Race The Good Race

In Hebrews 12:1-3, we are exorted to race, with perseverance, the race marked out for us and reminded of the example that Jesus set us, in enduring His burden and persecution, for the sake of the faith.

Similarly, 2 Timothy 4:7 echos the view of the Christian being someone who is competing in fight or race, and in doing so keeps the faith.

In a modern secular world, we are also encouraged to compete, whether it be with each other, physical sports, business, finances, possessions, status, the list goes on. But are we being encouraged to compete for the right things?

There is a difference between what God considers to be of value and what this world teaches us we should value. Just as God’s ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), so are His values above those of a secular world.

So if God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours, how do we know what things we are to compete in, or make our battleground? Fortunately, God did not leave us without help. He sent His son, Jesus, that we might find our way back to Him and His ways (John 3:16). And even after Jesus returned to Him, He was gracious enough to send us another Helper, that He might remind us of what Jesus taught us, the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

When Jesus came, He taught us that the most important things were to repent and be born again; to love, God and others; to help the weak and vulnerable; and in so doing, we store up for ourselves heavenly treasures, rather than seeking the riches of this world, which will perish and count as naught when we go on to the next, eternal life.

In the words of our Lord, what does it profit a man of he gains the whole world but loses his soul (Mark 8:36-37). Particularly as our time here is brief, compared with that which is to come (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

In this respect, the futility of man’s time on earth, persuing status, wealth or power (as mankind often perceives it) becomes clear. As a child, I had hamsters as pets and often marveled at how frantically they would run around their exercise wheels in their cage, only to get nowhere. You could say, that the life of those who seek the treasures of this temporal world, rather than doing that which brings us closer to God, are not too disimilar.

Jesus specifically taught us, that we should seek to store up heavenly, eternal treasures, rather than temporary earthly treasures, as we cannot serve two masters, we must choose between pursuing God and persuing earthly treasures/money (Matthew 6:19-24). Serving [seeking] one of these, will deplete your ability to serve the other, you must choose which you value more. As Christians, we are to seek God, so that He and His works, in part evidenced through our lives and His works in us, may be glorified on earth.

So, how do we store up heavenly treasures, whilst in this temporary realm, with its many distractions? The answer, is to Love God and others; to walk in the Spirit, instead of in the flesh; to seek God and His ways, before all else; and to value people over property. Although, strictly speaking, genuinely loving God and others, helps the other attributes we need to have florish within us.

Love God and Others – When Jesus was asked which of the Old Testament commandments were the greatest, He responded that those which told you to love God and other people as yourself, summed up the law (Matthew 22:36-40).

Furthermore, we are instructed to let all we do, be done with love (1 Corinthians 16:14), wise words indeed, for if we act in love, we should not harm others and will become as innocent as doves, as Jesus instructed us to be (Matthew 10:16).

There is more about walking in love here

Walking in the Spirit – We are encouraged to walk in the Spirit, rather than the flesh in many places in the new testament but how is this done? Quite simply by behaving as more spiritually enlightened beings, than the secular ones we were before coming to know Jesus. By casting down pride, darkness (bad thoughts) and destructive desires within ourselves, and instead choosing to walk in love, humility and kindness, as Jesus taught us.

There is more about walking in the Spirit here

Seeking God and His ways – The Bible tells us to seek God, whilst He may be found and we are instructed to seek God and His righteousness, before all secular things (Isaiah 55:6-7; Matthew 6:33). This can be achieved through prayer; learning about God, through His word and Spirit; and being prepared to do as He would wish, rather than giving into darkness or desire, which would seek to turn you about.

I don’t know about you, but if I am to be ruled by anything, I would rather it be our Heavenly Father, than some base urge, desire or any wrongdoing, that would otherwise lead me towards destruction.

As Jesus made clear, if your hand causes you to sin, it is better to cut it off and be saved without a hand, than for your while body to perish, on account of the hand (Mark 9:43-44). I understand this as being a principle which goes further than the simple bodily terms Jesus taught in, for the sake of our understanding, as with many of His teachings and parables. It extends to any area of our lives, which would see us acting in any way unbecoming to the elect of God. Whether it be putting wealth, status or any secular thing above God’s ways in our lives.

What would you not give up if you really believed it would be fatal to you? If we truly have faith, we should be able to ignore the fogging of the mind and soul, which comes from the desires for and of this world, blinding people to the truth and light of God and His will for us.

To Value People More Than Property – This is exemplified through how charitable we are prepared to be, and not just with our friends! We are told to help those who have nothing of worldly value to repay is with, whether it be orphans, the pre or the vulnerable. What’s more, we are to do so silently, without drawing attention to any generosity we exhibit, for we do what we do for God, not for the praise of man, or that will be our only reward (Matthew 6:1-4).

We are told to give to those who ask, when they ask, if it be possible, and not to delay in the giving. Not only are we to give what is asked for but we should also be prepared to give more than asked for and even to our enemies (Matthew 5:38-48)! Truly, Godly wisdom can seem like insanity to man but I believe we are helping to show God’s values, for people before things, when we accept and abide by His word. If we, the salt of the earth, can’t demonstrate how little secular “treasures” are worth, in the grand scheme of things, who will? When we pray for God’s will to be done on earth, we can all do our bit to help make that happen, by showing His will through our lives and walks. Especially when we are able to extend this same degree of love to those that would otherwise be considered our enemies.

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Biblegateway’s Verse of The Day

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philippines 2:14-15)

Biblegateway.com also has Apps available. As well as having an array of different versions to read (eg NIV, NKJ and many others), it also has the ability to read the bible aloud to you. My daughter has particularly enjoyed listening to the dramatised version when she had difficulty sleeping.

The free and recommended app can be downloaded below:

App Store

Google Play

Kindle Fire

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Jesus told us:

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:15-18)

His commands were simple and few: To love God and to love others, as He has loved us and as we love our ourselves, including our enemies (Matthew 22:35-40; John 15:12; Matthew 5:43-48; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-37).

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27)

Thank you Lord, for wanting to be our best friend and counsellor.

If you don’t already have a personal relationship with Jesus, He wants to be your true BFF too. All you have to do is ask and be prepared to let Him in.

The Bible says that “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). This is an offer open to everyone, no matter how far from God, or lost you may feel, Jesus said He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). If you invite Him and His ways into your heart and life, you truly will have an eternal best friend like no other.

 

 

 

The Clay and The Vessel

The Bible often refers to God as a Potter and speaks of how He shapes us (Isaiah 64:8; Romans 9:21; Jeremiah 18:1-6).

This is a very clear and powerful analogy, as it shows how God helps us to become a useful vessel for Him, rather than us merely existing, unchanged, in our sinful states. If we wish to be used by God, we must allow ourselves to be shaped and molded by Him into a vessel which can be used for a higher purpose than an earthly one.

Sadly, I have heard some Christians speak, with great pride, about how learned they are and how well they know the bible and yet refuse to admit to, or apologise for, any wrong doing they may do. However, it is not enough to simply know the good things we must do, to be more like Jesus, we also have to become them.

A lump of clay may look at a vase (if it had eyes and conscious thought) and think, yes, I can see how that is shaped, I know what makes it useful but that would not be enough to make it a vase. Despite it’s realisation of the characteristics and composition of a vase, without additional effort to change into something better, it would still remain an unshaped lump of clay.

God’s Holy Spirit teaches us as we grow closer to God. As a cherished child, we are taught and disciplined (Hebrews 12:6), to help us to progress from what we once were, into something much more precious and useful. Thus, are we transformed from glory, to glory, into the likeness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Now, I imagine that, if clay could feel, the moulding process would probably not feel too pleasant. Likewise for people, who are often resistant to change and can even dislike seeing or admitting to flaws in themselves. However, the realisation of flaws in ourselves is an important step towards us becoming better. Like an addict (or someone with a bad habit), we have to admit we have a problem, if we wish to fix it.

After the realisation and acceptance of our flaws, comes the training to be better, the moulding. Despite how it may feel, a believer can have the consolation of knowing that they are shown flaws in themselves, so that they can be dealt with and that it will help them to progress in their Christian walks, rather than to condemn them, regardless of how it feels (Psalms 94:12; Revelation 3:19).

When an athlete trains, they learn to recognise that progress takes effort, sweat and endurance. They learn to push through the pain barrier, to improve their performance and fitness. How much more worthwhile is it then, if people can do this for the temporary flesh, to make the same effort with refining our eternal spirits, so that we can become more like Him whom we follow and improve our interactions with all people?

This assurance can help us to endure the process of critical self evaluation (as we can tend to be overly gracious to ourselves, whilst being overly critical of others) and hopefully strengthen our resolve to rid ourselves of anything which would cause us to behave in a manner less than Godly. So let us put off those things which would degrade and devalue us as children of God. Rather let us bring the flesh into submission and race the good race (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)

Pride is a prime candidate, for something people often struggle to overcome, as it can be subtle yet pervasive, yet is detestable to God (Proverbs 16:5). When someone harms you, do you wish to harm them back, or show them the love of God? If it is the former, perhaps it is time you asked your Lord to help to shape you into a vessel which regards not itself but rather how good a vessel it is.

If we wish to be a vessel of value, we cannot live our lives holding onto what we were or are, for the sake of pride. After all, Jesus told us that if we wish to follow Him, we need to deny ourselves [selfishness] and take up our cross [self sacrifice] (Matthew 16:24-26).

Rather, we should be quick to confess our flaws and happy to accept correction and guidance, which would result in us being more Godly. Regardless of how our flesh feels about it at first. The beauty is, the more you do it the more sense you see it makes too.

In laying down our selfishness and pride, we are also resisting the devil and how he would rather you behave and as the Good Book tells us, resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Reject pride, embrace meekness, humility and the love God has for all, so that the love and light of God can shine through us and help us to illuminate the world with His ways and help to show that there is a way back to God for all.

Biblical Evangelism Book/Online Course

Here is a link to an exciting Evangelism book which accompanies a bible study course, taught by biblicalevangelism.com

The book consists of 101 lessons, aimed at helping you to spread God’s Word and the Gospel. It accompanies an online bible study course but is invaluable in its own right, as it makes sharing the gospel so much simpler. What is more, the Kindle version of the book is currently less than half price (£6.43) at amazon!

An inspiring video, showing the book’s author (Ray Comfort) in action, can be found here. The Genius movie starts by looking at the life and death of John Lennon before progressing, to show how effective the teachings of the Bible and Biblical Evangelism book can be. I encourage you watch it, if you have half an hour to spare!

Reaching Out to Others over Christmas and Beyond

As the Christmas season is now upon us, let us not forget about those that Jesus came to help, the meek, the lost and those who others did not hold in high esteem. It seems that Jesus was criticised for spreading the word amongst the poor, who were unable to access teachings in religious places. But the Word says that God chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith; and the lowly, that He may be glorified through them.

As Christians, it is important to value and love those from all walks of life, rather than just those with status, wealth or power, as the world so often chooses to admire. Indeed, one of the instructions Jesus gave us in one of his many wonderful parables, was to help the poor and those in need, saying that in helping them, we were helping Him.

In line with this, here is a link to a video by a man of God I know that reaches out to those that some lesser men would rather pass by. Simon Heard’s song really touched me and is a poignant reminder that as believers, we are not to pass by those in need. Instead, we should reach out and help them as Jesus did, particularly at this time of year when so many of us have so much to be thankful for.

I pray that the love of God in your hearts will encourage you all to do what you can to help, when you can and for you to be the lights of the world that we were created to be.

Rooneyisms

Here is an email sent to me by a friend that made me smile:-

“If you will take the time to read these. I promise you’ll come away with an enlightened perspective.

The subjects covered affect us all on a daily basis:

They’re written by Andy Rooney , a man who had the gift of saying so much with so few words.

Enjoy…….


I’ve learned… That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I’ve learned… That when you’re in love, it shows.

I’ve learned… That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my day!’ makes my day.

I’ve learned… That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I’ve learned… That being kind is more important than being right.

I’ve learned… That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

I’ve learned… That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him

in some other way.

I’ve learned… That no matter how serious your life requires you to be,

everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

I’ve learned… That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand

I’ve learned… That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end,

the faster it goes.

I’ve learned… That we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.

I’ve learned… That money doesn’t buy class.

I’ve learned… That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

I’ve learned… That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

I’ve learned… That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

I’ve learned… That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

I’ve learned… That love, not time, heals all wounds.

I’ve learned… That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

I’ve learned… That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile..

I’ve learned… That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I’ve learned… That life is tough, but I’m tougher.

I’ve learned… That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

I’ve learned… That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I’ve learned… That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.

I’ve learned… That one should keep his words both soft and tender,

because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

I’ve learned…. That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I’ve learned…. That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist,

that you’re hooked for life.

I’ve learned… That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain,

but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

I’ve learned… That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

To all of you…. Make sure you read all the way down to the last sentence.

It’s National Friendship Week. Show your friends how much you care.”

Free iPad App to Assist Evangelism

The following article, “The Mobile Jesus Story And The Christian World View” by John Bushnell, is taken from a free iPad App called Jesus Evangelism.

In addition to a scripturally rich summary of God’s plan for mankind’s salvation since the world began, it also has a FAQs section and believer’s prayer.

It is intended as an evangelism aid as it summarises some of the points you may want to share with interested others.

I love to see to technology helping to spread Gods word!

The “Mobile Jesus Story” : Click the link to read the complete online.

Download the iPad App for free via iTunes

In Touch Ministries and Scriptural Promises

In Touch Ministries, by Dr. Charles Stanley of Atlanta, Georgia, United States, offer a range of Christian resources on their website at intouch.org.

Amongst these is a list of topics accompanied by biblical references showing what God’s word has to say on the topics, such as wisdom, peace etc.

Charles Stanley also speaks on UCB‘s DAB Christian radio station at 7pm weekdays, this week he is speaking on wisdom (a particularly favoured topic of mine).

I encourage you to listen in to UCB and to explore Charles Stanley’s site for yourself as we are told to meditate on that which is good (Philippians 4:8). After hearing his teachings, I would definitely put Charles Stanley’s teachings in this category.

Walking with Jesus: Love

Why is love so important?

Jesus gave us a wealth of guidance through His teachings but the only specific commandment He gave in the bible is to love (John 13:34-35). In fact, when Jesus was asked which of the Old Testament commandments were the greatest, He responded that those which told you to love God and other people as yourself, summed up the law (Matthew 22:36-40).

The importance of love, as a central part of the Christian walk, is therefore happily unavoidable. Of all things in the bible, and all commandments given, nothing is rated more highly than love (Mark 12:28-31). When compared with faith and hope, it is love which Paul said is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Love is more enduring than prophecy, special knowledge and speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 13:8). Despite spiritual gifts such as these, great faith and good works, such as charity and even martyrdom, without love for others nothing will be gained, except perhaps ungodly pride! For such acts count for nothing unless done out of love for others (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Hence, we are instructed to “Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14). But in a world where the use of the word love is often distorted and misused, we need to get back to recognising the type of true love, that God requires from His children.

What is love?

One definition of love, as given in the Webster’s dictionary, is ” A feeling of strong attachment induced by that which delights or commands admiration; preeminent kindness or devotion to another; affection; tenderness; as, the love of brothers and sisters”. However, the world often seems to struggle to demonstrate love and often uses the word to describe emotions which do not line up with the type of love Jesus taught us about.

God is love and we are told that if we do not love, we do not know God (1 John 4:8). As Chrisitians, therefore, it is imperative that we love and we should seek to emulate the unconditional love our Heavenly Father has for us. The type of love God and Jesus have for us was often termed Agape love in the New Testament and has been defined as: “an intentional response to promote well-being when responding to that which has generated ill-being”

When seeking to understand love further, in Christian terms, 1 Corinthians 13 is a good place to start:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

and “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

This reinforces the significance of love and also how we can see if we are walking in love in our lives, a type of litmus test for love if you will. As mature Christians, we should seek to ensure that our relationships with others are guided by the type of love expressed in these scripture.

Thus, the attributes we will be required to demonstrate as loving christians are patience, kindness, humility, forgiveness, happiness when truth prevails, faithfulness, hope and endurance through all things. That’s pretty clear and shows that even in hard times, we should not discard our attempts to walk in love.

We are also instructed in what to love is not, namely, jealous, boastful, proud, rude, demanding and irritable and it does not find pleasure in wrongdoing. Where these negative attributes are seen in ourselves, we are faced with the challenge of bringing our will more into line with God’s.

Who are we meant to love?

While many of us acknowledge and seek to be loving to those we consider to be friends or family, Christian love is called to do much more than that. As disciples of Christ, we are called to love those we would otherwise call our enemies. Those who do us wrong and even harm us, these are the ones we are called to love too:

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate…” (Luke 6:27-38)

Basically, we are to try to love everyone! Though we may not love the things they do, we can still love and want to help the person. If God, who is Most Holy, is able to love everyone, and Jesus came to save the lost ( Luke 5:32), then surely, we should try to emulate their graciousness and try to love everyone too.

How to show love

There are the obvious ways of showing love, such as providing for the needs of others (Matthew 25:34-40), but love goes further than charity, as indicated in the passages above, love is also about your heart and your willingness to yield and sacrifice for the sake of others.

Note in 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 Paul’s comments:

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely“.

I believe that this passage is referring to ones capacity to love others, as the whole chapter is about love. Thus, a true grasp of love can helps us to grow beyond our sometimes spiritually childish views of love, to demonstrate a type of love that is able to put others before yourself even if you know they would not do the same for you. Though we may not yet fully understand the benefits of walking in love, even if it hurts, while we are here, there is a time when all will be revealed and the fruits of our labour will become evident.

The modern world speaks of fairness and justice, and yet, it is not hard to see that there is much in this world that is unfair and unjust. Typically, the world teaches us that where there is injustice, we are entitled to revenge or retribution, and yet, if we truly follow the teachings of Christ, this is not what we, as His disciples, are to seek for ourselves. Rather, we are taught to give to those who take and to not seek revenge on those who wrong us, rather being told to forgive them and bless them (Luke 6:27-38).

While this may seem like an oddity to many, in truth it contains a wisdom that far exceeds any manmade policy or law. For if we can appreciate that God loves EVERYONE and desires for all to know Him; if we can understand that life is a journey in which our destination should be to be in as close a relationship with Him as we can be; then we can see that those who do things we consider to be wrong, are generally lost or confused.

As children of God and Disciples of Christ, we can use opportunities, where we may be entitled to be offended, to demonstrate the type of love and forgiveness that can stay with a person forever, and perhaps even cause them to consider how you can be full of so much love and peace when treated wrongly.

It may sound like a difficult thing to do, and in truth, any change which requires us to submit our Self is likely to feel like a bit of a wrangle. However, in these cases, the things we are struggling with are generally things we should be eager to cast off as Christians. In reality, they are not worth holding onto as they only serve to cause harm to ourselves and/or others. As you seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and ask God for the strength to make the choices you feel will please Him, making the right choices and changes can become increasingly easy. As you lose sight of your own sense of “self preservation” and act in a way that will instead be a blessing to others, our understanding of how God can work through our willingness to submit ourselves can be increased.

We may feel like defending ourselves is what is best for us, but when we let go and trust God to be our defender, determining to be content in all things as we follow His guidance, we find a peace that passes all understanding as the struggles of life are released into God’s more than capable hands (Philippians 4:5-7).

Truly, when you trust that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28) and become determined to walk in love, regardless of the actions and reactions of others, you will begin to shine with the love of God, much needed in an often cold and poorly lit world.


Walking with Jesus: Controlling the Tongue

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me

Above is a familiar playground rebuttal we were often taught as children, to recite to those who had said hurtful things.  Yet as we become older and more experienced in the ways of life, some of us come to understand how words can actually be much more damaging, for while physical wounds generally heal, hurtful things left uncorrected can cause damage that lasts much longer than a wound to the flesh would.

The power of words is impressed upon us right from the start in the bible we see how God used His words to create everything (Genesis 1).

Jesus taught us that it is important to watch what what we say, as if we are good, we should be saying good things “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. (Matthew 12:33-35).

This is confirmed by James 1:26If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless“.

As the words we speak are an indicator of what lies in our hearts, we had best ensure that they reflect the Godly changes that should be taking place within us: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Jesus was clear about the consequences of not guarding what we say “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-37). This highlights the importance of working on improving what we say, if it is not glorifying to God.

James helps to clarify why speech is given such significance for followers of Christ and why it is not an optional part of the Christian walk: 

And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring (James 3:6-12).”

With words, we can create or destroy, bring love and healing or hurt and destruction. The bible guides us in how God would like us to communicate with each other and is clear about the consequences of not taking care to ensure we bring our tongue into submission of our spirits, rather than our flesh.

Godly Communication:

The bible instructs us that when we speak with others we should seek to:  edify (Ephesians 4:29), comfort (1 Thessalonians 5:10-12), confess (James 5:16), teach (2 Timothy 2:24), rebuke/reprove (2 Timothy 4:1-2) and to be honest (Ephesians 4:29), discrete (Proverbs 11:13) and controlled (Psalm 141:3).

These ways of communicating, shown above, edify God and help to establish the type of community amongst His children that He desires. But what are the negative uses of language the bible tells us to avoid?

Types of Speech condemned in the bible:

Lying/deceitProverbs 6:17; Mark 7:20-23; Romans 3:13; Colossians 3:8-9

Slander – Psalms 50:16-21; Psalms 140:11; Proverbs 10:17-18; Proverbs 11:13; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Colossians 3:8-9; 2 Timothy 3:2-5

Back bitingProverbs 25:23; Psalms 15: 1-3; Titus 3:1-2; 2 Corinthians 12:20

GossipProverbs 16:28; Proverbs 20:19; Proverbs 26:20; 2 Corinthians 12:20; 1 Timothy 5:13

Malicious/cutting/hurtfulProverbs 12:18; Jeremiah 9:2-5; Ephesians 4:31;  1 Peter 2:1

Proud/Boastful2 Timothy 3:2-5; Psalm 12:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:2-5

Wrathful2 Corinthians 12:20; Proverbs 15:18; Colossians 3:8-9

Cursing/filthy language – Psalms 109:17; Romans 3:13-14; Colossians 3:8-9; James 3:10

BlasphemeColossians 3:8-9; 2 Timothy 3:2-5

 

If we agree that God’s way is better than our own, then surely we want to follow the guidance He has given us, all else is vanity. It is a daily, even minute by minute, walk in which we are called to consider our speech before pouring it out upon others in such a way that you glorify the father of sin rather than our Heavenly Father. While it may not be an easy thing to do, it is worthwhile, so let each of us determine to be mindful of our words and seek to bring them more in line with the will of God each day.

 

Other Christian sites discussing controlling the tongue:

 

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Walking with Jesus: Walking in the Spirit

The process of laying aside the self and walking in the spirit is a requirement for those of us that follow Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:38, 16:24, Luke 9:23-24, Ephesians 4:22-24, Galatians 5:16-26). Within these scriptures works of the flesh are revealed that we may know to recognise and avoid them.

  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:16-26)

However, when going about  daily interactions we are unlikely to consciously classify our behaviour in such a way that we would see these flaws before making the mistake of letting them spill out and affect others. So how can we recognise, before failing, when the flesh may be exerting its control and preventing us from reacting to situations in a more spiritual manner?

The process of learning to walk in the spirit, which is evidence of our maturity in Christ and glorifies God (Matthew 7:17-18, John 15:8), can be likened to choosing to take part in athletic events. Most people are aware that, when taking part in a physically demanding activity, after a while it can start to become painful (dubbed the pain barrier) but if you were to carry on, your metabolism adapts to start using a different type of fuel (switching from burning “easy” glucose to more complex carbohydrates) and you become able to carry on the activity with less strain and discomfort.

The opportunities to choose to walk in the spirit are made more tangible whenever there is a situation in which you feel like behaving in a certain way, although it may not be the way of acting/reacting that Jesus would have done or liked. Likewise, the flesh is evident when we become aware of something nice we could do but, for whatever reason, we choose not to. We have our instructions and guidance in the bible, which tells us to love and value others, so why is it that doing things that would be better for others than yourself can seem so difficult at times?

Usually our reasons for not choosing the more Christ like behaviour can be traced back to some sort of pride or perceived protection of the self. However, by being presented with opportunities that stretch our capacity to love and show love, we are given the chance to push through our own personal “pain barriers” which only give the appearance of protecting the self by telling you things like “you shouldn’t have to do that”.

Forsaking the more spiritual path for the sake of your ego/pride would limiting your own progress. For while the fleshy reaction may feel like it’s protecting you, by restricting your own growth by refusing to seize your opportunities to seek and demonstrate growth, you are doing yourself more harm than good and are keeping yourself shackled to your old man.

It is only when we push through our own barriers, and go on to do the things which we know to be more righteous, that we gain our second wind and begin walking in the spirit. Like physical exercise, repeated pushing of our own limits builds strength, endurance and stamina. So let us determine to be prize spiritual athletes who refuse to quit our training whenever it doesn’t feel nice for a while, so when our time here is through, we can confidently echo the words of Paul and say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

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The works of the flesh and fruits of the spirit are listed in Galatians 5:16-26:

Works of the flesh:

  • Adultery – Being unfaithful to a marriage partner
  • Fornication – promiscuity
  • Uncleanness – morally impure/foul lifestyles
  • Lewdness – obscene behaviour
  • Idolatry – excessive devotion/worship of person/things
  • Sorcery – the practice of evil powers/black magic
  • Hatred – strongly disliking, or ill will towards, others
  • Contentions – arguments
  • Jealousies – the envying of others
  • Outbursts of wrath – passionate, uncontrolled and extreme anger
  • Selfish ambitions – the strong desire to succeed for the self, rather than others
  • Dissensions – disagreements leading to quarrels
  • Heresies – beliefs contrary to those established
  • Envy – resentment and desire of the possessions or abilities of another
  • Provoking others – tendency to cause anger or resentment in others
  • Murders – the intentional and premeditated taking of other lives
  • Drunkenness – excessive alcohol intake
  • Revelries – unrestrained merrymaking.

Fruits of the Spirit:

  • Love – a strong devotion/sense of goodwill/attachment and deep and tender affection towards others
  • Joy – great pleasure, delight and happiness
  • Peace – calm, quiet tranquility and absence of troubles/worry
  • Longsuffering – the lasting and patient endurance of insults, difficulties or mistreatment
  • Kindness – the habit of being kind/generous to others
  • Goodness – the state of being good, exhibited through virtue/excellence/benevolence etc
  • Faithfulness – full of faith/loyal/reliable and maintains allegiance
  • Gentleness – Humility, serenity and patience. Not forceful.
  • Self-control – controlling ones impulses

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Francis of Assisi Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is discord, unity;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, teach me to seek:

not so much to be loved as to love,

to be understood as to understand,

to be consoled as to console,

for it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

it is in giving that we receive,

and it is in dying that we rise to eternal life.

A beautiful poem when made from the heart. It was later adapted into the hymn, “Make me a Channel of Your Peace“.

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Walking with Jesus: Pride and self

As is often the way, the process of sharing God’s word brings about learning for the one that is sharing as well as those they are sharing with. For example, this article on pride. I have felt led to write on pride increasingly over the last few days until, finally, today I resigned myself to reluctantly deciding that I would get it over with. My reluctance to write may be influenced by my past experiences, where I helped to teach at bible groups at a university I attended. Given the audience and environment, I generally felt led to speak on subjects such as Gods love and grace, things that would encourage His children to draw closer to Him, rather than push them away. Hence, speaking on the corrective side of Christianity is not what I am most accustomed to. However, to refuse to do so when led, would in itself be an act of pride, whereby I would be considering my own feelings to be more important than sharing God’s word. Let that never be so!

So while I am a firm believer in  refraining from being judgemental, much preferring to encourage than rebuke; I am also a firm believer in following the guidance of the Holy Spirit and ask God’s forgiveness for my tardiness.

 Typically, pride most commonly arises for the self, but people can be proud of things to, such as status, cars, companies, achievements etc. In fact, for anything, which the person considers to be more important than God, other people or living as Christ would like them to. 

Simply put, pride is that which seeks to assert itself against God’s way, for the sake of having its own way. The part of us that decides we want to do and say whatever it is that we want, rather than that which may be the more Godly thing to do. 

Pride can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from the desire to put ourselves first, refusing to do things we consider beneath us, looking down on others we consider to be more lowly than ourselves (in any way) and desiring worldly status and praise etc. 

These are symptoms of thinking of yourself more highly than others, or at least wanting to be perceived as such, when we are told that we should consider others more highly than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4). Therein lies the danger, pride puts you at risk of elevating your own self worth and opinion to a such a degree that it prevents you from showing the love and consideration commanded of us by Christ, the love that would identify us as His disciples (John 13:34-35; 14:21-24). In short, pride can lead us astray from the straight and narrow way which leads us back to God and our salvation (Matthew 7:12-14; 2 Peter 2:20-22; Proverbs 4:26-27, 12:28, 14:2,12, 15:10).

How does God see Pride:

God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13), in Proverbs 6:16-19, a “proud look” is listed as one of the seven things that God hates as they are an abomination to Him. God also names pride as one of the sins of Sodom, which He destroyed (Ezekiel 16:49; Genesis 19:1-29).

It makes God weep when our pride stops us from hearing Him as it shows that His flock, you, have been taken captive (Jeremiah 13:15-17).

God warns us to turn us from our sin and instructs us so that “He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride”  thereby saving us from destruction (Job 33:14-18). In Zephaniah 3:11-12, He speaks of when He will remove the proud, exulting people and haughtiness, leaving a humble people in their place.

Consequences of Pride:

Pride is not of God (1 John 2:16), it deceives you (Obadiah 1:3), defiles you (Mark 7:20-23); hardens the spirit (Daniel 5:20); brings you low (Proverbs 29:23), adorns the wicked (Psalms 73:1-6) and is a sign of a fool (Proverbs 14:3) and a scoffer (Proverbs 21:24). It can also explain a lack of response from God (Job 35:12).

Remaining proud leads to: shame (Proverbs 11:2); strife (Proverbs 13:10); destruction (Proverbs 16:18); captivity (Jeremiah 13:17) and leads to God to bringing about the fall of the proud (Amos 6:8; Obadiah 1:3-4). It was in fact pride that lead to the downfall of the devil and we are warned against becoming puffed up with pride lest we fall into the same condemnation (1 Timothy 3:6).

How To Deal With Pride:

Jesus named pride as one of the evil things which comes from the heart of men and defiles them (Mark 7:20-23). This makes it clear that pride is something we should seek to eliminate from our lives and the bible provides guidance on how to do this.

Pride can lead to us trying to do things in our own strength and according to our own plans, rather than God’s. If done knowingly, this is prideful arrogance for those who call Him master. The bible gives us excellent advice telling us to  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). We are warned against boasting about our own plans, such boasting being called evil, and are advised to say “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-17). This acknowledges who the Boss in your life is and invites God to redirect you if He would rather you did something else (Proverbs 16:9; 19:21).

Pride may cause you to want others to recognise how special you believe yourself to be, when in reality, we are meant to be here to show people how special God is. The apostle Paul warned everyone “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think“, which is surely a work of pride (Romans 12:3). Rather, we should seek to emulate the selflessness modelled by the life of Jesus and in the words of Paul who said “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). If we truly lay down our lives, pick up our cross daily and die to self as we were instructed to do  there would be no self left to want recognition for (Matthew 10:38; 16:24, Luke 9:23-24).

As Christians we are told that we are to lay aside the old self (or old man) and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-32) and that we should not walk in the flesh, but walk in the spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). The works (or deeds) of the flesh listed by Paul in verses 19-21 could all be said to have their roots in pride, for if we thought more of others and less of ourselves, we would not exhibit behaviours such as hatred and selfish ambitions. Conversely, the fruits of the spirit he lists (before concluding with a warning for us not to become conceited) include love, longsuffering, peace and other desirable characteristics which a person struggling with pride might find difficult to attain (Galatians 5:22-26).

Thus part of our daily christian walk should be to emulate those characteristics encouraged and modelled by our Lord. To lay down the self and pride which, while it may seem to be protecting us and our desires, is actually destroying us from within. Pride is like a virus that contaminates us and those in the world around us, the only cure for which is a true revelation of Gods love and deciding to walk in that love day by day.

While we will all struggle with elements of pride/self while we are here, it is how we view and treat pride when it arises that defines us. When we see that there is pride in us, let us deal with it in the way God would desire, repent and ask Him for forgiveness and guidance. If your pride has caused offence to others, then go to make ammends with them as we are advised (see earlier post on Dealing with Offences). We are told to take up our cross daily, likewise, we have to lay down our self daily too, this includes our pride. For surely, if there was no self, there would be no pride!

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Free Daily Christian Teachings, Publications, Radio and TV

UCB (United Christian Broadcasters), is a Christian media ministry formed to promote the good news of Jesus Christ, has recently launched a new DAB Radio christian channel,  UCB UK. UCB’s radio stations include UCB UK, Inspirational, Gospel and Bible. There is also a UCB TV Channel and a  prayerline you can telephone/email or text.

The UCB network also publishes free publications which can be posted out, emailed or read online.

The publications are made for varied age groups from children through to adults and include “The Word for Today“, “Word 4u 2day“, “The book of Hope” and “The Overcoming Series” amongst others.

Those wishing to support this exciting project, can donate here.

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Walking with Jesus: Dealing with Offence

As we reflect upon the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the original good Friday, we are reminded of the many sufferings He endured for our sakes and why it was necessary (John 3:13-21). Yet, despite all He was put through, the last thing He asked for before He died was for God to forgive those that killed Him (Luke 23:34). Jesus suffered great offences at the hands of those He came to save and He modelled for us a level of forgiveness we, as His followers, strive to attain.

Forgiveness is a vital aspect of the Christian walk for as we forgive others, so shall we be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). Guidance on how we Christians should deal with offence with fellow believers has been revealed to us in the Bible, both for when we offend others, and when others offend us:

When you offend another: We are told in Matthew 5:22-24 “that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Jesus is basically telling us that repenting and seeking reconciliation takes precedence over you seeking God further and demonstrates the speed in which He would like reconciliation to be sought, ie not delayed!

When someone has offended you: We are told to “rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive” (Luke 17:3-4; Matthew 18:15-17 ). Furthermore, if that person sins against us 7 times in a day but turns to us and asks for forgiveness, we must forgive. Jesus set us the example of calling others to repentance (Luke 5:32; Revelation 3:19) but rebuking others that go astray was also endorsed throughout the old testament (Psalms 141:5, Proverbs 9:7-9, 19:25).

Likewise, the New Testament is littered with confirmations of the need for us to correct others, though we should remember that this should be done from love (2 Timothy 2:22-25; 4:2; Titus 1:13; 2:14-15).

If the one that has caused offence refuses to hear you, Matthew 18:16-17 tells us “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector“.

Although being corrected can feel uncomfortable, to say the least, correcting each other is a necessary tool God encourages us to carry out. Below are some of the benefits that can arise from dealing with issues of offence in ways ordained by God:

It is important to remember to deal with offences from a place of love, seeking restoration and healing, rather than revenge (2 Timothy 2:22-25). We are instructed to forgive others when we pray (Mark 11:25-26) if we follow this, then the act of rebuking one who wrongs you is for their benefit so they may turn aside from ways which do not honour God and know that they have been forgiven. For when a person is open to correction and they are made aware that they have caused harm, they can benefit from the opportunity by repenting and being forgiven.

Repentance and forgiveness are the core message of the gospel which Jesus came to share. That if you repent, your Heavenly Father will forgive you and you will be saved (Acts 3:18-19; Luke 13:1-3 2 Timothy 2:24-26). Thus, repentance and forgiveness are not enemies but friends and where we see that they may be necessary, let us not hesitate to answer the calling of our Lord.

Further discussions on Christianity, offence and apologies can be seen in The Mountain Retreat forum.

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Walking with Jesus: Valuing others

Jesus told us that when we lend things to people, we are not to ask for them back (Luke 6:30). Why is this? Perhaps because it shows that we love and value people more than material possessions! Yet how many people value things in the reverse order, putting possessions and self gain before others?

As Christians we are called to live a different life, a life in which we love God, first and foremost, and love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:35-40) but what does that mean?

  • Well, the love we are to have for God should be with all of our heart, mind, strength and soul (Mark 12:28-31). This complete type of love requires faith, and our faith is accounted to us as righteousness (Galatians 3:6-9; 13-14).
  • We are told to love others as ourselves, and to treat others as we would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12). This shows that we should love others and ourselves, as we are all God’s children, thanks to His  gracious mercy. How do we love others as we love ourselves? well, if we’re hungry, we feed ourselves, if we’re thirsty, we get a drink, if we need clothes, we get them etc. We are to do the same for others. Jesus said, whatever we do for the least of people, we do for Him (Matthew 25:31-46), to not give help where it is needed, would be akin to not helping Him.

The love walk we should be learning from Jesus, requires us to be different (Romans 12:2) so that others may see our light (Matthew 5:16). One example of loving others is from the example given at the start of this post. To be loving enough to let people know that they are more precious to you than material items

Jesus asked, what does it gain a man if he profits the whole world but looses his soul, Matthew 16:25-27. How could he lose his soul? It seems that it could be by failing to obey God’s commandments to love, after all, when Jesus was asked for the way to eternal life, it was loving God then your neighbours as yourself that He said were necessary to live (Luke 10:25-28). Bear in mind, that Jesus included your enemies when He told you to love them (Luke 6:27-36, Matthew 5: 43-48).

In this world with its many material snares, it’s easy to get caught up in the treadmill of worldly ambitions and consumerism. Unfortunately, man all too often finds himself placing too high a value on temporary material goals, while neglecting the eternal spiritual matters.

While our fleshy body may cry out “no, it’s mine!”, Jesus is calling us to love and serve others. Paul follows up on this when he instructs us to walk in the spirit (Galatians 5:16-25), this would enable our lives to be a living demonstration of God’s love here on earth.

Jesus commanded us to love from our hearts to such a degree that it becomes externally evident with concrete actions. Not asking for items you have lent out to be returned, is but one way of demonstrating that love.

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Poem for Our Heavenly Father

I thank You Father, that on the darkest night,

Where You are, there’s always light,

Life without You, was no life at all,

So we thank You Lord, for Your call.

You teach us how to love and forgive,

And show us how in dying, we live,

We ask You Lord, to help us shine,

As beacons of Your love, Divine.

Your Holy Spirit lights the way,

In what to do and what to say,

So guide us Lord, in all we do,

Help us make our hearts more true.

All that we are, Let it be for thee,

Our Heavenly Father, who helps us to see,

And to lift You up and give You praise,

Be our heart’s desire, till the end of days.

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How to Love

How to Love

In Success – love

In Loss – love

In Peace – love

In Troubles – love

In Joy – love

In Despair – love

In Faith – love

In Disappointment – love

In all things – Love

Love others as you would like them to love you

 

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12 Steps to living a Christian life

I found this post  on 12 important steps for Christians to live out through their daily walk of life, which I have copied below for convenience. I would encourage all heed the words of Jesus and to seek to love God and others above all else (Matthew 22:36-40). When we manage to love those who may seem not to deserve it and show compassion and empathy for them, rather than ourselves, then we are truly walking as Christ wished it (Luke 6:27-35).

I would also say that with point 11, although we are to keep ourselves pure, that does not mean that we should neglect those that are not Christians. Jesus was criticised for spending time with people others classed as sinners (Luke 15), to which He told them 3 parables to demonstrate how God rejoices over each sinner that is returned to Him. How are we to show them God’s love if we reject them? I for one wish to follow Jesus’s examples, which includes loving those that others would criticise. After all, He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). As a Christian, you can be a positive example and take the light of God’s love into dark places.

The original website can be found here:

 
 

1. Believe the record that through faith in Christ, you have received eternal life.

1 John 5:10-13 “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” Remember that you are now a living testimony of the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ. The life of Christ is in you, the believer. Are you sure you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour?

2. Love God and Others.

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength according to Mark 12:30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Love your neighbor as yourself as commanded in Mark 12:31, “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandments greater than these.” Make these the highest goals of your new life in Christ. There is nothing you can possibly do greater than these in your life. Ask the Lord to help you love more and more. 1 Thessalonians 3:12, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:”

3. Read and study your Bible, memorizing portions that are helpful to you.

Give special attention to the promises of God. Meditate on these and they will be food for your soul. 1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” Remember that the Word of God, the 1611 King James Bible, is the light to your path. Psalms 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” It is the weapon of our warfare against temptation, Ephesians 6:17, “And take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

4. Pray daily to God, your heavenly Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank Him for all things. Ephesians 5:20, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Praise God for His blessings. Ask God to give you victory over sin and weakness. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Pray for the needs of others when praying for your own needs. Remember that your prayer life will keep you spiritually strong and growing. Don’t recite prayers. Pray and talk to God from your heart in your own words with respect.

5. Confess the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour as often as you can.

Water Baptism by immersion is the first step to take in confessing Christ, see Acts 8:36-38. Continue confessing Christ to others. Matthew 10:32, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” Use every opportunity you have to tell others what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in your life. Try to lead them to accept Christ as their Saviour as you did.

6. Avoid temptations.

The Bible tells us that they will come. But we must be careful not to walk in their path. Psalms 1:1 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” When temptations arise, remember that God has promised a way of escape for those who faithfully serve and obey Him. 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Pray that the Lord will help you avoid temptation. Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Jesus quoted Scripture when the devil was tempting Him. (See Matthew 4:1-11.) Learn Scriptures that pertain to your weaknesses and memorize them. Quote them often.

7. Witness to others about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Many today do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Who will tell them? Romans 10:13-14, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” The believer’s greatest joy is the privilege of telling the good news of the Gospel to every creature. Witnessing for Christ is not only a blessed privilege but a divine command, Matthew 4:19, “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The Lord will use you to win souls to Him.

8. Serve the Lord with gladness.

Psalms 100:2, “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” God has a regular ministry for every believer. (Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-21.) Assemble regularly in a Bible-believing, separated church. Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Invest your time, talents and money for eternity. Colossians 3:1-3, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

9. Stand firmly on the Word of God.

(See Ephesians 6:10-18.) Beware of false teachers and false doctrines. 2 Peter 2:1-3 “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” Test everything by the Word of God, not by experience. Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Remember that God has promised the victory to those who honor Him and His Holy Word. 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

10. Commune with the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 13:14 “… the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” Get to know the Holy Spirit as personal as you know the Father and the Son. He is a person. John 16:13, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” Talk to Him. Commune with Him. Ask Him to help you with all the things mentioned on this leaflet. Do not try these things in your own flesh, but with the help of the Spirit. Galatians 3:3, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

11. Be a separated Christian.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Not only should we be separated from unbelievers, but our Lord prayed for us to be separated from the evil in this world. John 17:15-16 says, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Be an answer to Jesus’ prayer, stay away from evil. Try to win unbelievers to Christ but be separated from them and their lifestyle. 1 Timothy 5:22, “…keep thyself pure.”

12. Forgive each other.

All of us have been hurt by somebody in our life. Some to a small degree, some very greatly. We, too, have offended a Holy God and our sins led Christ to die for us … yet … the Lord forgave us. We are to follow His example. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Take a moment and read the story about forgiveness in Matthew 18:23-35 in your Bible.

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Revelations explained Videos

Hi guys,

If you are interested in studying the book of Revelations, you may enjoy the videos below which go through the book of revelations in detail. It is done in such a way that it is easy to follow and also has an accompanying booklet you can view online. David C Plack presents the videos and gives lots of scripture to back up his words (just how I like it :))

Part 1: The Book of Revelation – An introductory video on the relevance of prophecies throughout the bible, especially Revelations

Part 2: Revelation’s 1-6, Through the four horseman

Part 3: Revelation 6-7, Seals 5 & 6

Part 4: Revelation 7-11, Plagues and woes

Part 5: Revelation 11-17, 2 Churches, God’s wrath and Armageddon

Part 6 Revelation 17-22, Great False church and God’s final plan

Booklet: Revelation Explained at last, David C Pack

God Bless you

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Call to intercede for Haiti aid to reach the people

I have been increasingly grieved to see the lack of aid distribution in Haiti. It seems that the UN and USA troops that have been sent there are there in a military capacity, rather than a humanitarian one.

The UN have said that they are in charge of aid distribution, yet they hold and guard that aid and keep it from the people it was sent to help. They arrest the people trying to salvage supplies from wrecked buildings (as if anything else can be done with it) and in recent days there has been talk of them using rubber bullets, pepper spray and even shooting the earthquake survivors.

They go to a country that is struggling to survive and they use force against the survivors?

I pray that you will join with me as I pray for the Haitian people, that God have mercy on the people of Haiti and remove the barriers that are in Haiti stopping people getting the aid that has been sent to them. That people of the world’s eyes be opened to what is happening there. And that any agencies there stop hurting the people, either directly or indirectly.

I have been wracking my mind to think of what our options are if we do not agree with what the UN are doing? What are our legal options to stop them? I have not yet reached a solution, so I will call on the Lord Our God, and ask Him to step in for us, to the glory of His name.

If we were to have a natural (or other disaster) and the UN came here, would you want them doing to you what they are doing to them. The people of Haiti are trying to survive but get treated as criminals, who is to say it would be any different for us?

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Covenants

Most faiths/religions/belief systems profess that there is a pattern to life, a design or karmic force. Christianity is no different. Life is described as a race or battle in which we’re encouraged to “fight a good fight” (1 Timothy 1:18). At times when man has wanted help from God, he has entered into covenants with God. Definitions of covenant are given as 1: a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement : 2 a: a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.

Examples of covenants between God and man include:-

1) Adamic Covenant – when Adam and Eve decided to eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, forbidden to them by God, they broke the Edenic Covenant (Genesis 1:28-29; 2:15-17), resulting in the Adamic covenant which we are born into (Genesis 3:14-21). By chosing to disobey God and eating of the tree knowledge of good and evil they chose to know evil, consequently distancing themselves and their offspring from God.

We are exercising our free will each time we choose whether to do the right, or wrong thing. Whether to walk in the spirit of love and truth, serving God and others, or to walk in the flesh and serve ourselves. Unfortunately, the knowledge of good and evil resulted in man declining further and further into sin. This has resulted in the many manifestations of wrongdoing we see about us in the world today.

As God is Holy, sin distances us from Him and results in us becoming lost in sin, the wages of which is death (Romans 6:23). Hence the need for covenants, to enable us to once again return to God, such as the covenant of salvation and redemption enabled by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

2) The Abrahamic covenant – circumcision was the sign of the covenant for Abraham and his descendants, for which God declared that He would be their God (Genesis 17:4-14).

The covenant of circumcision with Abraham and his descendants (Acts 7:8; Genesis 17:2-21), provided Abraham and his descendant with an opportunity know that God was their God. However, the Mosaic Covenant added requirements/laws  to the original covenant of the 10 Commandments

3) The Mosaic Covenant – The ten commandments which Moses later added statutes and laws to, on the understanding that if men followed certain rules and rituals they would be regarded as God’s people (Exodus 34:27-28; Deuteronomy 4:13-14). Acceptance was said to be dependant upon these laws being abided by and it was not a perfect relationship, being referred to as the “curse of the law” by the apostle Paul (Galatians 3:10-14).

The laws added after the Mosaic covenant required frequent forms of appeasement and sacrifice to try to make man acceptable enough, in terms of Godliness, to be considered a servant of God. The Levite priesthood was established so they could sanctify themselves to be considered to be holy enough to be able to commune with God on behalf of the people.

While this covenant may have provided template of a future improved covenant and a route to God for mankind, it was restrictive and difficult to maintain. By bringing laws, the failings of men were revealed as they fell short of the requirements and those accepted were only able to have a limited relationship with God. Even then, much of the relationship required a third party, e.g. a priest, acting on their behalf. When Jesus spoke about some of the traditions that make up the Jewish religion, He criticised them for teaching the commandments of men as doctrines and clarified that it is what comes out of people which defiles them (ie from their hearts) rather than what they put into themselves (Matthew 15:1-20).

However, God had a better covenant in the pipeline and the Old Testament foretold of a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) which was later fulfilled through the sacrifice made by Jesus. The new covenant is one of liberty where Jesus sacrificed himself to make an everlasting covenant, able to cover our sins and provide a way for us back to God (John 3:16; Hebrews 8:6-13; 12:24). The bible tells us that love will cover a multitude of sins (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8) and what greater act of love is there than to sacrifice yourself for others that persecute do not even know of you yet! This covenant surpasses the others as it is available to all and enables us to become children of God, rather than servants.

4) The Covenant of Jesus Christ – God sent His Son, Jesus, so that He could show us the way and enable us to be saved (John 3:16). The gift of salvation Jesus came to teach, taught that if we repent and have faith, God will forgive us and we will be saved. Jesus showed us the walk that God desires of those of us who wish to be His children, namely, to walk in love and truth. His life became the ultimate example of this walk that we are called to emulate resulting in Him sacrificing His life for us and His blood becoming the blood of The New Covenant (Mark 14:24). Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for us, as we are to give our lives for God and others in our daily walk.

Thanks to the sacrifice offered by Jesus, to atone for our sins, God sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and take His rightful place as Our Holy Father (Ephesians 1:4-7). It also means that believers no longer live according to sets of rules, but according to our leading by the Holy Spirit within us once we have accepted God’s gift,  as He said in Jeremiah 31:32-34

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Although Jesus endorsed the value of the original “Ten Commandments” (Matthew 15:3-4), when He was asked which of the Old Testament commandments were the greatest, He responded that those which told you to love God and other people summed up all the law (Matthew 22:36-40). Jesus gave us valuable teachings and  guidance but the only thing he specified being one of His commandments was to love God and others (John 13:34-35).

This is vastly superior covenant as it enables each person’s walk with God to be on an individual basis, tailor made and the ultimate in liberty as Paul pointed out “All things are possible, but not all things are beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12). We are encouraged to have consideration for others (1 Corinthians 8:9) and so it is our love for them that prevents us from doing others wrong, rather than having to be forced not to do things because we are following rules (1 Corinthians 10:23-24). Free will at its best and with the Holy Spirit and God’s love for everyone, to guide you (John 16:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14).

NB: The blue writing in this passage will take you to the relevant scripture on biblegateway.com where you can also look up the scripture in other translations of the bible.

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God, Creation and Evolution

OK, here’s something that has always puzzled me. As a Christian with a science degree, I have often wondered why people presume that one explanation of creation renders another obsolete when for all they know, the alternative theories could coexist!

I have often noticed this with scientists in particular, eg the age old nature vs nurture debate – “are we the way we are because of how we were born (nature – genes) or because of how we are raised (nurture)”. The debate has raged for as long as the history of psychology, at least. And yet, most intelligent people will readily admit that it is most likely a combination of the two! Not the scientist though, at least, not when they’re trying to prove a theory!

As a scientist that can conceptualize that science may provide explanations, but not have all the answers, and not being too big a lover of absolutes, I have come to believe that God was the spark of life, and Evolution was his method of creation!

God is often referred to in the bible as a potter (Isaiah 64:8) where things are molded into creation rather than a magic hey presto with a wave of the wand. Genesis 1:20-27 says that God told the earth to send forth that which was created, could you think of a better way to describe evolution? Furthermore, the bible sates that to God “a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years as a day” (2 Peter 3:8). This suggests that not only does God experience time differently to us, but what he created in 7 days (or stages) may have been may thousands of years in our time. Perhaps enough time for evolution to be used as the method for creating different species?

Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the order it says that God developed things is akin to that proposed by evolutionists (Genesis Chapter 1). Yet how could pre-scientific man have known the order of life development if he were not told by the maker?

A site discussing some of the questions people may have regarding Christianity and evolution can be found at talkorigins.org.

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Made In Gods image:The human trinity

 

The bible says that we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). God’s trinity comprises of :-

 

God

Jesus

Holy Spirit

We are also made up of a trinity of soul, body and spirit. The figure below shows how these different aspects of a person can influence our choices actions and words.

The Spirit –  Our spirit is our most direct link to God, via His Holy Spirit. God’s people are called to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Our spirits search all things within us and knows all about us, as does God’s spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). God speaks to us via the Holy Spirit, the still small voice which can prick our conscience, give us Godly wisdom (Isaiah 11:2), intercede for us (Romans 8:26-27) and teach us all things (John 14:26), although your flesh may not always like what you hear!
As our Heavenly Father, God can guide us in His ways via the Holy Spirit but spiritual growth requires that we learn to follow the leading of His Spirit, “For all who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). This will most likely involve the laying down of your worldly desires and self-interests (Galatians 5:17) but in the words of Jesus, “what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:25).
The Soul – The decision making part of you. The conscious mind which determines whether we will be led by the voice of our spirits and act in love, or whether we will follow the desires off the flesh – opting for self gratification over love for others. It is our soul which we are improving when we allow ourselves to become more led by God, as our spirit, through Christ, is perfect (being God’s – we just have to learn to listen to it more!) and the flesh will pass away. It is our choice whether we want to listen to and strengthen our flesh or our spirit – free will.
The Body is the flesh, with its appetites, lusts and desires. It is “all about “me”” with the body and instant self gratification where possible. The bible says that our flesh wars against our spirit, against that which we wish to do (Galatians 5:17). I know which one I’m rooting for!

Online Bible’s

BibleGateway has a list of different versions of bibles which you can read online.

Click here for online copy of Geneva bible: This bible Precedes the 1611 King James Version of the bible, which some feel was worded to encourage the following leaders rather than independent and active christianity . It was the first to introduce the use of verse numbers into the chapters as documented here.

A full list of all english bible translations can be found here.

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