Our faith grows as we give glory to God

Our faith grows as we give glory to GodOne of the key teachings in Christianity is that salvation is a result of our faith in Christ and what He has done on the cross, not our ability to obey and follow God (, ). It’s referred to as the doctrine of ‘justification’. However the life of a Christian is bombarded with challenges and situations that can test our faith, that can rock our assurance in what Christ has done and will do for us. So how do we ensure that we stand up against the doubt that will come our way? How do we allow the assurance of our salvation to remain firmly rooted in our hearts?

The answer is to give glory to God no matter what life throws at us. Does that mean when shocking things occur we give glory to God? No, we don’t give God glory for sinful things or situations as a result of sin. Rather we give God glory by trusting in Him despite the shocking and awful things that happen. This illustrates that we know God has things in control, that He is working in all things for the good of those who love Him (). This will highlight to others that our faith is grounded in who God is and what He has done in Jesus and not what life’s circumstances delivers. Continue reading Our faith grows as we give glory to God

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

Romans 4:24-25

24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Living More Productively

Living effectively for God
It’s a new year and we all have our goals we want to achieve. However how common is it to start out full of steam only to realise after a few weeks that old habits have re-established themselves, old patterns of living have once again become engrained.

I must say I have been thinking a little over the year that was and what I can do differently going into 2013. One area that God has convicted me on is serving Him more faithfully and effectively at home and church. My secular work has been taking up a lot of time and energy and I feel I need to re-establish some boundaries so that I allow God to work more effectively in my life. I am sure I am not the only one with this problem. How do we prevent this from continuing to happen, ensuring that we are effective tools for God to use within our families and church? We are saved by God to be effective workers for Him (). Continue reading Living More Productively

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Comforting Others as God has Comforted us

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In reading through Andrew’s recent blogs on identifying sin and replacing it with righteous and pure thoughts and actions, I am reminded of and the critical need to support and encourage one another in our walk with Christ. Thank God we are not to walk this journey alone! This world will often trivialize sin and tempt us to take the easy option, so we must encourage one another to focus on what is pure and honorable and just and lovely as it says in .

Let me be frank and honest here though. Andrew rightly said we should hate and detest sin as it goes against God’s very character. However, in actual fact, there are times, if we are honest with ourselves, when we “want to sin”… we want to take the so called easy option, to make the choice that we think will bring us more satisfaction. As appealing as it may be for many of us to have lots of chocolate or ice cream, afterwards our actions often lead to guilt and a stomach ache. We feel unhealthy and our bodies don’t feel like they are working at their best. This is what it is like with sin… It’s appealing, but always leads us feeling guilty and broken. We are never fulfilled in the long run. We may have short term satisfaction, but always long term decay and unfulfilment. Given the enticing nature of sin, we need to be honest about our struggles with God and when appropriate with others, followed by how God blesses us as we choose to trust in Him rather than continue to feed our sinful appetites. To keep from others how God impacts and liberates our lives robs them of the hope and comfort that God has given us.

Continue reading Comforting Others as God has Comforted us

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Jesus is Sufficient

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I have been a Christian now for about 17 years. The more I learn the more I realize I don’t know. God has a funny way of humbling us and making us realize that we are not the centre of the universe, we are not what is most important. One of the greatest challenges any Christian faces is the life-long process of “denying ourselves‘ () and “walking in the Spirit” (), or in other words living our lives to please God and not primarily ourselves. We will never fully realize this  until we go to be with our Lord in heaven.

Jesus said “if you love me you will obey what I command” (). It’s pretty clear. If we say we love God, we will inevitably strive to obey Him, to allow His Spirit within to refine us so that, bit-by-bit, we reflect His character. This is to glorify God’s work in our lives as well being a beacon to the hope Jesus gives to us all. What a privilege… what a blessing… what a calling on our lives!

Why then do we often struggle so much to see this in our lives? Why do we find ourselves so enticed to feed our own self-absorbed desires rather than God’s? Why do we struggle so much at times to walk with God and follow His lead in our lives?

Here are three points that I believe can help us all to follow and enjoy God more in our lives: Continue reading Jesus is Sufficient

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Fearing God puts our Worldly Fears to Rest

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I was recently reading and was struck by an aspect of our relationship with God that we maybe don’t talk about enough… fearing God. This doesn’t seem to be spoken of much in Christian circles, as more often than not, people tend to focus on the “God” of love always being there for us and providing for us. However, this passage takes a different approach. Luke bluntly says, “don’t fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” This sort of teaching about God can sound unfamiliar and foreign to many church congregations today.

However, we must remember that although God is merciful, gracious and loving… clearly highlighted by Jesus’ sacrifice for us, not to mention continual patience to the Israelites in the Old Testament… God is also to be feared and revered. He is righteous and holy. He hates sin and will punish it… His nature demands it. He will cast into hell those who choose to turn from Him and not to accept Jesus as their savior (, , ). That last statement sits very uneasy with many people. ‘A loving God will not send people to hell??!!’ However, in thinking that we miss two points: Continue reading Fearing God puts our Worldly Fears to Rest

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Choosing to Have Fellowship with God

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“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” ( ESV)

Why is it that even though we know God’s truth through the Bible, we choose to turn our backs on it? Do we know better? Do we think we can live our lives independent of God? Are we too lazy or not motivated? Do we think we have everything we need already? Are we ashamed to face God? No doubt there are many reasons why we may ignore or turn from God. I am saddened at how I find myself at times slipping back into my old ways of thinking, and therefore living. I know better but I don’t choose to act on it. When I come to my senses and remorsefully turn back to God’s forgiving arms I am left wondering why I do it. Why I even delight in doing it. Continue reading Choosing to Have Fellowship with God

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

A Life of Freedom

  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

    “For you have been called to live in freedom – not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love.”

What does it mean to be free? In having faith in Jesus, what freedom has He promised us? Continue reading A Life of Freedom

5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Living Effective Lives for God

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” ()

How do we mature in our faith as Christians? What causes us to become more Christ-like in our conduct? It’s not uncommon to witness people declaring they are Christians, but by their actions it’s hard to see much of Christ in them? Clearly we all struggle with our sinful nature. It can inhibit us from doing what we know we should … a struggle even the apostle Paul had (). But too often some so-called Christians seem to live a life devoid of what the Bible teaches. Continue reading Living Effective Lives for God

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

Investing what God Entrusts to us

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Recently our bible study group studied the parable of the talents (). A man who is preparing to leave on a journey entrusts his possessions to his servants. He distributes his wealth among three servants, apportioned to them on the basis of their abilities. To the first he entrusted five talents (a Jewish measure of money), to the second two talents, and to the third one talent. The first two servants quickly  set to work with their master’s money. The ones who received five and two talents invested the money and gained ten and four talents as a result. They ‘put the money to work’ and it yielded great gains. Out of fear, the third servant decided to play it safe and bury his talent. He didn’t want to risk losing the talent or facing his master’s wrath. However, in ‘playing it safe’ he didn’t yield any gain.

Continue reading Investing what God Entrusts to us

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’