the book of Exodus is a very similar passage.
“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.”
The place God had prepared for his people was a place of healing and prosperity.
“Worship the Lord your God and his blessing will be on your food and water.
I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land.
I will give you a full life span.”
Listen to the voice of Jesus and you will find yourself being led into this same place by Gods angel and by his Holy Spirit.
The disciples were hungry.
They picked some heads of grain and ate them straight from the field.
The legalistic people told them off.
Jesus sticks up for them… against these religious bullies.
He mentions that King David ate the consecrated bread when he was hungry. Normally you are not allowed to eat this special bread, but David and his men were hungry and on a mission from God.
The Amplified bible tells us about Gods mission in this scripture.
He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds
[a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy]
Jesus says he is greater than the temple, greater than the prophet Jonah and greater than King Solomon.
He sure sounds like he has a:
“divinely implanted sense of purpose” working within him.
If your words show what is in your heart, then Jesus is not holding back.
He was telling the crowd that he was “the greatest.”
Some of you may remember a certain famous boxer claiming he was the greatest.
But Jesus is greater than the greatest person that this world has produced.
“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.”
Who is stronger than the strong man?
Our God is strong and our God is great.
Our God is greater than all the man-made gods and all the man-made idols.
This world has to be hungry enough and thirsty enough to enable them to put aside their adoration of man’s achievements so their eyes can be opened to see God as we see him and to know God as we know him.
Christians are a blessed people.
We have set aside our unbelief in exchange for faith in him.
God’s grace has enabled us to be set free from the pleasures and distractions.
We focus our attention on what He is doing in our lives and the lives of those around us.
If we can quieten our thoughts and settle our hearts we may be able to pick up that “divinely implanted sense of purpose” that is beating away in our hearts.
Can you hear the beat?
A little oil.
“Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance.
Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
The only way I can understand this verse is through a story in 2 Kings 4:1-7.
A woman’s husband dies and leaves her in debt.
She goes to the prophet for a fresh word from God.
He asks her,” What do you have in your home?”
Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”
[2 Kings 4:2]
At first she said she had nothing!
Now if she had stopped there and not said anything else… that is what she would have ended up with. Nothing!
She had a choice to make.
Was she going to say,” she had,” or was she going to say,” she had not?”
She made her decision and said,
“except a small jar of olive oil.”
[2 Kings 4:2]
The prophet proceeded to explain to her how to multiply what she had.
She went away and followed his instructions.
And guess what?
She found that those who have… will be given more.
She could have discovered the opposite.
She could have said, “She had nothing,” and gone home and used up her small amount of oil for her daily needs and seen it disappear.
But she followed her instructions and saw more oil appear instead of disappearing.
That is what the kingdom of God does; it causes your provision to appear and your problems to disappear.
Jesus said,” First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”
Jesus is able to send his angels to make our weeds disappear and cause our harvest to appear.
Jesus also said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.
Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest!”
God is able to take the little bit that you have and cause it to increase.
Here is another word that Jesus spoke.
“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire.”
The fire of faith is a cleansing fire that comes from Jesus.
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
The fire of faith is able to burn up the weeds of unbelief and doubt.
Then we are left with a faith that is pure.
“Your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour.”
[1 Peter 1:7]
The decision to believe purifies us and eliminates the temptation to declare, “We have nothing.”
We boldly declare that the little we have is enough for God to build and shape into a miracle of provision.
We have something even if it is faith as small as a mustard seed.
Jesus prepares a table.
Jesus prepared a table for the crowd in the middle of nowhere.
He took what the disciples had and multiplied the fishes and loaves.
He took what they gave him and after he looked up to heaven and gave thanks…Jesus gave the fishes and loaves of bread back to the disciples…and they gave them to the hungry crowd.
You have to be hungry to receive a miracle.
the appetite of the labourer works for them; their hunger drives them on.
Why did Jesus do this great miracle and then go up onto a mountainside to pray.
He must have been hungry for the benefits that prayer brings.
He needed to hear from his Father, he needed to be in tune with God.
Jesus was about to do something very different from the normal.
It was not going to be an average night of prayer.
This was not going to be an insignificant event.
Yes you guessed it!
He was going to walk on water. But there was more!
He was going to let the disciples see him do it.
And there was more!
He was going to give one of them an opportunity to join him.
Obviously the disciple…who had the greatest hunger.
We know who that was.
Peter got out of his comfort zone and into the supernatural realm.
Let me quote a verse from Romans 8:9
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but in the realm of the Spirit.”
Peter stayed in the realm of the supernatural long enough to do something that was only possible for a person who was operating in the supernatural.
He put himself under the influence of Jesus and under the influence of the power of the Holy Spirit.
While he was in this place of doing the impossible, he was not under the influence of his natural circumstances.
But when he focused on the wind and waves, he popped out of the supernatural back into the natural.
It was, “One small step for man and one great leap for mankind.”
Peter had conquered the laws of nature by accessing the law of the:
” spirit of life.”
“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you.” [Romans 8:11]
The same Holy Spirit who lives in you is the same Holy Spirit who enabled Peter to walk on water.
The door to the supernatural is open to those who are hungry.
“He who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of his Spirit in you”
For some of us, it is a hard thing to believe for Jesus to heal our bodies.
The crowds that followed Jesus out to a remote place were so hungry for healing and good teaching that they forgot to take any food.
Jesus had food that comes from faith.
They followed him in faith.
They reached out to touch his cloak in faith.
They sat down quietly in faith.
They were so caught up in their expectation that they forgot about their normal needs.
They were expecting something good to happen.
Something spiritual to take place.
Just like Peter…who forgot that walking on water was impossible.
But when he remembered what he had forgotten… it was all over.
Let us forget what we cannot do and remember what we can do.
If the Holy Spirit is living in you…then all the supernatural abilities that you need… are also living within you.
Peter acknowledged Jesus and Jesus directed his steps.
Peter trusted Jesus with all his heart.
Peter did not lean on his own understanding.
For a moment he experienced pure freedom.
Every limitation was lifted off.
He was set free in a way that he would remember for the rest of his life.
He was marked out as a leader.
He was the hungriest man aboard that boat.
He stepped up to the challenge.
Lift up your eyes and see that help is on the way!
Help that is naturally… supernatural.
Wash your hands before a meal?
Some of the big men came down from the big city to ask Jesus a question.
“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?
They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
Such big men and such a little question!
But Jesus asks a better question.
Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”
Then Jesus follows up with a special quote from Isaiah.
“‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”
[ Matthew 15:7-9]
It may not look like Jesus is helping these men, but he is!
He was trying to shock them into changing their attitudes.
They were so caught up in their special rules that they were not aware of who they were speaking to.
Jesus then turns to the crowd and tells them how important their speech is.
No-one in the crowd is offended.
Mr and Mrs Average… love to hear Jesus speak.
Often they do not understand what Jesus is saying.
But they can feel the life and the love in his words.
Because he does love them; and soon will die for them.
All Jesus is trying to do… is remove all the blockages of doubt and unbelief, so when they hear the message of salvation, they will be in a great position to respond with faith.
You do not have to understand everything to be saved.
You just have to believe.
Then Peter comes to Jesus and says “Explain the parable to us.”
This is how Jesus answers Peter.
“To eat without washing your hands as they say you should—this doesn’t make you unclean.”
Finally we understand what Jesus is saying.
The condition of your hands is not important.
The condition of our heart is what matters.
This is Proverbs 4:20-24
“My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen to my words.
Never let them get away from you.
Remember them and keep them in your heart.
They will give life and health to anyone who understands them.
Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.
Never say anything that isn’t true.
Have nothing to do with lies and misleading words.”
Now let us think about how the different groups would have responded if Jesus had quoted this proverb.
The big men from the big city would have been offended.
The disciples would have asked for an explanation.
The common folk would have cheered and clapped.
They would have loved it!
We can receive a word in season if we believe it is going to do us good.
It is not easy to change your mind about something… especially if we have a strong opinion about that particular subject.
Thank God that Jesus is able to say things in love… and explain them in love… or just give us the ability to receive them in love.
Here is my favourite scripture.
“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
When Jesus speaks to us, he does it in love and he does it to bring faith into our hearts.
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Watch out for the Rule makers
The rules of golf can be a minefield in which you need a lawyer.
When I was playing golf, I would always know who was going to be enjoyable company and who wasn’t. The uptight people stick to the rules, the relaxed personalities don’t!
Sergio Garcia was penalized two strokes for an incorrect drop after three rounds of the Greg Norman International at Sydney, Australia.
Garcia’s opening tee shot wound up against a pine cone near a tree, with a billboard blocking his path to the green.
After seeking advice from Norman, Garcia took a drop, moving away from the sign. He then parred the hole.
European PGA Tour rules chief John Paramor told Garcia on the next hole that a penalty would be imposed.
“Of course I’m angry. I was two ahead and now suddenly I’m tied for the lead,” Garcia said.
“Hopefully, without John Paramor’s rules, I’ll be able to win.
In the rules it doesn’t say what he was telling me, but there’s a local rule and I’m lucky I wasn’t disqualified.”
Norman said: “I feel bad personally, because he asked me for the ruling and I went through the procedure that I thought was correct. Thank God he wasn’t disqualified.”
Life has its little rules that are unspoken, but are just as important as written rules. For instance:
DON’T KEEP ME WAITING.
DON’T YAWN WHEN I’M TALKING.
DON’T ASK ME IF I’VE HAD A HAIRCUT AND STOP THERE; FOLLOW THAT QUESTION WITH A COMPLIMENT.
Yes, we all have these rules and regulations hidden on the inside.
People around us wonder why we are in a bad mood, but they don’t understand that they have broken one or more of our invisible rules.
And things will not improve until the fine [penalty] has been issued and fully paid.
This penalty may take different forms depending on the situation.
It may consist of some silence or a period of non-co-operation.
You may stop answering their calls.
You could even refuse to smile and laugh for a day or two.
Depending on the severity of the sentence…which you have handed down from your lofty place of judgement.
Or we could forgive them for their unwise comments and let them out of our man-made prison.
But only if they repent in an appropriate way.
The LAW demands justice. It exists like the roadside speed signs.
They are there 24hrs a day whether humans are present or not.
Demanding you drive at no more than 60km an hour.
That speed sign doesn’t need humans to exist.
The LAW [rules and regulations] is summed up in this one statement.
YOU BETTER GET IT RIGHT OR SOMEONE IS GOING TO PAY.
You can see the message of the Gospel starting to emerge.
We got it wrong…we have to pay a penalty.
The ultimate penalty is…someone has to die.
That’s the great thing about the cross.
We all get to die together.
There is even better news.
You didn’t have to be there physically.
That’s right, somehow God found a way to get it all done without you needing to actually be there.
It sounds a bit strange until you realise that this happens in our court system.
In some situations your lawyer can represent you.
You are not physically present but the judge accepts that the lawyer is acting on your behalf.
The judge has the ability to make judgements and decisions that affect your life in real and material ways.
You are not there but everyone carries on as if you are there.
Paul the Apostle was not on the cross in a physical sense.
But that does not stop him from claiming that he died with Christ on the cross.
I have been put to death with Christ on his cross,
so that it is no longer I who live
but it is Christ who lives in me.
Paul explains this a bit more in Romans 6:4
By our baptism, then, we were buried with him and shared his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from death by the glorious power of the Father, so also we might live a new life.
In some countries you won’t get in trouble for accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour as long as you do it in private.
But as soon as you proclaim your faith publicly everyone gets upset.
They say, “Don’t make a fuss, keep your faith hidden.”
Why does water baptism make some people so angry?
Maybe it is more than a symbolic action.
Rules and regulations have no power over a dead person.
I have seen movies where the prisoner fakes his death and the prison guards open the gates and let his relatives remove the dead body.
Then they resuscitate him without the officials finding out.
He is then a free man.
Paul tells us more in Romans 7:1
Certainly you will understand what I am about to say, my friends, because all of you know about law.
The law rules over people only as long as they live.
Now I understand why we had to die.
It was to get the LAW off our backs.
Many people have faked their deaths: here is an interesting story.
The former partner of Olivia Newton-John, who was believed to have drowned at sea nearly four years ago, staged his own disappearance, private U.S. investigators have claimed.
Patrick McDermott is said to be travelling along the Mexican and South America coastline under an alias to avoid paying debts and enable his teenage son to cash in on a $151,000 insurance policy.
McDermott was 48 years old when he disappeared after boarding a fishing charter boat called The Freedom in California in June 2005.
We don’t have to fake our death because God has found a way to declare us legally dead.
Once again Paul explains in Romans 7:4
That is how it is with you, my friends.
As far as the Law is concerned, you also have died because you are part of the body of Christ.
The key words here are, “As far as the law is concerned.”
The benefit of all this is…in the past we had a lot of religious requirements that we could not fulfil.
Please note that the rest of the world’s religions have a strong emphasis on keeping their God happy by their good behaviour.
But we are released from a behaviour-based relationship with God.
Once again Paul says in Romans 7:6
Now, however, we are free from the Law, because we died to that which once held us prisoners.
No longer do we serve in the old way of a written law, but in the new way of the Spirit.
We as Christians have a new way.
It is called the way of the Spirit.
We relate to God by the leading of the Holy Spirit who lives in us and helps us.
Paul tells us that we are not prisoners anymore.
We are free!!
From a life of rules and regulations.
From the thoughts that say, “We are not good enough because we have not kept all the rules.”
Our answer to that thought is, “Who says we are not good enough?”
Then we follow up with our new understanding and say:
“DEAD PEOPLE ARE VERY WELL BEHAVED!”
Written by Chef Tony.
This brings to an end our time together.
We hope your spirit has been nourished by the selection of Words and Subjects that have popped up on the menu.
Keep the discussion going.
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