Saturday, 30 June 2012

Issue 23 - Day 6

Philippians 3

Philippians 3:15-17
15)  Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
16)  Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
17)  Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

Three things this morning, for all of us who are perfect. It would be more correct to say, “for all those who are being perfected.” God is at work in us, changing us day by day to be more like him, and the end goal is perfection in him.

Firstly, we are to be of a mind to press on toward the goal that is Christ, leaving behind the past concerns of the world and looking only to him. Pray that God would give you the strength to do this, and reveal to you what needs to change so that you can continue to grow in him.

Secondly, we are to remember what we have already got. What has God taught you so far? When at university I had to resit some exams, in the intervening time I was looking into other things and totally forgot the things I had learned. Needless to say, that was goodbye university! However we also forget what God has already taught us. Remember, and do those things.

Thirdly, we are to seek out those putting these things into practice. The disciples learned from, and emulated Christ. They then went out with the gospel and others learned from, and emulated them. Find someone who is walking in the ways of God and follow them. Do as they do in following Christ.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Issue 23 - Day 5

Philippians 2

Philippians 2:2-5
2)  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3)  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4)  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5)  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Our attitude toward others is crucial in our walk with God. I know many people who believe themselves to have amazing walks with God, yet they seem to hate everyone around them. This does not add up. You can’t say, I am going to esteem everyone better than myself except him, because he is a total …! This isn’t a worldly competition where your best score is the one that counts. We are in God’s economy where in this case the worst score is the one that counts. If you are not esteeming more highly the least popular of the people you know then you have failed to obey this command of God.

Think of the mind of Christ. Did Jesus ever heal most of the people except that really horrible guy, because he murdered some people? No, he healed specific people for a purpose, or everyone, with compassion. This is the heart we need to have. help specific people for a purpose, and have compassion on everyone who is in need. Did Jesus ever decide anyone to be too bad to ever repent? Yes, but not the ones we would have thought. Scripture is littered with accounts of him reaching out to beggars, thieves, the scum of society. It was the religious leaders of the day, the ones who should have been doing likewise but had hardened their hearts that he knew would not repent. We likewise need witness to all men that by any means some might be saved! Have the mind of Christ and go do the things he would have done in your place.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Issue 23 - Day 4

Philippians 1

Philippians 1:20-21
20)  According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
21)  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Is this your genuine experience in life? Do you really live for Christ, and would death be gain. There have been many martyrs over the centuries. Foxes book of martyrs records one Laurence Saunders in 1554.

In the afternoon of Sunday, October 15, 1554, as he was reading in his church to exhort his people, the bishop of London interrupted him, by sending an officer for him, a heretic he meant to prove him. After much talk concerning this matter, the bishop desired him to write what he believed of transubstantiation. Lawrence Saunders did so, saying, "My Lord, you seek my blood, and you shall have it: I pray God that you may be so baptized in it that you may ever after loathe blood-sucking, and become a better man."
After this good and faithful martyr had been kept in prison one year and a quarter, the bishops at length called him to the city of Coventry, there to be burnt. Told if he would recant, there was pardon for him. "Not I," replied the holy martyr, "but such as you have injured the realm. The blessed Gospel of Christ is what I hold; that do I believe, that have I taught, and that will I never revoke!" Mr. Saunders then embraced the stake, and frequently said, "Welcome, thou cross of Christ! welcome everlasting life!" Fire was then put to the wood, and, he was overwhelmed by the dreadful flames, and sweetly slept in the Lord Jesus.

Is death gain? Would you burn like Laurence, glad to stay true to God’s word to the end?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Issue 23 - Day 3

Ephesians 6

Ephesians 6:10-13
10)  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11)  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12)  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13)  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

When you are struggling, do you ever think about the spiritual side of things? Often the furthest we go is to blame the devil when stuff goes wrong. However scripture is clear. There is a battle going on, and it is as real as the war in Iraq was. When we seek the salvation of a friend it is spiritual, and the only way it will happen is if the spiritual battle is won, then the physical will change to match.

So, take up the armour of God and put it on. Don’t saunter through life hoping it will just work out, because it won’t. We desperately need to put on the armour, and in any attack our weapon of choice must be the word of God. it cuts deep. Even when discussing things with people who don’t believe the bible, using the words of scripture will be heard and respected. Take the gospel everywhere as messengers of God, that is why he put us in the situations we are in. Hold up the shield of faith, and faith comes by hearing the word of God. Wear truth, the word, and righteousness, which comes from Jesus, the word of God made flesh. Top is off with the helmet of salvation that you gained by listening to the word of God and believing in him. It all comes back to the word. In this spiritual battle the Word of God is our strength, and is the kit bag of the spiritual soldier.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Issue 23 - Day 2

Ephesians 5

Ephesians 5:5-8
5)  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6)  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
7)  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
8)  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

It is often hard not to define people by what they do. In this passage we are warned of the destiny of idolaters etc. and then also warned not to join with them in idolatry. Surely this would make us idolaters also! In fact, it would. I have three girls, they are all my children, and always will be, it is a fact of their birth, not of how they live their lives. One day I will die and they will inherit all my stuff, such as it is. However, if one of them decides to run off to Columbia with a drug dealer, to live with him, I most certainly will cut them out of their inheritance. They will still be my daughter, but with no inheritance.

This is the same situation we find ourselves in with God. We have come to him, and become his children. Nothing can separate us from his love, but we can chose to walk in darkness. The result will be no inheritance in the kingdom of God, that is Heaven. Some are living in darkness because they are not children of God, but of disobedience, but we who are light in God have no excuse. As it says, why are we taking part in these acts of darkness when we are light? Fair enough if a blind man walks into things, but if you can see where you are going, why put on a blindfold in order take a walk?

Pray that the blind would see, and walk in the light yourself.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Issue 23 - Day 1

Ephesians 4

Ephesians 4:11-15
11)  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12)  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13)  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14)  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15)  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

I think everyone would agree that we all want to be strong, no more children. We want to speak the truth in love. we would also love to be perfect, and live in unity together. Sometimes it seems a real challenge to get anywhere close. So how do we get there. God in his wisdom has given the church pastors, teachers, evangelists and so on. These are given to help you grow in faith, in love, in knowledge and understanding.

The primary ways for pastors etc. to help you grow are through teaching in meetings. Sunday mornings, midweek studies and so on. The secondary ways include encouraging you to get involved in one-on-one discipleship, active participation in ministry, and so on. If we want to grow, and we know pastors are given for this purpose, why then do so many fail to come to bible studies, and decline to get involved in active ministry? I think it because we forget that God has appointed these men. I sometimes forget it as a pastor myself. Time to get growing, so listen to sound doctrine, and put it into practice in your life.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Walking for God - The Son of God

So, if we want to walk for God the first step is in following after Christ.

  1. Pray
  2. Read
  3. Worship
  4. Put it into practice by serving.
 Listen Now

Issue 22 - Day 7

Ephesians 3

Ephesians 3:14-17
14)  For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15)  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16)  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17)  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Why do you pray? Do you pray? I trust the question is the former rather than the later, however we read a lot about prayer in the bible and this passage gives us yet another reason to seek God. Much like elsewhere in scripture the focus is not inward, but outward. Intercession for others is a key motivator in prayer. It is also a good thermometer for your prayer life. When you have not been praying, been praying little, or perhaps come to prayer for the first time, you will find your prayers to be looking inward. “Lord, save me...”, “Lord, help me...”, “Lord, give me...”, are characteristic prayers of this time. As we spend more time with the Lord our prayers turn first to him, “Lord, you are ...”, and then outward. “Lord, I pray for …”.

What then is Paul requesting here, and likewise should we pray for one another? Inner strength, indwelling of Christ, and good grounding. To the unbeliever there can be no more nebulous prayer than for inner strength. They see only the outward issues. But this is the reason we ask not that a brother in Christ would stop a particular sin, but that God would give them the strength to stop and repent. The inner change will lead to an outer action, and it is the inner change that will last.

Pray for a brother in Christ today. “Lord, give them strength”. Call them up to encourage them, and maybe even pray together on the phone.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Issue 22 - Day 6

Ephesians 2

Ephesians 2:8-10
8)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9)  Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10)  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

This is one of my favorite passages, and it demonstrates the duality of salvation that is often missed. Many people really need to concentrate on verse 9, and others on verse 10. Sadly we usually teach the two separately, when what is needed is to understand them together, either extreme is wrong.

As Paul asked the Galatians, how did you come to salvation? It was a free gift of God, you could not earn it, and you cannot keep it by your own strength. It is given or taken away by God and him alone, and he has promised never to cast us out. So, on this level, all you must do is believe. Here however is the trap. Having learned that works to not save you, nor do they retain your salvation many then continue in sin because “they are saved”, and need not work for it. Paul also said of this attitude, “shall I then continue in sin that grace may about? God forbid!”

So we come to the second side of salvation. You are not just saved from the punishment for sin, but are also freed from the bondage of sin. Before coming to the Lord it was impossible for you to do any good work, that is a work that pleases God. Once saved, you are free to do every good work, and walk in that new life in Christ. It is like being jobless and homeless, and gaining a good job with accommodation supplied. You are saved from misery on the streets and now have money to spend. However your “salvation” is given so that you can do the job you are employed for. Same with spiritual salvation. Now go live it.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Issue 22 - Day 5

Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1:11-14
11)  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12)  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13)  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14)  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

What are you here for? What is your purpose? It is easy in today’s consumer driven society to confuse accomplishment and purpose. We are led to believe that if we do not achieve that qualification, that promotion and so on, if we do not get that house, that job, that family, then we have failed in our purpose. Seeing the Queen celebrating sixty years on the throne recently threw up some interesting discussion. Some said she has worked hard, and continues to do so. Others said, what is so hard about attending sixty years of posh dinners and waving lots! The Queen is not to be measured by her workload, but by her purpose, and the purpose of the Queen is to represent the nation and to be its focus for the people, to be the embodiment of England. In this she has definitely fulfilled her purpose.

What is your purpose? It has been determined since before the world began that anyone who is “in Christ”, that is a believer in him, has one purpose. That we should be to the praise of his glory. We are to praise him, and bring praise to his name. We are to recognise his glory, and demonstrate his glory. Are you fulfilling that purpose? Whether in worship, witness or daily living your life for him, all things should be done to his glory. Fulfill your primary purpose.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Issue 22 - Day 4


Philemon 1:4-6
4)  I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,
5)  Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;
6)  That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

How effectual are you at communicating your faith? Or, to put that in simple terms, can you tell others about Jesus, and do they come to know him as a result? Churches across the globe pour thousands into programs to increase our ability to share the gospel. Use this special technique, they say. Buy our program and learn how to be effective in your witness. Practice with role play, write out your testimony, do this, say that, and you will be more effective. All these things help us to speak. In fact our primary problem is that when it comes to the things of God we tend to clam up.

Paul teaches a totally different way to be more effective in our witness. For us, as we seek to share our faith, our love and faith toward Jesus, and other believers should be such that it is spoken of by others. More importantly we need people to be praying for us that this indeed happens, and especially thanking God for every good thing that is in us.

How much do you pray for your brothers in Christ? How often do you thank God for what he has done, and is doing in them? Make a list of your brothers in Christ, and pray for them daily. Maybe you decide to pray for a different group of believers each day. I personally use landmarks on my journey to work, so when I pass that place I am reminded to pray for that particular person. I’m not telling who gets Battersea Power Station, and who gets Battersea Dogs Home! The important thing is pray for one another always.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Issue 22 - Day 3

Colossians 4

Colossians 4:2-5
2)  Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
3)  Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
4)  That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
5)  Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

If there is one thing that characterises the true follower of Christ more than any other it is walking in wisdom. As you follow Christ closer you will find that even non-believing friends will come to you for comfort and advice. Even when they don’t believe, somehow they still understand that you have a wisdom that is not of this world, but of God. How do they know you have this wisdom? It is evident in your speech. If it is not evident in your speech, and your friends do not recognise this wisdom in you then ask yourself, am I following God, walking in all wisdom?

The second thing Paul challenges us with is how we are using our time. In fact he asked the Colossian church to pray specifically for him in this respect, that he would use his time in speaking the words of God. That is, the fact that Christ came, died and rose again, that we may live in him. If Paul needed prayer to take this on, how much more do we. It is the final command of Christ to us, to go and speak his word to all.

Finally, remember to pray. Prayer detailed here as intercession, watching and giving thanks. It is impossible to walk with God without spending time with him. Ask, and you will receive, watch that you may hear what is God’s will, and give thanks in all things. Set aside time to pray each day. If you already do that, set aside five minutes more. However, cultivate an attitude of prayer in your life, that your first thought would be of prayer, and to seek God.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Issue 22 - Day 2

Colossians 3

Colossians 3:1-3
1)  If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2)  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3)  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

We continue with the subject of our walk. In times past, and in fact sadly in many cases even now, we walked in the ways of evil. Maybe you feel safe in never having indulged in fornication (sex outside of marriage), or inordinate affection (sex with the same sex), or maybe you have, I don’t know. However, what about covetousness (wanting what others have), anger, filthy communication out of your mouth. This is all part of your old man, your old nature. We should not be continuing to walk in our old ways.

Paul reminds us to seek those things which are above, and to set our affection on things above. The only difference between us as believers, and those already in heaven is that we are still dragging about our sinful flesh. Our focus should be on Christ and the things of God. Yes we still live in this world but our walk must be with God. Anyone who gets married and spends all his, or her time back home with their parents instead of with their spouse is not going to have much of a marriage. In the same way, when we come to know the Lord it is a marriage, the church is the bride of Christ. What kind of relationship is this if we do not spend time with him?

How does this practically change your life? What are you doing that is not of God? it is time to set it aside. How much time do you spend with God, and how much time with the things of the world? Change your focus to look to God and his ways. Spend time in his word, and spend time in prayer. Like any relationship, the more time you put into it the more it will grow.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Issue 22 - Day 1

Colossians 2

Colossians 2:6-7, 9-10
6)  As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
7)  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

9)  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10)  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Again today we see that key statement of Paul to the Colossians, “walk ye in Him.” Imagine yourself to be a tree, Psalm 1 uses the same imagery. A tree puts down its roots to gain nourishment from the soil and drink from nearby water sources. When a tree has its roots deep in good soil it grows well, and strong, but if the soil is crumbly it will get washed away. The tree is easily uprooted by the wind, and if it grows at all, will grow thin so it can be blown about by the wind without breaking.

We are so like that tree. All too often people put their roots into soft soil because it is easy, taking what spiritual food is easy to digest and ignoring the rest. They then grow thin and weak, blowing about in the wind of doctrine. Every time a new teaching comes along they bend to it, and are often uprooted to land somewhere else.

We need to be the oak tree, with roots in the word of God, and in Christ himself. When the wind blows such cannot be moved and will not break. We know the truth and are not dissuaded by any soft words. Completeness is only found in Christ, and living plugged in to his word is the only way to grow strong. In him, and in true teaching from his word is fulness. Any other teaching is at best watered down, weak, easy to swallow, but not good.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Complete in Christ - Asceticism

Ascetics today give up everything to sit on a pole, Ascetics of old would dedicate their lives to a cause like training for sport. Are you dedicated to God in that way? Listen Now

Issue 21 - Day 7

Colossians 1

Colossians 1:9-11
9)  For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10)  That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11)  Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

We have finally coincided with our sermon series here at MRBC! As such I feel we are in some ways repeating ourselves here and in some ways re-enforcing it. For the next four days we get the chapter summaries for what we are digging deep in on Sunday mornings.

The key to Colossians is here in chapter one. “walk worthy of the Lord”. I that what you are doing? Paul has this one prayer for them, and the same is applicable to us, that we may know God’s will, have wisdom, knowledge and understanding. That is not only a head knowledge, but knowing when to apply that knowledge, and actively putting into practice these things in our lives.

Do you want to be fruitful? do you want to be strong in the Lord? Well, it is time to walk in all the ways that you have learned of him. We know, how we are to live our lives, so the time has come to do it. It starts from two key actions. Pray, and read the word of God. It is only through reading the Word that we can come to know his will, and it is only through prayer, communication with God, that we turn that knowledge into actions. You spend time with friends and loved ones? Why do you not spend the same time with the Lord! He is far more important and vital to our lives than any other. Make him number one in your life today.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Issue 21 - Day 6

Romans 16

Romans 16:1-2
1)  I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
2)  That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

I have two questions of you this morning, and I think both are a challenge to us all. Firstly, how would others describe you, and secondly how do you treat servants within the church?

Phebe is recorded for all eternity in scripture as being a servant of the church, and a succourer of many including Paul himself. Is that how people would describe you? Are you seen by all as a servant of the church? The implication here is that if you went to Cenchrea, basically the eastern port of Corinth, you would find Phebe helping out with whatever needed doing in the church. everything from cleaning to serving food, from teaching the children to caring for the elderly, she would be there helping. She also had a heart for those in pain. If you were struggling through difficulties in your life, she would be the first one there with an encouraging word and counsel. Is that you? If we follow the example of Christ it should describe us all, though I know it does not.

As I said, the second challenge is how we treat others in the church. It should not have been necessary for Paul to say anything as all believers should be this way, however we know we are not so hence the challenge. When someone is heading up a project and asks for your help, are you willing to do whatever you are able? When someone comes to visit are you ready to make them feel at home? Let us all have the same mind and heart as Christ.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Issue 21 - Day 5

Romans 15

Romans 15:8-12
8)  Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
9)  And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
10)  And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
11)  And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
12)  And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.

One of the big problems that Jewish scholars have, and indeed had even at the time of Jesus, is that they thought the Messiah would be the saviour of the Jewish nation, and the ruler of the Jews. They never understood that he would be more than that, and therefore could not be a king, or a military saviour in the manner they thought. The messiah would indeed be Jewish, but he came also to reign over the rest of the world. A king would rule, whereas the messiah would reign!

If you rule, you set the regulations for action and control your subjects. If you reign, you occupy the throne and exercise your authority. One controls, the other is to be followed. It is similar to the difference between a shepherd leading his sheep, or a goatherd driving his goats.

Jesus is the good shepherd, and we are to follow him. He came from the line of Jesse, but he came to reign over all the world. Let him reign in your heart, put him on the throne of your life. He does not demand to rule over you, he desires that you let him reign in you. This is the good news of the gospel, someone to love and obey, not someone to run scared from. Therefore confess his name, sing of him and make him known to the World.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Issue 21 - Day 4

Romans 14

Romans 14:13-16
13)  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
14)  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
15)  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
16)  Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

It is easy to take offence at the habits of our friends. Some people have a real problem with eating certain food, or drinking alcohol. Some have problems with watching certain films,reading certain books, or going to certain places. In many cases we need not ask if something is right or wrong, for that is self evident, but rather, does it offend my brother?

We recently had the mayoral elections here in London, and our polling station had moved to the local buddhist temple. What a dilemma! On the one hand, who cares what the building is used for. On that day it was a polling station, and nothing more. Even if it is a buddhist temple, I’m not going there to worship, so it does not matter. On the other hand, I am the pastor of the local baptist church. If I went to vote there I would definitely meet people I know in the community who may question why I am going there. In the same way as I know many muslims who have not allowed their children to come to birthday parties in our church hall, because it is a church. As it happens I didn’t go for other reasons, however it is a reminder that people see us, and see representatives of the church. What are we saying by our actions? We may be happy to do all sorts of things that are not sin yet those who see us may think them not right, therefore we should avoid these things.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Issue 21 - Day 3

Romans 13

Romans 13:1-4
1)  Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2)  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3)  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4)  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Paul wrote this letter to the Romans around ten years before the great fire of Rome. Nero was already in power, but his major persecution of Christians did not begin until he accused them of causing the great fire of Rome. So at this point, the main question in their minds was, do we obey Nero, who just gained power by assassination? Even later when the persecution started these words still remained true.The rulers of this world, no matter how evil, are set in place by God. Even Pharoah was set in place by God, and in fact it says that he was put there specifically to bring about the liberation of Israel, despite the fact that he began his reign punishing, killing and enslaving them.

We do not know in most cases why God has let certain people gain power in this world, though he uses them all to work his plan regardless of who they are. We then are to obey the authorities, unless doing so goes against God. Leaders that bring peace are clearly good. Leaders that bring persecution are also being used of God, for out of persecution our faith grows. Just look at how the church has exploded under persecution in China. Pray for our leaders, that we may have freedom to follow God in peace.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Issue 21 - Day 2

Romans 12

Romans 12:10-13
10)  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11)  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12)  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13)  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

This whole chapter is focused on how we are to grow, and be transformed into the likeness of Christ, living together as the body of Christ. As we become more like him we are given gifts to benefit the body as a whole. Everyone is different, has different gifts, and each is as needed as the next. Here we get a full explanation of what is brotherly love. All too often this must be spelt out as in many families today we are sadly lacking in brotherly love toward our physical brothers.

What is brotherly love then, so that we can put it into practice? Firstly put others first, and secondly by being hard workers. True love will never stop, and is always busy trying to do whatever you can for those around you. These days we are consumed by the desire for “me” time. We must have the time and space to explore who we are. While we do need to get stuff done for ourselves the entire concept of “me” time is not biblical. The only “me” time in the bible is actually “God” time. It is time set aside for you to be with God. In 21 verses Paul speaks of many gifts, and many attitudes. Not one of them is self centred. They all look to God, or to the needs of others.

Lord, show me where my gifts are, so that I can better serve others. Lord, help me use those gifts at all times, putting others first. Lord give me more time, but let it be “you” time not “me” time. I do want my time to be yours, yet I so often keep it for me. It is all a gift from you anyway so please take it and use it.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Issue 21 - Day 1

Romans 11

Romans 11:20-23
20)  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21)  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22)  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23)  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.

As saved saints by the grace of God it is easy for us to think that we have nothing to do to maintain our salvation. And indeed, nothing we could do gained our salvation, so how much less can we keep it by our own strength. We are saved, and retain that salvation only by the grace of God who gave it to us. However this does not mean that we can take it easy, far from it. We are saved in order that we be freed to do good works, which before we were unable to do because of the sin in us.

How does this relate to the people of Israel? They were and are God’s chosen people. He was their God in the desert, in the promised land, in captivity and in times of peace. However when they sinned as a nation they were punished as a nation. It was God’s plan for them to live in the promised land. It was his plan for them to serve him, build the temple, and lead the people of the world in worship of the most high God. Unfortunately they failed as a nation and so were removed from the land, the temple destroyed until such time as they repented. Their repeated disobedience opened the way for us to receive of the promises of God also. If God punished them, how much more will he discipline us when we disobey him. Repent now, and follow him with all your heart.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Complete in Christ - Idolatry

Anything you put in front of God is an idol. What is in your life? Listen Now

Issue 20 - Day 7

Romans 10

Romans 10:8-11
8)  But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9)  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10)  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11)  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

The big difference between us as believers, and the Jewish nation pre-Christ, is that we are not bound to follow a set of laws in order to be part of God’s chosen people. All we need is the word of faith. There are two ways to treat this statement and both are a challenge.

Usually we emphasise the belief side of the equation. It is easy (we say) to say the right words, but unless you also believe in your heart then you will not be saved. It is my misfortune to recall a friend from school, he was part of the church youth group, said all the right things, prayed with us, say miracles of healing take place, and generally looked the part of a Christian. Sadly, meeting him in later years he said that it had all been a pretence to fit in as he felt so lonely as a kid. He said the words but it was not in his heart at all.

On the other hand I feel we are often stuck the other way round. We are happy to believe in our hearts as long as we never have to say anything. We are scared we will look stupid, we think we don’t know what to say. However scripture is clear. If we confess with our mouth, that involves telling others what you believe. The word is in our mouth to preach. So preach. I don’t mean everyone gets into the pulpit, but everyone must speak of his faith to his friends. Do not be ashamed, and in fact believe and you WILL not be ashamed.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Issue 20 - Day 6

Romans 9

Romans 9:1-3
1)  I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
2)  That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
3)  For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Do you have relations who don’t know the Lord? Do you have relations who know him yet are not following him? How do you feel about that? Paul felt so strongly about his fellow Jews, his physical relations, that he had continual sorrow in his heart. In fact he wished that he could take their punishment so that they could be saved, though he knew this was not possible, Christ has already done that.

What needs to change in our lives is that we don’t have that desire to see our relations saved. We certainly therefore don’t have that desire to see total strangers saved. Yet this is exactly what the bible instructs us to do. We are told time and again to share the gospel, to reach the lost, and to love one another as Christ loved us. Why have we lost that urgency to see people saved?

It is time to change. Pray that God would give you a heart for the lost. Ask him to let you see others as he sees them. One of the things that happens as we follow him is a renewing of our minds so that slowly we come to have the mind of Christ. How fast or slow that process is depends on us. Now what will you do with that new heart? Get practical. Write down the names of two relations, and two friends, that do not believe in Christ, and resolve to pray for them daily until they are saved. go will give you that heart for the lost, when you remember who those lost are.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Issue 20 - Day 5

Romans 8

Romans 8:35-39
35)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36)  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37)  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38)  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39)  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is nothing that we face that can separate us from the love of God. For most of us we will never face anything like the trials listed here. The early church were thrown to the loins, burned alive, tortured, boiled, and generally attacked all the time for their faith, yet they stood strong, because anything that happened to them just meant they would arrive before the Lord that little bit sooner.

For us it is more subtil. From God’s point of view this is all true, nothing at all can get between him and us except for sin, for which we seek him for forgiveness. so even with sin, we can still get through to God in order that we may be forgiven. From our point of view it is not so bright. It seems that family, friends, work commitments, sports and TV appear to separate us from the love of God. Imagine that you are standing in a field with God by your side. There is indeed nothing that can get between you. Even if you run as fast as you can he will always stay with you. Unfortunately we often look away from God to other things. God is still with us. God still hears us. We however do not see him or hear him as he is stuck standing behind us. Time to turn around!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Babylon Blog - Part 1

Over the past few weeks we have been looking at what it means to be separate from the world and therefore looking at Babylon in the Bible.“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15
When we first start looking at Babylon (which is located in Modern Iraq) we firstly look back to Babel where the people decide to build a city. 

Babel – A world without God

Genesis 11:1-9


The Whole earth was united in one speech
The start of man not looking to God is being united as one and no longer seeing the need in God. 

We are always looking to ways where our communication is better I now have a phone where I can call, text, facebook, instant message, email, tweet and so on. Why? So i can communicate to more people than before. However apart from reading my bible on my bible app none of these things help me in looking to God.

When the world is united the first thing they forget is God. 


They build a City
When we build cities they are for us to stop at and dwell. 

God tells Noah to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth.  You cannot replenish the earth unless you are dwelling in the whole earth.  If you stop and build a city the statement is made that we are not moving. 
In application to us: Jesus says Go into all the World (Mark 16:15) – but we worry about buying a house and settling down.  The world tells us to settle – God tells us to Go.  The world tells us to make a home – God tells us He is making us a home.(John 14:2-3) 

God tells us to look for His coming – to live as if He is about to return (Titus 2:13, 2 Timothy 4:8).  So why then do we emphasise the need to settle down, buy a house, dwell?  Because that is what we have been taught by the world. 
(It is not wrong to buy a house but if your home becomes more important than going where God wants you to be or takes you away from where God wants you to be then it is)


Now they start building a Tower that will reach to the sky (heaven meaning sky in this context).  And the reason for this is to make a name for themselves.  They again forget God and rather than giving Him glory they give themselves glory. 
This is enmity with God
We worship only one God and only His name should be praised.  (Matthew 4:10)

God is in control

In verse 5-9 – God turns up realising what is happening He messes with the one thing that unites – Communication.  This results in the people scattering across the world (what God wanted in the first place) and the city is left unbuilt thus no one making a name for themselves – except the place is called “Babel” the Hebrew word for “confusion”


The World is confused – They want to be One, Settle down and make a name for themselves.  However they are confused as they do not have a space for God.  
We are enlightened – God wants us to be One in Him, Look to the Home He is making for us and bring glory to His name.  However when we do not listen to God we easily fall back into the thinking of the world.  

Issue 20 - Day 4

Romans 7

Romans 7:18-21
18)  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19)  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20)  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21)  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

On an early morning visit to Smithfield market it is interesting to watch the people passing by. There are three sorts of people there at four in the morning. Of course the stall holders, who always seem to busy to serve anyone. Then there are those who are striding from stall to stall, full of purpose, checking the meat, asking prices to find that special bargain. Finally you see a few people in coats over their pyjamas who are clearly wondering why they got up so early, totally lost, and unfocused. They also haven’t realised that they look like they have been dragged through a hedge backwards!

Paul finishes up this chapter with a bit of a moan. “Oh wretched man that I am!”. Like the early morning shoppers at Smithfield we are all too often wondering through our lives, unfocused and not noticing the state we are in. As soon as we begin to focus on what God has done for us, and who he is we begin to see ourselves in that light, like Paul, oh wretched men we are! Every time we try to do the right thing we find ourselves doing the opposite. For every step towards God we seem to take three steps back. The mirror of God’s word, the “law” reveals the sin in us like the unwelcome mirror in the early hours of the morning revealing our physical state. what then do we do?
Serve the Lord with a glad heart, and rely on him for the spiritual clean-up.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Issue 20 - Day 3

Romans 6

Romans 6:5-8
5)  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6)  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7)  For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8)  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

How many dead people have you seen sinning? Well, okay, it is true that you only ever see dead people doing anything in zombie films where even being a zombie is pretty evil to start with. But outside of fiction, dead people don’t tend to get around much. Somehow when we come to Christ we turn into zombies. Our old nature, it says in scripture, is dead. It is nailed to the cross with Christ. Why is it then that we still sin? Clearly the zombie urge is strong.

What we fail to realise is that our old nature is indeed dead. That body of sin was destroyed. Not that we will no longer sin, but so that we do not have to serve sin. All too often we live our lives in bondage to sin. At every turn the same old temptations hold on to us. But we don’t have to give in to them anymore. In fact we won’t even contemplate that sin if we are fulfilling the word of God and living in him.

Imagine you are the head butler for David Beckham, then you get offered the job as head butler to the Queen. Day after day the purpose of your life is now to serve the Queen. How much time will you have available to serve David Beckham as well? None at all of course. It is the same with God, if you are serious about serving him 100% then there is simply no time remaining to serve sin. Live your life for Christ and you will see your old nature truly die. Don’t be a spiritual zombie.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Issue 20 - Day 2

Romans 5

Romans 5:3-5
3)  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4)  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5)  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do things always go wrong for me? Is it not possible for us to get through an entire month without something breaking! These are all questions we ask ourselves, and all too often. For non-believers it is even more confusing as they mistake the occurrence of disasters, both natural and human, for evidence of a lack of a caring God. We on the other hand know that there most definitely is a caring God, however he has given over depraved man to the consequences of sin. And it matters little if we ourselves did nothing, for the sins of the previous generations still have consequences for us.

However, personal difficulties are not just random for the believer. The source of tribulation for us is the devil, and God allows it to happen to the limits of what we are able to handle. He has promised we will never be tested beyond our limits, and he knows them far better than we do. the question is, how will you react to these trials? In light of Romans, we know that God not only allows these things to happen, but is actively using them to help us grow. We all need more patience, experience and hope. And hope leads to love of God, and then to witness.

Next time you face trials in your life how will you react? Will you grow in patience? Will you learn from the experience? Will your hope in Christ increase as a result? I hope so. This is why we are given the Holy Spirit in us.