Mar 312017
 

Honour God with your bodyOver the last few weeks we’ve been looking at ways that we can honour God in our everyday lives. Two weeks ago we looked at how we can take God to work with us and ways that we can honour Him there. And then last week we looked at how we can honour Him with our finances. I thought I would continue this general theme over the next few weeks and look at how we can honour God with our bodies. I’m going to take two weeks because it is a really big subject with many aspects.

This week we will look at a biblical perspective of our bodies and then next week we will look at a few practicalities.

As always, I will back up what I say with bible verses. An important one on this subject is:

..do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

The Apostle Paul in this letter to the Corinthians has just been spelling out the fact that our bodies are important and God cares about what we do with them. In ancient Greek culture they were very strong on a subject called dualism. Basically they separated the spirit or soul and the body. They considered that the soul was the most important thing, but the body didn’t really matter. In some cases it was even considered evil. They thought that it really didn’t matter what you did with the body, hence they were happy to over indulge sexually or with food and drink. As I hope to set out in the following few points, God has a different view of the body.

  • It is very significant that God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ took on a physical body

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14)

Do you think that God himself would live in a physical body if it was not important?

  • God created the world (including our bodies) and stated that He thought it was very good

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

  • Psalm 139 talks about us being knit together before we are born and being fearfully and wonderfully made. That sounds really special to me:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)

  • We don’t need to present animal sacrifices anymore, but instead we present our own bodies as living sacrifices in order to please God.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

  • The Holy Spirit Himself has chosen to honour our bodies by dwelling within us. Our bodies are the new temples:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

  • God sees us as a whole; spirit, soul and body, all wrapped up together;

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

  • The bible makes it clear that it is possible to honour Christ with our bodies;

it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honoured in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:20)

  • Even though our bodies are currently imperfect, when we die we will gain a new and improved body. We won’t cease to have bodies and live in a spirit state:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:21)

Next week I will continue this theme and look at ways that we can honour God with our bodies.

 March 31, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Mar 242017
 

Honouring God with your moneyLast week we looked at taking God to work with you, how we can honour Him in our day to day lives. This week I’m going to consider a similar theme of how we can honour Him with the way we handle our finances. The book of Proverbs in the bible has loads of wisdom about money, wealth and giving but the key verses I’m considering today are;

Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)

We don’t tend to use the word firstfruits anymore, but it was used a lot in biblical times when they lived in Agrarian societies. Farmers would produce crops and it was the first and best that God asked for. This giving was called a tithe and it was usually about 10% of what was produced although there were lots of different types of giving. There are many mentions of giving and specifically tithing in the Old Testament, but one of the passages which sets out the blessings and cursings of giving or not are set out in the book of Malachi 3:6-12.

Although today, Christ has superseded the Old Testament law, as Christians, many of us tithe and carry on the principle of giving to God. We don’t do it out of necessity but as a gesture of thankfulness and gratitude to a God who generously provides all good things for us to enjoy. In fact now that the law has been superseded we can now go beyond just giving 10% as we recognise the amazing grace and provision that has been poured out upon us.

I think the principle of firstfruits is a very good one. To consider giving to God first before any regular commitments or bills are paid. Some will cover their obligations first and then see what is left to give to God. This is like a tip and is not honouring to Him. No, He deserves the first and best. When we give to Him first, not only is it an expression of gratitude, but also a sign of trust. He has provided for us in the past and He will provide for us into the future.

For the rest of this blog I’m just going to provide my thoughts of this general subject in bullet points. They are in no particular order, just as they enter my head!

  • Honouring God means being careful with debt. We should not borrow or owe more than we have the means to give back. If you are in debt, it probably indicates you are living beyond your means. Most churches offer good counselling services to help you get your finances on track.

The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is the slave of the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other (Romans 13:8)

  • God loves generosity. When we are generous we take after Him because He is supremely generous and extravagant and never holds back. There are tons of verses in the bible on this subject. Here are just a few;

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38)

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

  • Be especially generous to the poor and those who can’t pay you back.

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. (Proverbs 19:17)

Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. (Proverbs 21:13)

  • Give to your local church first as this is where you receive your principle spiritual nourishment. Consider giving by Gift aid (Available in the UK, not sure about other countries). This is where your giving in the offering is classified as Charitable giving and the chancellor of the exchequer effectively adds to your gift by repaying the tax without any cost to yourself. For example if you give £100 pounds your gift under gift aid is £125!
  • Resist the pull of money. It has the power to draw us away from God. Loving money can lead to worry and stop us depending on God. We covered this when we looked at ‘The sermon on the mount’ and specifically Matthew 6:25-35.
  • Make a budget. Live within your means. As I said before, give to God first and then make sure your responsibilities and bills are covered.

If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? (Luke 16:11)

  • Planning and saving for the future

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ (Luke 14:28-30)

  • We need to order our priorities and put God before money.

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. (Proverbs 15:16)

  • Wealth is worthless in the coming day of judgement. We can’t take it with us!

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. (Proverbs 11:4)

  • Wealth is temporary, transient and fleeting

Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone,
for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven. (Proverbs 23:4-5)

How we give reveals an awful lot about how much we trust in God, it demonstrates where we are placing our trust. Money can be used or abused. But with the right kind of heart it can be used to great effect in God’s kingdom and we can really honour Him with how we use it.

 March 24, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Money No Responses »
Mar 172017
 

Taking God to workIn my opinion, one of the greatest challenges in the Christian life is how to live effectively for God and especially, how to live for him effectively in the workplace.

Last year, due to a number of circumstances I undertook a complete career change. I was working as an IT support officer in a major government department and I am now a bus driver. It has been a complete change from sitting at a desk Monday to Friday from 9am till 5pm to driving buses every day of the week anytime between 5.30am and midnight. Shift work has been a huge culture shift and has affected me much more than I ever could have imagined.

My Civil Service career lasted 27 years and in many ways, I have to confess, I became complacent.

This change has really made me think about how I can live for God, at work, on a daily basis. I have come to realise that God wants to use us, even in the mundane existence of our day to day work, which almost never feels exciting and could in many ways be described as drudgery.

My experience is of course going to be different to yours (you may not even have paid employment). But I want to set out some observations about how we can honour God whatever we do, in our daily routine.

A great life verse to consider when thinking about this subject is:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

That is the bottom line of what we are trying to do. We want to live a life that pleases God. But what does that look like?

Firstly, I don’t think you should be putting yourself under so much pressure to ‘perform for God’. I don’t think He is expecting us to run daily bible studies with our colleagues . God is not looking for our works but our attitudes and these can even be relevant when no-one else is looking. God is looking for consistency and faithfulness, not for results. After all, He is the one who makes things happen and the more we ‘strive’ to achieve results, the more likely we are to put people off!

Here are a few thoughts:

We are dependent on God – I know this may seem obvious, but I think, far too often, we rely on our own strength, gifting and abilities. I have found bus driving very difficult. I have not found it easy at all. They are big vehicles and some of the streets I drive down are very narrow. In many ways I have been blessed through these difficulties because I have had to throw myself on God on a daily basis. Even if you find your job very easy, it is good to seek God for continued support and to acknowledge that we can’t achieve anything in our own strength.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

We need to be people of integrity – Be a person that your colleagues know they can rely on. Do the right thing even when the boss isn’t looking. Be honest and trustworthy. If you say you will get something done in a certain time, do it. Don’t steal from your company, whether that is equipment or time. This may in some circumstances cause you to be unpopular, doesn’t matter. You are doing everything right to please God. Doing all for an audience of one.

Be a good character – seek to be loving and kind to your colleagues and customers. Even today I had someone remark, when they got onto my bus, how nice it was to see someone smile. I also try to be generous and help people out if they don’t have enough change for the fare. It’s the little things on a daily basis that have an impact and you won’t always see the effect. Know who you are in Christ. You are a child of the living God. You are spreading the fragrance of Jesus to everyone you come into contact with. Walk confidently with the assurance that you can and are making a difference.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Be a servant – This is largely demonstrated by preferring others and putting them first. Offer people cups of tea. Find ways that you can bless other people and make their experience at work more enjoyable

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour. (Romans 12:10)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

Finally, find time to include God in your daily schedule. Pray to him whenever you can. Offer up your problems and your worries. Thank and praise Him for the things that go well. If you have the precious gift of praying in tongues, do it as you go along. I pray in tongues a lot as I drive around the town. Who knows what the Holy Spirit can accomplish through this simple obedience.

I hope you have found this useful. Please put something in the comments if you have anything to add and also let me know if you have any subjects you would like me to cover in the future.

God bless

 March 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Uncategorized 1 Response »
Mar 102017
 

Authority of JesusAnd when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29)

I had no idea how long this series on ‘The sermon on the mount’ would take. I knew I wanted to take a long time and look at almost every verse in turn. It is such rich and amazing teaching.

This last post isn’t about the sermon at all but an appreciation of the amazing man who preached it. I am not at all surprised at His hearer’s astonishment. They had not quite grasped just how special He was, but they could certainly tell He was very different to the other religious leaders that they had heard. They just repeated stories from each other and nothing was original. Jesus’ message was radically different, but it wasn’t just the message that they were impressed with but the authority with which the message was communicated.

So what made Jesus’s message more authoritative than all the others? What sort of authority did Jesus have? Let’s consider a few points;

  • He had authority because He was actually interpreting and defining scripture. On more than one occasion He said, “You have heard that it was said…. But I say to you.” This is where for example he speaks about adultery as not just the physical act but an attitude of the heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)
  • His authority was given to Him by God the father

Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. (John 17:1-2)

  • He had authority by virtue of the fact that He did the father’s will perfectly.

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. (John 17:4)

  • He had authority because He was the creator of all things

All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:3)

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

  • As creator He can say what He wants. Remember He even spoke to the elements and they obeyed Him

And the men marvelled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matthew 8:27)

Also Mark 4:41

  • He had authority because He was the heir of all things

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:2)

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalm 2:8)

  • He was worshipped by angels

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,“Let all God’s angels worship him.” (Hebrews 1:6)

  • He was recognised and obeyed by demons

But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” (Mark 1:25-27)

  • He had authority because He was able to back up what He was saying with signs and wonders

And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs. (Mark 16:20)

I would have loved to have listened to Jesus preaching, although I get the feeling we may get some more in the age to come when He further explains all that He has done. We will have (and will probably need) all of eternity to begin to understand the wonder of it.

I really enjoy good preaching and love having the bible explained to me. There are many excellent preachers around the world today, but they are all flawed in some way or another. Jesus preached the perfect sermon in a perfect way. He was not bothered in the slightest who He would offend. He was never worried whether He had got it right (He knew that He had). He never worried that He might not be accepted. I can’t imagine him taking Peter aside after He preached ‘The sermon on the mount’ and asking him “How do you think that went down? He was supremely confident because He knew and understood the scriptures perfectly. He would certainly have memorised them as demonstrated in the wilderness when He quoted scripture to every temptation from Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). He preached the pure, unadulterated message of God and He did it not to please man, but purely to please the father. No wonder the people were astonished.

 March 10, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm The sermon on the mount No Responses »
Mar 032017
 

Build your house on the rockEveryone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)

Anybody who spent any part of their childhood in Sunday school will surely be familiar with Jesus’ dramatic metaphor of our lives being built on a rock or the sand. They’ve probably sung songs and done actions on this as I have.

This is now the end of ‘The sermon on the mount’. As I mentioned previously these 3 chapters of Matthew were probably a summary of Jesus’ main teaching on the manifesto of how to live the Christian life. Something He probably repeated (at least in part) on many occasions.

Jesus is now drawing everything He has been saying into a conclusion and as on many occasions He turns it into a memorable little picture. Another technique He uses quite regularly is to say the same thing in the negative and positive forms.

Firstly we see that He talks about hearing and then doing. The first part is the easy bit, the second a lot harder. It is not enough to just listen to sermons, no matter how good they are. Jesus says that we will be wise if we put into practice what we have heard. It sounds obvious doesn’t it? But putting things into practice takes an amazing amount of discipline and perseverance. The Apostle James puts it like this;

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:22)

I have written blogs on this series since 17thJuly 2015. That’s 70 blogs! Can I ask you a forthright question? How many have you read and done something about? Actually acted upon the revelation of Jesus and the promptings from The Holy Spirit?

It’s a really good discipline, when after reading your bible, you ask The Holy Spirit to actually help you put into practice what you have just read.

The second thought from today’s passage is the certainty that we will face trials. Jesus never said ‘If something happens’ He simply stated ‘the rain fell’, ‘the floods came’, ‘the winds blew’. It is rather assumed that these things will certainly happen. We can quite easily forget about this part because it is not something we want to dwell on or think about, but the bible reveals that if we want to live for God and make Jesus the Lord of our lives, then trials will surely follow.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

We should never look for trials, just not be surprised when they come and confident that whatever happens, God is with us.

Next week I’m going to wrap the whole series up and look at the authority of Jesus.

If you have any ideas of what you would like me to look at next as a subject, why not put a comment in the box below.

God bless

 March 3, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm The sermon on the mount No Responses »