Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Psalm 33:21

Psalm 33:21 - In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name (NLT)

Psalm 33 is all about the awesomeness of God. It talks about how he created everything with his word, and how everything is dependent on him. And then it declares that because we trust in his name - in other words, God and everything he stands for - our hearts can rejoice.

When it feels as though things are out of control, remember that everything depends on God, and that he's on your side. Then it's much easier to let your heart rejoice.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

John 12:40

John 12:40 - "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them." (NIV)

The Lord would heal people from their fallen state, if they would only turn. And yet because he has blinded them and deadened their hearts, this will never happen. I don't understand this. My human mind cannot grasp that there are those who are unable to accept Christ.

I have to assume that it's not that God has maliciously blinded these people, but rather that this is the effect that God has on people who have rejected him. And I also assume that although they cannot turn in their own strength, if the Spirit drew them, then they would be able to turn in Christ's strength, and receive the healing. I have assume there is always hope for the lost, and that is why I tell people about Christ.

There are things I don't understand about God. But I do understand that my part is to tell people about him.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Luke 22:42

Luke 22:42 - "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

Philippians 4:13 is very well known - "I can do all things...". I think that's the King James Version - some more recent versions seem to suggest something more like "I can get through anything" instead. So it's not so much like "I can leap tall buildings at a single bound", so much as "I will survive." Personally, I prefer the first option.

Jesus showed us both. He healed people. He fed people. He did supernatural things. But as well as that, he coped with everything that came at him. He handled the storm, the temptation, the tricky questions. And here in today's verse, we see Jesus faced with the problem of going to the cross. He would've wanted to have said "I can't do this", but because he had the power of God within him, just as we do, he knew that he could get through it. But as well that, I think he also knew that he could do the incredible task that was ahead of him. This wasn't just something that was coming his way - it was the task that he had become man for.

When things come our way, let's remember that we can get through all things. But let's also not fear doing those things for which we may need supernatural strength.

Monday, June 11, 2007

James 1:14-15

James 1:14-15 - ...each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (NIV)

So we sin when we give into temptation. Sin is acting outside the will of God, and of course as Christians we get tempted to live outside God's will on a frequent basis. I'm not going to list the methods through which we get tempted - but I'm sure the media would be right up there. Regardless of how we get tempted, I consider that sin happens at the point when we make a conscious decision to step out of God's will.

In Romans, Paul says that he finds himself doing things he doesn't want to do. But he also says that he is no longer a slave to sin, but rather a slave to righteousness. In Romans 8, having just written about having a sinful nature which is still struggling with sin, he writes that we do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit.

So live that way! Don't sin. Live according to the Spirit instead.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Pyromaniacs: God's wisdom in marriage

Dan Philips posted a great peice on teampyro on responsibility in Marriage. I've also wrtten about this previously in the following posts on http://www.bible.geek.nz.

Responsibility - part 1
Responsibility - part 2
Commitment part 1
Commitment part 2

We finished a study on Marriage in our home group recently.

The long and the short is that if our spouse is not fulfilling their responsibilities as a husband or wife, it does not constitute a valid excuse for us to neglect our responsibilities.

If we got this one principle right (which is frustratingly difficult due to the nature of the flesh) we would have happier, healthier marriages which is a strong fostering support for godly growth.

Friday, March 30, 2007

John 17:23

John 17:23 - ...May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me... (NLT)

Of course, anyone who knows how the church works will probably know that 'perfect unity' is somewhat rare. But I know that when I meet other Christians, we seem to have a bond. I am still very good friends with Ryan, a Christian friend from my university days. We rarely see each other, but we're brothers. Recently he put his church website together, and that's cool. Seems that's a popular thing for Christians in IT to do.

John the Baptist recognised Jesus, before either of them born. I don't recognise other Christians quite that effectively, but I'm generally not surprised when I find out that someone's a fellow believer. Maybe trout-fishers have a similar experience when they meet other trout-fishers, but I'm not sure they do.

What can you do to promote unity? Not on a worldwide scale, but between you and those you come into contact with regularly.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

1 John 2:28

1 John 2:28 - And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame. (NLT)

I recently left a job that I had held for over 4.5 years. In some ways I was glad to leave. There were certainly a few reasons for me to want to leave. Darryl has recently written that our enthusiasm for Christ's return can be an indication of our walk. Luke 12:34 backs this up by asking where our treasure is. But I want to extend this challenge, because I know some people who are looking forward to Christ's return for the simple reason that they're a little down with this world and would like an easy out! But no-one wants to have a reference which says "They didn't seem to want to be here - they had a job to do but they just sat around wishing they were elsewhere!"

So be ready for his return. Do your best in your current role, and anticipate your next career move with excitement.

Friday, February 16, 2007

1 John 4:10

1 John 4:10 - This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (NLT)

The contrast is incredible. A Christian will love God, but when you compare it to the love that he showed for us by sending his son to die a horrible death, it pales somewhat. I love that this verse focuses on the love being demonstrated in the sending. It's not just that Christ happened to die while he was here, it's about the fact that God sent him with the express purpose of dying.

I can't imagine sending either of my sons away at all, let alone to die. I would want to call them back, to find another way, even abandoning everything else to avoid them going through that pain. I've seen my oldest son have two operations - on the second one I had the 'privilege' of holding his hand while he was anaesthetised. But that was pain-free, and beneficial for him. I don't think I could put him through a painful situation for someone else. Particularly not a sinner who may not even accept the gift made possible through it. Particularly not such a painful situation as death by crucifixion. I think it's this that drills home that real love is demonstrated by what God does for us, and that this is the love that affects our salvation.

Friday, February 09, 2007

2 Thessalonians 1:3

2 Thessalonians 1:3 - We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more...

Sometimes it's really hard to thank God for other people. Frankly, they're humans. They wind us up, they cause us grief, they frustrate us no end. In the verse here, Paul's referring to Christians clearly. But I think the challenge is to thank God for all people. After all, they're all his creations. Completely fashioned by God. Not a chance occurrence based on the DNA of the parents, but a perfect new creation of God. It's easier to think of babies like this than grown-ups, especially when those grown-ups are annoying us.

Please try to take the time to pray for those people that wind you up. Thank God for them. It'll also help your faith grow more and more...

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Romans 3:10

Romans 3:10 - No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. (NLT)

Really? Not even me? Aren't I seeking God? What about pastors, priests, monks?

Well, if you consider what God would probably require to seek him fully, perhaps we're not. I mean, he's an incredible being. Unfathomable. Beyond understanding. I'm fully ready to admit that I'm not wise, but I do try to seek God. And I think that's the point.

When you expand the rest of Romans 3, you see that it's a quote from the Old Testament, when people needed to adhere to the law to attain holiness (although we also know that they were still justified by their faith). Nowadays we can enter his presence because of what Christ has done.

So does it actually still apply? Is it still the case that no-one is seeking God? I know that I enjoy spending time in his presence, and do want to get closer to him, so I do my best to seek him. That doesn't make me holy though, and if I try to consider myself a God-seeker because of what I do, then I am still sorely mistaken. Thank God for Christ.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mark 3:2

Mark 3:2 - Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus... (NIV)

I think it's a very common thing for people to look for a reason to accuse Jesus. As soon as he enters a conversation, or even someone's thoughts, there's a bit of a challenge there. I suppose this might be different if you are completely in denial of God's existence - but if you're one of the many agnostics who has a pseudo-belief, then the concept of Jesus can be confronting. As a non-Christian, you may find yourself having feelings of guilt, or maybe even of anger.

Mark writes about people who were being confronted by Jesus in a very direct way. He was on earth in physical form, and attracting followers. So for anyone who was determined to not follow him, well, they would've been just like the average non-Christian... wanting to find ways to appease their feelings of guilt and anger - and lashing out.

So why not stop accusing Jesus and listen to him instead? The best way of appeasing your guilt and anger is to be forgiven.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mark 2:14

Mark 2:14 - ... "Follow me," Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. (NIV)

Jesus clearly had charisma. Let's face it - he knew who he was, and had no doubt about the authority that he had. That kind of thing would make you somewhat charismatic. In this verse he tells the local tax collector to follow him, and Levi does just that. I don't think he did it blindly as I've heard from some people in the past, I imagine he knew Jesus fairly well already. But when Jesus told Levi to follow him, Levi obeyed. He gave up what he knew, and became a follower of Christ.

There are two challenges for me from this verse. Firstly, I want to know the authority that I have. The Bible clearly says that I have authority through Christ, but I need my mind to realise that. And secondly, I want to have the confidence to speak into people's lives. Not in a harsh way, but in the way that Jesus did. I want to be able to tell people to follow Jesus and have them respond.