From the Outside In?

Hi everyone, Rob here. Our family is going on holiday in a couple of days. We’re hopping across the ditch to soak in some Aussie warmth and sunshine, and as I look out my office window and watch the rain come down I can say that I’m really looking forward to it! I find it an interesting paradox that while the life of the heart points to an inside-out transformation, we seem to need outside-in stimulation to bring new life to that process. I don’t want to overstate this because it’s a fine line between legitimate pleasure and self-indulgence. However, there is also the inescapable truth that our God is a giver of good gifts. So what’s the best way to receive a gift? With open hands and a thankful heart, recognising that we didn’t earn it or deserve it, but we can still be blessed by it.

Of course there is another way to receive a gift as I witnessed at my children’s recent birthday parties. The joy at receiving something really cool to play with seemed to outweigh the need to thank the giver. They needed reminding that gifts are just that; something that has come into our lives to bless us that we didn’t earn or deserve. Thankfulness is the only proper response.

So it strikes me that navigating our way through the deluge of outside-in stimulation that we receive every day, and discerning the difference between God’s gifts and invitations and Satan’s distractions is a task of the highest priority. How can we do it?

First of all we need to cover ourselves in prayer. I recommend using the daily prayer of Ransomed Heart ministries which you can find here. Once we’ve done that we then need to adopt an attitude of prayerful awareness. We need to know what’s going on in our hearts. Are we moving closer to God or away from him? Are we aware of his presence with us or are we feeling distant? Are we anxious and striving or at peace? Is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) evident? Are we feeling alive in God or dead in sin? The answers to those questions may indicate whether we’re doing things for ourselves and by ourselves or for and with God. The third thing is to relax! The Holy Spirit lives in us; we are children of God; We are in Christ and he is in us so we can trust him with our day and with our decisions. We don’t need total clarity on every little thing. We won’t get it right every time. But we do need to recognise that life is far better when we walk with the Source of life and the lover of our souls.

So for our family we are thankful for this gift of a holiday. We accept the invitation to holiday with Jesus. We don’t just seek relief after a busy winter, but restoration to our hearts as we seek to live in intimate friendship with him. We ask for peace and protection as we parent our children in a new and unfamiliar setting. We stand against anxiety and worry as we deal with that unfamiliarity ourselves and we keep seeking God. We don’t take a holiday from his Word and from his heart. We ask not to be led into temptation (the casino’s just down the road from our apartment!!) and we dwell in his rest and love and peace. But these aren’t just holiday prayers. They are daily ones. God gives us outside-in stimulation to breathe life into us, but there’s no substitute for walking with God everyday in the ordinariness of life. Do that and before we know it we are new people – from the inside-out.

No blog next week. I’m on holiday after all!! Enjoy the video. May it help you worship.

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