Friday, December 30, 2011

Obeying God

Abraham obeyed God when he went to sacrifice his only son after God requested it.  Would we make a big gesture like this, to prove our devotion?


I don't think this is an ordinary situation, so I would doubt your sanity if you were to try to replicate this event today.  Big gestures are easy anyway.  Or easier.  


Giving your life to save someone else is fast and simple, even if it is a huge thing.  How much harder to obey God over the course of an entire life though?  How hard it is to obey when He says to love your neighbour, or not to covet!


Easier to give your life in a moment (when heaven awaits) than to struggle with obedience for 50+ years of a Christian life.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011


God, spouse, children, family, Christian friends, everyone else.


Priorities are determined by who you should listen too first.  If you get contradictory instructions/requests, listen to God first and then down the line.  Your Christian friends can't trump your family obligations but if your family is not Christian they might have to lose out to God's commands.


When do you make yourself a priority?  When you are able to fullfil less and less of the top priorities.  If you see yourself losing ability to serve, cut off one step completely and trust that God will take care of the gap you leave.  


Even if you have to leave your children to your wife, taking time out alone with God, this will be time well spent.


Friday, December 23, 2011

The personality excuse

It's just the way I am!  I can't help who God made me to be!


You are not called to excuse your behaviour.   If it is immoral, then change!  Nobody who is born again remains the same.  You can count on it.


Some personality traits are neither good nor bad.  Some cultural traits are neither good nor bad.  Some are clearly against God though.


First sort out the obvious one or two things that you carried over from your un-born-again life.  The rest will come in time as God's Spirit works on your heart.


Thursday, December 22, 2011


I've seen a lot of death this year, in real life as well as through media.  


This continues to challenge my faith.  Not so much in my biblically informed position, but in my ability to communicate that position to non-believers.


Are you able to speak to someone who has recently lost a loved one?  What about a loved one who is most likely in hell... for eternity...?


Here are three things of many that occur to me:

  1. You can't live if you're not prepared to die (or for loved ones to die), at least on some rational level - emotions will always surprise you...

  2. If your "philosophy" (I prefer theology) of death isn't robust it is unable to provide hope.

  3. God is ultimately in control of every death and His absolutely just judgement, along with mercy through Christ, is the foundation for any real hope of eternal life.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Are you prepared to fight for what is right?  To fight to do right?


Just when you think you're getting ahead of things, the world, the flesh, or the devil will rise up to wear you down.


Those old habits come back with a vengence, that person comes back into your life, and perhaps your prayer and discipline in godly habits may be lacking.


Will you fight?  Maybe, but will you fight now rather than leaving it till another day to enter the battle?  Do you have the Spirit of overcoming on your side?


Monday, December 19, 2011


What is the main lifestyle characteristic of a Christian?  An outside point of view might yeild a different answer from an inside point of view.


How about these: abundant joy, unshakable love, an abiding peace in times of trouble?


Yes, yes, and yes.  But so much depends on context - these things can be hard to see, even when they are there.


The Christian, in whom the Spirit works, will display an increasing level of personal morality.  With some inevitable ups and downs, but overall upward in direction.  


From the outside, people will be continually surprised at what lengths you go to to help others.  From the inside you are daily considering your weaknesses, trusting God for forgiveness of them, and praying for strength to overcome them.


Saturday, December 17, 2011


Do you value that person in your life who seems to know just the right thing to say or gives the right piece of advice at the right time?  Do you value that person who seems to have their life in order and responds to tricky circumstances in a way that always seems to work out?


Wisdom is not merely knowledge, and not merely knowledge of how to apply knowledge either.  


True wisdom requires spiritual "unction" to make that application happen.  This is why wisdom is a spiritual gift and a spiritual growth in every Christian (at least in some measure).


This is why we are to "get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (wisdom and understanding are parallel in this proverb)



Friday, December 16, 2011


The world won't stop without you.  You can trust God to fill in the gaps left by your presence.


Does your ministry (personal or professional) demand a lot of your time?  What happens when you get sick, or need an unplanned break?


God doesn't need you to keep the universe ticking over.  While our lives never stop, and our growth in Christ continues every moment, sometimes our rest is a part of the bigger action.


Learning to rest, learning to show the world that you do trust God with what you can't do.  Knowing that anyone else could do your work, if God wills it.


Enjoy your holiday breaks to the glory of God.


Monday, December 12, 2011


Do you acknowledge your wicked deeds?  or do you attempt to justify your actions?


You can pass the blame onto someone else or onto circumstances that you feel are beyond your control.  You can say, "It's not really that bad!" and then forget about what you have done.


Or, you can take full responsibility for your actions, "Yes, I did it.  Yes, I deserve hell for it.  Lord, help me not to do it again!"


God loves to honour prayers like that!  He will justify you through Christ and give you the strength to repent.


Sunday, December 11, 2011


What does it even mean to be meek?  Meek rhymes with weak, but someone can be both strong and meek!


Restrained strength.  Knowing that you are right, but deliberately failing to assert your dominance.  If this is meek, why would Jesus ever claim that it is good to act this way?


Have you ever been in an argument where you knew you were in the right - the other side being either too stubborn to admit, or simply couldn't understand?  Rather than escalating so that you can prove yourself right, or even so that you can receive the justice due to you, giving up the argument and trusting in God - that is meekness.


Sometimes it is suffering as Jesus did, like a silent lamb to the slaughter.  Sometimes it is letting the other person have the last say.  Restrained strength, a virtue, trusting God for deliverance or justice.



Not toward God but toward man.


How do you deal with praise given to you?  Does it puff you up or can you remain humble?  It can be very hard to react rightly.


Knowing that all gifts come from God, including the ability to be disciplined and dedicated to a long and difficult task; this is a good start to remaining humble.


Knowing that, "but for the grace of God" I too would be swallowed in sinful self-indulgence and destruction - that knowledge continues to keep one humble and forgiving of others.



Being able to see the long-term consequences of honesty.  That is a spiritual development which is rare.


Make someone feel better with an untruth, a "white" lie, when what they really need to hear will set them up for future success.


"I'm sorry my love, but you are not gifted in that area.  I think you should try something else and then come back to it in a year or two if you still feel that is where you are called."


"That's great.  You certainly put a lot of effort in..."  Setting them up for years of lost time and loss of perspective of their own worth in this area... 


I know which I would rather hear.  God's people will thrive in the truth, and through this they will glorify Him.  That is a worthy motive for honesty that hurts.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Prayer versus Vain Repetition

Like everything we do, our minds should be engaged in prayer.  More in prayer because we are speaking to the God who created the entire universe.  The God who holds the power of life and death, salvation and damnation.


Would you waste the time of an earthly ruler?  How much more should you consider your words to be pleasing to God who puts those rulers in their position.


He already knows every thought you ever had, so why do you even need to use a lot of fancy words?  If you are troubled, pray for help and let your heart cry out with the great emotion you feel which is beyond verbal expression.


Guard your mouth and let the words you speak, to others or in prayer, be pleasing to God.





Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Loving your enemies

Mercy is one thing, but can you find it in yourself to actively love someone who hates you or wants to hurt you?


Jesus was clear about this.  He has given us a command to love our enemies.  


The Spirit gives God's people the strength to love when love seems impossible.  It even seems as though God deliberately uses such foolishness to save sinners.


You can read accounts of those who loved their enemies while being killed for Christ in Fox's Book of Martyrs.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011


In a sense, there is nothing natural about the "natural" world.


The universe wouldn't exist if it was left up to nature to bring it into existence.  This would be like the universe causing itself to exist before it had existed...


The "super-natural" hand of God was required.  He spoke, and then all of creation was brought into existence.  Within creation you can find much to move you to praise and worship.


The sky: vast, clear, powder-blue, stretching into infinity on a cool, crisp winter morning.  That's what stirs in me an awareness of the holiness and awesomeness of God.  Do you hear His glory declared in this?



Monday, December 5, 2011


What happens in your mind, in your heart, when the authority of God's Word is challenged?


Evolution versus the Genesis account of creation, abortion versus pro-life, homosexual "marriage", miracles, etc...


While doubting is normal, long-term spiritual growth sees an enduring confidence in God that cannot be shaken.  Submitting to His Word when seeking truth, trusting that what He has said is true.  


Trusting that our understanding of His Word, or our understanding of the evidence against it, is what is lacking.  Trusting that diligent study will eventually reveal the truth, that your faith is not misplaced, that the reasons He has previously given to trust Him are not made void.


Submission in this way takes years.  Be prepared.



Sunday, December 4, 2011


As years pass we return again to the same lessons and kick ourselves for forgetting.


When times are low, and it feels like sin is overwhelming once again; it sometimes takes a while to remember to seek comfort in the words from God, His promises to us.  


We finally remember to open the Bible, or submit in prayer, searching for peace.  Then we realise just how wonderful these words of wisdom or hope are.  Then we wonder how we could ever forget.


As new challenges in life are faced, we must apply ourselves to the basics of The Faith once again.  Hopefully it takes less and less time to realise where our assurance can be found.


Thursday, December 1, 2011


A display of mercy can be a spiritual thing.  Even something as simple as forgiving that driver who cut you off in their car.


Wisdom says that you have, or will, make mistakes of a similar kind.  But you should forgive because you have been forgiven.


Can you control your temper?  Can you take a deep breath and forgive?  Can you learn to make forgiveness a habit?