barnabas.in : Alexi George

When You Don’t Get What You Hoped For

Regrets about the past are not uncommon — especially when our hopes and expectations did not come through here in this life. Sure, you love God with all your heart, but there is this gnawing feeling of loss as you have followed Christ.

What did you give up to follow Jesus? Did you sacrifice much? Do you often think of what you left behind? Was the sacrifice worth it?

Now, was it really a sacrifice? That depends on what you’ve been promised. Really, it depends on your expectations. The “heroes” of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11 were looking forward to something beyond this life. They didn’t get much in this life. In fact, they surely got a raw deal in life and finished off their lives in horrendous death experiences.

But their expectations were promises much beyond this life. Those expectations drove them to live a life of contentment in the mindset of utter turmoil and pain. The raw deal they get in this life was not at all an issue for them as they were looking forward to a glorious future beyond this life.

Yes, Jesus did promises us some things in this life, but much more in the life to come. We need to shift our focus. Once that focus is shifted, we can begin to live this life with more freedom and satisfaction than you’ve ever imagined.

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An Indecent Invitation

When people are struggling with the guilt of their sins, why would God simply open up the Most Holy Place and say “come”?

Now, in the community where we live, any decent person would be selective of the people they invite into their homes. But this approach of Jesus to open up God’s house to anyone without limitation, is certainly questionable. At best, it is indecent.

But when we take him up on this offer, we won’t need to enter His presence and feel like an indecent, worthless person. Here’s what the writer of Hebrews says: “So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water” (Heb 10:22).

The invitation of Jesus is a package deal. It’s an invitation to experience the transforming power of God in every area of our lives. When you enter the presence of God on a regular basis, you will be changed.

Over the years I’ve noticed that if the person is resistant to changes, they eventually drop out and never return. They want to be in God’s presence, but are unwilling to be changed.

The invitation is always open. I am an invitee who continues to experience the “washing” and “purification” mentioned in Hebrews 10:22. He continues that work in us throughout our entire lives so we can be formed into the likeness of his Son Jesus.

Have you accepted that invitation? If not, are you ready to consider it? Click here to learn how to accept the invitation of Jesus. [Link to “Need a Change”]

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A Reason to Care

I had lunch with a young man who is actively considering a relationship with God. As we started eating, his friend, and former classmate showed up and sat with us to eat.

During the course of the conversation this young man asked his friend why. Ha hadn’t called him in such a long time. The reply was amazing: “Why should I call you if I have no reason to call?”

On the surface, the question is logical and reasonable, but quite selfish. There is no concern for the other person. No thought about the welfare of his friend. But of course, we would say that if either friend has a need, they can call.

While listening to this conversation I remembered Jesus. The Bible says he died for us while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8). Before we realized our need, he took the initiative to take a costly step on our behalf. Before we asked for help. Now, the uniqueness of Christ’s offer is fabulous when we consider that he plans to do a major follow-up to his original plan.

Once again, Jesus will return to make good on His original plan. “In the same manner Christ also was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many. He will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting for him” (Rom 9:28).

What a deal. He gives up his life just because he loves us. Throughout our lives he promised to be with us. Then, he promised to return and finalize the process to take us with Him.

Our brokenness was enough to make Jesus respond. Our sin had made such a significant gap that he had to turn our way. We were the reason.

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What is God’s plan for you?

God has great plans for us as His children. He invites us to those places of greatness even before we are ready. He has a plan for us, and He will work in us to work out that plan within and through us. God’s plan for us can be seen clearly at the communion table.

At communion, we are doing much more than remembering the death of Jesus Christ. We are being given a lofty invitation. First, it’s an invitation to fellowship with God the creator of the universe. Second, we are invited to positions of authority that only children of the King can enjoy.

Invitations are commonly given to those of equal status, and to those who are deserving. In Luke 22, Jesus invited the disciples to a meal. His disciples were anything but deserving. Even at the table, they were arguing among themselves about who will be greatest among them (Luke 22). Jesus had to warn Peter of his impending betrayal (Luke 22:31). These and numerous other reasons are clear in the Gospels that they were undeserving of the invitation of Jesus.

When we look closely, we realize that the invitation goes much beyond this one meal together. He repeatedly mentioned the future Kingdom of God, where he will one day eat and drink with them (Luke 22:16, 18, 30).

But I am intrigued by the fact that the disciples behavior showed that they were undeserving of such a lofty invitation. In the coming kingdom, they were to eat together and rule together.

Sharing a meal is something that was only done together with equals. Never would someone eat with people of lower status. This is why the Jewish religious leaders were upset at Jesus. He regularly ate meals with those the society regarded as outcasts. Jesus considered this as part of His mission.

Being given the right to rule (Luke 22:29) was reserved only for sons. Kings in those days ensured that their sons were placed in positions of power and authority. After their death, the sons would continue the rule.

What an awesome invitation with a great expectation. Get ready. God is in the process of building you up according to His expectations.

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Go Ahead, Live as You Please

Are you tired of rules and regulations? There is always someone ready to tell you what you should do. No matter how hard you try to be good, it’s never good enough.

In fact it’s so bad that you feel like you are living for someone else. You just can’t be yourself. You have to be someone you are not.

Maybe it’s not others telling you to conform. You yourself have realized the struggle to live a life pleasing to God. For the longest time, you’ve tried to live the Christian life, but you never seem to conquer yourself.

Your situation could be so bad that you are no longer in control. But it’s your life, and you should be able to live it as you wish. But even if you want to live a life pleasing to God, you just can’t.

Better than you trying, God has a better way. He wants to transform you from the inside out. Here is what the writer of Hebrews says about it:

I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. None of them will have to teach his fellow citizen or tell his fellow countryman, “know the Lord.” For they will all know me, from the least to the greatest (Heb 8:10-11 GNB).

Maybe it’s time to ask God to come and rewrite the “code” in your heart and mind. When this happens, God’s desire becomes your desire and your desire becomes God’s desire. It is a gradual process, but if you will open yourself up to the Holy Spirit, He will begin that work within you. Then, once your desire becomes God’s desire, go ahead and live as you please!

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Short and Long Term Effects of Sufferings

Suffering produces short term responses and long term effects. The trouble is that during the process, we begin to feel like our fate is sealed.

The most common short term response is doubt expressed through questioning. We question God, people, and ultimately life itself. If we allow ourselves to continue on this track, we can become cynical and closed to input from others and God.

For some, their response is anger. Anger may be expressed outwardly where the person behaves like a short-fuse ready to blow at any moment. Periodically they may “explode” and cause others to pull away from such a person. Others suppress the anger within themselves. No one knows it’s there, but it slowly takes its toll on the person’s mind and body.

Still others respond with deep sorrow and pain. They pull away from others and allow the sorrow to pull them down into a deep pit. This cycle of sorrow, pain, and seclusion continues to repeat itself and finally this person may end up in depression.

Jesus responded to suffering by turning to His Father. His prayers were with loud cries and tears. He was heard because of his reverent submission (Heb 5:7). The next verse reveals that Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered.

While you suffer, turn to the Father and pour your heart out to Him. Put aside everything else and turn to Him again and again. He will hear you. Then in the long run, He will teach you — what you need to learn.

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Turning 50 – Life is a Setup

For years I was confused with comparing our struggles with the sufferings of Jesus. He already knew that he was born to die. He knew that he would resurrect after his sufferings and death. Then his next step would be a guaranteed position at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

So, ultimately, Jesus’ life was a “setup.” All along, he knew the script. The sufferings, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and his seat at the Father’s right hand was all a complete setup. He knew the outcome all along. Not fair!

But is it any different for us? For those who have given their lives to God by faith in Jesus Christ, life is a “setup.” We will all suffer, and one day we will die. The Bible promises a resurrection followed by an ascension to heaven. It goes on to say that we are seated with Christ in heaven. And since Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, and we are seated with Jesus, it follows that we are also seated at the right hand of the Father.

This realization has given me a new perspective on life as I turn 50 in a few days. My life is truly a “setup” as I have a guaranteed set of events and outcomes in the future.

I look forward to living my life with confidence and not fear. My future is bright. Not because there is clarity about the events that may occur in the next few decades, but because I have complete trust in the Father. He will lead me on in pain, struggles, sorrows, and lots of sweet victories.

What about your struggles and brokenness? Remember the pain that never seems to go away? And the losses? Too deep to talk about?

Remember your destiny, and give your losses a new meaning. It’s not the end.

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Life Reproduces What’s in Your Heart

Those with the craziest and wildest dreams are the ones who seem to do something substantial with their lives. As for the rest of us, we simply make a living and take care of our responsibilities.

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One such wild and crazy dreamer was Jacob. He had the idea of “purchasing” his older brother’s birthright — which was practically and logically impossible to do. But Jacob made good on that purchase by ultimately procuring the final and ultimate blessings from his father, which should have gone to his elder brother.

Later, while working for his father-in-law for a long two decades, he had another impossible dream. He made the deal with Laban that his wages would consist of all the streaked, speckled, and spotted animals among the sheep and goats. Then he went about trying to increase the reproduction of the streaked, speckled, and spotted ones.

When these animals mated, he stripped the bark off from branches and placed them in sight of the animals. He figured that if the animals saw these branches while they mated, they would reproduce streaked, speckled, and spotted young ones. This, of course, would increase his wealth.

While this is a completely an illogical and impossible plan, it worked for him! More streaked, speckled, and spotted animals were born. Although we don’t know how this could have happened, we know this is exactly what was in his heart. That was the driving passion of his heart.

What’s in your heart? Focus on it, pray for it, and move towards it. No matter how crazy and wild, put it before you.

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The Ultimate Release at Communion

I looked out at the audience as the people waited for the communion to be served. My mind flashed through all the various issues we face: Guilt, pain, rejection, injustice, and other factors that seem to grip the souls of people.

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As the communion was served, I realized we were taking part in something greater and more awesome than the sum of all our combined struggles. The creator of the universe has come in human form and humbled himself to the lowest levels.

The genuine humility of Jesus challenged the pride, arrogance, and violence of humanity. Throughout history, pride has been challenged with greater pride, arrogance with more arrogance, and each negative has been countered with more of the same. Only Jesus was able to challenge these with His humility.

But His humility is different. It comes in the context of the greatest levels of power that is imaginable. No other force can surpass His — yet He chose to respond in humility. His ultimate act of humility was to offer up His own body to be sacrificed.

The sinless one was sacrificed for us sinners. The most powerful one laid down His power to die in humility and meekness — for me, the prideful, arrogant, selfish sinner.

My pride, arrogance, and selfishness has brought me guilt, pain, rejection, injustice, and other factors that reveal my true brokenness. But through His humility, Jesus has brought me healing. His healing brings wholeness in place of all my brokenness.

As I served communion that day, my eyes were full as I realized the extent of what this table represents. My brokenness — our brokenness, exchanged for His wholeness.

Your Turn

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The Fear That Grips You

Fear grips our souls like none other. It keeps us bound to things we would never want to acknowledge — sickness, undesirable relationships, habits, thought patterns, and a host of other undesirables.

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Fear keeps you pinned down to a lie. A lie that says you are good for nothing, you don’t have a future, and that whatever you try will be hopeless. But Jesus said that you’ll know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

Once fear has a grip on you and you continue on that track, it ultimately will lead you to the greatest of all fears, the fear of death. Once the fear of death has a grip on you, it will gradually begin to take control of various aspects of your life. ultimately it will get a hold of your health.

The fear of death will make you its slave. For many, it becomes a lifelong bondage of fear. But the Bible says that through His death, Jesus destroyed the one who has the power of death, the Devil.

So now, the Devil has been “destroyed” and his power has been stripped off by Jesus. Now, through the fear of death, the Devil continues to put people into lifelong slavery and bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The fear that grips your heart is much beyond a simple fear that seems to have lots of effect on you. It is a diabolical ploy to hold you in lifelong bondage through nothing but fear. That is the only true power Satan has — the power gained through fear of death — which is a complete lie.

The truth is, Jesus has already won the victory — you are on the winning side.

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

My Books:


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