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!

Be Wise… like an ant? (Proverbs 6:6-11)

Having warned us against offering collateral, and of being tied up by our own words, Proverbs 6 moves on to a subject it will return too fairly often – laziness.

Go to the ant, you sluggard.

    Consider her ways, and be wise;

7 which having no chief, overseer, or ruler,

8     provides her bread in the summer,

    and gathers her food in the harvest.

9 How long will you sleep, sluggard?

    When will you arise out of your sleep?

10 A little sleep, a little slumber,

    a little folding of the hands to sleep:

11 so your poverty will come as a robber,

    and your scarcity as an armed man.

Proverbs 6:6-11 WEB

Verses six to eight begin by pointing to the ant as our example. This is, on the surface, a rather strange comparison. What can we – humans created in the image of God – learn from the humble ant? Quite a bit it seems!

Verse 6 is addressed to a lazy man – a sluggard. He is directed to look at the ways of the ant, and to “be wise.” You may not think of yourself as a “sluggard,” but a wise person does indeed look around, consider other ways and learn from them. Even if you are not lazy, do not skip over these words – instead, be wise and learn!

Verse 7 tells us that the ant has no chief, overseer or king. This is important because it shows us that despite this, the collective group of ants  – a “colony” I’m told – appears to operate collaboratively and as one. Take the same number of people, set them a task and don’t elect a leader, and you will have chaos! Somehow, the colony of ants know what needs to be done and they work together to achieve it. it is as astonishing miracle when you think of it. God, as Creator, has given them the ability to work together in this way, and to even plan ahead. These are lessons we can all learn.

Verse 8 is key here. It tells us that he ant provides her food in the summer, and gathers in at harvest time to see herself through winter. Under God’s sovereign control, the ant enjoys the good of the summer and yet plans ahead to see itself through the harder winters.

To be like the ant, we must do the same. I imagine an individual who is self-employed. They may be enjoying a time of abundance right now, with lots of work and good money coming in. a wise person would not just enjoy this time, but would prepare for times when the income may fall.

My father-in-law is a butcher and runs a village shop. He knows that in the run up to Christmas, he will make a lot of sales and be extremely busy. Likewise, in the summer, he knows he will sell much produce for barbeques and parties. He also knows that January and February are quiet months, with little trade. To survive, he must ensure that the summer takings and Christmas abundance see him through the more difficult winter months.

Enjoy the good times of course, but store up in preparation for the bad times #wisdom

Verses 9 and 10 then go on to warn of the dangers of “sleep.” Now, to be clear, these verses are not saying sleep is a bad thing and we should not do it. Clearly, it is right and biblical to get sufficient amounts of rest. The warning here is against sleeping too much – it is about lazing about instead of getting up to work. I reiterate that rest is important, but so is putting in a good day’s work. There is danger in the extremes; too much rest and you fall into the temptation of laziness, too little rest and you risk making yourself ill and unproductive.

Verse 10 does say “a little sleep,” implying that even a little sleep is dangerous. I may be incorrect, but would qualify this as a “little sleep at the wrong time…” is dangerous. If, for example, my boss walks into my office and sees me asleep at my desk, then the argument that I was only asleep for a few minutes probably won’t wash. A good eight hours of sleep in bed at night is a good thing, but even 8 minutes when we should be working is bad.

Verse 11 concludes the section giving quite a stark picture of poverty. Laziness leads to poverty; particularly in a society where you were dependent on working the land for survival. If you do not work, you do not eat, because the land will not yield its fruit to you unaided. To be lazy is to allow poverty to creep up on you like an armed man. When faced with a robber holding a weapon, you have little choice but to do as they say. In a similar way, laziness leads to poverty, and this leaves little choice in life.

For us in the modern world, this danger may not seem so real. Many have access to credit cards and loans, and so if one loses their job, they can rely on debt to see them through. Similarly, if loans and credit are not open to you, then the Government provide benefits to help out. We can debate if use of credit or to rely on benefits is a good thing or not, but clearly these are intended to be temporary measures. You cannot live your life on credit, charging one purchase after the next, without it one day catching up with you.

I write this at a time when interest rates are rising, and energy prices in the UK are skyrocketing. I want to be clear that I am not saying you are lazy if you are struggling to pay your bills! Far from it! Many people are struggling financially right now, and are working extremely hard to make ends meet. The point here is that laziness leads to poverty, but that does not mean that poverty equals laziness.

Let each of us examine our lives in the light of God’s Word. We all have lazy days or times of lower productivity due to a variety of reasons. When laziness becomes a habit however, this is when it becomes a real problem. As I said above, the opposite extreme is just as risky, so we each need to work hard and rest well.

An ant may be a tiny thing, and yet it has much to teach us. Let us open our eyes, and learn from God’s Creation. We must “be wise” just like the ant!

Thanks for reading.

Trapped by our Words (Proverbs 6:1-5)

Proverbs 6 opens with a warning, and one that may not immediately strike a cord with you. When was the last time you acted as collateral for your neighbour? Not recently I’d wager, so does that mean we can ignore these words of warning? Let’s read them and see if there are elements which do apply to us.

My son, if you have become collateral for your neighbor,

    if you have struck your hands in pledge for a stranger,

2 you are trapped by the words of your mouth;

    you are ensnared with the words of your mouth.

3 Do this now, my son, and deliver yourself,

    since you have come into the hand of your neighbor.

Go, humble yourself.

    Press your plea with your neighbor.

4 Give no sleep to your eyes,

    nor slumber to your eyelids.

5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,

    like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

Proverbs 6:1-5 WEB

Verses one and two describe a situation where someone has trapped themselves with their words. In our modern day world, we might imagine someone signing up as a guarantor for someone else. For example, when signing a rental agreement, you may need to provide a guarantor who will back you in the event that you cannot pay. The guarantor, like this person in Proverbs, is “trapped” in that contract.

Have you ever been asked to be a guarantor for someone else? If so, then the chances are it was a good friend or family member. In such cases, you may have been rather hesitant to sign up. How so? Usually it is because we do not want to end up footing the bill for someone else when we have our own bills to pay. There may, of course, be situations where it is appropriate to enter into such an agreement – most commonly in my experience, this is when a parent acts as guarantor for their (adult) child.

What about a stranger though? What if someone you had never met before advanced on you, pen and clipboard in hand, seeking your signature on a contract… run my friend, as fast as you can!

Verses one and two describe becoming entangled in a situation with either a neighbour or stranger, and this risking your own situation to do so. In the time these words were first written, there were no bankruptcy courts, and no administrators to mediate between you and your debtors. You paid up what you owed, or could end up becoming enslaved. The warning is clear then, do not jump into such agreements.

Verse two in particular opens out the meaning for us here. It is our words that have ensnared us; our ill thought through commitments have led us into danger. While you may not be at risk of becoming someone’s guarantor any time soon, have you made commitments with your words that you now regret?

Do not be trapped by the #words of your mouth! #Bible #Jesus #Christianity #Wisdom

When I think back, there have been a number of times when I have committed to something in the moment, and later regretted it. “Yes, I can do that…” I say, and then the time comes and the effort, energy or cost is more than I wanted to offer.

I heard someone telling a story about a time they visited a city, met some new friends and casually said to them they should come visit with them “sometime.” Several weeks later, these new friends called up and said, “We’re ready to come.” “Ready to come where?” the individual thought… They had been hung by their tongue. It was simply not convenient, and not really something the person wanted to do. They even prayed for a way out of it, and God told them that they would indeed honour their own words, put these people up and show them around, and perhaps learn a lesson not to be so flippant with their invites in future. What a lesson!

What commitments have you made that you later regretted?

Verses three to five then turn to what we should do if we have entered into something we shouldn’t have.

Firstly, they advise us not to wait! Go now! Do not let yourself sleep, and do not put it off until tomorrow! Go! Resolve it straightaway!

It can be difficult to undo words we have spoken. Yet, it is better to put things right than to let other people down by not meeting our commitments. How often do people sign up for one church rota or another, and yet the tasks go unfulfilled? I know there have been times when I’ve signed up, and not done it. This isn’t the way excellent Christians should live.

It can be difficult to undo #words we have spoken. It is better to put things right than to let other people down #Bible #Christianity #wisdom

It is indeed difficult to admit we are wrong. Two little words in the midst of verse three are key here, “humble yourself.” It does certainly take humility to recognise our faults, and it can hurt our pride to tell someone else. I will let you in on a secret though… it will not surprise anyone else to learn that you are not perfect!

I have no small amount of pride, and am constantly wrestling with it. Admitting my faults is time consuming (he says, somewhat tongue in cheek!) but I must humble myself before God and others. If I trap myself with my words, like a gazelle (as above in verse 5) then it is right that I correct things. If it causes me some small amount of embarrassment, then that is a lesson to learn.

I want to close this post by picking up similar words of instruction from the Lord Jesus Himself.

Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build, and wasn’t able to finish.’

Luke 14:27-30 WEB

Jesus’ words here refer to the cost of being a disciple. Of course, they do apply more widely than this, but in context are crucially important. Reflecting on the importance of our words, and not making commitments we cannot fulfil, are you prepared to fulfil the requirements of claiming Jesus as Lord? In my post – Lord, Lord! – I pointed out that it is one thing to call Jesus Lord, and yet quite another to live a life serving Him.

Do not let your words be worthless. Do not sign up to do something unless you are able to fulfil it. This applies to small things in life, but even more so to the commitment to follow Christ.

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.

We’re Here to Serve God (PoW) – Andy Brown

Pearls of Wisdom As Christians, we are here to serve the Lord, not the other way around I am certainly not against all television ministries, but an unguarded look at Christian TV might make you think that Christianity is all about getting the best life you can. Some falsely lead you into thinking that having…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/07/06/were-here-to-serve-god-pow/

Lord! Lord! (Matthew 7:21-23)

We look at a short yet powerful passage from the Sermon on the Mount today. Such verses should absolutely challenge us to look carefully at our lives and ensure we are truly following God and the Gospel.

We read:

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

To be clear, these are words of Jesus Himself. As with everything the Lord said, we ought not to take it lightly.

Jesus tells us plainly that not everyone who calls Him Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In other translations, I believe it says not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will be saved. This is vitally important, and tells us something about what it truly means to be saved. Many people call themselves Christians, and many would say that Jesus is Lord, but is He – really?

Jesus says that only those who do the will of the Father will actually enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Does this fly in the face of the Gospel of grace? It sounds like salvation by works doesn’t it? Calling on the name of the Lord is suddenly not enough, but we must do certain things too to “earn” salvation, right?

I think not.

There is a distinct difference between acknowledging Jesus as Lord and living so, and simply paying lip-service and saying the words. I may have said this before, but it is a good example… I may be a fully paid up member of the local gym, carrying my membership card and even wearing the T-shirt, but if I never go and lift weights, I may as well not bother.

In a similar way, we can go to church, sing the songs, carry a Bible around and more, and yet if our lives do not reflect holiness and obedience, we must ask ourselves if we have truly surrendered our lives to God.

#Salvation is more than just saying words, it is living a life of #obedience #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

When we encounter Jesus, it ought to change us. When we make Him our Lord, that means putting Him in full charge of our lives and not just tagging Him on to our current lifestyle. True submission requires obedience. There can be no other way. It is a silly example, but I cannot claim to be a man of peace if I am frequently getting into fist-fights in the local pub. Likewise, I cannot claim to be a Christian while completely ignoring God’s instructions.

Obeying God’s will, as Jesus sets out above, is not a means to salvation, but a result of it.

Obeying #God is not a means of #salvation, but a result of it #Bible #Jesus

The true Gospel is indeed a Gospel of grace, not something we earn through obedience. God’s grace is freely given, and we need not nor cannot do anything to work for it. However, once freely received, the resulting change in our hearts should be reflected in our lives. Once saved, we joyfully obey the will of the Father in response to His grace. Grace comes first, and the fruit of obedience follows.

Verses 22 and 23 send a shiver down my spine. On that final day when we all stand before God, not all who think they are saved actually are. Imagine that for a moment, imagine being one of those who are told by Jesus, “I don’t know you!” What a terrible thing.

I do not want that to be me, and neither do I want that to be you.

The defence of these people (which is really no defence at all), is that they have 1) prophesied in Jesus’ name, 2) cast out demons and 3) performed many miracles. These are not small things in and of themselves. What this tells me is that not every miracle worker knows Christ, or rather, is known by Christ. Not every prophet, nor everyone who delivers others from demons, is part of God’s kingdom.

So how can we tell?

This is not straightforward to answer in a short blog post. Clearly, the Bible does encourage the use of such spiritual gifts such as prophecy or the working of miracles. Yet my suspicion is that is less about the activity itself i.e. casting out demons, but the motive behind it. Of these three examples, all are very public things. I wonder if it is all too easy to start claiming the credit for a miracle, a prophecy or a demon-deliverance. These are gifts of the Spirit, but there is no mention made of the fruit.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Galatians 5:22-23 NLT

Many seek the gifts of the Spirit, without seeking the fruit. Jesus said you will know them by their “fruit,” not by their “gifts.” (see earlier on in this very chapter – Matthew 7:15-20)

So what do we take from this?

Firstly, we do need to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. He is in charge, and we must recognise His rightful place in our lives. We must not seek Him as Saviour without also accepting Him as Lord.

If, indeed, He is our Lord, then we must do what He tells us. We will not get that perfectly right all of the time, but in response to the grace we have been given, we take His commands seriously. The better we come to know Him, the more we will want to do this.

We obey, not to earn His love, but in response to it.

When we do obey, it must also be for the right motives. We do not do it to be popular or to seek fame and fortune, but instead we do it for His glory.

As a blogger, I too need to be cautious with this. Do I write to bless people, or do I write to seek their favour? Judging by how often I check my stats, I need to check my motives! How about you?

These are challenging words from Christ, and I encourage you to pray over them in the coming days. I want you to know Christ, and I want Him to know you. When you stand before Him one day, I want you to have full assurance of your salvation. God’s grace is sufficient, and so let each of us respond to it in obedience. Amen

A Revelation of Wickedness (Psalm 36:1-4)

What a dark title! Hope it did not put you off reading any further!

Psalm 36 is very much a psalm of two halves. The first four verses remind us of the wickedness of humanity, and the latter eight verses contrast the wonderous righteousness of our God. Today we focus on the first few verses, and consider the sinfulness of rebellious man – but hold on to hope for the goodness of God which follows another day.

For the Chief Musician. By David, the servant of Yahweh.

A revelation is within my heart about the disobedience of the wicked:

    “There is no fear of God before his eyes.”

2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes,

    too much to detect and hate his sin.

3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit.

    He has ceased to be wise and to do good.

4 He plots iniquity on his bed.

    He sets himself in a way that is not good.

    He doesn’t abhor evil.

Psalm 36:1-4 WEB

King David, the author of this psalm and many others, launches straight in with the core purpose of this section – namely, that he has had a revelation of the wickedness of mankind. He will elaborate in the coming verses, but this opening shows us that in his meditations on the Scripture and in his time with God, he has come to receive an understanding of the sinfulness of humanity.

This may not be the kind of revelation any of us want! Yet, I think it is rather crucial to grasping the Christian faith. I recall a time when I was sharing the Gospel with someone, and they simply could not accept what I was saying. On reflection, I realised that we were on totally different wavelengths. I had understood that humanity was wicked at heart, and without hope. They were starting from a point where people were basically good at heart, despite a few bad apples and common mistakes. This latter view is not the Christian perspective.

The heart is deceitful above all things

    and it is exceedingly corrupt.

    Who can know it?

Jeremiah 17:9 WEB

23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:23 WEB

Having stated that he has received this revelation, David then goes on to summarise what this really means. “There is no fear of God before his eyes.” This is at the heart of the matter for me; a lack of reverential fear of God. While God does not want us to be afraid of him, in a scared sort of way, He does want us to revere and respect Him. I do not fear electricity, but have a deep respect for it and know not to play around with it or misuse it. Likewise, we are not afraid of God, but we respect and understand that He is in charge and to be obeyed.

Verse two points out that wicked men flatter themselves so much so that they cannot see their own sin. We ought not to flatter ourselves, but instead be humble and look on ourselves with sober judgement.

Paul says in his letter to the Romans:

3 For I say through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith.

Romans 12:3 WEB

The NIV translation renders this verse at to look at yourself with “sober judgement.” This is not to beat ourselves up, nor to think we are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Rather, it is to be honest about our shortcomings and the true inclination of our heart without Christ.

When we do not do this, we deceive ourselves, and become blind to our own sin. We are broken creatures (without Christ) and we have a flesh (sinful nature) which craves to please itself and not the things of God. We cannot be complacent, nor can we compare ourselves to others. Our only comparison is to Jesus Himself, and we fall woefully short. Let us have open eyes when it comes to our true hearts, and be not ignorant of our sinfulness. The more we understand the depths of our sin, the more we realise our need for a Saviour – Jesus Christ.

The more we understand the depths of our #sin, the more we realise our need for a Saviour – #Jesus #Christ. #Bible

Verse three turns to our words. I like the directness of this translation; it doesn’t say the words are full of iniquity or deceit, but are iniquity and deceit! As Jesus taught us, a good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and also that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Sinful words come from sinful hearts. Words of deceit flow forth from a heart that is deceived. If we think we are without sin, then we do indeed deceive ourselves as the Apostle John teaches us from his first letter.

Words are indeed powerful, both for good and for ill. My post entitled – Words Can Be Atom Bombs – is relevant here. Words can start wars, words can tear down, and words can inflict deep harm. The wicked care little for the effect of their words, and to them, talk is cheap. We know that God created all things in the power of His words, and so we must use our words for creation and not destruction.

The latter half of verse three and verse four also sets out what this “wicked man” will do. Let each of us examine these sayings in turn, and be sure they do not apply to us who believe.

The wicked and rebellious have ceased to be wise, and therefore stop doing good. It is indeed foolish to abandon good ways and seek to fulfil the lust of our flesh. To do so is to shun God and His ways, and such a path leads only to death. That is truly unwise!

The rebellious plot sin on their beds. As they lay there, staring up at the ceiling, they think of things they might do and say. We Christians are not so immune to this as we may think. For instance, have you ever rehearsed an argument you were going to have with someone while laying awake at night? “If they start, I’m going to tell them what for! And if they say this, then I’m going to say that… And if they then say this, I’m really going to say that!” Sounds daft, yet perhaps a little familiar if we are honest. Let us not plot to do evil, nor rehearse it in our minds.

The wicked set themselves in a way that is not good. What does this mean? Perhaps another translation will help us here.

They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots.

    Their actions are never good.

    They make no attempt to turn from evil.

Psalm 36:4 NLT

Put very straightforwardly here, their actions are never good. I think this means they put themselves in a posture to do wrong, i.e. they play with fire and are frequently burned. To set yourself up to do something, good or bad, you must get yourself into a position where you can do it. For example, recovering alcoholics do not venture into bars because they know that the temptation is too great. They have set themselves against drinking by staying away. Those who set themselves to do evil may go looking for a fight, or deliberately stay late at the office to be alone with their assistant. You cannot do anything with your body unless your mind has gone there first.

Finally, verse four says that the wicked do not abhor evil. The NLT is rather weaker in its words, saying they merely do not turn from evil. However, to abhor evil is rather stronger. Plotting evil on your bed is often rather direct, whereas not hating evil is somehow more passive. Yet, it is something the wicked do. If someone were to attack my wife or children, and I just stood there shaking my head and muttering, “How awful!” You would think me a terrible coward! You may also question my love for my family, and no doubt (and rightly so) brand me a wicked man. It is not enough for us to stand idly by and passively watch the sin of the world. We must abhor it. We do not hate the sinner, of course, but sin and wickedness is not something we should tolerate as believers.

All in all, I know this is something of a bleak post – focussing entirely on the wicked and rebellious! Yet, I hope there are lessons for all of us here. It can be all too easy to think of ourselves – followers of Christ – as being far removed from sin and iniquity. However, I think the difference between us and the world is not always as stark as it should be. If, like me, you read some of David’s descriptions above and some of them ring vaguely true in your life, may I humbly suggest it is time for a heart inspection.

We must not be wicked, but instead fear God for His justice and recognising Who He is. We cannot flatter ourselves, and end up being blind to our own failings. Our words should be pure, building others up and singing the praises of our God. Let us be wise, and do good. Let us not plot to do wrong, nor set ourselves towards sin. We must hate and abhor what is evil, and cling to what is good.

May you join me in meditating on these verses, and bear them in mind as we approach the rest of this psalm, and the stunning contrast between evil man and awesome God.

S05E001, I’m Fine! Endurance

These young men will go far! and I cannot wait for the next episode!

Watch the video, Listen to the Audio, Read the transcript or Download the Video- below! On this, the first episode of Season 5, we talk about how we …

S05E001, I’m Fine! Endurance

The Rich Man and Lazarus – Pt. 2 – Andy Brown

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.22 “The time came…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/09/04/the-rich-man-and-lazarus-pt-2/

Live for Eternity (PoW#17) – Andy Brown

Pearl of Wisdom #’17 We ought to spend our time here, preparing for there In our society, which is largely anti-God, anti-Christian and promotes evolution, humanism and secularism, it is hardly surprising that people think very little about eternity – life after death. If you take a Christian worldview, then you believe and understand that…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2018/09/24/live-for-eternity-pow17/

The Berean Approach – Andy Brown

I don’t want you to just take my word for it… We take a little break from our current series on Psalm 103 to discuss something important. It is an immense privilege to share God’s Word with you through this blog, and I take that responsibility very seriously. But you, the reader, have a responsibility…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2018/04/12/the-berean-approach/

UK Christian Bloggers

Hi! My name is Andy Brown, you may remember me from such blogs as andy-brown.org…!

It has indeed been some time since my last proper post, although I have tried to share some older material and some great posts from friends and fellow bloggers. Life has gotten rather busy and my writing has suffered. I would like to tell you that I’ve been working on book projects or other writing, but alas no! Some days I feel guilty for neglecting the blog, and other days I reflect on my full-time job, wife and four children, church leadership and Christian study course – and realise that I do have a lot on my plate! I’m sure you understand!

Thursday evening I enjoyed a time of fellowship with a group of UK-based Christian bloggers. We have been (trying) to get together every couple of weeks to swap stories, encourage one another and pray for each other. It is a wonderful time and I regret not being able to make all of the sessions so far!

The photo lists some of the members and their sites, so do check out their blogs if you are not already familiar. There are doubtless many more Christian bloggers out there hailing from the UK, so this is by no means an exhaustive list!

I came away from our recent call feeling very much encouraged, and I value the prayers of the group. Having a fellowship of believers is so important, and in our largely disconnected modern world, it is even more so. We often feel alone or isolated, despite the noise of life, and so it is critical we connect with fellow believers in Christ and strengthen one another.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

It is an instruction from the Bible that we do indeed encourage one another. There are times when life is a struggle, and in those days or seasons, we need the comfort of others to help us through. We absolutely rely on the Lord, but a little encouragement from fellow believers is most welcome too!

Encouraging someone costs little more than a small amount of time or effort. A kind word or timely phone call can really make a difference in someone’s life. You have that power today, and don’t let being busy be an excuse not to (talking to myself here…) My guess is that you won’t have to look very hard or travel very far to find someone in need of a boost.

While the gift of encouragement may be a specific spiritual gift (see Romans 12:8), it does not excuse the rest of us from doing it. Some have a special gift for evangelism, yet the call to share our faith is one we all enjoy. Naturally or spiritually gifted or not, we can all improve by practising. See if you can find a way to encourage someone in each of the next seven days, or even see how long you can keep the streak going.

I “encourage” you to check out some of the other writers I mention above, and have no doubt you will come away refreshed and uplifted. I will be sharing some of their posts in the near future, so do look out for them.

If you wish to encourage me, do leave me a comment, share a post or pray for me. I receive your prayers with delight and gratitude. Have a great weekend!