Peter Horrobin

International Director of Ellel Ministries

October 6, 2015
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Rightful Aligning

Psalm 119:104, NIV
“I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.”

As I approached to the local supermarket I spotted a great parking space- one very near the entrance! As I pulled up it become apparent that the two cars closest to my chosen space were parked somewhat haphazardly. One was at an angle, whereas the other one’s rear end was parked outside the official lines. Not deterred by this I continued parking my car in the spot I had chosen. Using the other two vehicles as my guide I parked my car and was quite happy with the result (don’t we all know men take great pride in their parking abilities?). Yet when I got out I realised that, relative to the white lines on the tarmac, my parking had been less than impressive. I was over the line and outside of the box. Oops! The obvious mistake was that, instead of referencing the official, immovable lines, I used the (very casual) efforts of others motorists to gauge my position.

The same mistake is easily made in our spiritual lives. We can slip into comparing our Christian walk with that of those around us. We can be deceived into thinking we are doing quite well, whereas in reality we are not! No matter how badly we’re performing in any area, there’ll almost always be a close neighbour who’s doing worse. Compared to them, we’re OK! The problem is that God judges our lives by His standards and these standards are absolute, immovable and just.

There’ll be a day when we stand before the throne of Almighty God. That day we’ll be judged, not according to how we did relative to those around us, but in relation to the unchanging word of God. As modern believers, we can be so grateful to the Lord for giving us His written Word! He’s very clear about what He expects of us. He’s openly declared His will to us. We can know Him personally, and we can know His will – it’s all written down for our benefit!

When we read the Bible we have the chance to compare our personal lives and beliefs with those expressed in Scripture. Each time we read God’s Word and we realise we’re out of line, we’re provided with the opportunity to adjust our lives and become yet more pleasing to Him. God’s Spirit shows us the truth, convicts us of sin and He helps us change. What a wonderful blessing it is to own a bible and to have God’s Holy Spirit!

Prayer: Dear Lord, please forgive me for comparing my own righteousness to that of others. Please help me to keep my eye on You alone and to let Your Spirit bring adjustments to my life when I read Your Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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October 5, 2015
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To Lay Down Your Life

John‬ 15‬:13,‬ NIV‬‬‬
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Every time I read this verse I’m reminded of what our Lord Jesus did for every one of us by dying on the cross. He took every sin upon Himself, and so paid the price for us to stand in righteousness before God. This is something none of us could have done, as, unlike us, Jesus was completely without sin. But quite apart from that, I don`t think anyone would be willing to pay this price for the whole of mankind.

Jesus was able to lay down His life for us. In my understanding that means He let go of all personal rights, privileges and comforts. It means He lived a life completely devoted to others and their well-being; always putting His own needs behind those of others.

None of us could do what Jesus did, but there are many ways we can lay down our lives for others. We can lay our lives down, for example, by reaching out to those in need, feeding the hungry, and caring for the elderly and orphans, all of which is so necessary in the Kingdom of God.

Recently I came to the realisation that we can lay down our life in another way. It may be the Lord calls us to walk a road of healing with someone close to us, taking years. We might not even realise this is the road we’re walking, but the Lord chose us, because He knew that we would be able to do this through His grace.

This can be a difficult walk, because we could often feel unimportant and overlooked, not knowing why we’re in this situation. At times we may feel our opinion doesn`t count and that we are having to take a back seat in some areas of our life. Feelings of rebelliousness and helplessness may arise. At times we feel we’re just hitting a wall, and the breakthrough we’ve been praying and trusting the Lord for so long seems too far away.

Take heart dear ones. The Lord is closer than you realise. He’s in you, with you and growing you along the way. He notices you and will give you the strength to carry on. Hold on to His promises and never stop believing. His words are true and you’re precious in His sight. You’re not overlooked. Remember your healing is also happening whilst you’re on this journey. Start by learning to pour your heart out to the Lord. We’re all broken vessels in need of the Lord`s loving restoration, and the Lord shapes us through the people in our lives.

‘Jesus lived out compassion because He loved and His acts of love gave hope to those whose lives He touched’ (Denise Ackermann).

Prayer: Jesus, what a joy to know that You’re my strength! Thank You that I matter to You, and You have my well-being in Your loving hands. Help me to be who You want me to be for the people in my life. Show me how to lay down my life without allowing others to trample on me. Amen.

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October 4, 2015
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Philippians 3:10, NIV
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.”

In the area I live in there are many ‘senior citizens’ (including me!), and one of the indications is the large number of mobility scooters (known as buggies) that frequent our streets. Someone I know decided to go out for a ride on her buggy, and asked her elderly husband to help get the machine out of the shed where it was kept. After a few false starts it was manoeuvred backwards out of the door, where it then got stuck across the threshold as the battery had gone flat with the effort. The elderly lady was frustrated, as she’d been about to launch out round the block for a breath of air, and the trip had to be postponed whilst the battery was recharged. It was a power problem.

There are often times in life when our spiritual battery feels flat. It maybe that we’re in a worship event where everyone around us seems enthusiastically lost in wonder, love and praise, but we feel outside it and disconnected and frustrated. Or perhaps we’ve scheduled a special extended quiet time with God, but it seems like He didn’t put it in His diary, so He doesn’t show up. (He’s there all the time of course!) Or maybe it’s prayer ministry time, but we can’t hear what God might be saying to us.

Sometimes the problem comes from our own attempts to empower ourselves. The soul goes into a self-charging mode, which gives a temporary experience, but not a lasting inner resource. Paul exclaims that he wants to know and experience the dunamis, (dynamic power, or enabling) of Jesus, ‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection’ (Philippians 3:10).

He qualifies the word dunamis by saying it’s the power of the resurrection of Christ. It’s a lasting, loving, and living power that he wants to know, not a temporary, human experience.

This power is also personal. Jesus wants to empower us each individually with His power. I’m reminded of the story in Luke 8 where Jesus heals the woman with the issue of blood, without really identifying her. He then says that “I know that power has gone from me”, and He wanted to know who it had gone to. There was a personal connection established.

When we go flat, we need to ask Jesus for that personal spiritual re-charge, a reconnection with the source of dynamic power for living. Only when this happens will we be able to fully function spiritually, and this will affect our worship, prayer, witness, and daily walk with God. No more ‘flat buggies’ for us!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your willingness to keep us recharged through the indwelling of Your Spirit in us. Help us to realise where we’ve been trying to self-charge with emotional substitutes, and enable us to be reconnected with You on a daily , so we’re full of Your dynamic power. Amen.

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October 3, 2015
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Psalm‬ 27:10‬, ESV
“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.”

I believe rejection is painful, but abandonment from one`s parents is the deepest pain of all. Shadrach Maloka was abandoned as a two week old baby by his 14 year old mother, who left him to drown in a toilet. By God’s grace he was rescued and taken to hospital, but never knew who his parents were.

One day he read Psalm 27:10 to Stephen Lungu, who had been abandoned by his mother at the age of 6; ‘For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in’ (Psalm‬ 27:10‬).‬‬

He explained it was the promise of God and His Son Jesus to those who had been unwanted by their mothers and fathers. There was an amazing transformation in Stephen`s life. Stephen was a homeless, violent, gang leader, who couldn’t read or write, but he was able to become a powerful, international evangelist. (Stephen published his story ‘Out of the Black Shadows’ in 2001).

Experience of ministering to many hurting people shows that a baby or young child who is abandoned concludes “It must be my fault. I`m so bad that no one wants me”. A child is unable to reason that a parent is too ill or confused to look after him. He doesn’t know the tragedy of death or other circumstances beyond human control. The sense of unworthiness and guilt becomes secretly embedded in the child`s spirit.

The whole of Psalm 27, written by King David, gives God`s people a lifeline in times of trouble and insecurity. We find great encouragement in the following verses: ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’ (verse 1); `For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock` (verse 5); `I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!` (Verses 13-14‬).‬‬‬‬

Some of us haven’t experienced abandonment from parents, but we may struggle with various rejection issues from early childhood. Deep inner healing comes from finding we can forgive our earthly parents for what they have done, or not done, and in expressing our hurt and pain to Jesus.

Our heavenly Father is kind and loving and wants to pour His love and comfort into all the wounds we have carried. He will ‘take us in’. He will ‘lift us high upon a rock’ and establish us in a transformed life, according to His perfect plans for us.

Prayer: Thank You, loving heavenly Father, that You are the perfect parent and that You draw us close to You. You heal our wounds, and You are our light and salvation. You are the stronghold of our life, and You hide us in Your shelter. We trust in You, and wait for You. Amen.

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October 2, 2015
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Another One of Those Days

Psalms 121:2, NIV
“My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

I want you to imagine this scene. It’s 8.30 in the morning, and a man has just come to put a head rest on my father’s wheelchair (He’s recovering from a severe stroke). We have managed an entire year without one, but, because of travelling considerations, the occupational therapist insists one is needed. She’s right of course, and I know it, but I wish we could have organised a more mutually, convenient time. My father awkwardly transfers to his recliner, while the man inserts a metal plate into the back of his wheelchair. Metal shavings fall all over the carpet and I am wondering whether the vacuum cleaner will blow up when I try to suck them up. 

My sister’s pug dog is being extra bouncy and has to be forcibly removed to another room. She’s excited that we have guests, and wants to be a part of all the activities. I lock her in the bedroom with me, and she barks repeatedly to be let out. In the background I can hear the drill as the man continues to work. It’s taking much longer than we expected. That will prove a problem as Mondays are packed with activity, and I’d hoped he’d be finished before the next person came. The pug’s now scratching with vigour at my bedroom door. I want to add that this is the same pug that has escaped our care twice this week, and is already in my ‘bad dog book.’ 

I discipline the pug several times, to no avail, and begin to feel quite stressed. I’m not particularly very ‘chipper’ in the mornings on the best of days, but today I’m feeling more irritated than normal. Then I hear a noise that disturbs me greatly, and I grimace.

Looking down at the pug, I see that she’s just left a nasty puddle on my carpet. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. I fetch the disinfectant, put on a disposable glove, cover the patch in paper towel and soak up the mess. I can’t believe how much water such a small dog can hold. It is barely nine in the morning and I’m ready to hop back into bed, pull the covers over my head and start the day all over again.

Before the day is out, two carers, the pharmacist, the man who mows the lawn, a saleswoman, one of my sisters and two friends will also visit. Some are expected and some aren’t.Each time there’s a knock at the door, the pug jumps to attention and starts planning her next escape. She’s an opportunist if ever I’ve met one, and somehow manages to squeeze through the legs of one of the carers. She heads down the street with me in hot pursuit. Muttering through clenched teeth, I proclaim, “this is the last time I baby sit this dog” and I mean it. With the help of three others, I finally catch her and put her in the back yard. The neighbours won’t appreciate her barking, but I’m now out of options. Eventually she quietens down, and I take a big sigh of relief. 

Your circumstances are probably very different to mine, but we can all identify with a ‘bad day’ and all the rollercoaster emotions that accompany it. Substitute the pug in my story for a crying or sick baby, or a demanding boss, or a multitude of other scenarios, but the bottom line is the same – emotionally exhausting. Life doesn’t always run smoothly, or to plan, and we can all testify to that fact. Let me ask you a question though, that I’ve had to stop and ask myself as well. Where’s God in the midst of all the bedlam and madness?

Let me assure you that He’s right there in the midst, available and ready to help if we ask Him to. Jesus has walked this earth like one of us, and well identifies with how messy and overwhelming life can be sometimes. When we cry out to Him, He not only hears our prayers, but comes rushing to our aid. He may not always still the storm immediately, but we can trust Him to faithfully stand beside us in the midst of it and bring His peace. That peace passes all understanding. Looking back with hindsight, I realise I should have prayed for help a lot sooner than I did this morning! I also wonder if I should have sedated the pug! (Said with tongue in cheek)

Prayer: Thank You, God, that You’re with me, for me and a present help when I need it. Help me to remember that next time my heart feels overwhelmed. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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October 1, 2015
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Maintaining Focus

Hebrews 12:2a, NIV
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…”

The Flying Wallendas is the name of a circus act and daredevil stunt performers, best known for performing high-wire acts without a safety net. Shortly after the great aerialist Karl Wallenda fell to his death in 1978, while doing his most dangerous walk, his wife, also an aerialist, said, “All Karl thought about for months before was falling. It was the first time he’d ever thought about that, and it seemed to me that he put all his energies into not falling rather than walking the tightrope.”

Can I just repeat a small section of the above paragraph? “It seemed to me that he put all his energies into not falling rather than walking the tightrope.” Is that how we live the Christian life? One of focusing more on not sinning, rather than focusing on following Jesus. Are we more concerned about failing at what we’re doing than about doing it?

Karl Wallenda had walked tightropes with ease across massive gaps way up high without a safety net for years. He had practiced hard and was supremely confident in his ability. His focus had always been on putting one foot in front of the other, and getting to the other side. Then, for some reason, his focus turned inwards and ultimately he failed. The very thing he feared happened.

What is your focus? Not making mistakes, not sinning, not letting God, your wife, your husband, your children, your parents, your pastor, your boss or yourself down? If so, then I suggest that your focus is wrong. Our focus needs to be on Jesus – the perfecter of our faith.

Let that sink in for a moment! We are not the ones who make our faith perfect – He does! The rest of Hebrews 12:2 helps us see the difference a right focus has. ‘For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ On the cross Jesus focused on the joy set before Him. You and I are that joy!

Prayer: Lord Jesus I choose from today to no longer focus on the negatives in my life. To no longer focus on how I might fail You or anyone else. Instead I choose to fix my eyes on You, determined with Your grace to follow You, putting one foot in front of the other. I know that underneath me are the everlasting arms – there to catch me and hold me fast, whenever I fall or fail. Amen.

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