Precious Faith (2 Peter 1:1-2)

This letter is from Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.

I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have. This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior.

2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

2 Peter 1:1-2 (WEB)

I have written a lot about the Proverbs lately, and decided to switch gears and move into a New Testament letter. I was reading Peter’s second letter a few days ago, and so thought I would share a few thoughts.

Slave and Apostle

The opening is straightforward enough, and we learn that this letter, like the first one, comes from Simon Peter. Peter is probably Jesus’ most well-known disciple, and a man infamous for leaping in, putting his foot in it and thinking more highly of himself than he ought. He even once dared to “correct” the Lord (see Matthew 16:22).

Yet, for all his pride, Peter denied Christ and this event likely humbled him deeply. As he introduces his second letter, he depicts himself as an apostle yes, but a slave also. Peter could have bowled in, laying down his apostolic rights and demanding to be respected, but instead he refers to himself as a slave. And notice, he says slave first, then apostle.

May I be known as a writer, yes, but a slave first. May others see me as husband and father, of course, but primarily as a servant of Christ.

May I be known as a writer, yes, but a slave first. May others see me as husband and father, of course, but primarily as a servant of #Christ. #Bible

Whatever you “are” in your life, let your servanthood of Jesus be at the top of the list. The word “slave” (rightly) has negative connotations to us, and indeed we tend to prefer servant (although not a great deal more!) If indeed Christ is our Master, and we are fully submitted to Him and His authority, then slave is not a wholly inappropriate term.

I yearn to follow Him more deeply and more fully. I know He loves me and has good things planned for me, and so I joyfully submit to slavery in His care.

Precious Faith

Peter does not address his letter to a particular group. It is not written to a church location, nor to the Jewish believers in a certain place. Instead, he writes to “those who share the same precious faith”

Christians often find many things to disagree about. I could write a list but not sure that would be the most encouraging! Be it points of doctrine, interpretation of Scripture, or the colour of the curtains in the vestry, we can usually find something to debate!

Despite our variety and differences, Peter unites us in sharing “like precious faith.” Whatever our background, whatever our age, whatever our language; whatever else that may differ about each of us, the thing that brings us together is our faith in Jesus Christ.

This faith is not to be taken for granted. Our faith is precious, meaning of great value. We treat precious things with a certain respect, and our faith is no different.

This faith, precious as it is, is not something we have bought or earned. If we read Peter’s words carefully, we learn that our faith has been given to us by God. This is truly astonishing because it shows us that we could not believe in Jesus had God not first placed faith in us.

In my post – Hope Comes Looking – I referred to a course I am currently studying, and the topic of the Lent season was on “predestination”. This is about whether God chose us, or if we chose Him. There are different views, but I now tend towards a view that God first chose us, and that even our faith in Him is entirely dependent on His Sovereign choice. This verse from Peter’s letter shows that even the faith we depend upon is given to us by God.

The WEB translation says we have been given this faith because of Jesus’ justice and fairness. Fairness is one of the reasons some do not agree with the view that God chose whoever He willed, because they deem it “unfair.” It is “unfair” for God to choose some for salvation and not others. I have said it before however, and state the same again now, we do not want fairness from God – we want mercy. Fairness from God is for Him to save no one, and leave us in the sin that stains us.

So, how do we read the above? Most other translations seem to render the words “justice and fairness” as simply “righteousness.” That, to me at least, feels a much better word. God is indeed righteous, and we praise and thank Him for bestowing this precious faith upon us.

Verse two says:

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

2 Peter 1:2 (WEB)

What a powerful little blessing this is. I pray this over every one of my readers today. May you indeed grow in the knowledge of the Lord (and I pray in some small way this post helps with that), and as you do so, may He give you more and more grace and peace.

May God’s grace be evident in your life more and more, and may His peace rule in your heart and your homes today.

Thanks for reading!

Turn Your Ear & Fix Your Eyes (Proverbs 4:20-27)

My son, attend to my words.

    Turn your ear to my sayings.

21 Let them not depart from your eyes.

    Keep them in the center of your heart.

22 For they are life to those who find them,

    and health to their whole body.

23 Keep your heart with all diligence,

    for out of it is the wellspring of life.

24 Put away from yourself a perverse mouth.

    Put corrupt lips far from you.

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead.

    Fix your gaze directly before you.

26 Make the path of your feet level.

    Let all of your ways be established.

27 Don’t turn to the right hand nor to the left.

    Remove your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27 (WEB)

The other day my wife was talking to me, and like a dutiful husband, I was nodding and saying “Uh-huh…” in all the right places. My mind however, was somewhere else! I had to hold my hands up and admit that although I was hearing the words, I wasn’t really listening.

Verse 20 of Proverbs 4 is a rather eloquent way of saying “Listen up!” Attending to someone’s words is not simply to hear them, but rather to engage with them. Likewise, turning one’s head in the right direction (so that the ear is pointed at the speaker) is not nearly enough to ensure the instruction hits home.

Solomon is again entreating us to listen, to take on board and to respond to the wisdom of his teaching.

In a similar way, verse 21 encourages us to keep Wisdom’s teachings before our eyes and thus planted in our hearts. This idea of God’s Word and wisdom not departing from our eyes is an exhortation to be both regular and consistently reading and studying the Scripture.

A 30-minute sermon on a Sunday is not enough. A 5-minute devotional each morning may be encouraging, but it may be insufficient to receive the full counsel of God’s Word.

For me at least, little and often may be the key. I have followed “Bible in a year” plans before, and while useful in some cases, it can become a burden or even chore as we wade through six or more chapters each morning.

Better to read and meditate on a few Bible verses regularly, than read a dozen pages without taking it in.

Better to read and #meditate on a few #Bible verses regularly, than read a dozen pages without taking it in.

That is not to take Scripture out of context, I hasten to add. There is just as much danger in reading your favourite few verses all the time, and not engaging with the wider text or understand its place in the big picture.

Verse 22 says:

For they are life to those who find them,

    and health to their whole body.

Proverbs 4:22 (WEB)

Verse 22 has always been a verse which fascinates me. It says that God’s word, or the instruction of wisdom, provides life to those who find them and even health to our physical bodies. We touched on this in previous posts on the book of Proverbs, and clearly living wisely will lengthen your life. Smoking, drinking or eating to excess, or not looking after oneself is not wise, and as a consequence will of course reduce one’s lifespan.

The word translated as “health” here is the Hebrew word marpe’ and is most often translated as “health” (as above) or “healing.” It can also be rendered as “cure” or “remedy” also.

Could it be that the very studying of God’s Word can bring health to us, and I mean in some supernatural way rather than as a natural consequence of living right? While some would give a definite yes to that question, others would dispute it. I would encourage you to study its meaning for yourself.

The WEB translation of verse 23 is a little confusing, to me at least! Here it is from the NLT:

Guard your heart above all else,

    for it determines the course of your life.

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Despite talking of the health of the body in the last verse, this one is not referring to our blood pump, but rather our inner self. Guarding our heart is very much in line with what this passage has been talking about. Too few of us take seriously what we allow into our hearts and minds. Instead of keeping the Word of God before us constantly, we fill ourselves with ungodly entertainment or gossip. We are foolish if we think our hearts can go unscathed by such continual battering.

Your heart, that is, your inner self, will determine how your life goes. It is like a child who is constantly criticised or put down, they will struggle in life to overcome such negativity. Our hearts, in a similar way, cannot be soaked in negativity and produce positive results.

Verse 24 deals not with what we put into ourselves, but rather what comes out of us. It strongly advises us to be careful about how we speak, and I cannot emphasise enough the power of our words.

Paul also instructs us to:

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.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

What a challenging verse this is! I say a lot of things in a day, but can hardly confess to all of it being helpful for building others up. I try to add value with my words, always having in the back of my mind that one day I will give account for them to the Lord. Yet too frequently I find my words are not wholesome, but instead are negative, critical or just wasteful. How about you?

Verse 25 to 27 all echo the same sentiment. Keep your eyes fixed ahead, and your feet on level ground. This is clearly not to advise us against turning our heads nor to ascend inclined ground in our hometowns! Instead, the Proverbs are warning us to keep fixed on what is right, and not to turn aside to evil.

If we do not do this, if we just wander along aimlessly, then we will find ourselves in trouble. Our focus and our determined purpose must be to seek after what is right and good. Our sinful nature has been programmed into us since birth, and despite the new life Christ brings, we do tend towards selfishness and evil unless we are set against it.

What are your eyes fixed on? Are locked ahead, gazing upon God’s Word, or do they wander and lead you astray? How about those feet? Are they shod with the Gospel, and following after Jesus, or do they stumble or meander away?

Make a decision right here and now that you will seek after wisdom all day long. Fix those eyes and discipline those feet, and you will life in God’s Word.

Hope Comes Looking (audio)

It was my pleasure to share in the teaching at our churches Lent meeting last week. we were considering the subject of hope, and looking at four encounters from the book of Luke-chapter 8.

I share below a recording of the message I gave, and hope it encourages you today.



Signs Above – #TestimonyTuesday

When I left university, I had little idea of what I wanted to do with my life – let alone what I thought God wanted me to do!

I applied for several jobs, and remember one vividly. It was an accounting role, and was based in Canary Wharf in London. At that time, it was a really up and coming area of the city, with a huge amount of development going on. It is now a very busy business district, among other things.

I was fortunate enough to be offered an interview for the role, and travelled to the area. There were some massive buildings there, and it was apparently a very expensive area. I recall buying a sandwich and having to take out a small loan to afford it!

I located the building and it was huge. As I went in through the main doors, I was confronted by a large reception area. Behind the main reception were the letters depicting the name of the firm in enormous characters. To me, it may as well have been as big as the Hollywood sign itself!

I may have been an adult by then, but I felt like a little boy gazing up at this gigantic sign. My heart sank and the phrase “out of my depth” sprang to mind! It never really occurred to me to turn and run, but I would not have been ungrateful if the ground had opened up at that point.

And that is when it happened…

It wasn’t an audible voice that I heard with my ears, but it was what I would later learn to be God’s voice whispering in my spirit. He said quite simply, “I am the God of this place as well.”

After that, the sign did not seem so big anymore.

I took a deep breath, uttered a little prayer and pressed on. I signed in, was escorted upstairs and gave it my best shot. As it happens, God had other plans for me and I did not get that job. Perhaps the reason I was offered an interview was simply to get me in front of that sign? I don’t know, but it taught me that God is ever-present. It showed me that even when I face things that are seemingly far bigger than I am, I go with a God who is bigger than everything.

What are you facing today or this week? If it seems too big for you, then remember you do not face it alone. The One who set the stars in place goes with you.

Jesus said, “Surely I am with you, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b). And He meant it.

Praise His holy Name!


Broken Dreams, and Hope! Now available on Amazon!!

This brand new book from another Andy is well worth a read! I sat down to read it yesterday, finished it in almost one single session!

It’s a very encouraging read, and Andy’s honest and approachable style of writing is very enjoyable.

Andy does not just point out that life is hard, but shares his genuine experiences of times of trial. He gently points his readers to the Lord, and shows how Jesus understands our suffering.

Do check out the below post, and grab yourself a copy of the book! You won’t regret it.

We had the pre-order open up last week, and now you can buy the book in either format – on eBook digital readers like the Kindle, and in Paperback …

Broken Dreams, and Hope! Now available on Amazon!!

Andy B 2 Minute Video, Resting Is Proactive! Season 4, Episode 41

I understand that I may have inspired this post… As someone who often feels guilty when resting, I can see why!

In this post, another Andy B reminds us of the importance of stopping and resting.

While you are there, do check out the other wonderful resources from the Berry Bunch family

We love accomplishing things. Perhaps, like me, you use a digital To Do List. It is immensely satisfying clicking that little tick box, and having …

Andy B 2 Minute Video, Resting Is Proactive! Season 4, Episode 41

Home Group Healing #TestimonyTuesday

One evening, a group of Christians and I met together for a home group (this was in a previous church I belonged to). I forget the subject of our Bible study that night, but I recall vividly what happened during the prayer time at the end.

As I prayed for the group, I got this nagging sense that someone was struggling with migraine headaches. From time to time, I believe God shows me such things and that this is part of my spiritual gifts. I shared what I had sensed, and as it happens, two of the eight people gathered admitted to having struggled with severe headaches all that day. Neither had mentioned them during the course of the evening.

We prayed together, and prayed for these headaches to cease. For one of the two, they did. I remember that person saying so clearly, “It’s gone!” for the other person, they said it had helped but they could not admit that the headache had completely gone.

Even so, it sticks in my mind as a time when God was truly faithful. It highlights that for a whole variety of reasons that not everyone receives healing every time we pray. That should not stop us asking however, and to see someone freed from an intense headache was truly something to thank the Lord for.

I have had migraines in the past, and they are no fun at all! It was an immense privilege to be able to hear God’s direction that day, and to be able to pray for a sister in need.

When it comes to spiritual gifts and the healing ministry, it is something I remain passionate about. God has blessed us with these gifts, and we are to use them to build up His church. Yes there are times when things do not quite work out as they should. For instance, this weekend I had a sense that someone had hurt their ankle. When I reached out to them, they had not. The most likely reason was that I was simply wrong.

Being wrong is something I have grown used to over the years, but that does not stop me trying to listen to Jesus and acting on His voice. The pain of a migraine, sore ankle or whatever ailment can be a real drag to people. if God should wish to use me to bring that relief, then I am humbled and clearly the glory is all His.

Have you ever had an experience like this? I’d love to hear about it.

I hope that this brief testimony has encouraged you. God cares. He loves you. He cares about your headaches, your bills, your entire life. For the most part, He will direct us through His Word, but I rejoice in the times He directs us through His Spirit too. Praise the God of love who cares for us each and every day! Amen!

Praying for Ukraine

At our church yesterday, we had our “World Focus” spot. This is a time where we think about another part of the globe, and see what the Lord is doing there. Often it also involves thinking about the challenges a country or region face, and helps us think on how we can support the church in that place. Given events in the Ukraine right now, this was our subject.

We learned about a woman named Jessica who works with orphans in that nation. She lives in a fairly dangerous region of the country in “normal” times, and even more so now. As of yesterday, she was heading for the border following the advice to flee. She leaves behind one of the orphans she has helped to raise, a young man now aged over 18, and so he cannot leave in case he is called upon to fight for his country.

This is but one story of thousands. How many families are being torn apart by this dreadful situation?

I have seen a number of blogs about the war in Ukraine, and many prayers uttered. I join with them today, and pray for peace in that land. I also pray for wisdom for both sides, and for leaders across the world. We know that such situations can quickly escalate, and it takes only a spark to set a great blaze.

We pray for the citizens of Ukraine as they bravely defend their homes. We ask you Lord to move in that place, to bring forth all or any good You can out of this time of trouble. We pray, too, for a swift end to this conflict, and that lives on both sides would be saved.

May Your church arise in that part of the world. May those who know You, and are seeking to follow You, be blessed with strength, wisdom and resources to shine Your light in that place. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and Russia, asking You to unite them with one purpose in serving You. May their love for You far exceed the hate of people, and may their example and ministry bring many souls into Your glorious kingdom.

Lord, when we see such things happen, it can be hard to know what exactly we should pray. Give us wisdom, and direct our prayers so that Your will is done, and You may be glorified. Where people suffer, may You be there to offer comfort. Where there is hurt, may Your church bring healing in Your Name.

We pray in the mighty Name of Jesus, amen!

Thank you for joining me in these prayers. And do add your own in the comments if you wish.

Have a blessed day.

Serving Sunday – Sunday Suggestion

I want to encourage you to go to church with a servant’s heart.

The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV)

Church is not about you. For many of us, we go to church wanting it to meet our needs. We might want our favourite seat. We want our preferred style of music. We want sermons that do not make us feel uncomfortable or challenge us too much.

That may sound harsh, but unfortunately we are often guilty of going to church for what we can get out of it, not what we put in.

Of course, church should be a blessing to us, and if we never received anything from being there, it would not be healthy or right. But the primary purpose is not about what you need or want.

Instead, go with an attitude of service. Give up your seat or parking spot for a newcomer. Pass out the notice sheet if you see those without one. Help move the chairs afterwards if they need moving, or offer to serve the coffee or other refreshments.

Bringing together the family of believers is primarily about the worship of God. It can take a lot of work and organisation to bring it all together, and our consumer society means that too frequently we rock up, expecting to be “fed” and then leave. We are a family though, and if we all do our bit to serve one another, it will be such an amazing experience.

The church I attend is not perfect (of course) but one of the things that was so positive about it was that there were so many volunteers of all ages contributing to the events. We first went to a family oriented event, with different craft activities and a Bible time later on. There were many people there who were just there to serve, and it has always stayed with me.

In my experience, it is usually a select few who run around doing all of the work while the rest keep the seats warm! But we all have gifts, talents and abilities we can use to be a blessing to each other. If everyone did a little serving, then that would go a long way.

In my experience, it is usually a select few who run around doing all of the work while the rest keep the seats warm! #church #Bible #Christianity #Jesus

Make it your mission today to be a servant at church. Look around you and see what needs doing, and do it. It won’t go unnoticed, and even if your church family do not see it, the Lord will.

Lent 2022

The season of Lent is approaching once again, with ash Wednesday next week.

Christians celebrate Lent in many different ways. Some give something up, while others try to pick up a good habit. in a previous church I belonged to, we tried to read a Christian book during Lent and discuss it as a church family.

If you wish to follow this practice, then may I humbly suggest my own book.

As you can see, it is a devotional book which you can read over the 40 days of Lent. it was written with lent in mind, and tries to think about some of the things Jesus would have considered during his time in the wilderness.

It is available to buy on Amazon, in both paperback and kindle formats.

A Journey with Jesus: 40 Day Devotional https://smile.amazon.co.uk/dp/1798136317/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_i_GZ8880VGPRE9ZD8KG2CH

If you decide to take the plunge, I do hope you enjoy it and that it challenges you. Please also leave an honest review on the site, as I value your feedback!

Happy reading!


This Sunday at Church: Pray for Church Members to Share the Gospel

On the back of my series on the Great Commission, this is a timely reminder from our brother in Christ.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://1peter.bible/1-peter-3-15

For this Sunday here’s what you can do: Pray for Church Members to Share the Gospel. A few months ago I wrote This Sunday at Church: Thank the …

This Sunday at Church: Pray for Church Members to Share the Gospel

Going for a Goal… Still? – Sunday Suggestion

At the beginning of 2022, I began a new series called “Sunday Suggestion” and the first in that series was Go for a Goal linked here.

As many people do at the start of the year, it was about setting goals for yourself – although I hesitated to call them resolutions!

We are now nearly two months into the year and for this week’s Sunday Suggestion, I want to encourage you to review your goals.

Are you still on track, or have you let it slide? Is this something you need to pick back up again, or do you now realise (in hindsight) that it was too much to take on this year?

If you are still on course, then good for you! If you are not, then it certainly is not too late to catch up. If miss a meal due to a busy schedule, we do not give up eating altogether, but perhaps eat a little more next time!

If you missed that earlier post, or did not set yourself any goals for 2022, then there is no reason why you cannot (prayerfully) set some right here and now. You perhaps cannot claim them to be “New Year’s Resolutions” but if you think about it, 1st January is just an arbitrary date anyway. Why not start a new, positive habit on 20th February? If it is indeed positive, then there is no better time than now to begin.

In Galatians, Paul says:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal 6:9 #Bible

I want to encourage you today not to give up. Press on towards your goal, even if progress has been slow up until now. Do not become weary in doing the good you need to do, instead keep putting one foot in front of the other and sooner or later, you will reach your target.

Do comment below with how things are going, and please do respond to one another’s comment with words of encouragement.