Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On a person's bookshelf

Sometimes you can see the work of the spirit in a person's bookshelf.

Perhaps in the way they now organize their books, perhaps in the most recent additions to their collection.

Certain authors hold absolutely no interest for those in whom the Spirit works, and other authors are of no interest for those who are void of the Spirit.

If you see a Carson, a Lloyd-Jones, a Sproul, a Keller, a Piper, and perhaps one day even a Hight, there you will find a bookshelf owner in whom God works to demonstrate His glory!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Struggle for Assurance

At some point on your journey in Christianity, you may come face to face with the possibility that you are not as 'saved' as you thought you were.  I thoroughly recommend this experience. Seriously.

Not everyone who follows Christ will find an agonising experience in working out their state of salvation, but everyone who is saved should consider this at some point (Philippians 2:12, 2Corinthians 13:5).  It is how you respond to this challenge to your 'faith' which speaks the most about your spiritual condition.

Some will shrug off these feelings casually, or by the power of their will ignore them.  Others will not be able to rest until they have an answer; and if it is nay, they will not rest until they have found salvation.

If you are struggling with assurance that you are Christ's and he is yours, take the time to pray to God for help.  Then reflect on your walk so far, and consider what the scriptures say about those who are saved.  The book of 1 John was written for this purpose, for you to know the truth of your position.  Read it, and search the scriptures ceaselessly, until you have an abiding assurance.

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." - 1 John 5:13

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Outward and the Inward Person

The spiritual person is not different on the inside compared to the outside. The actions they do come forth from their changed being who resides within.

Whether you call this inner being the heart or the mind, it can be identified by your thoughts. Do your thoughts run to hate, but outwardly you practice kindness and love? Are your eyes drawn to lust and your mind entertains impure thoughts, but you would never act on your fantasies?

God knows your heart, your mind, and he can see your thoughts and intentions as easily as you can read these words. Easier even. He can see when your outward actions are really just a cover for the rot that resides within.

Strive for purity of mind and heart as well as purity of deed. Nothing can be hidden from your King, and nothing should be. He is the one to confess to and to seek help to improve. Seek Him in the privacy of your mind so that your heart and mind are redeemed by displacing the sin that you might find.

"Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king, nor in your bedroom curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter." - Ecclesiastes 10:20

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Accountability and Humility

For a long time I thought that accountability practices were a waste of time.  Who needs an accountability partner when we should all be accountable to God?  After all, you can lie to an accountability partner but you can't lie to God, and God is more forgiving than any accountability partner could ever be!


While I still agree that it is good to be so aware of God's presence in your life that you don't want to sin because to do so would be to sin in His sight; it is a misunderstanding of the purpose of accountability to take this view.  It's also not very humble, because it assumes that you can actually manage to keep this ideal all the time, and that you know your own heart well enough to keep it under control.


Here's a few points for considering accountability: 

  1. You're not perfect, and you can't always see your own mistakes, so someone looking in from the outside can be a help to you.  They can see where you are blind.  Scary though this is, if it's done with trust, you can only become a better person.

  2. Accountability is not about "checking up" on each other, but about building one another up.  Instead of approaching it as a way to list your sins to each other, leading to negative reinforcement of that behaviour, approach it as a strategy development session on how to better overcome sin and its power over you.  Avoid grading yourself which is an end-point summary, and discuss your implementation of strategy with a view to improve instead - that is a life-long ongoing process.

  3. It will be hard, because you are facing your darkest self and opening that up to another, but it is worth the effort.

  4. Marriage should be the ultimate accountability that you have with another person.  It is the most open relationship that you can ever have, excepting that which you have with God.

  5. Different groups which you associate with will be able to feed back to you different information about yourself.  This means that you shouldn't limit accountability to just one relationship.  In fact, every relationship and human interaction carries a measure of feedback to inform us how to improve.  If we watch those around us, and gauge their reaction to us, we will never be short of information to act and improve ourselves with.


And remember, it's all about God's glory.  If we fail to be the best that we can be, if we fail to use accountability relationships, then we fail to do our part to improve ourselves to the glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord - the One who we represent on earth.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What does it mean to prosper as a Christian?

Psalm One mentions that the Christian is someone who will prosper in all that he does.  What does this mean?  Does this mean that the Christian should be rich, with money to spare, not a financial care in the world?


Clearly not, otherwise many New Testament saints would have done much better than they did.  Paul the Apostle describes the poor saints in Jerusalem who required charity.  This did not make these, who were less physically prosperous, any less Christians.


So what does the scripture mean when it speaks of the Christian prospering in this psalm?  Well, just to confuse the issue a little, I don't think that financial prosperity is ruled out.  Whatever the Christian puts his hand to, this he will prosper at.  Consider the second verse of the psalm: "his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night".  With such wisdom behind his decisions, no man shall fail to succeed at whatever he puts his hand to doing.  Indeed, whatever he puts his hand to doing will be a wise choice, matching his God-given strengths and gifts.


Whether it be bringing up children as godly, financial planning for future security of your family, teaching young adults a reasoned view for the existence of God, or caring for your elderly parents; all of these things will propser at your hand.  If, that is, you seek God's wisdom and His will.  


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Don't do it alone! (You can't anyway)

"Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain" - Psalm 127:1


Whatever you set out to do, whatever you set out to achieve, whatever you aim to accomplish - it will be a vain effort unless God is with you.


Two reasons why this is so:

Firstly, God is the power behind everything - supporting and upholding it. He is in control of the many interactions and "chance" factors which could cause it to remain strong or to tumble, brokenly. If He doesn't provide for something to happen, it won't happen.

Secondly, God's will is absolute. If you go against His will then you will fail. That's not really in this text, but it is true of any endeavour we set out upon.


What does that mean for the Christian who seeks to be spiritual in everything they do? It means they will seek God's will in everything - learning the scriptures diligently, and reflecting on their life's experiences to interpret those experiences through God's words. It means that everything they do will be attempted under the cover of much prayer for God's help, both in wisdom of decisions and in upholding and producing the fruit of any effort.


If you are leading a family, you will lead in vain unless you seek God's will for your family and ask Him to make your choices and efforts fruitful. Business owners, students, mothers, teachers, pastors, missionaries, politicians, doctors, nations, governments... all need Him.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Does God need to be worshipped?

Of course not.  God doesn't need anything outside of Himself.  He provides everything that He requires in His very being.


That isn't to say that you don't need to worship Him...


See what's happening with these two ways of looking at the need to/for worship? One is God's need, and He doesn't need anything because He provides all that He "needs" in Himself. That could be very contradictory if you take it the wrong way, but that's not the focus of what I'm saying.


The other is your need. If you don't worship God, then you are broken, fallen, unredeemed, unregenerate. You really need to learn to worship God. If you can do so, it will fix you, raise you, redeem you, and regenerate you. You will become a new creation in Christ. Someone who has seen something of God and can't help but share that glorious sight and change yourself to become like it (at least in part). That is worship, and an encounter with God is necessary.


If you can't worship, ask God to reveal Himself to you, that you might speak of the wonderful things He has done for you.


Friday, May 25, 2012

What form does your hope take?

There are two ways to look at hope:

  1. A worldly hope which is based on a desire alone

  2. A Christian hope which is based on the promises of One who can deliver


The first looks like this: You see the "cool things" in the world, or you see people who are better off (financially, health-wise, suffering less) and you really want what they have.  You think about it all the time and you believe that you would enjoy life more if you had what they have.  You might buy a lottery ticket in the hope that you could win money and solve many of these problems.  You might even work long hours, sacrificing much, in order to get ahead and achieve what you hope for.


The second looks like this: You see the "cool things" and those who are better off, but these things are not your main desire.  What you want is to be free from yourself, and the sinfulness and weakness in your flesh which drags you down.  You want your children to grow up to be wise.  You would like good (physical) things for your family but you realise that these things are not the be-all-and-end-all, that you can work hard and still not guarantee the acquisition of these things.  Instead, you trust God to give you all that you require, and if he chooses to give you little now it is still more than you deserve.  In the long run, God will grant you eternal life, filled with everlasting joy in the presence of the Lord, because you trust in Him to save you.  for now, you hope to faithfully represent your God, becoming closer in nature to Christ, your saviour.


The second is trusting on One who has all of the power to deliver exactly what you need to achieve everything that you should hope for... and more!  If God can make a universe, He can grant me all that I hope in Him for.  If you trust in yourself, your hope is empty.


"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." - Psalm 121:1-2

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What makes you rejoice?

What makes you unexpectedly excited and spontaneously explodes you with happiness?  The things which have this effect in you are a good indicator of whether you are a Christian or whether you are fooling yourself (or pretending for the eyes of others).


If you never find yourself excited about a loved one making the right moral decision, or their growth in personal discipline and contemplation of godly matters, then you clearly don't consider these things important.


Are you more excited when the latest gadget is released? Or do your worldly concerns overpower and you want a pay rise to end your financial struggles more than you want to see your children learning to look to God for help?


Do you constantly seek God?


Yet, it is a journey of formation - your sanctification. If you find these things hard to get excited about, but you want to be excited about them, then ask God who gives all things to us through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What must a person do to be saved?

Depending on how you look at it, there could be two ways to answer this question.


If you look at it from a theological point of view, removed of human passions and emotions, focused solely on what is happening at the moment of conversion, then you might answer as follows:

"Nothing. A person can't actually do anything to be saved. God causes a person to be born again. Nothing a person does can contribute to that. Even faith is a gift from God."


If you look at it from a more personal, front-line, emotional, practical, point of view, then you might say something like this:

"If you have heard the gospel, the proper response is to believe it in faith and to turn away from doing and thinking the things which you know are wrong.  You must now live in the way that you know Jesus would want you to live. Copy him and live for him."


These are both correct responses, but we can get caught up trying to be either too practical or too theological. We must remember that a new believer will likely struggle with the deep theological significance of what is happening to them. For them, they need a simple call to action as Jesus demonstrated:

"Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” " - Mark 1:14-15

Yet at other times, a theological focus is needed, as Paul demonstrates with his letter to the Ephesians:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. " - Ephesians 2:8-9


As always, what has actually happened is that a person has been born again by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Their faith and actions of repentance are the fruit of the new creation that they have become.  Yet it is a truth that Christians need to be called to both faith and repentance, at times.  This is an important role of the community of believers in building one another up in Christ, to his glory.


Friday, May 4, 2012

How was Christ revealed to you?

"What do you mean by this question of how Jesus was revealed to me?" you might ask.

I am talking about the point in your life when Christ and his work became real for you. The time when it actually started having an effect on your attitude and character development. The time when you were born again.

The Apostle Paul was fortunate enough to have Christ revealed to him by Jesus himself, knocking him from his horse and speaking to him directly. This was definately a special case and is not to be considered typical for the average Christian. Paul's special ministry needed special revelation.

Jesus said that he would send the Holy Spirit and that the Spirit would bear witness of him. Bearing witness means that the Spirit brings conviction that what you read about in the Bible of the life of Christ, that these things are true. This leads to faith in the person of Christ.

This is the revelation that is given to every Christian, to know the truth about Christ. Whatever the circumstances of your conversion, no matter how great or simple the events that lead to it, the Spirit was there and was working to open your heart to understand and believe the gospel.

How amazing it is to know that God Himself has spoken directly to you, and worked directly within you, to reveal His Son to you. Praise his glorious name!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Future

Do you worry about the future? If so, how much do you worry? What is an unhealthy amount to be focused on the trials which will inevitably come?

It is certainly not a bad thing to consider the future. After all, you must plan ahead to be an effective leader and contributor to your family and community of believers. You can't help but consider the future when you think about dealing with your own death, avoiding unnecessary conflict, or learning what triggers your sinful habits.

There is a sense in which we need to consider the future every day. If we sin every day, or at least face temptation every day, or need anything at all everyday, then we must pray for God's help every day. This is looking to the future wisely.

The wrong way to look at the future is when you lose heart at the things that you will battle. When you look ahead and see the sin to come (and it is likely you will regularly sin until the day you die - not habitually though), and if this looking ahead produces despair or robs you of your trust in Christ, then there is something wrong.

We serve a great God who is sovereign over all things, including the future. He has the power to get you through and to ensure that you do not face anything stronger than you are able to bear. Your visions of the future should be tempered with this knowledge, allowing you to walk in the joy of faith in Christ your deliverer.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What matters the most?

Good works can have ulterior motives and will always be tainted by our fallen flesh in this life. This makes them not-good.

Actions that are wrong, despite the best of intentions, are always wrong. Failure to act with appropriate guidance or wisdom.

So if our intentions are not enough, if our good deeds are flawed also, what really matters when we are trying to be saved or trying to be spiritual?

Trying is the problem. It is God's work, not ours. The most important thing is that God has done something in your life - that He has made you into a new being and that you are now born again by the work of the Spirit!

Such a thing is a major action by God. If you haven't seen evidence of a major change, in keeping with this major action by God, then there is trouble... Either you are not really a Christian, you lack assurance, or you are so unobservant of the glory of God in your life that you should be afraid of how you will face your Lord when it is your turn to stand before Him.

Make sure of it: that you understand the work of the Lord in you being born again. Speak of His glory!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Golden Rule

"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." - Matthew 7:12


One thing this passage does not say is that you should do to others what they do to you.  It might seem at a rough glance that this is exactly what is being said, but not if we look closely.


An example:  A friend hits you in the face, knocking you down, and steals your wallet.  Should you do the same to him before he can hit you?  Apart from the obvious problem of not knowing what others are going to do to you in advance, it is easy to see that this is how violence escalates and society crumbles.  What if everyone started harming others and taking what they wanted because they expected others to do the same to them?


The Golden rule says to do to others what you want others to do to you.  If you want gifts given to you then you should give to others first.  If you want others to speak nicely to you, you should be aware of your words toward them first, ensuring that you speak positively.


If you were ignorant of the truth, would you want others to share with you the good news of everlasting life through the Lord Jesus Christ?  Well then...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Compartment Syndrome

Compartment syndrome is a blood circulation problem where the part of the body (compartment) affected has severely reduced circulation, potentially leading to the death of that part.  Depending how we look at it, this can provide a positive and a negative analogy for the Christian faith.


Negatively: If we compartmentalise our faith, reducing it to influencing only one part of our life, then it is likely to die.  A doomed faith.  This is because our faith must be applied in all of our life, and there is a certain feedback from the faith-life interaction which stimulates our faith to grow further.  Real life provides challenges to our faith which will make that faith stronger when we face them head on: questions of doctrine and evolution, difficult circumstances, happy times when we rely less on God for help...


Positively: If we cut off the circulation to the parts of our life which don't fit in with our faith, the parts which are sinful, sinful, sinful - then we can kill them off.  Remove the sinful bits by starving them of fuel.  Plucking out our eyes which cause us to sin (metaphorically) by not setting any evil thing before us to view.


On an ever-so-slightly related note, you should check out the audio resources of one of the greatest preachers of the only great God: Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones 

See if you can guess the link between the good Doctor and the rest of this post!  Answers in the comments.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Should you be surprised at the depravity of the world?

As a spiritual Christian, no, you shouldn't.  But why not?  Here are two good reasons:


Firstly, because the bible is clear that mankind is fallen and corrupt.  Our evil natures are illustrated over and over again in scripture.  If you are familiar with even a few of the vile deeds recorded from history via God's word, it should come as no surprise when you see it today.


Second, because you should know yourself.  Your dark self.  You have come from depravity and into the light.  If you don't think you are (or have been) capable of such depths of depravity as you witness in the world, then you haven't reflected on your sin nature, your old self, as much as you should have.  


Now, that is not to say that you will not be offended and shocked in a sense.  Your walk with God sees you moving further and further away from your old life and closer and closer to the beauty of Christ.  When cold, dark reality appears and sucks away the warmth of your contemplation of Christ, it will be like cold water on your face.


And, lest you believe yourself better than others who seem more sinful, it always does good to remember that: "but for the grace of God, that would be you."  


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Knowing versus Applying

Anyone can "know" the facts.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience...

Anyone can speak the gospel.  Jesus died on the cross for the sin of the world; trust in him to take the punishment for you and turn from sin...

Anyone can quote the bible.  "God is love"


But not everyone can believe this knowledge in their heart and live it.  It's just not "real" to everyone and it just doesn't matter enough to everyone.  These people might even try to apply this knowledge but they just can't because they lack the power of the Holy Spirit.


Thank God if you are saved and pray earnestly for those who are not.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Do you aim to please people or God?

Or maybe a bit of both, but where you start (pleasing God before people or people before God) is important.  When it comes right down to it, if you will bow to the expectations of other people instead of doing what you know will please God, that's really bad.  It's not a good sign for you and it is doubtful that you are really a Christian.


It's good to want to please people, to serve them, to help them.  But what if they want you to do something bad?  Fit into the crowd, go along with the church leaders on pressure tactics for tithing strategy, buy some alcohol for underage drinkers, share that juicy piece of gossip, watch that dodgy TV show...  These things are not pleasing to God and you are compromising your witness to unbelievers by associating with them.


If you start your day praying something like the words below, you will have God behind you and you will be reminded of your number one priority for the day: Glorify your Saviour and Maker.  But remember that the fallen human is tricky too.  Check your motives because you might just try to get people against you so that a different group of people will see you being "persecuted" for the faith.  This is a different side of people pleasing which is just as evil.  Your motivation for any people pleasing should be love, and in this you will be pleasing God (if you love Him first).


"Lord, help me to keep my mind on you and your will.  Help me to please you this day by walking in your ways.  May my walk be a witness to your Glory and may I catch myself if I act to please people in a way that compromises my main purpose of sharing your glory.  Help me to believe that this is important and not just pray it so that I can say I prayed it.  Amen"


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Before and After: There will be obvious change

Someone loses a heap of weight, someone else begins a new exercise regime, another goes into rehab for drug and alcohol abuse.  These are all good changes to make in your life but they don't guarantee a spiritual change that comes with salvation.


Don't get me wrong, there will be obvious change.  The things I've mentioned above may be a part of that, symptoms if you like, but the change is not the individual actions so much as the attitude that leads to continual change for the better in the spiritual person's life.  


A percentage of people who pick up a self-help book will change as I described above.  The Christian difference is that it is not self-help, it is God-help.  He initiates it, He sustains it, He makes it happen and go on happening until you die or Jesus returns.


The obvious change will always include love.  And not the selfish love that is prevalent in single adults who sacrifice all of the great blessings of God to shape themselves after the latest self-help guru.  Spiritual love will embrace God's blessings (which often come as challenges) and will sacrifice selfishness to be changed by the Spirit.


Look for it and you will see it.  If it's not where you look, it is doubtful that the Spirit (and salvation) is present...


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Appreciate your suffering and trials

It's clear that the Christian will encounter difficult times in his or her life.  How we face these times, our attitude, is vital.


One person will shrink back, reluctant to feel the pain, or reluctant to be challenged in an uncomfortable manner.  Some trials involve the revealing of personal sin or character defects.  Nobody wants to face these really.  This sort of pain is far worse than physical suffering, which is why it is harder to submit to.


Another person will realise that such exposure is unavoidable - God sees all of your defects anyway.  This person will not only realise this obvious truth, but they will also embrace it, and the pain in confronting them self, so that they might overcome their flaws and grow to be a better person in Christ.  They will also approach trials and suffering as a chance to learn more about them self, again opening to see the reality about them self.


The Christian's path is always upward.  They don't seek pain and suffering for fun, but they do hope to change for the better every day, bringing glory to their Saviour.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Listening to others, really listening

There are two types of listeners.  They can be described in several different ways:


Those who listen, and those who really listen (properly)

Those who listen to themselves only, and those who listen to others

Those who love themselves, and those who love others

Those who wear you out, and those who build you up

Those who don't change much, and those who learn and grow and develop

Those who are selfish, and those who are selfless


In practice, we are all a bit of both types.  Some are more at one end of things than others but we all have room to improve.  I have three questions for you:

  1. Can you see how all of these things relate to being a good listener, and loving your neighbour?

  2. At which end of the spectrum do you want to be? (or, which is the more spiritual end?)

  3. Is the amount that you really listen to God (properly) reflected in how you listen to others?


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Worship God how He wants (not how you want)

Really, for the spiritual Christian, their desires line up with God's desires.  This means that they will want to worship how God wants them to worship.


But it's worth highlighting that there are many who would worship God in their own way.  I don't mean in an individual way, which of course we will do.  I mean that some prefer certain rituals, songs, candles, locations, etc.


This misses the point on a number of levels.  First, they fail to realise that worship is not an event that you schedule into your week.  Worship is an entire lifestyle with every decision reflecting the love that you have for your Saviour.  Second, for those who doggedly insist that these rituals are needed to get into the right frame of mind, they often are the same people who misunderstand what it means to be spiritual (to worship in the "spirit" part of worshipping in spirit and in truth).


The truth part is the truth about who God is, as revealed in his Word (the bible).  The spirit part is nothing to do with a demonstration of the gifts of the spirit.  The spirit part is the spiritual lifestyle modelled after Christ and showing much fruit of the spirit.  In these two things is the knowledge of how to worship God as He wants.  Don't be led astray from the simple, but hard to walk in, truth.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Incline your ear, O LORD... Psalm 86

The spiritual Christian (and which Christian isn't?) will think about scripture enough to notice some strange things.  Here's an example from Psalm 86 verse 1 which reads:

"Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy."


We know that God is everywhere and that nothing at all escapes his observation, right down to our thoughts and intentions (which are often hidden from ourselves even).  So why then does he need to incline his ear, as though he is not listening always?


The answer is that he doesn't really need to incline his ear because it is already inclined.  God cannot un-incline his observation.  Instead, this is the psalmist (David) calling out from a human perspective.  He is really just asking that his prayer be heard and responded to.  He is calling on God to make his closeness felt to David.


God hears us, without a doubt.  God also loves us to draw near to him, not as if we can actually get closer to him physically (or he to us), but to incline our hearts to him in adoration of his majesty.  Sometimes we need to draw closer to God in our lives and sometimes we need him to make his closeness felt to us.  But never forget that he is already with you in all of his infinite greatness, and that no thought of a stray prayer will ever escape his notice.  


God is the perfect parent to His children - always there when they need him, and we are always in need of him.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Emotion vs(?) Reason: What is love? What is faith?

How does your faith survive when you don't feel it?  During these times are you no longer a Christian?  Do you have to feel it to really be saved?  How does this parallel marriage, and how marriages seem to end when the love evaporates?


There is a huge misconception running rampant in the world today.  It's about love.  Underneath this is the surprising assumption that we deserve to be loved.  Do we really?  And how do we love God?


People get divorced because they don't feel the love any more.  But this misses the essential aspect of love that is shared by the Christian faith towards God: "Commitment".  Love for a spouse requires commitment, even when you don't feel the pleasant feelings of love.  Love for God requires a commitment to the mental assertion that God exists and that He is who He says He is.  The feelings may come and go, but they follow the commitment.


So do we deserve to be loved?  If you properly understand the nature of sinful, fallen man then the only answer can be, "No way do we deserve this!" But knowing that you don't deserve to love or be loved should make your gratitude for love, and commitment to love, much stronger, so that it survives the lack of supportive emotion.


And there is no excuse for your marriage to fail due to a lack of love unless you have failed to love through commitment.  Likewise your faith.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Details awareness (again)

You can't consider details enough. Whether it's the finer points of scripture reporting attributes of God, aspects of your life which require long term strategy to sanctify, or details of your conversation technique of which even a momentary slip up can have eternal consequences. All of these details are important beyond our understanding.


Realise this though: you don't need to get it perfect for God to accomplish his will. He will ensure the outcome so relax just enough to maintain your sanity!


The process of becoming aware of details leads to the process of becoming better at controlling those aspects noticed. It takes years but is rewarding beyond all expectation.


It must also be noted that your success in this is dependent on the work of the Spirit in you. So pray for help and never stop.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Will you read carefully? (The devil is in the details)

Some people prefer to listen to the bible rather than read it.  Is this wrong?  I don't think so.  Many Christians through history did not have the written word but instead passed scripture along via word of mouth, or by listening to it from a priest.  


When the printing press came along it became easier to have a copy of the text.  The advantage of this is accuracy.  Instead of the potential for the word to degrade (like in a game of Chinese Whispers) there was a fixed and fair copy to refer to if there was any doubt over the words or meaning.


So what's important is actually detail.  Whether we listen to the Word or read the Word, we need to make sure that we are getting an accurate version into us.  It doesn't stop there though.  Where the details matter most is in how you engage with the text.  There is no point in having such a wonderful and perfect copy of the bible coming into your ears or eyes if you don't stop to notice the details of what God has to say to you.


The phrase "The devil is in the details" means that the catch, clause, or part that everything hangs on, is in the finer points.  In our case, the Devil can catch us out if we miss the important details.  So I urge you to engage your mind as you listen or read.  The spiritual person sees the importance of every word of God and will strive to conform their life to every detail.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Who is really spiritual? (When it comes right down to it)

We are called to examine ourselves to see whether we are really Christians.  Not every who calls Jesus Lord is a Christian.  Not even everyone who thinks they are a Christian is one.  That is one very important thing to remember.


Another thing to remember is that we are expected to carefully judge whether those close to us are really Christians (and encourage them to examine themselves if we think they might not be - but do it gracefully)


But... when it comes to the crunch, we can't tell whether someone who professes faith in a biblical Christ is definitely not saved.  It is not for us to judge (in ultimate terms anyway).  We can still refuse Christian fellowship with someone who is professes faith though they are unrepentant, but it is not our place to say definitively that they are not saved.


Only God can separate the wheat from the chaff.  The difference between wheat and chaff is the heart and intentions.  Even someone who appears totally outwardly spiritual could be a clever wolf or an empty piece of chaff, hiding alongside the true wheat.


Leave ultimate judgement up to God, but be wise with your decisions.  Especially about who you let to teach other believers.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In a group of people (some churches even)

It's not just in individual people, but in groups of people that the Spirit works at times.  While the coming of the Holy Spirit was a unique occasion in church history, that doesn't mean that He won't come again in such a way, if God wills.  But that side is not what we are discussing here.  And, to a large extent, signs and wonders and amazing external gifts don't even matter since Satan can cause lying signs in these last days.


Whether these external "gifts" are present and on display or not, if the fruit of the Spirit is not evident in a gathering of professing believers, then it is doubtful whether God is in their midst.


The corporate expression (the whole group as seen together) is just as important a testimony and display of God's glory.  The church should consistently demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in their dealings with each other and with the outside world.


One is easy to explain away, but when a non-believer comes face to face with many Christians who continually surprise him because of their holy character, that is an effective lifestyle that can lead someone to Christ.  They will often say that Christian values are good, even if they reject the God who causes those values to be displayed.  But either way, God is glorified!  Pray that they acknowledge the God behind the work.


Monday, February 27, 2012

An obvious point

It is stating the obvious, but sometimes we forget the obvious and this leads to disaster:  God exists and the spiritual Christian must believe this.  I don't mean that you just say it, believe it, then whammo! you're spiritual.  No, not at all.  I mean that for someone to be spiritual they will believe this. 


The belief is an outward sign of an inward work of the Spirit.  It doesn't work the other way, i.e. that a person's belief draws the Spirit into them.  Trust me it's an important distinction.


It is the difference between you getting the glory for your salvation, and God getting the glory for your salvation.  When you know that you would be like the fool who says that God doesn't exist, except that God has opened your eyes to see, then you can be both thankful towards God and gracious towards those that remain fools.


God cares about every detail.  He wants you to have a clear understanding of what you believe.  He wants you to know Him better every day.  So don't miss the obvious things.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Accidentally" helping others

Have you ever been reminded of something nice that you've done for someone else?  Something where you really went out of your way to help them, but on being reminded of your deed you are surprised and amazed (in a nice way) that you did this?  


This is a pattern of behaviour that is entirely spiritual.  Regularly doing things for people when you are able, even if it means doing so at great personal cost to yourself.  It could be time, money, mental energy, or something else that you have contributed.  The main thing is that you have done this and then forgotten about it when other people might have stood taller and been proud of their sacrifice.


Jesus says that you shouldn't even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (when giving to the needy), which is to say that you don't even talk to yourself about what a great person you are.  Instead you forget what you've done because giving becomes second nature, an unconscious act, and you give so much of yourself that you can't keep track of it all.  That is where the Spirit is.


“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. - Matthew 6:2-4


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Can you see the spiritual person in Psalm One?

Psalm 1 (ESV)

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.


You can listen to an old sermon I preached on this Psalm here (hosted on Google Docs)


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Even in prayer you must watch carefully

The spiritual man knows that he must watch out for himself because the remains of his sinful nature will rise up at even the most holy of times.


Satan works in the presence of God (Job 1:6-12) so why would we think that we can avoid his influence when in prayer?  


It is during this time when we might be the most likely to let our guard down and forget to observe ourselves for signs of self-worship.  "Not me!" you might cry, but do you not find that your prayers become a matter of boasting, or a message to others who are praying with you, or a point of satisfaction when you have finished that you have prayed for the day and can now feel good about yourself?


The prayer of the spiritual man seeks much help from God because he knows that he is prone to doing it wrong, with his mind on himself much easier than his mind on God.  Every moment of mental space throughout the day can be used to consider the majesty of God, and then when prayer is begun, this sense of His glory will help to forget yourself.  


God help us to be better children in communion with You!


Monday, February 20, 2012

God is everywhere

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
     If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! - Psalm 139:7-8


No matter where you go, God is there.  For anything to exist He actively makes it exist so that all He has to do for it to cease to exist is to take His presence from that thing.  You truly cannot escape His observation of you.


Not only that, but God knows your thoughts.  Every one of them.  And even more, He knows your intentions in everything.  We don't even know our own intentions a lot of the time.


The difference between the spiritual man and the man who does not have the Spirit is this: One lives with his life shaped by the knowledge that God is everywhere and one does not.  If you lived with the knowledge that every evil thought and deed you had was laid bare before God, would you find yourself more actively trying to please Him by avoiding more evil than you do?


You're Everywhere (song on You Tube) by Third Day:


Sunday, February 19, 2012


Every day should be devoted to growing.  Becoming stronger and better.  The spiritual Christian will grow, and grow, and grow.


How will they grow?  Not necessarily in an obvious outward manner, visible for all to see.  But definitely in an inward manner, visible for God to see.


When you take a look at the fruit of the Spirit, they are more about the inward attitude and character of a person than they are about what a person does.  Isn't it true that two different people can perform the exact same action, but only one of them is loving when they do it?  The other being spiteful or throwing their good deed in your face...


Even further, the spiritual person will love far beyond what a natural person could ever hope to reach.  Take a look at those who have ever helped you out consistently, at great cost to themselves, and see a spiritual Christian.  This sort of person impresses even the hard to impress skeptic, and very often they don't even realise just how much they have given.  That is a level of growth which requires the Spirit to achieve!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Are you a peacemaker?

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God - Matthew 5:9


The opposite of making peace is adding fuel to the fire of conflict.  Do you do this?


Maybe you justify an ungraceful comment by saying that you are just standing up for yourself.  Or maybe that person needs to be taught a lesson.  Or maybe you didn't think and you just reacted.  Either way, if you find yourself regularly at the center of a heated conflict, trying to justify yourself to others over and over again, then you need to consider whether you really have the Spirit of God in you.


The peacemaker is willing to suffer injustice at the hands of even their enemy.  Sure, it's good to follow the law and call in the police if necessary, but it's not up to you to ensure justice is done.  Trust God who will ensure that everyone gets what is coming to them, except for those for whom Christ has paid their part on his cross.


"If Jesus can suffer the ultimate indignity for a sinner like me, then what is it if I suffer a little in this life too.  Instead, I will pray for this person and show them what Jesus would have done."  That should be your thinking, your attitude.  After all, it is your attitude that leads to the peacemaker response, or the argumentative response...


A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger - Proverbs 15:1

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will - 2 Timothy 2:23-26


Friday, February 17, 2012

Hang in there

Even the most spiritual person of all is too weak to make it on their own.  You can do a lot but you are still a fallen human being, redeemed at best, waiting for Christ to return and to complete your transformation.


Never fear though, Jesus' sacrifice means that the Christian's efforts are not in vain.  Hang in there and continue to strive for perfection.


So what is perfection?  It's not just about following rules to perfection.  It's about developing an attitude that acknowledges this fallen human weakness in our bodies, that trusts God for help, and that works toward Christ-like-ness without ceasing. 


If you know God, and daily meditate on what Jesus has done for you and what that means (in all of its expansive gloriousness), then you won't be able to do anything but progress in holiness.  Build the expectation for Jesus' return, as you grow by the transforming power of the Spirit.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It doesn't matter where you come from...

...it only matters where you are going.


Regardless of your ethnic, culture, or family background.


If you are going to heaven, you will have the Spirit, either now and forever, or it will come to renew you before you die.  Look for the evidence of the Spirit in your life.


Howwever, your background can help your ministry (and every Christian has a ministry in some form or another) by enabling you you relate to a certain group of people.  Sometimes your background is preparation for living outside your comfort zone, and then it is likely that you will be going into a foreign mission ground (which could be a local culture that is different from your own).


Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentines day

It's nice to do something special for your spouse on certain significant days.


It's better to be consistent in honouring God every day in your relationship.


Both are great, but if you were only to do one, be sure to do the harder thing and be in it for the long haul.


If you are looking for ideas for Valentines day, consider whether your spouse has a particular love language and start there.  But again, if you are not being consistent, it is better to start reforming your relationship by learning to serve your spouse in a biblical way.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Be obedient in the things that you know first...

...and only then should you bother worrying about the things that you are unsure of.


God has given us 1000 things to be obedient in already.  And that is just through one command.


In every decision that you make, you must go back to this one command and ask, "What will be the most loving action towards God?" or put another way, "How can I demonstrate the work of the Spirit the best in this decision?"


Rest assured that any promptings from God, anything that He has laid on your heart to do, will not contradict this greatest of all commands.  But remember to start with what you know for sure - and to do this you need to know inside and out His revealed will.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Because there is nowhere else to go...

If you are a Christian, and you fall back into sin, do you feel the urge to both run from and run to God at the same time?  If you do, it's because you know that you have done wrong and that sin cannot stand His presence.  Your conscience is raging.  But at the same time you know that your only hope of forgiveness is to meet God openly and honestly, with your faults laid bare before Him (because they are anyway).  The Christian will ultimately keep returning to God.


If you are not a Christian, and are trying to run from God, you should stop wasting your effort.  God is everywhere for starters, so where can you go to which He won't be there?  And how else do you intend to have your evil deeds dealt with?  God will catch up with you because you are already in His grasp.  Why not cease the futile fight against Him and submit to His mercy?  


I guess that there really is somewhere else to go, but that involves paying for your wickedness yourself.  But that's not really an option when the alternative is everlasting peace and joy in the presence of the Lord.


Open yourself before the Lord and let that rawness of guilt and misery spew forth.  Turn away from sin and toward your Saviour.  Trust Jesus, and keep trusting him every day!



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Accepting that you are weak

This is an important part of repentance that leads to salvation.


Repentance is not so much about changing the things that you do, because someone who is very righteous by the standard of the average person does not need to be a Christian to be so good.  Consider a moral Atheist for instance, who acts good so that he can then say to you, "Your faith doesn't matter if I can be good without faith."


Pride is not really righteousness though.


Compare this to someone who sees that they are weak, sees that they have a habit of sin from birth that needs breaking, and sees that they do not have the power to overcome by them self.  In admitting that they are weak, they can then give glory to God for His work of granting new life in the Spirit and causing something supernatural to occur inside which makes the Christian now able to be a good person.


In the strong "good" person there is weakness that does not acknowledge the need for God's help to be a better person.  In the weak "bad" person there is a humility and a rawness of soul that opens up to admit fault.  This person knows that it is not a matter of their actions because even their good deeds are soiled by imperfect motivation.


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied - Matthew 5:6



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Is Christ really a part of your life?

How can you tell if Jesus really is important in your life?  It's simple really.  When he is significant in every single part of it.  Is your mind on God from sunrise to sunset?


Not just there, not just considered at a token level when you are choosing which school to send your children to.  Significant means that he affects everything in a way that you couldn't do without, or that would see a totally different life if you were without consideration of Him.


And in every part of your life.  There are no small decisions.  Even down to the colour of your socks or the brand of cheese you buy.  Jesus should be considered.  Even if the answer is that it doesn't matter in this case, it is a habit that the Christian should be constantly building.  Through this process you learn to understand the principles of Spiritual living which guide the "big" decisions.


The Christian life should be a closely examined life in many ways.  Best we do the examining rather than waiting until Judgement Day where God will do the examining.  It could be embarassing...


Monday, February 6, 2012

Rising to your responsibilities vs. immaturity

Sometimes life seems hard, unfair, and unrewarding.  Our responsibility is not to complain, but to rise to the occasion and deal with whatever comes our way.


It is common today for adults in their twenties and thirties to shirk responsibility, to shirk maturity, and to generally fail to act their age.  Here's a truth: anyone older than our world's children has a responsibility to be a role model for those children.


Now, a person doesn't have to be a Spirit filled Christian to fulfil this, do they?  Maybe not, but to do it consistenly, with joy, with great depth of consideration, and to delight in serving others for the sake of God's great name, they do. We do. And it is arguably easier when you have the Spirit because you have power from above to accomplish all that is good.


It's a cliché but the acronym WWJD is useful here.  Didn't Jesus always rise to the occasion?  Aren't Christians supposed to follow his example?  Then get off your X-box if you know you are on it too much and use your time responsibly to advance the kingdom.  Do it!


Do you ever feel under-appreciated?

Whether the feelings are an accurate relfection of reality or not, these feelings are common.  It could be your spouse, failing to see all that you do for them, or it could be children, colleagues, and friends.


Know this though: You don't appreciate God as much as He should be appreciated.  You don't know His incredible holiness, how much he has blessed you, or the suffering that He bore on the cross for sin.


Allow your unrewarded servitude for others to draw you closer to Jesus.  Know that he is the only one who has the right to complain in this, and that he doesn't.


Know also that if you suffer in this for Christ, you will be comforted.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reading your bible and meditating

Some days we are so busy that the foundation of our faith is forgotten...


What?  Seriously?


If we are living with the understanding of an eternity of heaven or hell for every person on the planet, if this reality is firmly rooted in our soul so that no matter which way we turn it tweaks our hearts, we will not want to make any decision without considering God's will.  And where will we learn, better and better each day, what is this wonderful will?  Scripture - the revealed word the comes from God!


Read something from the bible, every day, twice or more a day even, comsume yourself with knowing God.  Reading can be empty if you're in a rush but much fruit comes from sitting and meditating on the collision between your life and what you have read.  


Do it, for Jesus sake.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Everybody knows...

Everybody knows that it is wrong to do certain things and that we are obliged to do certain other things.  It's wrong to steal, and you should give up your seat to pregnant or older women. It's wrong to lie, to commit adultery, and so forth. Our conscience informs us of these things and more.


Not everyone wants to obey their conscience though.  Some would rather ignore it and enjoy the pleasures of their actions.  I hope you want to obey your conscience, and a step further I hope you want to shape your conscience by reading what God considers as right and good.


So far, we haven't hit the spiritual mark yet.  You don't have to be spiritual to know right from wrong, and you don't have to be spiritual to want to do right.  It does help though...


You know that you have the Spirit at work in you when you find yourself growing in your ability to do what you want, when what you want is what is good.


A caution though, being able to do right (on its own) is not necessarily spiritual.  You can do things without the right attitude and foundation. Your good deeds should stem from love and grattitude for God who has saved you from your sin, Jesus taking the punishment you deserve.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Welcome to the new look

And welcome to the new web address: www.SeeTheSpirit.org

See the Spirit I hope you like the new look.  It is meant to be plain and simple with a focus on the text - just as our focus on God's word should never be interfered with by the many additional extras that can become so distracting.


Your comments, sharing, and feedback are most welcome. 


Here are some of the favourite posts from the previous incarnation:

Where is the Spirit? (the very first post)

In marriage

When you don't feel saved


Obeting God (for an entire life!)

The personality excuse



And if you still want more, check out the entirety of the archives. Happy reading, and if you think this website is of value then please share! Thank you muchly.





Not succeeding, not failing to try at all though. Somewhere in the middle, but certainly not a feeble attempt.


Being a Christian, having the Spirit at work in you, doesn't automatically guarantee success at everything you try. You might fail to put off temptation one time, you might fail to see what is the right judgment when your kids misbehave, you will certainly get it wrong some time where your spouse is concerned!


Failure is not an excuse to give up. Sadly, some will. But others will endure to the end and receive the reward. How we continue to strive in one thing, not to be quick-tempered for example, parallels how we continue to strive for perfection in the rest of our lives.


Keep trying your best, trust God for your shortcomings, and to complete you at Jesus' return.  At this time, the fruit of our feeble but valiant strivings will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye, and we will rejoice forevermore in the presence of the Lord.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

But for the grace of God, that would be me

What is your response to seeing the great evil and wickedness of the world.  When it wears you down and you struggle to find the energy to do what is right.  But right you do, and you can't help but get frustrated at the way everyone around you behaves...


Your response could be to forget that this would be you unless God intervened and lifted you out of the pit.  This then leads to prideful boasting, as if you somehow had something to do with your own salvation!


You, who were blind to spiritual truth, how did you see for the first time unless you were healed miraculously?  Just remember that God had no good reason to save someone as sinful as you, and if it weren't for His unmerited favour and mercy, He might just have let you descend and decay into worse evil than that around you which pains you so.


Thank God for saving you!  Praise His glorious name and speak of His glory with much gratitude to those who frustrate you.  And pray that you would keep the humble perspective when you grow weary of this world, and pray for Jesus to come quickly.



Authority and qualifications in an argument

You're having a debate over a matter of scriptural interpretation.  Does water baptism save or is it merely something that comes as evidence of faith in Jesus?  Your opponent begins to list his or her qualifications that give authority to their argument.  What do you do?

Every man or woman must have their own personal faith before God.  That means everyone must make up their own mind in the end.  Does that mean you should listen to someone with more authority, believing their position because they are more qualified than you?

Part of being human is being fallen.  Everyone is capable of mistakes.  However, qualifications should give you pause before you reject what the qualified person has said.  

The best qualification is not a degree, or a piece of paper with an amazing seal on it.  The best qualification comes from wrestling with the issues prayerfully, and following the truth where it leads: learning to listen to your conscience, your intuition, and those who are closest to you... and when to reject those same things as being misinformed.

The spiritual person exercises their discerning with care, and understands where they are weak.  The spiritual person seeks wisdom from God because they know there is danger in folly.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do you fear losing something or someone?

What if it is God's purpose that you are to lose everything?  Your comforts in life, the people that you love, your health?


Sometimes emotions can't be helped, but at least you can sort out your mind when you have a fear.


If it is God's purpose for something to happen, it will happen.  Nothing can stop it.  But if you are His, He will give you the strength to survive and to make it through, either by overcoming or by enduring until the end.


Once you have accepted that God really is in control, and that if He wills bad things to happen they will happen, then you can get on with shaping your life with this in mind.  What decisions would be different?  Would you anticipate material acquisitions so keenly, or their loss? Would your focus be on more immaterial, eternal, and spiritual things?


If you are not living with your own immanent end in mind, then you will not live as you should.  Jesus could come back at any moment or you could be taken at any moment.  


Some might think "at least I won't have to apologise to so-and-so" but really you should be thinking "I should go and apologise as quick as I can, and what is the point in getting upset about this again when I'm going to live for eternity in the joy of the Lord".


The balance: should you stop planning for tomorrow?  No way!  Just as God might take your life tomorrow, He might decide that you should stay another 20 years or more! But the length of your life, or the amount of time of possessions (or dear friends/loved ones) in your hand, shouldn't change your attitude.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Is a spiritual person allowed to have fun?

A better way of asking:  Can it be spiritual to have fun? 


It can definitely be a bad thing to have fun, if what excites you is perverted or evil.


God gave us joy, and children who learn through playing, and various social connections to enjoy.  So yes, I think God wants us to have fun, in a full sense.  Not in an empty, mindless entertainment, sense.


The caution is still entertainment.  Do you love God with your entire mind?  What happens inside your head when you watch a movie, or that favourite TV show, or when you spend time on your hobbies.  Those things may, or may not, be good or bad, but if you fail to consider your saviour during the distraction, then your use of them is bad.


Fun must be centered in God, and He must be thanked for every moment of joy that He grants us.  And He grants us much.  Chiefly in, and through, His son Jesus.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The most important thing

...might not be quite what you expect.


It's not food or nutrition, it's not having a roof over your head, it's not finding the perfect church (which doesn't exist), it's not your family, your spouse, or your children.  It's definitely not you.


The most important thing is not even your salvation...


The most important "thing" is God and His glory.


The rest follows according to His will.



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why that picture?

A spiritual person has values that influence his or her motives.  Not only that, but they are aware of their motives and weigh up every decision carefully.


These are some motives for using the picture for this site that I have:

  • It seems to show a person removing sunglasses to take a good look at something amazing (alluding to the mental reflections on the work of the Spirit)

  • It shows the author so that readers have an idea (or an imagined voice even) of who is speaking to them.  

  • It also keeps me honest because I have to think very carefully about what I write - I am responsible if I mislead readers and public accountability is important (so speak up if I write something disagreeable to you, and thank you to those who have done so already)

  • I like the picture.  A work by me (this blog) should reflect my taste.


I also had to weigh up whether a picture of myself is too pretentious, or whether the face of a person would "get in the way" of communicating about the Spirit.


Overall, I decided that using this picture gives more glory to God than not using this picture.  And that's what every decision should come down to.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Prayer and action

When is the time to pray and when is the time to act?  How do we know which is called for at any particular crisis or tricky situation?


If I pray and then do nothing, it means I'm trusting God more... right?  And if I do not pray, but act in a way that seems wisest, I am just using the gifts God has given me - I don't need to pray... right?


No.  You have to pray, to trust God, and you also have to act if it is within your power.  Both ends are extremes to avoid.  Trust God to bless your actions and decisions and to give you wisdom in both.  Commit your works and your days to God in prayer, every one of them, every morning.


Jacob/Israel finally learned when he both prayed for help and took wise action while coming back to meet Esau after finding a wife.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Sometimes confronting people and issues head on is necessary.  Sometimes a more indirect and "sneaky" method is more suitable.  Prayer is a good way to decide which is best if it is not obvious.


Often it is the harder thing to do to confront something head on.  If that seems like the case, then it is likely this is the way forward.  God rarely makes dealing with issues easy on us.  He wants us to grow and develop.


If you notice a fellow believer (who is close to you) involved in a regular sin, it is usually best to confront directly.  That doesn't mean you have to be harsh.


Some ideas of things to say that can be direct and indirect:

"Do you think your actions here are suitable, my friend?"

"Will you have confidence before God on Judgement Day in the light of these actions?"

"You seem to struggle with this, can I help you in some way?"

"I've noticed that 'so-and-so' does this different to you when faced with the same situation.  What do you think of that?"

"Jesus had this to say about those sorts of actions..."



Monday, January 9, 2012

Competition versus collaboration

Is competition wrong?  That really depends on your concept of competing.  How can we work out if there is something amiss with, say, competitive sports?


If we run through the fruit of the Spirit, that might help us form a picture: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.


My advice: if you can't picture each of these in the context of competition, then your concept of competition is wrong.  Within sports, I think it would be hard (but not impossible) to find a sportsmanly attitude.  After all, winning is the goal.  That makes it hard for both the winner and the loser to be spiritual.


I tend to see collaboration as a more Spiritual form of competition.  Racing to help others improve, and improving myself to be a better help to others.  Thus, sport is about health and social connection for me.  This is not really competition, but I do think it is a better garden for Spiritual development.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fearing God

How many so-called "prophets" have you heard of today?  Amazing TV evangelists who claim to speak words that God has given them , often wearing the latest fashion (or a fashion of a sort), casually throwing around words of prophecy, followed by a plea for money...


Do you think these people actually fear God?  Have they really encountered Him in the way that everyone in the Bible did, who had similar roles these guys claim?


How did Isaiah encounter God?

"Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" - Isaiah Chapter 6


How did Ezekiel encounter God?

"...Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face..." - Ezekiel Chapter 1


Being blessed

While the word "blessing" has several different ways it can be used, do you know where all blessings ultimately come from?  Do you act according to your knowledge?


As Jacob and Esau fought for blessing, and for birthright, Jacob used trickery and manipulation to try and receive what prophecy from God said would come to him anyway.  Jacob failed to trust the knowledge that God would bless him.


Where does the ability come from, to trust God for what you know to be true?  I'll give you a clue, the word starts with an 'S'.  The work of the Spirit gives life to mere knowledge, making you do crazy things like putting your life on the line for what you know and are convinced of.


The irony of Jacob in this example, is that he knows the blessing ultiamtely comes from God.  He even says as much to Isaac when asked how he returned from the hunt so fast, "Because the LORD your God granted me success." - Genesis 27:20



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Being noticed

At some point you will stand out because of the work of the Spirit in you and in your life.  "We see plainly that the Lord has been with you" - Can this be said about you?


While those on the outside will often struggle to identify exactly what it is that is different, they will recognise a certain success about your life.  They will want what you have, even if they don't want the God who has given it.  As you progress with God, He will bless you and make His glory visible in you.


As you are noticed, you should be ready to honour God by speaking of the greatest blessing with which He has blessed His people.  Jesus' sacrifice for all who will come and partake of it.


While a good Christian life is important and glorying to God, the ultimate glory is the cross that our life should point towards.  As people notice you, help them notice the cross also.


The unexpected

When difficult situations arise, personal injury, monetary crisis, natural disasters, or tragic deaths, how well do you deal with it?


If you haven't accepted God's power and His willingness to throw you into testing situations, then you will likely be stunned by surprise too long to make good use of the situation.  If you can master yourself and your own reactions, you will be able to make wiser decisions.  Panic is lethal.


That doesn't mean that the emotion of the situation won't affect you, but when you are aware that all events come from God you can compose yourself faster, knowing that He is in control and His purposes are proceeding.


Many are the plans in the mind of a man, 
   but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand - Proverbs 19:21

God is our refuge and strength, 
   a very present help in trouble. 
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, 
   though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea - Psalm 46:1-2

Monday, January 2, 2012


It's both amazingly simple but incredibly hard to have.  God says, and you believe His words.  There's nothing else.


It can be as simple and as automatic as reading and believing His promise not to break a bruised reed (a tender conscience pricked and convicted He will not cast down).  Or His promise not to cast out any who come to Him.


But it can be as hard as believing that you are really in His grace, that you really do want Him, that you really are one who is called.


If it is hard for you, try to keep it simple.  Do you want to be saved?  Do you see your hopeless state of sinfulness? Do you see Christ as the only way?  What else is there?  Desire to come, and trust God to enable you to come.  Then come and don't look back!