Category

Holy Spirit

Proverbs Day Thirty-One | Listen to the Baboon

By | Blog, Character, Discipleship, Foundational, Holy living, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Life change, Provoked Within, Whispers, Wisdom | No Comments

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine. Rulers should not crave alcohol. For if they drink, they may forget the law and not give justice to the oppressed. Proverbs 31v4-5 (NLT)

Aside from having to watch The Lion King film too many times when my kids were young, I actually rather enjoyed it.

One of the most moving scenes is where Rafiki, the wise Baboon, walks Simba, the foolish Lion cub, to a watering hole and encourages him to study the reflection in the water.

Rafiki says the reflection shows Simba’s father (the late King) but all Simba sees is himself. Rafiki makes Simba look harder and then Simba sees the image of his father. Rafiki says You see? He lives in you”. Then Simba hears his father’s voice saying “Simba, you have forgotten me… You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself Simba. You are more than what you have become”.

Being wise, focused and responsible like a king is not meant to be an optional extra. It is who we are meant to be. We are our Father’s children and must seek to remember that and respond to that. We are not meant to surrender our responsibility and duties for the “fleeting pleasures” or “tough times” in Egypt.

As I conclude my 31 day journey into Proverbs I am reminded to start again. Every day, every month and every year… because only by wisdom can I do what I have been born to do, and foolishness will harm me and hurt others. None more so than the Father who made me.

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Proverbs 31v4-5 (ESV)

Proverbs Day Twenty-Five | Perfectly timed provision

By | Blog, Devotionals, Discipleship, Foundational, Holy living, Holy Spirit, Love, Provoked Within, Wisdom | No Comments

Trustworthy messengers refresh like snow in summer. They revive the spirit of their employer. Proverbs 25v13 (NLT)

Years ago, I was given a financial gift from someone. It was perfectly timed and I really need that exact amount. I have thanks to God for the giver and the gift. I saw it as provision. A mistake that I began to make shortly afterwards was that I began to “hold” onto the cash – prior to the gift I had known real need and the gift really met that need. I likened it to the account of manna from heaven (God’s meeting his people’s need, see Exodus 16). If you read that story you will see that they weren’t meant to hold onto it – that would be robbing them of the opportunity of trusting God every day. This does not mean don’t be a good steward and having savings etc. But it does mean don’t put your security in the gift rather than the giver. In God’s economy regarding the matter of provision, as with manna, there is always more!

If we live like that then we will experience the refreshing timing and reminder of “snow” again and again as God meets our need neither too late or too early. That is refreshing to the soul.

Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters. Proverbs 25v13 (ESV)

Proverbs Day Fourteen | Graveyard or labour ward?

By | Blog, Church, Church Planting, Death, Discipleship, Foundational, Holy living, Holy Spirit, Life change, Wisdom | No Comments

I often think that the place the church meets should be regarded as less 'temple' and more 'mountainside' or 'public square'.

The reason is that the more I read the New Testament the more I read about crowds, noise and mess.

Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. Proverbs 14v4 (NLT)

If we want a good efficient and effective harvest, then we need a strong large oxen. Does anybody seriously imagine that the stable where the oxen is kept will be clean! The mess is an indicator for an abundant harvest.

Graveyards are quiet, tidy and dead! Everybody stays where they and does what they are suppose to do. Everything is neatly labelled and the flowers are beautiful! But it is dead. Whereas the labour ward is full of blood, poo, screaming, pain, pain relief and joy! Whilst it is packed with noise, mess, it is also overflowing with new life!

1 Corinthians 14 verse 40 encourages the spiritual togetherness of the church to be done in a fitting and orderly way, but that is more about ensuring the "oxen" are all pulling in the same direction than anything else. So don't let that instruction rob us of a harvest reaping church!

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. Proverbs 14v4 (ESV)

Proverbs Day Twelve | The Hope of Dunkirk

By | Blog, Character, Death, Devotionals, Discipleship, Doctrine, Foundational, Holy living, Holy Spirit, Life change, Wisdom | No Comments

I have just watched the film trailer of Dunkirk. One of the screen shots is labelled with the phrase “Hope is a weapon“. During the past year I have learnt a lot about hope.

Hope is life-giving. Hope is not easily quantified. I have often described hope as a spectrum (a horizontal line). There is hope for eternity (one end of the line), but there is also the need for hope in this life, hope for tomorrow, hope for today and even just hope for now (the other end of the line).

Whilst the good news of Jesus Christ is an indestructible hope, we need to give sufficient hope to people where we find them. Here lies the sheer power of an encouraging word or a word of affirmation.

Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. Proverbs 12v25 (NLT)

The first type (encouragement) calls people to lift their chin and press on. This is the “You can do this” word.

The second type (affirmation) declares what is already present in that person which shows the world they are made in the image of God. This is the “You are this” word.

Both are weapons in the hands of the righteous. Encourage what can be, and affirm what is. People need the hope of both.

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12v25 (ESV)

Cross roads on a Greek Island

By | Holy living, Holy Spirit, Life change, Preaching, Revelation, The gospel, Worship | No Comments

We have begun our series on Perfect Church?

As we do so I am aware of a risk to our spiritual health. This blog entry is intended to help us head in the right direction.

When Jesus speaks to the 7 local churches in the book of Revelation, he ends each message with a plea for them to listen to what he is saying. Time and time again he urges them to change their direction completely (repent) otherwise they will face the consequences of their actions.

This means that a teaching series on the local church from these messages may result in some pretty tough words for us all. When those words fall upon our ears, we have a choice to receive or to reject them. Jesus makes it clear that listening is the only option.

But what do we do once we have heard Jesus speak to us about the state of our hearts?

At this point we are faced with a choice – condemnation or conviction. Let me explain how we can spot the difference and choose wisely… Imagine each choice is a road we can travel down. Conviction leads to reflections on the sacrificial work of our Saviour. Condemnation leads to reflections on ourselves. The first road ends at Jesus, the second road ends at self.

The fork splitting the two roads is the Cross.

Whilst reading the Bible or listening to teaching, Jesus pins some stuff on you or I about our lives. We know he is right and we feel remorse and the need to change.

The road of condemnation

It feels like conviction by the Holy Spirit, but it is actually a human-driven remorse, guilt and sorrow. It sends us in the wrong direction and we end up in a place where we wallow and drown in the world of ‘me’. This reminds us of what Paul said:

22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Romans 7

The road of conviction

This may also arouse emotions of remorse, guilt and sorrow but there is a subtle difference. This time the feelings have been given to us by the Holy Spirit and he sends us on the right road. The place we end up this time is worship of Jesus.

You see Paul did not finish his his letter at verse 24 of Romans 7. He continued…

24… Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. 8:1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

Choose the road of condemnation and we end up looking at ourselves, in a state of entrapment, idolatry, guilt and a hopeless resignation at our behaviour.

Choose the road of conviction and we end up at the Cross, in a state of freedom, worship, hope and the power to change.