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
I have to be honest with you – I was so proud of myself when I came up with that title! Now I just need a blog post to go along with it…
In all seriousness, I do have an important point to make today, and I’m not just bending a message to fit the title.
A few days ago, I sat praying in my usual spot. It has been a fairly tough time for the family over the last few months, and I was reflecting on this and bringing it before the Lord. I started to pray for each individual involved, “God, please help me to support this person…” “Lord, please help me show your love to that person…” Lord, please help me do this, that or the other…” I began to feel overwhelmed and could not imagine how I could minister to all the people in my life who needed it at that moment.
Then, with a simple word, I felt God speak to me.
Don’t try to do my job for Me, Andy…
Now to be clear, this was not an audible voice I heard with my physical ears. I’m always conscious of pointing that out whenever I say that God “spoke” to me. This was an inner witness, and what I mean by that is simply that this was the sense I got from the Father inside.
With that one phrase, it lifted the pressure right off of me. I am responsible to love and care for the people in my life, and where led to, I should minister and support all that I can with the love of the Father. However, I am not God (clearly!). I cannot do what He can do, and I cannot take His place in the lives of those around me.
I have a part to play, but God is the one in charge. He knows far better than I what people need and how best to help them.
The truth is I have a problem with pride. In my time with God in the mornings at the moment, I’m doing a brief study on this subject, and it dawns on me how strong my prideful spirit is at times.
Pride and selfishness are close cousins. Humility and submission are likewise related.
When I become impatient in a situation, it is because my pride is kicking in and telling me I shouldn’t have to wait. When I get angry, it is frequently because I am not getting what I want. When I feel anxious, I am not trusting God but rather trusting in myself to fix the problems – which are often out of my control.
Can you relate?
Too frequently, I do things my way. Instead, let’s try to do things Yahweh…
Let God be God, and humbly submit to Him. Instead of impatience and anger, put the other person first and give them the space and time they need (even if it takes you a little longer to do what you need to).
Christ is our ultimate example of humility.
Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, yes, the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:5-11 (WEB)
Wow! These verses are just wow! What an example of humility! Jesus, equal to God, stepped down from heaven and became a human being… and just that, but became obedient to death – even death of a hideous cross.
He did things Yahweh…
How about you today? Will you try to do it all your way and in your own strength? O will you try, like me, to submit to God and do things His way? It is not a onetime choice, but something we will have to do time and time again. That is what it means to crucify the flesh and to carry the cross daily.
O Lord help me surrender to You this day! Let me do it all Your way and not mine! Help me let go of my pride and se3lfishness, and clothe myself in humility – putting others ahead of myself! In the great Name of Jesus! Amen
Pearls of Wisdom
Death is coming, and it’s random
I know that probably isn’t the most uplifting piece of wisdom you’ve ever heard, but it is true! Death is not something we should spend our entire lives thinking about, but it does happen to us all and we need to be prepared for it.
We tend to avoid thinking about it if we can, and otherwise take a herd mentality to cope with it. What I mean is this:
- It won’t happen to me, I’m too young
- It won’t happen to me, I’m fit and healthy
- It won’t happen to me, I’ve got the money to pay for excellent health care
- It won’t happen to me, I’ve got longevity in my genes
- It won’t happen to me, I live in a safe town or neighbourhood
Death is random however. While any one of these factors may reduce the risk of death in your life, the fact is neither money, nor age, nor healthy living can ever stop death from coming to us all sooner or later – and I pray it’s later!
I once heard of a serial killer who seemingly had no profile of victims he attacked. That made him one of the more terrifying examples because no one was safe. If he only targeted young women, then older women and men would feel “safe.”
Each of us must come to terms with our own mortality. Just as each of us have been born, each of us will one day face death.
For the Christian, death holds little fear. When our time comes, we will step out of our earthly bodies and into the presence of the Lord. There we will remain for all eternity.
Whether you are young or old, healthy or sick, rich or poor; you do not know when your time on Earth will be up. Do not gamble with your eternal future. Set it in stone right now by putting your faith in Jesus Christ.
You do this by simply asking Him to be in charge of your life, asking Him to forgive you of the things you’ve done wrong, and by starting to live your life following Him. If you make that choice today, please do get in touch as I would love to celebrate with you and give you some pointers.
Do not put off thinking about death, as unpleasant as it may seem. Life is temporary, but eternity, well, it goes on forever!
God has been speaking to me lately about the very issues this post raises. And I share it for your encouragement today.
I find myself constantly encouraged but regularly challenged by the writings on Bruces blog. do take some time to check out the other posts and be blessed yourselves.
The Scriptures covered in this post are from John 15:9-14 NASB. “Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love. If you …Musings From the Gospel of John – Number 38
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 avoid the trap of sin in our lives? If we do nothing, then we will find ourselves drifting into sin’s clutches. To avoid sin, we must be deliberate and decisive.
There are many reasons to read the Bible, and here is a compelling one from Psalm 119.
I have hidden your word in my heartPsalm 119:11 (NIV)
that I might not sin against you.
My post today may be short, simple and straight to the point. If you want to avoid sin, then you must be dedicated to God’s Word.
The one who spends their time storing God’s Word in their heart is the one who will have the best chance of defeating temptation and not falling into sin.
In God’s Word we learn what is and is not sin, and how we – as His people – should conduct our lives. We also gain spiritual nourishment so that we might be strong in our faith. As we read and study the Bible, our minds are renewed and the better we think, the better we will act.
You will never grow as a Christian if you do not take the time necessary to get to know God’s Word.
Hide it in your heart, and speak it out of your mouth. Memorise it, meditate on it, and marinate in it!
Sin is deadly. Do not be deceived, and do not falsely believe you can “get away” with it. Jesus defeated the temptation of the devil by quoting the Scriptures. When you are likewise tempted, you too can draw on the Scriptures you have stored in your heart.
Reading a few verses on a Sunday in church isn’t enough. Take time each and every day to consume the Bible. It takes effort, of course, but it is well worth it!
May God bless you richly as you engage with the Word today.
The following short passage has been coming up time and time again in my devotionals and podcast in the last few days. I sense that God is directing me to them, and so want to spend some time thinking about them today.
Therefore let’s also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don’t grow weary, fainting in your souls.Hebrews 12:1-3 (WEB)
Chapter 12 opens with the word “therefore,” and this connects it to the previous chapter. Hebrews 11 is definitely worth a read at this point if you have the time. It describes a number of the great heroes of faith, a sort of hall of fame if you like. These faithful individuals followed God and are an example to us. They were not always perfect of course, but are living testimonies to God’s kindness throughout the generations.
Hebrews 12 opens by pointing out that we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses. Clearly, the author of Hebrews is pointing to the people just described in the previous chapter. As well as to the readers, we too are surrounded by their witness and can learn from the examples they set and the interactions they had with God.
Beyond that though, we are even now surrounded by witnesses to the faithfulness of Christ. Every time you set foot in church, there are those around you who are journeying through life with and for Jesus. Learn from them, let them encourage you, and do likewise for them in return.
When you are sat at work or school, surrounded by sin or the ways of the world, it can be easy to feel like the only Christian in the galaxy. Elijah once felt like the only prophet remaining, and it can feel lonely and isolated. You are not alone however!
Until the Lord returns, there will always be a church on this Earth. If you live in a place where you are able to freely worship the God of Heaven, then do so and enjoy the fellowship of other believers. Let them be a witness to you, and share your own faith journey with them to uplift and encourage.
Hebrews 12 goes on to instruct us to lay aside every weight which slows us down, and to remove the sin that easily entangles us. The verse will go on to tell us to run the race, so the idea of shedding anything that slows us down is important.
In running your Christian race, what weighs you down? Remember that it says to lay aside weight and also sin. So “weight” in this context is not necessarily anything sinful.
For example, I might love to play golf (or insert any sport or hobby of your choosing). If I become so obsessed with golf, playing it every Sunday, reading about it all week and spending all of my money on clubs and equipment, then it is likely that will weigh down my faith. Golf is not sinful, but when it becomes my top priority then it is a hinderance to my faith.
Do you have a golfing equivalent? Are there things in your life which weigh you down in your race for Christ?
And what about sin? Sin can so easily get tangled up in our lives, and in my mind, I imagine it as a rope or cord wrapping around us. When we try to run our race, we just trip and fall.
Do not take chances with sin. It is like playing with fire. If you know you are dabbling with a particular sin, stop it right now. Don’t even walk down the street where sin dwells! We must recognise its danger and flee from it with all our might.
If you know you are tempted in certain areas, then pray about it ahead of time and stay well clear. If you struggle with late night TV, then shut that thing off at 8.30 or make sure you’re never alone with it. If your thoughts are starting to wander towards an attractive person at work, keep well away from them where possible and do not let yourself be alone with them.
Sin is like an animal trap. If we get too close, it will spring shut and ensnare us. Please take sin seriously. I worry that the modern church does not always do this. We preach a great deal on God’s grace, and rightly so, but we must be fully aware of the danger of sin.
When I was at university, I recall sitting in a kitchen to an adjoining TV room. Something came on screen which was clearly sinful, and I remember one of the Christians leaping from their seat and running out of the room. They did not want any part in it, and good for them. Let us be equally quick to run from it.
I hope these few thoughts are helpful to you, and indeed convict you if changes need to be made. I have barely made it to the end of verse one today, so will likely pick up the remainder in subsequent posts.
If God is putting this passage in front of me for a reason, then I want to take it extremely seriously. Perhaps He is directing you to do the same?
Responsibilities and how we relate to them. Let’s get it straight. Luke 17:7-10 7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say…Parable Surprises – Master and His Servant
To be honest, I have been mulling this post over for a couple of days. It is not controversial in any way, it is just that I have struggled to articulate what God has shown me. It is not some huge revelation either, simply that God met me where I was at, and through His Word spoke directly into my situation. Has such a thing ever happened to you? I’m sure it has…
A few days ago I wrote a post entitled Ask and Believe – linked here – where I prayed about something and the answer came. In an entirely opposite way, I prayed for something else and unfortunately the exact opposite happened. It did not shake my faith or anything so grand, as I am slowly learning to trust in God’s will for my life. The unanswered prayer led me to a choice I did not want to have to make, and neither could I put it off. I have since been anxious that I made the wrong decision.
In those moments of fear and worry, I was directed to read the following Bible verses. The comfort they brought is really the intangible substance I am struggling to describe. Perhaps it is best to simply let the words speak for themselves.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
Paul was entirely convinced, that is – fully persuaded – that nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Christ Jesus. I was not convinced, based on my initial feelings, until God so gently reminded me of this truth.
The things that Paul lists here are heavy hitters. Death, demons, the powers of hell – none of these things will ever be able to remove us from God’s love.
I have been reading these verses over and over, and letting them minister to me. There is nothing – simply nothing – in all creation that can pull us away from the gravity of God’s love. We are inseparable.
When our prayers do not get the answer we wanted, or when we face times of great difficulty, it can be all too easy to start to doubt God’s love. Yet in Christ and what He did at the cross, there is an immovable, unchanging, eternal testimony of that love.
God’s love does not equal instant access to a 100% prayer record, nor a complete trouble-free existence, but it does mean that no matter what happens, He will be right there with you in the thick of it. He is trustworthy. You can fully rely on Him. That love gives you an assurance that when you one day stand before Him, there will be nothing that separates you from His presence. When we put our trust in Christ, receiving that love and submitting to Him, our sins are washed away and our place with Him is irrevocable.
I needed that assurance this week. Perhaps you will need it today? Put Romans 8 before your eyes, read it aloud and trust that you cannot be separated from His unfailing love.
No created thing can come between you and God’s love when you are fully committed to Christ. There is but One who is not created, and that is God Himself. You are anchored and fixed in that love. Draw on that truth this day and always.
I hope this blog post finds you well?
I just wanted to post a quick update on why I have been so quiet on the blog these last few days. I am pleased to say that all is well, and actually just taking a few days off of work to spend time with family.
Life, as ever, has been rather hectic of late! I saw an opportunity to take a few days rest, and grabbed it with both hands!
How often do you take time to rest and relax? when you have a strong work ethic, or even a works mentality, it can be very difficult to switch off and relax for a while. Every single one of us needs to stop and rest at times however.
Let us not forget that even our wonderful God, who is infinite in power, took time to rest at the end of creation. This was not because he was tired, but simply because he wanted to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
Likewise, he built a specific command in the 10 Commandments for us to take time each week to just rest in his presence.
Perhaps it is not possible for you to take an entire day each week just to rest. But the principle remains, that each of us should take time to re-energise so that we might continue to serve him with gladness.
Whether we work in a secular job, ministry or at home, too many of us burn out because we do not stop often enough. Don’t let that be you dear reader!
Father God, we thank you for your loving grace and mercy towards us who believe. Thank you that you are the one who gives us the strength we need for each and every day.
For all who are weary, I pray that you may give them strength and rest.
Help us not to be so busy that we ceased to be fruitful.
As we lift up our voices in prayer and praise, may our strength be renewed.
We worship you, loving father! thank you for your enduring love. Thank you that you walk with us through our everyday lives.
Thank you for the times when you carious, when our strength is gone.
In the mighty and glorious name of our Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
Paul’s last words to the leaders of the church at Ephesus set quite an example for believers to follow. I also pray that I will be able to say to my …June 30 Faithful Living
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled “Ask” which you can read here. It was all about encouraging us to ask of our generous and gracious God.
At that time, I prayed a specific prayer to the Lord and am thrilled to say that it was fulfilled this week. The content of the prayer is not for sharing, but please do join me in thanking and praising our Wonderful Lord for His faithfulness.
Here’s the thing though… I was more than a little surprised when the answer came. What does that say about my faith in general, or in that particular prayer? If we are surprised when God answers our prayers, it is because we did not expect Him to do so. Let me be clear; if we do not expect any answer to our prayers, then why pray in the first place? Prayer is not simply “wishing!”
I am truly humbled to see this answer come, and God has challenged me to not just pray big, but to really expect the answer to come. I have heard Christians pray for something, say “Amen!” and then immediately say, “That probably won’t happen…” Why do we undo our prayers like that!
In the first chapter of the letter of James, it says this:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.James 1:5-8 (NIV)
James is clearly talking about the subject of wisdom here, and yet what he says about not doubting applies to all that we ask of God.
Verse six tells us to believe but at the same time, not to doubt. These are two separate instructions, I think. Belief and doubt are not mutually exclusive. For the prayer I referred to above, I did believe God when I asked, but I also doubted it would happen. My doubt was not necessarily in God Himself, but rather in a) my deserving b) that it was His will and c) that the ask was too big for me and my faith right now.
I can say wholeheartedly that I did believe when I asked, otherwise I would not have asked at all. But in the gap between the ask and the result, I began to doubt that the answer would come. Can you relate?
James uses the example of a wave to illustrate his point. A wave is neither on the beach nor out to sea. One minute it is in, and the next it is out. I am fortunate to live by the coast, and so when we take a walk alone the shoreline, I am reminded of this truth. I do not wish to be like the wave. When I pray, I want to be fully in – believing that God will come through and not doubting either Him or myself.
That is why it is so important to pray with the Bible. If we are not entirely sure if something is God’s will, then it is hard to have complete faith in it. However, when we pray with the Word of God, we can be sure that what we are asking for is promised by Him. It gives us full assurance of His faithfulness.
So I am going to continue to pray, and pray big! In an attempt to learn my lesson from this experience, I am going to focus on the Generous God we serve, and try not to allow doubt to talk me out of it. If God shows me that the answer is no, then I shall move on to the next thing!
Tell me your praise reports and prayer testimonies. Are you ever surprised by God answering your prayers? Let’s steadfastly remain in Him, trusting in His goodness and glory.
As ever, do send me your prayer requests. I would love to pray for you in whatever capacity I can. Comment below or get in touch. May your prayers be fruitful this week!