Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

We all know that physical exercise is part of a good and healthy lifestyle. Recently I have been attending the local gym and getting into a routine that requires commitment, lots of energy, and time. This level of commitment began to have a  strain on other things in my life and as a result I took a 2 week break from the gym.

Unfortunately, that break turned into 4 weeks. The time to ‘go to the gym’ was eventually squeezed out of my ‘life timetable’ – it has lost its place and is replaced by other things instead. Does it matter? Surely physical exercise comes in all different  forms, walking, cycling, football, cricket etc. Do I need to go back to the gym? How  do I get back into a rhythm of doing 30mins on the bike or 20 mins at level 15 on a  cross-trainer? To begin with – it’s going to be hard – but eventually I’ll get back into the habit.  

Paul wrote these verses to his young apprentice Timothy:

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but  godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present  life and the life to come (1 Tim 4:7-8). 

Paul reminds Timothy about his priorities – training yourself to be godly. It is amazing how physical exercise, Marathons, Football, Rugby, Tennis etc, have  become an idol or ‘mini god’ in people’s lives. They become part of the ‘ timetable of life’ and tend to replace spiritual growth and faith. I want to be  clear, all these are great things and God created all things to be good (as Paul  reminds us earlier in 4:4-5), but when they become a priority over our  commitment to the Lord, we must remember what is more important – getting  a hat-trick on Sunday – or growing and living in hope of eternal life through  faith in Jesus Christ?  

Physical training has value but growing in godliness is vital. Physical training has a limit, our bodies wear out – eventually our bodies will die – but growing  in our spiritual life, growing in our ability to pray, depending more of our lives  by faith in Jesus, reading and shaping our lives by the Bible, God’s Word, we are living our current life in obedience to the Lord, including our physical  exercise; and we are preparing for eternal life promised to those who have  faith in Jesus. When we get out of the ‘habit’ of gathering to worship or when it  is squeezed out of the timetable – it is difficult to get back into a rhythm, our  training in godliness suffers. We get blinded by our sin and the world around  us that we forget about what Jesus has done with our sins on the cross.  

It is so easy to conform to the world, to listen to myths, olds wives tales and get carried along with the crowd to Decathlon and Sports Direct and forget to gather with your brothers and sisters to worship the living God. It is vital to offer our prayers to our Father, to be taught from the Word through Jesus the  Son and go out to witness by the power of the Holy Spirit, to nourish,  encourage and grow each other as the body of Christ, the church. 

Focus on your godly training, get back into godly ‘habits’ and be a real witness to the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.  

Conflict is something that I real struggle with and I know that I’m not alone. The other day, I was watched two people arguing about one of them jumping a queue in the local supermarket. The one who committed the crime was taking no responsibility and showing fingers and using abussive language. This is not unique. There are so many people in our society today who have no respect or are nasty for no apparent reason. So how do we cope with these people? How can we grow to love them? Are you someone who has become difficult to love?

I read a great little book called “How to love difficult people” by William Smith. It is part of the CCEF (Christian Counseling and Education Foundation) series. (See picture).

Smith starts his solution by saying:

Learning to love difficult people starts with understanding that you (like me) are hard to love too.

We need to accept that we are not perfect and we can be difficult to love too. We sin like everyone else and to be humbled by that truth is the starting point to loving others who are like us. As Isaiah 53:6 reminds us:

We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all (NIV)

God sees us as difficult people, who are sinful, rebellious and selfish, like sheep, but he had a plan to reconcile us back to him. He sent Jesus as the good shepherd to gather us back to himself. God’s goal is to gather these difficult people into his fold. Do you think God gives up after a week, month, year? Why should we? We need to keep praying for the people in our lives who we find difficult- that they encounter his unfailing love. Don’t quit, but pursue. Be encouraging, pursue areas of growth, pursue them for their own sake and love them even if they don’t love you in return. I leave the last words to Paul and use them as a prayer for what you are going through:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Romans 15:5-6 NIV)

Amen

Over the last 2 years, I have been fed by the wonderful wisdom that C.H. Spurgeon has provided in his “Morning and Evening Prayer”. For the Morning of the 15th August, Spurgeon takes us into middle of Genesis with this very specific verse:

63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming.

Spurgeon draws out the importance of meditation and specifically, the location and time that should be devoted to it. He brings to light this amazing statement:

“If those who spend so many hours in idle company, light reading, and useless pastimes, could learn wisdom, they would find more profitable society and more interesting engagements in meditation than in the vanities which now have such charms for them”. C.H. Spurgeon. Morning Prayer 15th August.

Spurgeon emphasises that the time we have and the way we use it has a huge impact in the way we view our own lives and how we treat God. The amount of time we can spend watching ‘trash’ TV or playing games on our mobile phones – including the trend of catching Pokemon – is remarkable. We become slaves to our own pastimes and we find it very difficult to leave our phones alone for more than 5 minutes.

When was the last time you went for a walk without your phone or computer? When did you last go into a field and give praise to God for the beauty of his creation and grace he gives to us so freely?

I have recently discovered that I am spending 5-6 hours a day just sat in my study – working on my computer – this is not healthy – this is not spending time meditating and enjoying and receiving the wisdom of God through his Word. Spurgeon raises this issue:

“Our little rooms are neither so healthy, so suggestive, so agreeable, or so inspiring as the fields.” C.H. Spurgeon. Morning Prayer 15th August.

We are to meditate in the field – spend an hour in the evening everyday and go for a walk – giving thanks to God for the day you have had, for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to be our Saviour and for giving us the wisdom found in his word. In the Urban climate I am him – Spurgeon does say – The Lord is found in the crowded streets too.

Where do you spend time in meditation on God’s Word? It is vital we spend time reflecting and growing closer to the Lord instead of growing more dependant on disposable ‘charms’.

To continue from my previous post, I’m exploring the works of Johnathan Edwards in my quiet time. He is looking at the 2 Corth 1:21-22 which says

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

We can see several things that God has done for us. 1. He is by God alone that we can stand firm in Christ. God sent his Son for us, he ordained before the world was created that we today could only stand firm in Jesus, with him. 2. He anointed us. We are individual and special to God. We have all been anointed/ chosen by God to do his will. 3. Set his seal of ownership. We are his! He has put a mark in our hearts to realise that we are his. We are people who are not blind to the truth, and we can see the living Jesus working in our lives and the lives around us. God created us. The created thing belongs to the creator. When we send a letter or create a piece of art, we usually put a mark or signature. That is the same as the seal of God. The created thing is not separate. We are not separate from God, but sealed with him. 4. He put the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee of what is to come. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that we are in Christ, and prepare us for his return. For Edward says:

“The Holy Spirit becoming an inhabitant is a vital principle in the soul”

It is vital to have the Spirit in our hearts, because it convicts us of our sins, and is the fountain of true holiness and joy; like a spring of water. He then refers to John 4:14:

“but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

And John 7:38-39a

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive,”

Edward then concludes by saying

“It is by partaking in the Holy Spirit that the saints have communion with Christ in His fullness”

Let us be people who dwell and live by the Spirit of God, and stand firm in the faith of Christ. For here are two questions to think about

1. To what extent ae you experiencing the fullness of Christ?

2. What is involved in “partaking of the Holy Spirit”?

As part of my own devotional time in prayer and reading the bible, I use a book based on Johnathan Edwards. He was one of the greatest American preachers that moved a growth of the christian faith in America, and one of his most famous sermons was “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”.

The page for the day took me to 1 Peter 2:11 which says”

 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul”

We live in a society that depends purely what the world thinks, says and does. We have gone away from scripture, and depend on what we as intelligent beings believe in, and that is ourselves and our desires. As part of our preaching group, we are reading a book called “Instruments in the Redeemer’s hands” by David Tripp, and what we have read so far describes the conditions of our hearts, which lead to the lusts in our lives. We need to be strangers and Aliens as Peter says. We are not of this world. We will be rejected and abused for what we believe in, but we shouldn’t come to depend on the world, but on Jesus. From Edwards reflection he says

“So far as any lust prevails, it biases the mind to approve of the lust”

This is the deceitfulness of sin. We are blinded by the truth because of the lusts in our hearts. We can not understand dour own lusts until we see them through the eyes of our saviour. We are not immune to this, but we are different. We have a Lord and King who loves us, and he died for us. Why should we lust for things that we can’t have, and rejoice in the gift of grace that God is willing to give each one of us, to those who trust and belive in him. We are all human, we all sin, we all fail. We are Alien to those who don’t know the love of Christ. So to leave you with a few questions about the lusts that we have in our hearts and lives:

1. In what way have you seen the evidence of these truths in your life?

2. What can you do to protect yourself against lust?

The last few weeks have had a really impact on the youth ministry of the church youth group. From the start of October, we had 11 young teenagers 11-15 coming to our youth group, and studying the CY Youth Christianity Explored course using the Soul DVD series, then I remembered that the group had a Facebook page for the older ones, and I put a post on asking them to bring some of their mates to the group. I did that at 5:30, then at 6:45 only 1 child turned up. Disaster!! I thought that would have done the trick. We still persevered with the study and at 7:00 5 more turned up in the meeting room. They were followed by 3 more at 7:10. At 7:15, we have 16 teenagers cramped for space in the meeting room. I was that shocked I couldn’t really continue with the study so I put on the DVD and they were all captivated. At the end of the study we spent an hour and a half  playing games and having free time with table tennis tables and table football. At 7:30 we had another 3 more turn up. 19 teenagers!! Praise God!! I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a one hit wonder that week, but the week after we had up to 20 teenagers turn up to the meeting. I can say at least 4 of those teenagers were seriously thinking about giving their lives to the Lord, and we are still working and praying with them. It’s great to see the fruits of  God’s word, and so I had to share it with you all.

Another encouraging thing that happened last Sunday was the sign of boredom in the youth in the area. I had two teenagers come to me on a Sunday afternoon and say “We’re bored!!! What can we do?” So I took them for a kick about at the local park and do a bible study with them, and they enjoyed it!!!!!

I’m very encouraged with what God is doing in the lives of these teenagers. I pray that they will come to accept Christ as their Lord and king. It’s great to see seeds being planted and fruits developing.

The Men and motives conference that I went to last month highlighted the need for men in churches. The conference revealed that there is hardly any men in the church, and that needs to change. The problem that I see in the retail market for men, is the material available is very anti-men. The journey to Birmingham and to the christian bookshops is always a delight. When you walk  in and ask about devotional material, you are met with an array of pink and orange. There are more devotional material for women than men! Why? There are some churches today that run like small women clubs. This is not on! The men in the church are being restricted to a lot of the new material that is being written because it is not aimed for them. The argument that you might see in this is, why can’t men use women material? It is not easy for a man to go to church! It is hard, because the society around us see men that go to church either ‘weird’ or ‘camp’. These people in society create a barrier for men to go to church. At all levels of faith, the material is either feminine or gender neutral. There is a book especial for men that I use called “TouchPoints for men” (picture)

This book has given me the direction in christian living being a man. It talks about issues that some of us men have problems with, and this book gives us direction to scripture. The book is crucial for those who find christian living as a man difficult. There are many alternatives to the problems we have that are discussed in the book. It can be used for devotional time because when we spend time with God, we need to be focused on him and the information and reading is very readable for that use. It is designed to help those who find temptation in this world  hard to live with. I will support that there is material for men out there, and there is a choice before you think that I haven’t looked on the internet; but go to a christian book shop and see your devotional area and see the ratio of men and women books.