Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Issue 6 - day 3

2 Corinthians 8

2 Corinthians 8:4-7

  1. Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
  2. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
  3. Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
  4. Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

Are you faithful to God? Do you speak to others about God? Are you growing in knowledge of God? Are you applying that knowledge to your life? Do you love others for the Lord’s sake?

Maybe you are struggling to do these things. The Corinthians were not, but they are still challenges to many of us. Paul takes it one step further. They had been helping him financially so that he could minister to the saints. In today's terms this means giving to the church so that the church can employ a pastor. This they did, and now Paul asks them to take on Titus as well! He had moved on to other towns, and was now working as a missionary. Titus was back in Corinth taking care of the church.

So Paul is encouraging us in our giving. It is easy to grow in knowledge, faith, and so on because in them we gain directly. Financial giving has no direct gain to yourself, but without it there would be no ministers in the church and so knowledge, faith, application and love would not grow, having no-one to encourage it. In the Old Testament they gave a tithe (10%). in the New Testament they gave it all and more (100%+)! What are you giving to God?

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Issue 6 - Day 2

2 Corinthians 7

2 Corinthians 7:9-10

  1. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
  2. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Have you ever been sad? Has someone's words ever got you down? What about criticism, how do you handle it? One of the hardest things is to accept criticism and change as a result. In this case the people of Corinth hear the words of Paul and in part were outraged, how dare he say these things about us! Then they realised the problem was not Paul, but in themselves. They needed to change.

To give a shortened picture the cycle of challenge to change goes, denial, anger, and then if we are not blind to the problem, perspective, acceptance and action. The effect of tragedy on the other hand goes, denial, anger, grief and can often stop there, moving on eventually to numbed acceptance. The result of sorrow is that part of you dies. The result of Godly sorrow is that part of you grows. Even in tragedy we can take the challenge cycle and gain from the experience if we let God show us the way. It is all in how you react to a call to change.

When the potato first came to Europe it was thought to be poisonous, and was even preached against in churches! When famine came those who embraced that change lived when others died. Are there challenges in your life where you should accept and change, as people accepted the potato? If there are not then you have not been listening to God, for he always challenges us, as none are perfect. Ask God to reveal to you what needs to change, then act.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Issue 6 - Day 1

2 Corinthians 6

2 Corinthians 6:1, 3-4

  1. We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
  1. Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
  2. But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

Quite a list Paul gives here of areas in which we must not give offence. It is easy to give a good example when your life is perfect. it is difficult do do so when your life is a mess, yet that is what God requires of us. Christ gave his life that we may live. If we take no notice of what he has done and fail to life our lives accordingly then we are making his sacrifice meaningless.

Paul calls for us to be above reproach, an example to all. He says we are to be those examples in times of emotional, psychological and physical stress, in times of hunger, imprisonment, physical attack and poverty, when criticised or praised. Most of us remember with embarrassment times when we have lashed out at friends or colleagues, and excuse it as the stress talking. However, it is the same events they will remember forever. Worse, it is not just we ourselves who carry that bad name, but God himself. Your friends may like you, but they will be thinking, "I can’t believe in God while I know how terrible Christians are!"

Those moments are the times to step back, and pray before speaking. Nehemiah did this when speaking to the king of Persia, and we must do the same. "Do not take the name of the Lord in vain" is not just about swearing, but covers this situation as well. Are there times when you wish people did not know you are a Christian? Pray for God’s protection, and for his heart toward others.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Walk with God - Worship the creator

How different would life be if we truly believed that God created the universe?

Issue 5 - Day 7

2 Corinthians 5

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

  1. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
  2. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

We all know that Christ died for us. We all know that he took our sin upon himself on the cross, and paid the price for us. We know that we were made righteous by that act. However, are you an ambassador? Are you in the job of reconciliation? Do people seek you out in order that they may know Christ?

At work some years ago we were given the vision of being 'functional ambassadors'. As with many such fads it never became a reality. However the concept is simple, and remarkably close to scripture. The concept was that each person would have an area of expertise that they would champion. Their task was to try and demonstrate, at all times, how vital this subject was to the company, and how it solved many problems that we faced. Anyone seeking knowledge of that area would go to the ambassador. Any problem, for that solution, go to the ambassador.

In our Christian walk we are called to the same thing. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ. When someone needs to know him we must be ready to act as mediator (for that is what an ambassador is) not between the person and God, but the other way round, for they cannot understand God yet, though they can call him direct. We also are called to champion Christ as the answer. Now go and be an ambassador.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Issue 5 - Day 6

2 Corinthians 4

2 Corinthians 4:6-7

  1. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
  2. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

In a recent conversation I heard the opinion that the best man for the job of pastor, is a man who is totally useless in all areas except delegation and motivation, as the purpose of a pastor is to help the church, and individuals grow and develop in ministry. While not a full picture is is in many ways the mirror image of this passage. You are not chosen by God because you are amazing, but because, in comparison to God, you are useless. Are you trying to shine your light, or the light of God? Reality is, all you can do is throw the light switch.

The second problem is that we think we can convert people by our own endeavours. While we must witness, or they will not hear the gospel, Satan has blocked their ears and blinded their eyes to the light of the gospel. How they will they see the light we carry? How will they hear the words we preach? First we need God to break through those barriers. Waking up this morning I turned on the light, however none off the rest of my family saw this light, as sleep was keeping their eyes shut. This is the same situation we face spiritually.

Pray that God would break the barriers that stop your friends hearing the word of God. Pray that you will not distract from Christ by trying to shine your own light. Pray that God will shine his light through you.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Issue 5 - Day 5

2 Corinthians 3

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

  1. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
  2. 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.

Have you ever been out on a bright sunny day and seen a friend walking toward you out of the sun? It looks like they are surrounded by a halo. They glow as if they are radioactive, but it is the sun shining the light. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai that was how he looked, but brighter, even in the middle of the night. He had to cover his face, however in time that light faded. It is the same with us, spiritually.

Think of a re-chargeable battery attached to a light-bulb. This is you. Every time to come before God, some of his power, his glory charges up that battery and you shine brighter. If we do not return to his presence then over time that power fades, just as with Moses. However, if we remain in God’s presence, as Joshua did, then the power levels will just increase. We are changing into His image. We are shining out more and more of His light.

There is only one way to experience this change. Spend time in God’s presence. And the number one way this happens is by spending time in the Word of God. We are changed by the renewing of our minds, and that is done by replacing the junk of TV and this world with the knowledge and love of Christ. Pray that nothing would get in the way of you spending that time daily in the word, before God.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Church of Philadelphia

Revelation 3:7-13

Letter From

Revelation 3:7

  1. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

This is God who is Holy and True. When we think of God we must start from the perceptive that he is holy and truth. If we do not start from holiness, then how will we worship him. If we do not start from truth, then how will we follow him.

John 14:6

  1. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Christ holds the key, and is the only way to God. Those who don’t believe will not get in. Those who do will be saved.

We are encouraged to hold fast and not lose the crown. In the context of Christ return this can only be one crown, and there is only one way to lose it, that is to stop looking to Christ’s return.

The Promise

2 Timothy 4:7-8

  1. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
  2. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Issue 5 - Day 4

2 Corinthians 2

2 Corinthians 2:9-11

  1. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
  2. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;
  3. Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

We know that we are saved, but are we being obedient to God? We know that even Christ tells us to forgive others as he forgives us, but do we? We know that Satan prowls around seeking those he can devour, but are we on guard against attack?

These things are tightly linked, for Satan looks for any crack in our spiritual armour and attacks there. Often it is not a tiny crack but a gaping hole! How often have you thought yourself on top of the world, reading the word, praying daily, and then found yourself arguing over the silliest things, failing to forgive, and failing to be obedient to God’s word? It is easy to argue, it is far harder to forgive continually, but that is what God would have us do. When I was little I knew two brothers who would always be fighting, but they would also be the first to back each other up. No-one could get between them, and to attack one was to attack the other. No matter how much they argued and fought they always forgave each other by the end of the day. we must be the same.

Pray that God would give you a heart of forgiveness, and pray for your brothers in Christ. Be the first to ask forgiveness when you do wrong.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Issue 5 - Day 3

2 Corinthians 1

2 Corinthians 1:21-22

  1. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
  2. Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

Where does your faith come from? How do you know you are saved? What is the difference between just going to church, and truly following God? These questions come high on our lists, and we need to know the answers.

Imagine you have a job, I know many of you do so that is not to difficult to imagine. How do you know you have a job? How do others know you have a job? For others, and yourself a key indicator is that you go of to work every day. However that may just make you a volunteer, not an employee, so a better measure is that not only do you go to work, but at the end of the week, or month, you get paid, and are able to use that money in your living.

It is similar for us as believers. God is our employer, we serve him, and our pay packet is in the form of the Holy Spirit. from the day we start working for him the Holy Spirit is the seal, the evidence of our salvation. Where does it all come from? It comes from God. In the bible it also says that it is the Spirit within us that bears witness to our salvation. But sometimes memory helps to. If you were paid in your job yesterday it will be another month before you get paid again, yet you are still employed. Likewise, if you are feeling far from God today that does not mean your salvation is any the less, look back at your life and remember what God has already done in you, and praise him.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Issue 5 - Day 2

1 Corinthians 16

1 Corinthians 16:15-16

  1. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
  2. That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

As a pastor, passages like this always feel like self promotion, as the basic message here is submit to those God has put in authority in the church. There is a deeper message however, each one of us needs to become one that helps and labours, and has addicted themselves to the ministry.

The Thessalonians had been praised for their witness to all Achaia, and this family, the house of Stephanas, was the first fruits of that witness. Firstfruits are important in scripture. It is our firstfruits we give in tithe, it is the first sons that Israel dedicated to the Lord, it was the firstfruits that belonged to God, and we are no exception. Do you see yourself as a first-fruit? You are, to God, and he wants you to server him as such.

How would you describe your service of God? Are you addicted to serving him? We are to submit to authority, but do you also submit to God? In our service to God, we must be 100%. We must be prepared to serve in all things, to help in every way, and to labour, that is to Work hard at what God has given us. What has God given you to do? Do it to the limit of your ability.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Issue 5 - Day 1

1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15:57-58

  1. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. 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.

One of the keys of bible study is context, and this passage is no exception. The context is that we live life in sinful bodies, and will rise again to be with Christ in spiritual, sinless bodies. Death, therefore is not a tragedy, but a glorious moment when we can finally leave our sinful bodies behind, and worship God without hindrance for ever.

In this context, your labour for God is not in vain, for you are storing up riches in Heaven, investing in your future. As I once heard it said, pastors, and missionaries are not paid well, but they have the best retirement package the world has ever known! Paul encourages us therefore to be stedfast, unmoveable, and abounding in the work of the Lord. Whatever God has given you to do, give it 100%. Being stedfast in the work of the Lord means, having strong foundations, which can only be built by reading the bible and applying the word of God to our lives. Being unmoveable in the work of the Lord, means having the strength to continue in that work no matter what, which is power given by the Holy Spirit. To abound in the work of the Lord, means to not only do it, but to exceed all expectations, including your own.

Ask God this week, where I am unsure of where I stand, teach me that I may stand on a rock. Lord, where I am weak, make me strong. Lord, in what you have given me to do, help me do even more.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Issue 4 - Day 7

1 Corinthians 14

1 Corinthians 14:23-25

  1. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
  2. But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
  3. And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

Speaking in tongues is always a contentious subject. I grew up in a church speaking in tongues, and so experienced that whole scene. Did it benefit me or anyone else? Not really. I now know that the word 'tongue' in the bible is more usually known in modern English as 'language'.

Paul reminds us that speaking in another language that those present do not know is just speaking to the air. He says, why do it! Further he is clear, anyone coming to a place where everyone is speaking rubbish will just think us all mad. How can it be a sign to the unbeliever if he cannot understand? Instead seek prophecy.

The disciples spoke the word of God powerfully, and amazed all as they were not educated men. Pray that you can speak the word of God powerfully also, for that is what prophecy is, and always has been, knowing what God is saying, and communicating it to the people around you. When unbelievers hear the Word of God, it is a sword, cutting deep, as it reveals the truth of their hearts. The people were amazed at the power of the disciples and knew that it was from God, so shall they be with you.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Issue 4 - Day 6

1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13:7-8

  1. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
  2. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

A slightly different spin from usual on these verses today. The question is, what lasts forever? The answer is charity, from the Greek agape meaning a caring love. I am not talking of the selfish "love" of the rich and famous that goes after a few years as they move on to another partner, but true love as described in this passage.

My wife's grandmother was an example in this. She exhibited this love all her life. As she grew older, she spoke less, remembered less, and so on. In her younger years she would be the first to pray and give testimony in church, but not in later years. However she never stopped loving. It has been the same with my grandparents.

Why do we hold sure store by the things that will cease? Our whole lives are spent investing in things that will not last. How much better to invest in what will last. Loving one another Christ says is the second commandment, after loving God. Invest in our relationships with God, and one another, for those are the things that last.

The bible tells us that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. What do you really treasure in life, and is it the right thing in light of this passage?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Issue 4 - Day 5

1 Corinthians 12

1 Corinthians 12:15-17

  1. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
  2. And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
  3. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

What is your role as part of the body of Christ? We are talking local church here. It would be a rather disjointed body with a nose in London, an ear in Paris, and an eye in Rome! We function together in the local body of Christ. But are you playing your part, or are you causing the church to limp?

I sometimes wake in the morning to find I have been lying on my arms. I just can't feel them, and they won't move. At worst I may be stuck there a few minutes trying to roll over. Then strikes problem number two, until they wake up I can't turn off the alarm! On other occasions one arm is to busy massaging life back into the other that it can't do anything else. Many times the church is like this. The arms are asleep, and the rest of the body struggles to make up for this, but we still can't turn off the alarm. If you are an eye and refuse to do what God has for you then the whole body will walk into a wall.

Three challenges today. Firstly, pray that God would show you your role in the church. Secondly, start doing that role. Thirdly, watch out for others failing to do their role, and encourage them to do what God has created them to do.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Issue 4 - Day 4

1 Corinthians 11

1 Corinthians 11:28-29

  1. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
  2. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

Coming together and sharing in bread and wine was a common occurrence in bible times, as it is today. In fact we should do it more. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt, and in no area more so than communion. It becomes all to easy to come and share together without thought. Worse, we feel that if we do not take part some will think we have a problem in our lives. What greater shame than letting someone see through our holy mask that we put on to come to church! How backwards we are.

A question. What is the body of Christ? It is the church, that is us, the local assembly of believers. So the problem is failing to recognise that you are sharing with your brothers in Christ. At the far extreme some take communion, not even knowing what it is about, or not being part of the local church. They have failed to discern the Lord's body. More commonly we come and take part when we have argument with a brother in Christ. The bible tells us of old that if you are in that state, leave your offering at the altar and go find your brother to sort out the problem before you offer sacrifice to God. When we are not at peace with one another, how can we truly worship God?

Do you have issue with another in the church? If so, take opportunity to sort it out. Call them today. Pray together and re-unite in following God.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Issue 4 - Day 3

1 Corinthians 10

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

  1. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
  2. 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.

The two most common statements regarding temptation. "I have dealt with that problem in my life, and it will never catch me again.", "It’s not my fault, I couldn't help it." Eve used that second excuse in the garden of Eden. It didn't work then, and it doesn't work now. Which do you believe more, that you can't help but give in to the temptation, or that God is faithful, and has promised a way out?

A recent survey ranked the top five areas of greatest spiritual challenge in this order: Materialism, Pride, Self-centeredness, Laziness, Anger. Survey respondents noted temptations were stronger when they had neglected their time with God (81 percent) and when they were physically tired (57 percent). Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent). Non-believers can avoid the situations, and be accountable, but they cannot turn to God's word, or prayer. Personally I think Bible study should come higher on the list as it inspires prayer, and by using your time profitably helps avoid problem situations.

If you are struggling today, ask God to show you the way out of the situation that he has already provided. As it says in his word, trust in him and he will direct your paths.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Issue 4 - Day 2

1 Corinthians 9

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

  1. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
  2. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

What is your walk with God like? Are you running the race, or taking a leisurely stroll though life? Are you striving to win, or taking it easy? Do you expect to receive a crown at the end of the race, or a whoopee cushion?

Summer 2012 sees the Olympic Games coming to London. Thousands of Athletes all over the World having been training for the last four years, and more, with one goal in mind. They desire to come to London and take away the gold medal in their event. None of them is coming with the plan to come in last place. Even silver medal is not a target, only the gold. Only one will be victorious, only one will win the prize.

In our lives as believers our race is not against other believers, but is more akin to a time trial. We have a limited time on this earth and God wants us to use it to his glory. The aim, as with Paul, is to do our utmost that no-one should end up in hell because we did not try hard enough.

We have one goal set before us, to take the gospel to the World, then baptise and teach those who receive that word. The question is, are you prepared to give it 100%. Press on and claim the prize.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Issue 4 - Day 1

1 Corinthians 8

1 Corinthians 8:12-13

  1. But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
  2. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

How many things do we do that upset our brothers in Christ, or do we do that upset the people we are witnessing to? It is quite simple. If a brother in Christ does not drink, then when with him, do not drink. Well, not quite that simple, or no-one would eat nuts in my presence. However, no matter how great the temptation I will not eat nuts, and they could never lead me to sin. The issue is not what we eat or drink, as it is all food given to us by God. The issue is that for some people, some food and drink leads to sin, such as alcohol for alcoholics and so on. Causing a brother in Christ to sin, is also a sin.

What this comes back to is the example that we are setting. Time and again scripture teaches us to be an example, and we are always examples, either to the good, or the bad. What do people see when they see you? Ideally they should see Christ in you. In whatever you are doing, think three times. Firstly, is it right in the eyes of God. Secondly, does it look right in the eyes of those around you. It says in scripture, "avoid the appearance of evil". Thirdly, if your brother in Christ copies you, will it lead him to sin? A high standard in deed.

This week, ask God to reveal to you anything you are doing that may cause your brother in Christ to sin. Then be like Paul, and avoid them, for your brother's sake. Finally, go and apologise to him. They also need to know that it is not right.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Issue 3 - Day 7

1 Corinthians 7

1 Corinthians 7:32-33

  1. But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
  2. But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

Does God wish me to marry, or stay single? I am in a relationship, does God want me to continue in it or separate? Who can I date, if I am single? These are serious questions for people throughout history because relationships take up so much of our time. the better question is, how will this relationship, be it marriage, dating, or even friendship, affect my relationship with God?

God created marriage, and so it is a good thing for us to marry. He also likes it when people chose to remain single as they can dedicate their time and resource to him instead. If anyone married, however, does not try to please their spouse then this to is wrong. In fact, if you are single then you best fulfil the will of God by looking to the things of God as priority number one. If you are married you best fulfil the will of God by loving your spouse as it describes in Ephesians 5, and marriage is a powerful picture of the relationship between Christ and the church.

Seek first the will of God, and to please him whether you be married or single, and in every relationship ask how it affects your relationship with God. If God is not number one in your life then, why not? He called you by name, so now follow him with all your heart.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Issue 3 - Day 6

1 Corinthians 6

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

  1. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
  2. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Do you truly live and act in the truth that you are not your own? When you work, you labour for your boss. You are not your own, though paid to be that way. In old times slaves were literately not their own. When you work, who do you work for? When you complete a school project who do you complete it for? We are called to do all things as unto Christ.

Paul is dealing with a wider issue in this passage. In coming to God you became not only a new creation, but also a part of the body of Christ. The Corinthians were then going out and acting as part of the world, following another God, spiritual fornication. You are either in or out. Do not call yourself by God's name and then bring his name into disrepute by your actions! In this light, your body, your local church, is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore glorify God in your local church, in the same way as you work for your boss in your place of work, or for your teacher in the classroom.

Both as an individual, and as a member of the church, you are not your own, you belong to God. Therefore, live your life to bring glory to God personally, and as part of the local church. This week, look at your activities and ask yourself for each, if they glorify God. Then look at your involvement in the Church and ask yourself if you are glorifying God.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Issue 3 - Day 5

1 Corinthians 5

1 Corinthians 5:6-7

  1. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
  2. Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

Here is the dilemma. We are not to spend any time with evil doers, and Paul lists quite a few here. At the same time it is the evil doers who most need God to change their lives! For non-believers we must spend time with them to witness to them. For those who say they believe we are called to throw out anyone who is like this, as their effect is like yeast. The whole church will be brought down by their actions. No yeast was permitted at passover, and no sin is acceptable in the church. Yes we all do sin, and yes no-one if perfect, but the sin Paul refers to are the visible sins, the public sins if you like. The sins that will bring a church into ill repute.

All too often in the news we hear of pastors who have been caught sleeping with one, or more of their flock! We hear of pastors sent to prison for fiddling the finances to their own gain. What does this do to the church and it's witness? If there are people in the church known publicly to be a disgrace then the whole body is disgraced.

Firstly, in your own life ask God to reveal in you what needs to change. Avoid even the appearance of evil, and the standard here is God's word, not what is currently acceptable in our culture. Secondly, if you know someone in the body is sinning, confront them, and if necessary deal with the situation as the Bible directs. Become lumps, new lumps.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Church of Sardis

The Church of Sardis

Revelation 3:1-6

Letter From

This is a pretty special from. The seven spirits of God are manifest on Earth as the Holy Spirit. Jesus, at his baptism received the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, and so we know this is Jesus, aside from other reasons.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

  1. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
  2. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

We are given the Holy Spirit for many purposes, but primarily, so that we may walk in the ways of God.

The problem

Sardis, historically had a problem, they were lazy. Spiritually they were in the same state. They just couldn't be bothered.

They had therefore two problems.

  • They were spiritually dead.
  • They were not watching for the return of Christ

They could have dealt with the spiritual deadness by walking in the ways of God, that is the spiritual ways, not just the physical.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-3

  1. Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
  2. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
  3. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

Issue 3 - Day 4

1 Corinthians 4

1 Corinthians 4:1-2

  1. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
  2. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

What is the one key thing about stewards? Their care is not for themselves, and their own things, but for the things of others. Does this describe you? In addition, a good steward is faithful, and can be relied on by his master. Again, does this describe you?

In bible times a steward was the head of the household, organising the slaves and running the business of the house to best benefit his master. Today a steward will be one of those guys in a yellow jacket at big events, making sure the equipment is all set up and working, directing parking and so on. In neither case is this a role for someone whose interest is only for themselves. I have been to a few christian camps and the stewards are the ones up at four in the morning wrestling with soggy canvas, trying to make sure there is a tent for the next day's teaching to happen in. Forget sleep, forget staying dry, they can be relied on to make it happen!

Paul begs the Corinthians to be fathers, and not just teachers. This is in the same vein. Teachers transmit information, fathers additionally, provide, care, protect and so on. In your walk with God are you a faithful steward, are you a father? Can God, and others, rely on you to get the job done? Is God's will top of the list in your life? Ask God to show you areas in your life where this is not the case, and expect to be challenged.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Issue 3 - Day 3

1 Corinthians 3

1 Corinthians 3:2-3

  1. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
  2. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

This is one of the easiest passages to ignore, because everyone thinks they are grown up and meat eating carnivores. Even in physical terms kids think they should be treated like teenagers, and teenagers like adults. Sadly many adults are really just big kids, both physically and spiritually. The measure of whether we eat milk or meat is not how deep the bible studies we do, but how we life our lives. Are you arguing with your brothers or sisters all the time, do you live the same way as your non-christian friends? If you do not live as a follower of Christ every day then you are still a baby drinking milk.

Recently a mother was put in prison for killing her own child by force feeding her. Although less than six months, and not physically capable of digesting anything other than milk, this mother put a funnel down the child's throat and poured in pureed meat and vegetables. We rightly see this as grotesque, and ask how anyone could do this, however we are guilty of doing the same thing spiritually to ourselves. We force feed ourselves spiritual meat without digesting it.

Ideally we should read the Word of God, understand that passage, make a change to our lives to implement what God is saying, and continue to grow. Lord help me understand your Word, and show me how to change my life as a result.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Issue 3 - Day 2

1 Corinthians 2

1 Corinthians 2:12

  1. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Why do people not understand the bible? At times we find some passages difficult to understand, or struggle for the interpretation of a key verse. But non-believers can read the whole bible cover to cover and not see the evident power of God! Equally, we logically conclude that it is impossible for any human to understand an infinite God, but his own Word says we can.

Anyone who speaks two or more languages fluently will know what I experienced living in Italy for a while. At first I didn’t even understand the words, then as I improved in speaking Italian, I still didn't understand phrases. they just didn’t work in English. It wasn't until I began to absorb the culture, and understand where the people were coming from, until I absorbed the Italian spirit, that I came to understanding. My Italian is still pretty bad, though I get by with the family, and preaching the odd sermon. However the important thing is I understand.

No-one can truly understand the bible without the Spirit of God in them. Even then, many times we still do not get it, as we have not let his Spirit take control of every corner of our lives. The bible itself teaches every word of the bible is full of meaning, and relevance for us. Pray that God will teach you by his Spirit. As you read his Word, be expectant to hear his voice. As you let the Spirit of God fully guide every part of your life he will reveal to you the hidden mysteries of his Word.

Monday, 6 February 2012

AEM Prayer Update February 2012

Please pray for:

For the young people who have engaged with the youth work in Gjirokastër but are being actively discouraged by their parents from attending. Pray particularly for one girl who professes faith in Christ but is not allowed to have a bible at home.
For the young men whose participation in preaching and pastoral ministry has become increasingly important in recent weeks. Pray particularly for Petrit who preaches regularly in Gjirokastër but is now increasingly needed in neighbouring churches too. Pray also for Reni who is currently bearing the responsibility of his church in Delvinë, for Armand, a student who is being encouraged as a ‘Timothy’ by Shaun Thompson in the Gjirokastër church and for Ermal, a former student in the town who has now been asked to pastor his home church in a village between Lushnjë and Fier. Finally remember James Clarke as he is called on to preach more often using the Albanian language.
For the town of Ballsh; mentioned recently in these bulletins. Church leaders from Fier, Patos, Memaliaj and Gjirokastër met recently and jointly took the decision to restart regular meetings in the town as soon as practical arrangements can be put in place.

For the ‘Engaging Islam’ conference to be held between the 20th and 25th of February in Prishtina. This is a vital subject for our friends working in the region and Femi Cakolli stresses that our prayers should particularly ask that there be no compromise or contextualisation where the gospel is concerned.
For 'Ringjallja' church in Gjilan. We have recently been concerned at news from the church and ask you to pray for them without necessarily knowing details.

Thank God for Niko Treska's remarkable recovery and return to strength. Having believed in August that his work in Skopje would be on hold for at least six months, we were amazed to discover that he and Monda had already made three or four of their regular visits to Macedonia by the end of 2011.

Again we ask you to pray, without knowing full details, for a young man who is currently preparing to travel to Albania as part of an initial commitment to two years of full-time service.

Issue 3 - Day 1

1 Corinthians 1

1 Corinthians 1:10

  1. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

The church of Corinth was divided. They had a divided leadership and a divided body. Have you ever tried a three legged race, or have you ever seen Siamese twins you will know that they are two connected people who have to go the same way. If they disagree then it will be painful, and they will fall down. When churches are divided it causes pain and collapse. This is far from honouring God. However the start is in disagreements between brothers in Christ. Is there anyone in the church with whom you are not of the same mind?

The Corinthian problem began as the leaders started teaching different things so the people had to decide who to follow. In America a couple of years ago a couple were pastoring a church together. They disagreed so much that they divorced. He went, leaving her a pastor of the church. Half the church followed him. Leaving aside what she was doing as pastor in the first place, their differences of mind split a church and destroyed the witness in that town for years. Who will listen to the Word of the Lord, when the leaders of the church are arguing!

It all starts with a word, or rather lack of a word. Communication is the key. Two people cannot be of the same mind if they do not know what each other are thinking. As the BT advert used to say, “it’s good to talk”. Phone someone else in the church today. Pray together, and grow to be of the same mind, and let that mind be the mind of Christ.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Issue 2 - Day 7

2 Thessalonians 3

2 Thessalonians 3:11-12

  1. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
  2. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

Are you known to be a hard worker, or do you not work? Is your walk, worthy of God, or is it disorderly? Do you get on with life quietly, or do you gossip, and spend all your time minding other peoples business?

Paul would have been shot for his lack of political correctness these days. In England we are encouraged to cultivate a welfare state. There are people who ask, ‘why should I work when I can live for free’. Strangely, while Southwark has relatively low employment rates it has low unemployment rates. This is bulked up by income support, and the highest concentration of disability allowance in the country.

Paul was not however just saying, ‘get a job’, but was more concerned with the attitude of people, working or not. Some people are a pain in the neck, and some spend all their time talking about others. This is not walking a Godly life. Work hard at what God has given you, and be an example.

This passage also tells us to focus our efforts. Do not waste time, but help those who can be helped. Our time is not our own. God paid the price for your life, by dying on the cross. All our time is therefore the Lord’s and we should use it to his glory. In your work, school or home, ask yourself, am I bringing glory to God in my words and actions.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Issue 2 - Day 6

2 Thessalonians 2

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

  1. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
  2. Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

You may well be going on with God, firm in the conviction of what is to come. You may well be doing and speaking the words of God. However, are you established in these works? We often kick over tradition as an old practice that holds us back, but the truth is that we need to build tradition in our lives. Being established means to be set on an unstoppable path, dedicated to the task no matter what.

The Royal Mint is the UK’s oldest company. Established in 886, and wholly owned by the UK treasury, it still produces all the money used in the UK and in a number of other countries around the world. We would all be surprised if they suddenly stopped producing coins and instead went into the production of screws and nails. They are very firmly established in what they are doing. On the other hand, I saw a van recently that proudly announced that this plumbing company had been established three years ago. Not what I would call established at all. More of a recent start-up really.

Christ calls us to be established in the words and works he gives us to do. We need to be so firmly stuck into those things that nothing will change our path. Equally all would be surprised if we did. Ask God to build his strength and foundations in you today.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Issue 2 - Day 5

2 Thessalonians 1

2 Thessalonians 1:2-5

  1. So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
  2. Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

Have you ever asked, why is this happening to me, am I not doing everything that God said? You think you are working your hardest to do all that God has said, and yet still everything seems to go wrong. The challenge is how do you deal with the problems?

Persecution and trials are the physical proof that you are doing it right! Satan is happy when Christians are complacent. As soon as you start to actively follow God he gets worried and you will come under attack. God allows it so we may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God. Like Job, we will suffer at times, and God is using this to help us grow, to prepare us for the role he has for us, and to bring glory to Christ. It was no miracle when Michelangelo painted amazing pictures, but if I did then it could only be by the power of God. It is only in our weakness that the strength of God is demonstrated.
In our lives we can guarantee that we will suffer. Either you have suffered, you will suffer, or you are suffering now. Will those around you comment on your patience and faith? These are fruit of the Spirit that God wants to bless us all with, and he will use trials to build these qualities in you. In times of difficulty hold on to the faith that is in you, and pray for more faith and patience to endure. God will provide.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Church of Thyatira

This church faced problems of their own making because they forgot who they were worshiping.

Revelation 2:18-29

Letter from

This letter, uniquely is stated as being from the Son of God, none of the others are. The key to dealing with the problems of this church is to constantly remember who we worship, and who we serve.

Why is this important?

Exodus 20:2-5

  1. I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
  2. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  3. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
  4. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

He has eyes of fire. Fire is first and foremost a symbol of the righteousness of God, and also of his purity, and judgement of sin. Even the fires of hell are righteous judgement.

Finally we see he had feet of brass. They represent God’s authority and judgement.

This is our God, pure and in authority.

The problem

Although this church was known for it's good works they faced two key problems.

The first was women in leadership, teaching the church, which is clearly against God's word, see 1 Timothy 2:11-14 for example.

The second was what was being taught. This was a teaching of permissively adapting God's word to the prevailing culture. In today’s terms many churches teach cultural integration. While it is true that in order to understand the bible it helps if you already understand the culture of the time and place it was written, unless God specifically binds commands to that time, place or culture then it is still relevant today.

If the word of God does not fit the culture in which you life then it is the culture that must change, not the word of God.

Remember who it is we worship.

Issue 2 - Day 4

1 Thessalonians 5

1 Thessalonians 5:22-23

  1. Abstain from all appearance of evil.
  2. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are called to be blameless. The Bible tells us that our soul is blameless. It is our souls that are saved, made new creations in Christ, and are now without sin. Our spirit is continually at war with the spirit of God, wanting our way, not his. However, it is our bodies that are seen by others. Are your bodies blameless?

Once a teacher found something missing in the classroom and questioned the class to find who took it. She looked around the class. “Well, I know it’s not you Johnny,” she said, “it’s probably you Andy. Was it?”.

We judge people by their past. Some people are always in trouble, and others often seem to be trouble makers even if they aren't. Some are thought to be blameless. Why? Because they are never seen to do anything that even looks a bit wrong. they are above reproach.

Is that how you are? When something happens can no-one imagine it being your fault? The Law said, do not do wrong. Paul says that even appearing to do wrong is wrong. Sanctification means not even thinking about it, as Jesus taught in the beatitudes. God can see your thoughts, so his view of holiness is even higher. Lord protect my thoughts. I know I am not perfect, but I pray, perfect me by the renewing of my mind.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Issue 2 - Day 3

1 Thessalonians 4

1 Thessalonians 4:2-3

  1. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
  2. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

Are you a fornicator? Maybe you are in a literal sense in which case, seriously pay attention to this chapter, however I realised in context that fornication is the opposite of sanctification. The people of Israel were accused by God of playing the harlot (fornication) by following other gods! Sanctification, on the other hand is setting yourself apart for God. Are you seeking holiness? If not then you are worse than a prostitute, is what Paul is saying here.

If you read the book of Hosea you find an amazing demonstration of this. Hosea's family life reflected the "adulterous" relationship which Israel had built with other gods. The relationship between Hosea and Gomer parallels the relationship between God and Israel. Even though Gomer runs away from Hosea and sleeps with another man, he loves her anyway and forgives her. Likewise, even though the people of Israel worshipped other gods, God continued to love them and did not abandon his covenant with them.

Hosea gives us the good news, that God is ready to forgive us, but far more damming is our own self judgement. It is easy to say, I seek to do the will of God. It is harder to say, I am set apart for God. It is very hard to say, I am a prostitute because I have failed to follow God as I already know I ought! what in your life do you already know is against God’s will?