Saturday, September 22, 2018

Support Each Other


Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.  Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

The Christian life is always about community. It begins with our relationship with God and extends to the community of Christians and also to unbelievers. God knows that we need a social group and that we need to feel safe in that group to really prosper. In the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul stresses the importance of encouraging one another. There is a difference between flattery and encouragement that builds up.  Flattery grows our pride of self, but true encouragement reminds us of our blessed relationship with God and of the gifts that he has given us to use for the benefit of others as well as ourselves.

I hope I won’t be tempted to idly flatter people so that they will like me.  I hope I will truly encourage them with words of wisdom and reminders that I am praying for them. In times of physical need, I hope I will help in real ways to ease the burdens of others. I hope they will know that I care about them and that I truly wish God’s blessings on their lives. God’s kingdom grows when we support each other.


Friday, September 21, 2018

Liars



“…the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake” Revelation 21: 8 NIV

It is interesting that in the list of people who will not be in heaven, idolaters and liars are placed next to each other. Idolatry breaks the first commandment and is more easily seen as a sin, but lying would appear to be a lighter infringement of the commands.  In the Ten Commandments, the only commandment that address some forms of lying is bearing false witness.  I believe that the lying that the Bible is speaking about is lying about the nature and existence of God. It is the kind of lying that Satan used to convince Eve and Adam to sin against God.  The world’s message is that God is a kill-joy and that you can be your own god.

It is very frustrating when people continue on their way, oblivious to God or in direct rebellion to Him, believing the biggest lie of all, but I have to remember that God knew that this would happen. He said few would go through the narrow gate. Perhaps I need to focus on the miraculous fact that some people do choose to love God even though they are bombarded by so much anti-god teaching. No wonder the angels rejoice when someone repents. And God knows what He’s doing.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Repentance



…Jesus began to preach, ”Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  Matthew 4:17 NIV

In Matthew’s gospel, the first word of Jesus’ public ministry is “repent”. A recognition of our sinfulness and a desire to change are prerequisites for the Christian life. For many non-believers the idea that they are not “good” people is something they cannot fathom. They think of kinds words spoken and benevolent acts  performed.  They talk of their love for family and friends. Perhaps they even remember contributions to charities. What they refuse to face is their rebellion against God or that this rebellion has relevance. In their minds, they are captains of their own fate and that’s all that matters. How deluded they are. After they die, they will have the judgement of God whether they want it or not.

I need to be careful that I don’t present the Gospel as feel good pop psychology. Christianity is not about what you get out of it.  It is a radical realignment with God.  Repentance is often seen as archaic by the world, but it is essential to a new life of faith. I am sometimes tempted to make Jesus’ teachings more appealing, but changing his message is lying .  I have to accept that, sadly, most people do not want to follow God.  The road to destruction is indeed wide.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Race



“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1 NIV

 The race of life requires determination and perseverance. In a general sense, Christians are all running a race that witnesses to the Good News of Jesus but I think each individual’s race is distinct in its direction and rough patches. The writer of Hebrews recognizes that there may be exhausting hills to climb or muddy roads to slog through or frightening white- water streams to navigate. He encourages to keep our eyes on God and to keep going, trusting in His provision.

When I feel weary or anxious, the race seems too hard and I long to just curl up and escape the demands of life. I pray that God will lead me through  each day stride by stride, helping me do what I can. We don’t have to be the strongest in the race, we just need to stay in it.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Wonderfully Made



“I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made.” Psalm 139:14 GW

Anyone who has experienced the conception, growth, and birth of a baby will attest to a sense of marvel at the process.  From a round egg and a sperm that is a tiny blob with a tail, comes a human being. Our bodies are so complex that even today scientists and doctors are discovering new things about them. Our brains have billions of connections enabling us to sense the world around us, to move in a multitude of manners, and to learn a never-ending amount of knowledge.  If we did not see human bodies every day, we would be dumbstruck at the miracle of their emergence and continued life.

If I am feeling discouraged about my lack of accomplishments or character, I remind myself that God has created me as a totally amazing creature. I give praise to my creator who can do all that He does.  I am a product of the most high God.  And as a believer, I am a child of the King. Those are some credentials!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Is it futile?


“You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God.’ What did we gain by carrying out his requirements…?” Malachi 3: 14 NIV

Years ago in the early days of my Christian walk, I often had this sentiment. I watched as my sisters lived according to their own ambitions and inclinations, and I envied their colourful, interesting lives. I was weighed down by the responsibility of babies and young children. A treat was to be able to take a nap in the afternoon. Sometimes I really questioned my decision to follow God. I didn`t feel joyful or peaceful or victorious. I just felt tired and overwhelmed. But the Lord is faithful and through those tough years, He taught me about self-control, sacrificial love, humility and, most of all, about his solid support in difficult times and his love for me.

Now I am a grandmother and I see how the different paths have played out over a lifetime. The days of childcare are behind me, and my husband and I get to enjoy our expanding family which includes grandchildren. I have peace and joy now, and the blessed assurance of Jesus`s promises. My sisters falter as their lives lack the sure base of Christ. I see glory ahead, they just see death. I`m so glad the Bible gives us the big picture.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Reminders


“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them.”  2 Peter 1:12 NIV

As a child we were often reminded to do something we found unpleasant or tedious: “Clean your room.” “Do your homework.” “Brush your teeth.”  How many times were we reminded to play our favourite game or eat dessert?  I think we can develop negative associations with the whole idea of reminders.  But Peter was reminding his readers of the Good News. He was encouraging us to remember Christ’s sacrifice for us and God’s love for his people. He didn’t want us to forget God’s wisdom which keeps us safe spiritually and which keeps us in right relationship with God and others. We are easily distracted and pulled away by the thoughts and things of the world, and need lots of reminders .
I need to make sure that I think about the words of God every day. I need to remember his love for me and not be afraid. I need to have a heart that is receptive to the reminders of God and godly people. Yes, I know the truths of God but if I don’t consciously keep them in focus, I will stray.