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... 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.