This Sunday at Church: Pray for those who lost someone in their family this year

Another great post from the Domain for Truth today.

Many people suffer loss, and it can be one of the most difficult things to go through in life. It is right that we stand alongside other believers who are grieving.

Do look out for those in your church or life who may need some support at this time.

This Sunday at Church I want to encourage you to do the following: Pray for those who lost someone in their family this year. This week I learned …

This Sunday at Church: Pray for those who lost someone in their family this year

Saturday Scriptures – 1 October 2022

Do you think about what you are thinking about? what I mean is, do you spend any time analysing your thought life?

Generally speaking, we humans spent a great deal of time thinking! Not all of that is productive however.

We can think about negative things, or we can think about positive things. We can imagine what can go wrong, or we can spend time developing our hopes and dreams.

Today’s scripture encourages us to think about pure, good and lovely things.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Don’t waste your mental energy thinking about things that will not benefit you. Think about good things, and if nothing else, you will feel much happier!

How will you spend your thinking time today? Enjoy your weekend!

The Gospel in One Verse

I heard someone talking about John 3:16 the other day, and wanted to share a few brief points from it. These are not theological in nature, but just some interesting quirks specifically to the English NIV translation… it’s more interesting than I’ve just made it sound!

John 3:16 is arguably one of the most well known verses in the Bible, and the New International Version renders it as follows:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV #Bible #Jesus #Gospel #Christianity

Did you know this is the Gospel in one verse? It sets out the fact that God was not content to let the world be destroyed as a consequence of sin, but instead gave His Only Son to save it.

If you write the verse out acrostically, you can read it as:

For:

  • God so loved the world, that He gave His
  • One and only
  • Son, that whoever believes in Him will not
  • Perish, but have
  • Eternal
  • Life

It’s a bit clunky perhaps, but a nice little nugget none the less!

You can also break this verse into three parts.

  1. For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only
  2. Son
  3. That whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life

Section 1 is all about God and section 3 is all about us. What bridges the gap between us and God is section 2 – namely, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Sin has separated us from God. We were born as sinners, and our thoughts, words and actions confirmed this. Our sin cannot co-exist with God’s holiness. God is on one side of the divide and we are on the other. We cannot hope to cross the gap as will never be able to meet His perfect standards. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ however, who gave us the precious gift of His very own Son to live and die for us. He paid the penalty for our sin once and for all, and by accepting this gift, we can go free and have complete access to God. We are made holiness because of Christ’s holiness.

If you know the Lord Jesus, then praise God this weekend for that fact. If you do not, and you yearn for your sin to be washed away, then waste no time and ask God to forgive you and accept His Son into your life. For more information about how to do that, do get in touch with me and I’d be glad to help you.

Don’t Play With Fire (Proverbs 6:23-35)

After a series of posts on Proverbs 6, we conclude the chapter today.

This final section warns us about an important issue, and one which appears more than once in Proverbs – namely, adultery. Do not skip this section though, believing it to be irrelevant to you, as alongside the dangers of adultery, there are also other warnings and wisdom laced in you do not want to miss.

For the commandment is a lamp,

    and the law is light.

    Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,

24 to keep you from the immoral woman,

    from the flattery of the wayward wife’s tongue.

25 Don’t lust after her beauty in your heart,

    neither let her captivate you with her eyelids.

26 For a prostitute reduces you to a piece of bread.

    The adulteress hunts for your precious life.

Proverbs 6:23-26 WEB

I included verse 23 here as it is a joint thought with verse 24. We see, as discussed before, that the Law of the Lord is a lamp to us, showing us the way we ought to go. We discussed this last time in the general sense, but here verse 23b specifically links the reproofs which instruction brings to avoiding the immoral woman. Of course, God’s wisdom and teaching go far beyond this one issue, but it is a key theme given to us. For background here, Proverbs was probably written (at least in part) as a sort of study guide for a group of young men being taught by an elder. References to “immoral women” for example, are not representative of women as a whole but instead indicate the audience to which it is directed. What I mean is, a group of young men are likely to fall prey to such a woman if not careful. Immoral men are just as dangerous and wicked, but the warning here is against temptation of a sexual nature, and no comment on women in general.

Verse 24 warns of the flattery of her tongue, that is a warning against being taken in by her enticing words. Verse 25 warns against the beauty of such women, and the fluttering of eyelids. Young men, typically but not always, are particularly prone to temptation connected to the physical beauty of women so this is an apparent risk. Whether young or old, male or female, we must guard against such physical temptation. It can lead us down paths we do not wish to go, and have severe consequences for our lives and families.

Verse 26 takes the perspective of such an “immoral woman.” She sees her prey – these young men – as nothing but a means to gaining bread. She is hungry, has little means of earning and so relies on her beauty and charm to entice men into bed for financial gain.

27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap,

    and his clothes not be burned?

28 Or can one walk on hot coals,

    and his feet not be scorched?

29 So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife.

    Whoever touches her will not be unpunished.

30 Men don’t despise a thief

    if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry;

31 but if he is found, he shall restore seven times.

    He shall give all the wealth of his house.

32 He who commits adultery with a woman is void of understanding.

    He who does it destroys his own soul.

33 He will get wounds and dishonor.

    His reproach will not be wiped away.

34 For jealousy arouses the fury of the husband.

    He won’t spare in the day of vengeance.

35 He won’t regard any ransom,

    neither will he rest content, though you give many gifts.

Proverbs 6:27-35 WEB

These final verses in the chapter form a cohesive argument.

Verses 28 and 29 essentially warn us of a no doubt familiar turn of phrase – those who play with fire will get burned. The writer of Proverbs asks basically the same question. Can you scoop fire into your lap without it burning you? Can you walk on scorching coals and not burn your feet? No! Of course not! And so, we cannot indulge in adultery without reaping the dire consequences of it.

The point is driven home in verse 29. If you have an affair with your neighbour’s wife, you will find yourself in extremely hot water!

I think verses 30-31 are then set in contrast to the remainder of the chapter. Dropping the subject of adultery for a moment, we turn to theft. It points out that we might have a modicum of understanding for a hungry thief stealing a loaf of bread to stave off starvation, but how little compassion we have on adulterers. The text shows us that even in a situation where we understand the thief’s reasons for stealing, they are still required to pay it back in accordance with the law. There may be “good” reasons to break God’s laws of so we think at times, justifying our actions with excuses or deflection. Yet, to break the law is to break the law and the consequences are the same.

Theft in a situation of hunger is one thing, but having an affair with another man’s wife is quite another. Verse 32 essentially says you are stupid if you do it! You cannot be clearer than that! It will result in wounds and dishonour; reproaches that will never be taken away.

The jealousy of a husband is a terrible thing, verse 34 warns. Such a wronged man is full of fury, seeking vengeance and it may very well cost you your life! Verse 35 tells us that you won’t be able to buy this vengeful man off. He will not accept any ransom, nor can you turn him away with many gifts. If you dare to seduce his wife, you will reap the consequences. I wonder how many men, young or old, have perished at the hands of a jealous husband? We say beware a woman scorned, but no less so a man either.

If you find yourself battling temptation right now, then I urge you to run! Keep well away from its source, and get on your knees and pray that God will help you do what is right. Do not play with fire, and do not indulge your fleshy desires. Be it someone at work, a neighbour or even a digital someone in the form of pornography – stay well away and fix your thoughts on your own spouse, family or better still, on God and His ways.

The Sinfulness of my Sin – Andy Brown

On a recent blog post, a dear reader commented and use the phrase “sinfulness of sin “.

That reminded me of this post I wrote a few years ago. So I thought I would share it with you today! it considers a verse from Psalm 32, and there is a link to an audio message I gave on that same psalm which you can listen to.

Hope you enjoy, and I welcome your comments as ever! Thank you for reading.

I acknowledged my sin to thee, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.Psalm 32:5 (WEB) The sinfulness of my sin… captivating title right? And I know what you are thinking – two blog posts in two…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/03/18/the-sinfulness-of-my-sin/

A Protective Father – Andy Brown

At long last, we move on to Acts 5. This chapter opens with a rather disturbing set of events, and I want to try to shed some light on what is happening here. This particular passage is a difficult one, and I admit to having struggled with it for many years. I will explain why,…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/06/16/a-protective-father/

Saturday Scriptures – 24 September 2022

These words of our Lord should give us pause for thought.

Each of us must ask ourselves if we are on the narrow path.

““Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

How do we enter through the narrow gate? Consider this as you ponder these words today.

There is but one way to heaven, and his name is Jesus! it may sound nonsensical, as how can a man be a path to heaven? But Jesus is no me a man, but God in human form.

Our feeble attempt at goodness are not sufficient to overcome the greatness of our sinfulness. Someone must pay the penalty for sin… Either we do, or we look for a substitute.

Thank God for Jesus! Who pays the price of our sin so that we may go free!

Jesus is the only way to heaven. No one comes to the father except through him. as you meditate on these verses today, praise God for Jesus!

A Worthless Person (Proverbs 6:12-15)

The next short section of Proverbs 6 describe a worthless person. This sounds a little harsh, but once you read the description, I hope you will understand.

A number of other translations do use the word “worthless” here, but others also use words such as “troublemaker” or “villain.”

The following words are given to us for two reasons, I believe. Firstly, so that we might be on our guard against such people. Should we see someone of this nature heading our way, we would do well to avoid them. Secondly, these words are given that we might not be like this person. If we see traits of our own character in these words, it should give us pause for thought and send us to our knees in prayer asking for God to help us change.

A worthless person, a man of iniquity,

    is he who walks with a perverse mouth,

13 who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,

    who motions with his fingers,

14 in whose heart is perverseness,

    who devises evil continually,

    who always sows discord.

15 Therefore his calamity will come suddenly.

    He will be broken suddenly, and that without remedy.

Proverbs 6:12-15 WEB

This “worthless” person is also described as a man or person of iniquity. This paints a picture of wickedness and evil, and so we must take heed of these warnings.

I am intrigued by the fact that the very first description of such a person, relates to their mouth. Verse 12 tells us that they walk with a perverse mouth. This is not to say that they have something physically amiss with their mouth, but clearly refers to the words they say. Time and time again in Proverbs, we are cautioned to take words extremely seriously. We must take great care with the words we say, but also the words we hear from others.

#Proverbs warns us time and again to take the #words of the mouth extremely seriously #Bible #Christianity

The first way to identify a person of iniquity is to listen carefully to their words. Their words may be blatantly disgraceful, or they may be deceptively flattering. They may promise one thing, and yet deliver another. They may build you up to your face, but tear you down when your back is turned. Beware and listen carefully!

Let your words, in comparison, be positive and uplifting. May our speech be as the Apostle Paul describes:

Do not let any unwholesome #talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Eph4:29 NIV #Bible

Verse 13 elaborates on the kind of person this is. Not content with speaking out wickedness, they signal the same things with the wink of an eye, or hand gesture. I am not certain how one signals with the feet – perhaps this is a reference to the way they walk or more likely, the direction they walk in i.e. toward evil. Verse 13 may simply be suggesting that everything about them; their words, their gestures, their eyes, all depict their iniquity.

The winking of the eye is probably the most familiar to us. When someone says something, and then winks, it suggests that they are not being entirely honest. I recall a clip from a reality TV show where one of the characters was apologising to another. As they went in for a hug of apology, they winked at the onlookers implying that their apology was nothing but false.

Verse 14 talks of perverseness of the heart, continual devising of evil and one always sowing discord. Note these are not one time things, and in fact, I think that because the heart is “perverse” then the actions are “continually” and “always” of an evil nature. As Jesus taught us, we are to inspect the fruit of our lives and that of those around us. If the tree is bad, it will produce bad fruit. In the same way here, a perverse heart is continually producing evil and always sowing discord.

Jeremiah was right when he said that the heart was deceitful above all things (see Jeremiah 17:9). If the heart is deceitful, full of iniquity, and perverse (to use the words from above) then it is hardly surprising to see this wicked person constantly devising evil schemes.

We cannot become good people by trying. We may be able to manage our behaviour for a short time, but if our hearts are inclined to evil, then sooner or later it will show itself. Hearts cannot be fixed or modified, they can only be changed.

I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh; 20 that they may walk in my statutes, and keep my ordinances, and do them. They will be my people, and I will be their God

Ezekiel 11:19-20 WEB

When we come to Jesus, He saves us by making us new. We become new creatures in Christ, and our hearts are changed forever. Our flesh may still lead us to do sinful things at times, but that does not change our hearts. To change the person, you must change the heart.

To change the person, you must change the #heart #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

To change our hearts, we must surrender them to Christ. We repent of our sins, asking Him to save us, forgive us and renew us. The prayer asking Him to do this is simple, yet it requires a lifelong commitment to following Him.

To conclude, verse 15 paints a clear picture of what happens if we continue on the path of evil. Sudden calamity! Put simply, not good news!

Verse 15 repeats the word “suddenly” to emphasise that the destruction of the wicked will come out of the blue and completely unexpectedly. The end of the verse points out that such calamity is without remedy. Such is the fate of those who pursue evil and refuse to repent of their sin before God. God is wonderfully loving and full of kindness, yet He will not tolerate wickedness forever. A time will come when He will put an end to iniquity and once His judgement falls, it cannot be undone.

I do not want to end of this rather grim note! God’s judgement is not to be trifled with, and serves as a warning to us to turn to Jesus. God has made a way for us; He has opened up a way for us to be saved. Such is His great love, that He chooses not to leave us in our peril, but instead sacrifices His own Son that we might go free.

Do not be like the “worthless person!” Do not delay, turn to Christ and receive His forgiveness. That is wisdom!

This Sunday at Church: Pray any pastoral counseling today would be used by God

This Sunday at Church I want to encourage you to do the following: Pray any pastoral counseling today would be used by God. During the weekdays …

This Sunday at Church: Pray any pastoral counseling today would be used by God

Saturday Scriptures – 17 September 2022

Although normal service has now resumed on the blog, whatever normal is! I thought I might continue to share select Bible verses for you to think about throughout the day.

How good are you at waiting? I have some patience, often it is tested at times!

What about waiting on the Lord? how good are you at that?

Waiting on God is not like waiting for a train however. Instead, waiting on the Lord is like waiting on a table. We do not stand with our arms folded and tapping our toes. Rather we are attentive and ready to serve.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Give this some thought today.

Be A Candle (PoW) – Andy Brown

Pearls of Wisdom Even the dimmest, most tiniest of candles can cast a great light in a dark room. Are you the only Christian in your family? How about your place of work? Your school perhaps? It can feel extremely tough to be the only one with Christian beliefs or values. It can be lonely,…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2021/05/23/be-a-candle-pow/

Show Me Your Way

I want to start this post with a little challenge for you, similar to what you might find in a children’s workbook or puzzle book. It’s a “fill in the blank…”

Complete the following sentence:

“God, if I have found favour in your eyes, please… FILL IN THE BLANK.”

How would you complete this? Is it immediately obvious to you, or do you need a little time to think about it?

Would you ask for something physical, such as health or strength? Or would it be something financial or material that you needed? Perhaps it would be an ask on behalf of someone else, such as salvation or a particular spiritual blessing?

How would you fill in the blank? #God if I have favour in your eyes, please…? #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

We may have all kinds of different ideas on how to complete this line, but, as it happens, we find out the “correct” answer as the Bible tells us. These are, in fact, words of Moses and I want to spend a few minutes thinking about how he completed the sentence.

Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me your way, now, that I may know you, so that I may find favor in your sight; and consider that this nation is your people.”

Exodus 33:13

The answer is: “Show me your ways!”

Hands up all of you who filled in the blank in this same way? I must confess that I would not have.

Moses’ prayer is incredibly humbling (to me at least, how about you?) He asked God to show him His way so that he might know Him. For Moses, the “prize” he sought more than anything was to know God. It was not physical, financial or even spiritual blessing, instead it was the privilege of knowing God.

Think of all the things we seek after in our lives. Some seek fame, through a variety of means right from YouTube artists to Hollywood actors. Others seek fortune, gambling or working themselves sick. Others seek satisfaction in romantic relationships, career or political power, and others move from hobby to hobby, house to house, friendship group to friendship group. Moses sought none of these things.

Paul the Apostle valued knowing God far above all else, just as Moses did.

He said:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

Philippians 3:8-10

Paul counted everything as rubbish next to knowing Christ.

Paul counted everything as rubbish next to knowing #Christ #Jesus #Bible

How much value do you place in knowing Jesus? It is rather easy to say the words, “It’s the most important thing…” but if I looked at your life and how you spend your time, would I draw the same conclusion?

I am humbled at the thought.

Lord, show me Your way that I might know You! Help me to see all else as loos in comparison to knowing You! Let my diary, my bank statement, my social media feeds, my words, thoughts and actions all demonstrate that there is nothing in my life that is more important than You. In Jesus’ name, Amen