Do you want to sin against God? The obvious answer is no! No one who calls themselves a follower of Jesus Christ does. Yet, what steps do we take to …Might Not Sin
Last year, I wrote a series of blog posts on the early part of the book of acts. The below post, which is about a protective father seems appropriate for this fathers day!
To all of the fathers out there, I wish you a very happy Father’s Day! It is both a very difficult and very rewarding job to raise children in this difficult world. Be encouraged and God bless you and your children today.￼￼￼
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/
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid.Proverbs 12:1 (ESV)
One of the things I love about Solomon’s proverbs is the fact he doesn’t mince his words! There’s a place for diplomacy and sensitivity, but sometimes there’s a need for stark warning.
The other day, my three year old threw a toy across the room. When I told her not to, she got rather cross and took a swing at me with all her might. I took it on the chin (not literally) but sent her to the “naughty spot” in our house. It is fair to say she did not “love” discipline in that moment!
How many of us can truly say that we do love discipline? When my boss calls me in to their office (virtual or otherwise) to point out something I need to change, I hardly relish the experience! Yet, as I’ve gotten to know my boss over the years, I know that they have my best interests at heart and anything they correct me on is for my benefit. By “loving” the discipline, I’m growing and improving.
Discipline is tough in the moment, and far too few of us later reflect on that correction and realise its value. Church discipline, for instance, often leads to people walking out of the church, not gratitude to the pastor or minister for loving them enough to say something.
We cannot hope to grow as Christians without the love of discipline. I learn from others who teach me, and from those who love me enough to say something when I go wrong. If no one ever pointed it out, I might never come to the realisation on my own.
Discipline works best when it comes from a safe and loving relationship. My wife can point out my faults to me in a way a total stranger never could. I trust her judgement and know she wants what’s best for me. The same can’t be said for a person I do not know well.
God knows us best, and we must trust in His deep, unending love for us. When He disciplines us, it’s because He loves us and does not want us to stay stuck in a place of error.
The Proverbs often mirror themselves. So, if you are wise to do one thing, then you are stupid to do the reverse. We see this here. If it is wise to love discipline, then it is stupid to hate correction.
To hate discipline is really to hate ourselves. It suggests that we have a level of pride where we think we couldn’t possibly be wrong.
Often when correction comes, we react badly to it. We point to the one disciplining us, and say “What about when you…?” Discipline does indeed hurt at times, but it is a pain which leads to something better. I once heard someone say that you can go through the pain of change, or go through the pain of staying just as you are.
Do not hate discipline, nor the one who brings it to you. While you may feel too excited about it, take the time to thank the person and bring it before God. If, for instance, that person does not really have good intentions, then you can lay that before Jesus and let the Spirit lead you.
Discipline in general, but church discipline in particular, does seem to be becoming more and more rare these days. I wonder why this is? There is truth to it that many church members are easily offended, and would storm out if a church leader even dared breath a word of correction near them. This, of course, does put church leaders off of doing it.
Also though, I wonder if all of us have somehow lost a level of holiness in our own eyes. As I consider this, I realise that bringing discipline makes me take long look at myself, and highlights the areas where I fall short. If I make so many mistakes, then how dare I tell others what they should and should not do?
Iron sharpens iron though, and only by living and worshipping together can we ever hope to support each other. I need you to tell me when I am going wrong, and likewise you need me to do the same for you. Let us love each other enough, and be brave enough, to help one another grow.
Is God bringing discipline into your life right now? Is He using a friend or family member to do it? Is He prompting you to speak a word into someone else’s life? Do so with humility, and love them as best you can.
Pearls of Wisdom
How you act when no one is watching you is who you really are.
How you act and behave when no one is looking says a great deal about your character.
I am a manager at work, and it is very interesting to see how some staff behave when they think you are not watching them.
At one place I used to work, the staff arrived early and the managers not until later. It was surprising how little work was done in those minutes before the managers arrived. Some staff would read the paper while others surfed the web. Others might ask a colleague to clock them in even if they were not ready to start work.
The temptation to cut corners is powerful when no one is watching us. We might think if no one knows, then there’s no harm in doing a slightly less than perfect job.
But God is always present. And for the Christian, we must live before God as if He is always watching… because He is.
We need to do the right thing even when no one is watching us. That’s called character, and who we are when no one is looking should be no different than if we are being carefully observed.
Do you live two distinct lives? The one when someone is present, and the other? If so, I encourage you to remember that God is always with you and sees all that is done in secret. And the person you are when no one is watching is who you really are.
If you don’t take the first step, then you will never take the second.
Every journey begins with the first step. It may not sound all that profound, and is actually rather simple. But it is an indisputable truth.
Sometimes we look at our goals or the end of our journey, and recognise how far they are away. As a result, we refuse to take the first step. Understandable that may be, but it is also illogical. Refusing to take the first step will not get us any closer to our aim.
Take, for example, the writing of a book, or training to become a minister in the church. Such things can take a long time to achieve. We will never get there however if we don’t take that first step.
No matter what God has put on your heart to do, you cannot do it until you start. It may take 100 steps, but you cannot avoid taking the first one. Whatever it is you are putting off, put it off no longer. Take a deep breath, roll up those sleeves, and push that foot forward! It may be a tough road ahead, but if God has called you to do it, you will make it!￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
The first step may be very difficult, but often we find the second step easier than the first.
What are you aiming for? What dreams are on your heart? What is the first step, and can you take it today?
God bless you on your journey, wherever it leads you.
Pearls of Wisdom
It’s not the time you put in, but what you put into the time.
Time and effort are not always correlated. Just because we have spent a lot of time on something, does not mean we have put a lot of effort in. The reverse is also true. A lot of effort does not necessarily mean a lot of time.
Prayer is a classic example of this. Just because you’re putting in long hours of praying, does not mean you have spent any quality time with God. In a similar way, you can have a really good relationship with God but have no need to spend hours and hours and hours of lengthy, set aside prayer time. Although praying little and often is the only surefire way of having a good relationship with God.
We tend to spend our time on the things that we care about. And in that sense, our relationship with God should certainly capture the majority of our time. But it is not about the quantity of time with God, but rather the quality.
If you spend a daily prayer time with Jesus, then that’s great and something every Christian should do. But don’t measure that time by its length, measure it by its quality.
Put your time into your relationship with Christ. Remember, it’s not about how much time you spend, but about how much you put into that time. May you be extremely blessed in your time with Jesus today and always.￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
Pearl of Wisdom #25
Yesterday ended last night.
At first glance, this doesn’t seem like much of nugget of wisdom. In fact, it’s rather obvious!
But look again…
Whatever successes you had yesterday, whatever you achieved, those things are done and there is a new day in front of you. We cannot live off of yesterday’s successes. We must make the most of everyday.
Similarly, whatever failures you had yesterday, they are in the past also. Don’t live with the regret of yesterday, but push on to what’s ahead.
Each of us has no more and no less than the day that is in front of us. We will only get one shot at it, so let’s make the most of it. We all have a limited number of them, and sadly none of us know what that number is. All we can do is our best each day.
What can you do to make today the very best you can?￼￼￼￼￼
Pearl of Wisdom #23
If you get into the Word of God, then the Word of God will get into you!
You will never be a strong or successful Christian unless you get into the Word of God in the Bible. Consider the Bible as your spiritual food!
As you begin to study the Word of God and absorb it’s truths, those truths will begin to shape your life. As you get into the Word, it will begin to get into you as well.
This means that when you need it, the Holy Spirit can bring the Word to your memory. He can bring that Word to life in any situation. The Bible describes the Word of God as a “sword of the Spirit,” and the Spirit can put that “sword” in your hand when you need it.
As you read and study the Bible, the truths you learn will change your mind – how you think. It will shine light on areas you need God’s help with, and it will encourage and strengthen you.
Get into the Word this week, and let that Word shape your life!
Pearl of Wisdom #22
Don’t expect what other people have, unless you’re willing to pay the price they paid to get it.
Some say we live in the age of entitlement. People have a tendency to want or even expect what other people have – without being willing to pay the price they paid to get it.
Some newly weds or homeowners expect the same standard of living as their retired parents, not realising it took their parents their entire lives working and saving to be in a position to live that way.
We want to lose weight and be fit and healthy, but don’t want to spend the hours in the gym we need to. We want the “body” but aren’t willing to let go of the chocolate!
The same can be true of churches and ministries. We see a “big church” (which is not necessarily a measure of success) and want our church to be the same. A Bible teacher draws in a crowd of hundreds, and we feel we ought to have at least the same.
What we often fail to understand is that these things all come at a cost and a sacrifice. Whether in ministry or in business or life in general, success takes time and patience. We may be watching the end result of years of hard work, expecting to have it all in a few weeks.
I encourage you to have goals and dreams, but set realistic expectations. Don’t look at others and covet what they have. Do what they did to get it. Learn from them, and strive towards your goals.
And remember, we usually only ever see the “edited highlights” of a person’s life. Instagram and Facebook are very selective windows into a person’s world.
Be blessed this week.
We need desire, not discipline, to do the things of God
Most Christians would agree on some of the important things we ought to do as part of our faith. I’m thinking of things such as prayer, reading the Bible or sharing our faith with others. If these are indeed important, then do you feel you do them enough?
Most would probably say no.
We know that prayer and reading the Bible are important for building up our faith and our relationship with God. We know we ought to share our faith with those who haven’t yet heard about it, because no one else can do it. So what can we do?
Many would say we need discipline. We need to discipline ourselves to put down the mobile phone, or switch off the TV set, and do the things we know we should be doing.
We need desire however, not discipline.
While discipline has its place, if we really want to get things done, we need a desire to do them. Discipline only goes so far, but ultimately we do the things we want to do.
Ask God to grow your desire to pray, to read the Word and to share your faith with others. When you have the desire, you won’t need the discipline.
Here is one of Andy’s past sermons called “Return Your Receiver”. We hope you enjoy it!
Wisdom means making decisions today that you will be happy with tomorrow.
There are a number of definitions of wisdom I suppose, but I happen to like this one!
How often do we make choices one day, that we regret the next? Ultimately life is a series of choices and we must make ones that will benefit us, not harm us. It’s not always clear which is the right choice, so we must consider God’s will and about which choice is best not just for the here and now, but for the future also.
Take a simple example such as healthy eating. Perhaps you are someone who wants to lose weight, and even if not, you can still understand the point here. Do you eat the doughnut, or do you take the apple? In the moment, the doughnut may seem the most tempting, but consider not just how you feel now, but how you will feel later when standing on the scales or trying on new clothes.
Similarly, when making a purchase, it may be tempting right now, but will the monthly payments for the next four years really be what you want to do with your money?
Wisdom means choosing not what you want right now, but what will be best in the future. Make decisions today that you will be happy with tomorrow.