Nov 282013
 

praying_in_the_spirit1[1]We have finished listing through the various items and different parts of “the armour of God” and I hope you have found it useful. Before we move on, however, there is a very important aspect of the warfare we engage in when our armour is on, mentioned in verse 18 of Ephesians 6:

“…and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

The act of praying is the action that keeps us moving forward. It is the energy that drives us forward into the battle. You see, if we are not moving forward, “putting on” the armour may be seen as a defensive exercise. We are constantly batting away the attacks from the devil, perfectly defended by our God-given armour, yes. But without moving forward we will not be taking very much ground.

Prayer keeps us in touch with our commanding officer. When we take the time to ask Him what His plans are, we know where and how we should be fighting.

I believe that prayer energises all the other pieces of equipment, especially the sword. We use scripture when we pray it back to God and remind Him of His promises and what He has said.

The fighting we engage in is not a ‘one- off’ fight, but rather something we need to be prepared for every day. We need to always be on our guard and in a permanent state of readiness. Look at some of the language in the following passages:

“…But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

“…But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word”. (Acts 6:4)

“…Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving”. (Colossians 4:2)

“…..do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“…..pray without ceasing”. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

“…..I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day”. (2 Timothy 1:3)

Prayer should not just be reserved for prayer meetings. It should be an attitude we take with us every day. Prayer is communicating with our Father, thanking Him, making requests, interceding for others, praising Him etc. It’s not always easy. When life doesn’t go smoothly we can ask Him “Why did that happen?” So many things happen to us that we don’t understand, it can feel like God has forgotten us or even that He doesn’t care. At times like these we must push through in prayer and trust Him that He knows what He is doing.

My final thoughts on this subject are that whatever happens to us, we know we are on the winning side and we have a great captain who is leading His troops into victory. If the battle seems harsh at the moment, take heart that the victory is won and that you have been equipped to stand your ground, and that….

“….no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17)

 November 28, 2013  Posted by at 10:00 pm Armour of God, Prayer No Responses »
Oct 112013
 

Armour of GodLast week, as I concluded talking about personal holiness I mentioned the need to be determined to keep pushing through. This determination is vital in order for us to continue on our journey of personal holiness. I finished my last blog with the very famous passage on the armour of God, from Ephesians 6:10-18.

I now want to look at the armour of God in more detail, focussing on a different aspect each week and looking in more depth at what each part does.

The bible is filled with warfare and battles, especially in the Old Testament. As God moved His people into the promised land, the Israelites were very rarely at rest. As we move into the New Testament, even though there were fewer wars, the evidences of Roman occupation surrounded New Testament believers everywhere. The apostle Paul may well have been chained to a Roman soldier as he wrote his letter to the Ephesians and I wonder if while he sat there, God inspired Paul through each part of the soldier’s armour.

Who are we fighting?

It is important to start with the fact that we are not fighting other people, no matter how evil they may appear. There is a spiritual battle going on all around us and it is all too real. It says in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Even though we cannot see our enemy, we certainly see the effects that his attacks can have. Even in recent times I have seen first hand the devastation that has happened in people’s lives as they have let their guard down and allowed the enemy to get a foothold. My old pastor used to say on a number of occasions “it’s not like a war, it is a war”. The description of the various pieces of armour may be a metaphor but the battle certainly is not. It would be obvious if we were experiencing physical attack by another person. However, the enemy is very adept at disguising his attacks, so we either blame other people or just think we are going through some tough times. We need to be aware of his schemes and putting on this armour will help us.

I don’t wish to scare you, but rather urge you to be aware. We are on the winning side and we follow the Lord of hosts who has given us this wonderful armour to protect us. We need to be confident that when we have our armour on we are a powerful adversary to our enemy. The weapons we have are strong:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds”. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

It goes without saying that we need to put the full armour on. We are commanded twice in the Ephesians 6 passage to do so. Our mentality should be that of soldiers, not of civilians:

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer”. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

Join me again next week as we start to unpack each piece of armour one by one, discovering the power and protection that our Champion has provided for us.

 October 11, 2013  Posted by at 12:00 pm Armour of God No Responses »
Sep 262013
 

Personal holinessI hope you have been finding my series on having a relationship with God useful. We have looked at prayer and bible study and more recently, worship. These are all excellent ways to develop our relationship with God.

This week I am going to look at how our personal holiness helps us to connect with God in a wonderfully personal way, as we pray, read our bibles and worship.

We have been created in God’s image and likeness. As His ambassadors to the world He wants us to reflect His image to all those we come into contact with.

As we get to know God and understand the impact of His grace on our lives, our desires change and we want to become more like Him. We want to ‘take off’ the things that He doesn’t like and ‘put on’ the things that please Him.

Personal holiness can be described as being set apart and devoted to God. It is the determination and commitment to allow these disciplines of prayer, bible study and worship to change us to become more like Him.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

God’s desire is that we grow in holiness. He commands in Leviticus 11:45:

I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.

He doesn’t ask us to do anything we are unable to do. He has given us His Holy Spirit. The consecration process happens as we willingly follow His ways and rely on Him to make us holy.

Devotion requires effort, not in order to win His favour or any other such thing, but out of a desire to please Him and give Him glory.

There are 3 things to consider when we look at the subject of “Personal Holiness”:

  • Personal holiness is a choice.
  • Personal holiness requires commitment.
  • Personal holiness is a lifestyle.

It’s a Battle

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)

The world is vying for our attention. Having become Christians we still find ourselves struggling against sin and temptation. In fact when you gave your life to Christ you entered into a war zone. (Take heart- you are on the winning side!)

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

We also see the warning that Jesus gives to Peter: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

Reading these verses it is obvious that God holds us responsible to make the effort to be holy, but it is comforting to know that Jesus is praying for us and will help us, and of course as I have mentioned before, He has given us His precious Holy Spirit. Let’s invite Him this week to fill us and help us as we draw ever closer into this wonderful relationship with Him.

 September 26, 2013  Posted by at 10:33 pm Holiness, Holy Spirit No Responses »
Jul 112013
 

Future grace“‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home”. (Amazing Grace – John Newton).

Gods grace extends throughout our lives. It is grace that ushered us into His kingdom when we were first saved; it is grace that will keep us going whatever life throws at us.

This will be my last post for a while on the subject of grace. Although I have covered a lot of ground, I could have covered much more. However, to finish off I am going to talk about ‘future grace’. This is not specifically a biblical term but the concept is found throughout the bible.

The apostle Paul is credited with writing about 13 letters in the New Testament (some are debated). All of them start and end with the same theme of grace, beginning with something like ‘grace to you’ and ending ‘grace with you’.

As Paul writes he is blessing each one of his readers (including us) with future grace from start to finish. They start ‘to you’ because Paul realises that he is writing God’s blessings to the church, to all those who are going to read his letters. He writes ‘grace with you’ at the end, because when the reading has finished, God’s blessings of grace are going to be with us in whatever situation we find ourselves in.

Grace is not just a past reality but a future one. When I pick up my bible to read it, God’s grace comes to me and when I put down my bible and act upon it God’s grace goes with me.

We know that life is not all plain sailing and when troubles come, future grace holds us up and sustains us.

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1)

We can get distracted by trying to work out what Pauls ‘thorn in the flesh’ was in 2 Corinthians 12:7 and not take the promise to Paul that God’s grace is sufficient, sufficient to carry us through whatever happens to us.

Future grace helps us to endure and bear up under any trials we go through. We can see that God’s grace has been faithful in the past so we can trust that whatever trials may lie ahead, His grace is there to cover them too.

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Future grace helps us not to lose heart.

 July 11, 2013  Posted by at 8:38 pm Grace 1 Response »
Jun 272013
 

Just like usMy daily bible readings have brought me to the life of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 & 19. Elijah suddenly appears out of nowhere in chapter 17 as he boldly addresses the king and declares “there will be no dew or rain until I say so”. Wow, that is impressive! He goes on being impressive: performing the miracle of the continually replenishing jars of oil and flour with the widow at Zarephath; then the “one man against 400 – altar stand-off” where he confidently challenges the prophets of Baal to see whose god is the best. He mocks their efforts as they get ever more desperate to prove a god who only exists in their imagination, and to compound it all pours jar after jar of water onto his sacrifice and confidently stands back as God shows up in full pyrotechnic glory.

Does this type of story ever make you feel insignificant? Elijah seems to be a member of a different species, perhaps a secret agent angel parachuted down by God to get the job done. Has God given up using imperfect men and women now, who blow it time after time? Actually, no. As the story unfolds we see that Elijah was a man just like we are (James 5:17).

We shouldn’t rejoice in his weakness, which can be quite a temptation, but should rejoice in the fact that God treats us all with amazing grace. We can, like Elijah, experience amazing times with God, enjoying His presence or when ministering for Him. God blesses us and we feel great. But what happens when, shortly after, fear takes hold or disappointment occurs?

Ahab and his wife Jezebel issue murderous threats and Elijah is suddenly running scared. He runs to the middle of the wilderness and asks God to kill him. What happens next should be a comfort to all of us who struggle with fear, depression, doubt and anxiety, or simply feelings of inadequacy. God provides food and water for Elijah, leads him in the right direction and then gently speaks to Him through a whisper which suggests real gentleness and care.

God wants to do the same with you. You may have reached rock bottom and the end of your abilities, but in that place of vulnerability God will prove to you His wonderful grace as you submit again to His will and allow yourself to be lifted up by Him.

 June 27, 2013  Posted by at 10:56 pm Grace, Sanctification 1 Response »
May 232013
 

serviceGrace doesn’t only provide for our salvation and forgiveness of sins; it releases us to serve God and His people with grace gifts that have been provided for us.

Grace doesn’t mean we sit back and do nothing; it should motivate us to great works that please our saviour; as I stated in last week’s blog, never because we “ought to” but rather out of a desire to please Him.

Now we are followers of Jesus our calling is to serve Him.

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”. (Deuteronomy 10:12)

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”. (1 Peter 4:10)

Every one of us has received gifts to fulfil the tasks that God has given us. These gifts are received by grace and they are acted upon with grace. It is an absolute privilege to participate in the building up of God’s church and to contribute towards the knowledge of His good name throughout the earth.

It is important to note that the gifts we receive are not rewards. They are not given as a result of reaching a certain level of maturity in our christian walk. Just as grace is given freely, so are these gifts given to us freely.

The apostle Paul was not afraid of hard work but his hard work was only accomplished through grace.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

An important question to ask from this passage is “how can God’s grace be without effect?” Or put another way “how can our response to His grace frustrate the work of His grace in our lives?”

I believe there are a number of ways this can happen:

(1) Grace is ineffective when we don’t believe it.

Doubt can be a major problem in accomplishing what God has given us to do. For example, God chose Moses who came up with a load of excuses about how unqualified he was (and God got quite angry); God called Gideon who was doubtful, saying he was the least in his tribe. Thankfully both Moses and Gideon pushed through and received God’s blessing, but it is possible to disqualify yourself through lack of faith. If God says you can do it, don’t argue; His promises are true and faithful.

(2) We can overdo grace and lean into licence.

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” (1 Peter 2:16)

Don’t have an attitude which says “it doesn’t really matter, I can just do what I like….”

(3) Legalism

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21)

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)

It is very easy to slip into legalism, but if we do we will become ineffective.

(4) Laziness

Hard work is no enemy of grace. The apostle Paul did not seem to mind speaking about his hard work (see previous verse quoted-1 Corinthians 15:10).

Keep going! If grace is central, you will be able to persevere. Life can get really hard at times and serving Jesus can be quite a struggle. As we have already seen, Paul was working tremendously hard, and on top of that he had a “thorn in the flesh” to contend with, but that didn’t stop him:

“…But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Also in 2 Corinthians 4:16 it says

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

If you are beginning to lose heart I pray these last few posts will really help you to keep going. Don’t forget, His burdens are light (Matthew 11:30) and He only wants you to keep doing what He has given you to do, not what you feel you ought to be doing.

 May 23, 2013  Posted by at 7:59 pm Grace, Reward No Responses »
Dec 282012
 

Read meTo wrap up my series on ‘God’s book’, the Bible and especially as we are near to the start of a new year, I thought we could consider going through the bible in a year.

Have you ever read the whole bible from cover to cover? It’s not as difficult as it may appear and if you were to commit about 20 minutes a day to reading it you could easily finish it in a year. There are various ways to go through the bible in a year so I thought I would give you a few links below with some suggestions:

(1)  Read it from beginning to end, starting Jan 1st at Genesis 1 and finishing the last chapter of Revelation on the 31st December. This doesn’t require too much imagination!

(2) Chronological:  Read the bible as the events occurred in real time. For example, Job lived sometime after the beginning of creation (Genesis 1) but before Abraham was born (Genesis 12). As a result, the book of Job is integrated into the Book of Genesis.

(3) Historical:  Read the books of the bible as they were written historically, according to the estimated date of their writing.

You can find these three ways of reading the bible in a year at this link http://www.ewordtoday.com/year/.  You can also choose which version to read it in.

Have a look at this site http://www.oneyearbibleonline.com/.  It sort of does what it says on the tin. There are lots of ways to do it; sign up to an RSS feed, mobile phone app, print a plan off etc.

Here’s one to print off and tick after completing each day http://www.navpress.com/uploadedFiles/15074%20BRP.dj.pdf

I am going to join in with Queens Road Wimbledon daily bible reading plan. They are changing their name to ‘Everyday Church’ on 1st January 2013. Their leader is Phil Moore, who will be tweeting comments on each days reading. He is an excellent bible teacher with great insights. The link is here http://www.qrc.org.uk/biblereadingplan

I pray that God will help you to read the whole bible in a year, but don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure. It should be a delight not a chore.

Finally, I just wanted to recommend a few resources that I have found really useful as I have studied the bible. I hope you find them useful too:

I use the following website whenever I am looking up bible verses in different versions. I also sometimes sign up to receive a free daily e-mail, they have all sorts of subjects http://www.biblegateway.com/

This website has quite a lot of resources for studying the bible, with many bible versions, daily bible readings, a daily devotional and lots more http://www.biblestudytools.com/

The following website has a vast array of bible commentaries and other material covering just about every verse in the bible. I found this site really useful for looking up all sorts of Greek New Testament words and phrases, giving a greater understanding of what is meant in the text. http://www.preceptaustin.org/

I have already mentioned the following site when I talked about bible difficulties as it is really useful for looking into apparent bible contradictions.  It also covers all the major cults and where they misinterpret the bible www.carm.org

Here is a website where you can get a free bible download service and good Sunday school resources check it our here http://www.houseandhome.org/niv-bible-download

Now we have finished this latest series, please feel free to contact me if there is anything you would like me to cover.

God bless, Adrian

 December 28, 2012  Posted by at 10:46 am Bible No Responses »
Apr 182012
 

marathon13As it’s the London marathon on Sunday I thought I would send out my notes from the first preach I ever gave a few years ago at my church. It was on the day of the Hastings Half marathon and I wanted to remind all those watching the race that all Christians are in a race, whether you are a sporty person or not. It is based on the passage in Hebrews 12 v 1

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

(1) Encouragement

Let’s look at the first part of the verse; “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” so what does that mean?

When we see the word ‘Therefore’ it means that a lot has been said before. We are in the middle of a point the writer is making. In Hebrews 11 the writer has been talking about faith. He goes through a list of the great men and women of faith who have gone before. These people have run their races and have proved that God is faithful and reliable. They are encouraging us through their example and perseverance.

It’s great to receive encouragement and you can see in a race how the runners are encouraged by a lot of people cheering for them.

In Hebrews 10:24-25 it says; “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

There are a number of ways we can give encouragement through our church community; Continue reading »

 April 18, 2012  Posted by at 6:32 pm Uncategorized 1 Response »