Wednesday, November 30, 2011


If you do, why do you follow the rules?


People have widely different motivations for following rules.  Some spiritual and some not.  There can even be wicked motivations for following rules.


Do you follow them because... can see the purpose of the rules? helps you to fit in? trust the person/people who set the rules? want to please the person who set the rules? want to avoid punishment? (but you would break the rules if you could get away with it)


Pharisees were not some of Jesus's favourite people, yet they kept the law in a very strict way.  Whether you keep the law and follow the rules or not, if you are not concerned with love, mercy, and justice in a wise balance, you have not the Spirit.


Aim to please God by understanding the spirit of the law - the reason it exists.  When particular laws fail to serve that purpose, don't follow them.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Do you ever face situations where any decision you make will lead to undesirable outcomes?  There is no clear pathway forward and all you can do is pick one choice at random.


A more concrete example:  your 16 year old gets in an argument with you because they want to drop out of school.  They say they will leave home if you don't let them.  What do you do?  One way they ruin their education, the other way they cut you off.


With God, in Christ, there is always hope.  


It might not feel very loving or spiritual, but the spiritual way forward is first to pray - commiting the situation to God, second decide - if it comes down to a coin toss so be it, third is to keep praying and hoping in the knowledge that God is in control and will use the decision for ultimate good.


What is ultimately good is what brings glory to God.  God's glory is seen in the demonstration of his character.  God is merciful and pours out overflowing blessing upon his people.  You can know that he will either sort the situation out, or use it to strengthen you for something that is to come.


Monday, November 28, 2011


Do you expect to find it in this life?  In part or in full?


Nothing can bring us perfect joy until Jesus returns and our transformation is completed.


Until then, search out satisfaction in the blessings that God has given to us to help us get a taste of the endless satisfaction that begins in eternity.  


Family, children, gifts and talents, the pursuit of holiness, the display of the glory of God in our lives, music, food, pets, exercise, and much more.  Done mindlessly, pleasing merely the flesh, will not bring satisfaction.  Done with God in mind, with a thankful attitude, appreciated in balance with all that is good, that is a spiritual thing of beauty to God.


Sunday, November 27, 2011


Some need personal accountability to other believers in a more significant way.  


We are all weak, and we are all ultimately accountable to God, before whom we will all stand to be judged.  We are not judged in this strong sense by any man, so surely we should fear God more?  


He sees everything, and nobody can lie to Him and deceive Him the way one man can deceive another.  There is no hiding your sin from God.


Better to be directly accountable to God, and to know the presence of His Spirit in conviction of sin.  Keeping your hand from that which is evil because the God who has had great mercy on you can see you always.


But... we are so weak and filled with unbelief that we need an accountability partner at our own level.  This should be an encouraging and growing relationship to make each other better believers, walking in the fruit of righteousness more convincingly.  And we should make a practice of learning to do this because God is with us, rather than because we will meet once a month with a friend we don't want to disappoint.


God is real.  Aim not to disappoint Him before man.


Thursday, November 24, 2011


What happens when you make a mistake?  A moral mistake.


Do you admit in humility that you have done wrong, in committing an offense against the Most Holy; an offense that is worthy of eternal punishment because any offense is an infinite crime when against an infinitely holy God?


Do you then throw yourself on His mercy, trusting that He is as merciful to His children as He is Holy?


It sounds dramatic when considered in these terms, but it should be dramatic.  Wildly so.  As dramatic as the sacrifice of the life of the greatest man who has ever walked the earth.  As dramatic as the death of God the Son.  As dramatic as his return to life and subsequent ascension to the heavens.


Most of us do not appreciate the great glory of God in the moment-by-moment forgiveness of God.  But even in the smallest appreciation, which puts trust in Christ for forgiveness, there you will find the work of the Spirit.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Who you really are is what comes out when you are spontaneous.


Are you spontaneously spiritual; displaying: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness, gentleness, self-control?


Or are you more likely to demonstrate: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions,divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these?


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Knowing God (more)

Are you happy with your current knowledge of God?  Do you know His character and His will inside and out?  Maybe you've read the Bible so many times that you don't think there is any more to learn about God?


You can always know more of God.  Even though you grow for a billion years or more, you will still be merely scraping the surface of His great glory.  If not through His word, through walking with Him amongst His people.


If you are not overjoyed to learn more of your Maker, after whom you are created, in His image, then seek it.  Seek joy though knowing more of God.


The one in whom the Spirit dwells will receive much joy at the growing knowledge of, and communion with God.  Share the joy.


Monday, November 21, 2011


What happens in your life when you get off track?  When your particular weaknesses lead you from the straight path?


If you make a practice of reflecting on these situations, you can see God's hand in them to chasten you and draw you back.  If you do not come back, you are not one of His.


It should be a joy to know that God will provide fatherly discipline to keep you in His hand.  It is not in your power to keep yourself - if it weren't for the work of the Spirit you would self destruct in sinful indulgence.


It should also be a joy to know that God is at work in you to reduce your wanderings, making you less sinful and more Christ-like.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blessing Food

2, 4, 6, 8, dig in, don't wait!  This is not a prayer for God to bless the food to the bodies present at the meal.


Lord, you are a mighty God, worthy of all praise!  Thank you for your provision of this food.  Please bless it so that it gives us strength and health to do your will.


It is possible to under-do prayer and it is possible to over-do prayer.  The lines will be different for different people.  Pray as if God is in the room beside you (because He is).  Don't make a scene, but be grateful in your words and sincere.  Simple substance is better than flowery emptiness in prayer.


Also believe the truth of God's ability to bless you.


Thursday, November 17, 2011


When you have trained yourself to be regularly disciplined with your body; it's hormonal changes, energy levels, and peculiar unsettling functions will be easier to ignore.  Rather than a burst of frustration and anger, you can remain steady (perhaps after an extra deep breath!).


So bodily training is of some value.  More for one person, less for another though.


Patience, self-control, and the joy in physical movement are just some fruit of the Spirit you can experience through regular exercise.


But don't be fooled into thinking that exercise will keep you from sin.  Sport can become an idol, or God can bring you a bigger challenge - in fact He most likely will.  As you grow stronger you will always find yourself weaker and consistently reminded of your reliance on God for strength and forgiveness.


At the very least you can honour the gift of your body by using it and stewarding it faithfully.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The first step in Spirit-filled health is to acknowledge that, no matter what you do, at the end of the day God is in control. 


If God designs sickness or injury into your life to test you, teach you, grow you; then that will happen no matter how disciplined your diet and exercise.


That doesn't mean that you shouldn't be a faithful steward of your own body, gifted to you by God.  You have worth as a being who is created in the image of your Maker.  Honour God in this and He will honour you. 



It is common occult practice to say a mantra (repeating a phrase or phrases) that alters the state of mind of the speaker.  Jesus warns of "vain repetitions" in prayer (heaping up empty phrases is the ESV wording).


Is there a link between some of our "worship" songs and these empty phrases?


If your mind is easily engaged in the song and your heart leaps for joy at our amazing God's glory and in thanks at the knowledge of His blessings; you are on safe ground and the Spirit is there.


If you have a hard time remembering what the song was about, and this is a regular thing, you are in the danger zone.  


There is a huge grey area here, but search your heart to make sure you are worshiping in Spirit and in truth as you sing.


Monday, November 14, 2011


After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, John Piper wrote a resource called "Don't Waste Your Cancer" (Free article of the same material here)


God's glory can be seen in everything that seems bad.  Sometimes the worse the situation, the more the glory.  


Endure for the sake of His glory.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Being Late

God models the way to make and keep agreements.  He says He will do something and He does it.


Do we aim to do the same?  Or perhaps our agreements with others are more "flexible".


They won't mind if I pay just a little less.  I can just call/message ahead to let them know I'll be late.  They'll understand if I don't show up.


You can see the work of the Spirit in a life that turns from chaos to order.  


Tidiness, punctuality, cleanliness, integrity in keeping your word.  Saying what you mean and communicating clearly, with an awareness of the future so that you don't muck others around.  Valuing their time and their humanity.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011


It is far easier to tell a lie than you might think.  If you were to take a careful look at your conversations you might be surprised at just how many you tell.


Lying can become such a habit that you don't even notice yourself doing it.


You can see the work of the Spirit in the person who once told lies, but now they will feel so terrible if they even embellish the truth a little.  In later steps of this part of the sanctification journey, this person will relax more as they don't need to guard their tongue quite so closely.  Honesty has become an instinct that will grow even stronger in the future.


How is this different from someone who is not a Christian but is honest to a fault?  It's a question of motivation.  God's glory versus man's pride in himself.  Or they are not as honest as they think.  Some people never have to transform in this way though, and that is just how God has made them.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011


It is wise to plan and it is wise to expect your plan to fail.  This is why we need to learn to be adaptable.


How do you respond when your plans fail, or when something unexpected and unwelcome occurs?


You can get angry, you can break down, you can ignore it and run.  You can be led by the Spirit and be patient, trusting in God for the strength and wisdom to make it through.  


Even so, spiritual planning prepares for the worst, trusts God for the best, and knows that in the end, even if all crumbles, all things still work for good for those who are in Christ.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Bible and Pretenders

It's hard to avoid the Bible if you have the Spirit working in you.


Some read it without the Spirit and can't help but focus on irrelevant details which suit their self-centered view of reality.  They expect the world to revolve around themself and their own desires.


When you read under the influence of the Spirit you will start with God, not self, and you will be changed.  When it is seen that all of creation revolves around God, the over-active sense of entitlement crumbles away.


Those without the Spirit are good pretenders though.  They like to fit in.  But if you watch carefully, they cannot escape their own nature.  They will still seek to reshape the Spirit-filled community around them rather than God.


Saturday, November 5, 2011


Observing teenagers can be painful.  


Teenagers are often unaware of just how much destruction they cause.  Until taught through regular, patient, guidance, they remain blind to their chaos causing ways.


There is danger in seeing this as being void of the Spirit.


Even through to adulthood, many remain untaught.  They can still share signs of the Spirit in other ways, but a lack of social maturity does not guarantee a lack of spiritual growth.


Leaders must be aware of the work of the Spirit and do their bit to help - not that God needs help in His work, but to better see it and praise Him for it while being faithful shepherds.  After all, one of the ways to learn social maturity is through discipleship and active mentoring.  God will use His Spirit in you to teach others maturity.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Getting there

In being a better person, changing into the image of Christ, there are two obvious considerations:

  1. What we want to become, and

  2. How to get there

Sometimes it's easy enough to see the perfect picture of Christ that we are aiming for, but it seems impossible to get there when it is so far away.


The way is through many small steps that add up over time.  In this, the Spirit works to make it happen.  Some give up before making any progress.


Until Jesus returns, you won't ever really get there.  Whether you make progress, or not... that is where you find the Spirit, or not...


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Conscience (or not)

Do we see the Spirit at work in our consciences? Perhaps. Perhaps not.


Your conscience can be trained with practise. Trained to ignore some things that shouldn't be ignored maybe. When our own wicked actions fail to produce sorrow, that is a well trained conscience... unfortunately.


Even if we are trained to hear our conscience we can still fail to act on it in the right way.


See the work of the Spirit in those who change over time in response to their conscience - becoming more like Christ.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Time and Decisions

Sometimes the Spirit is seen in patterns of decisions over a long period of time.


Sure, those flash-point decisions in the heat of the moment are important in our spiritual walk, e.g. taking a breath rather than exploding in anger.


And the decisions that you need to pray about over days, weeks, and months. How to deal with a conflict with a colleague at work perhaps.


But, there are some decisions that are established over years and decades. Contribution to a community of believers, faithful commitment to a spouse, and a lifestyle of repentance that sees you always willing to act on the promptings of a tender conscience.


An awareness of time can certainly help to see the Spirit and to motivate one to praise God.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cleaning and Tidying

Knowing that every little (and big) part of our life can be a reflection of the work of God in us, we should seek to be dedicated and disciplined in cleaning and tidying.  In this, others can see the work of the Spirit in your life.


Does it matter if you clean under the rug?  Nobody will see it either way.  God will see it, but more important is that He will see your heart and the reason why you did or didn't clean there.


Some people are just obsessive about cleanliness, and this can go way too far.  This isn't likely to be a fruit of the Spirit.


Desiring to do a job properly, to show the character of God in you, not showing off but wanting to show off God, a demonstration of character and not words.  This is how the Spirit works in cleaning and tidying.