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Bible Verses

Reflections on Faith (3)

There is a clear message from Hebrews ch.11 v.3 – faith is not a desperate clutching at semantic straws. We are not trying to will ourselves into a state of denial with respect to reality. Faith is neither the product of speculation nor the author of confusion.

Faith brings understanding and insight. Through faith we see the patterns of God’s handiwork displayed through the universe and brought directly to bear on our circumstances.

We see for ourselves the big picture and our place within it. We gain a true perspective of not just our own limitations and need for our Creator; but also of the colossal magnitude of His ability to change and transform everything around us.

To the one who could speak an entire universe into being out of nothing, to whom history is as fluid as water; our troubles may seem infinitesimally small – but so great is His love for all of us, that even these matter.

It stretches our comprehension to its limits to begin to appreciate this greatness – but the effort is worthwhile, for through faith we see a reality that is consistent, that allows for a Divine hand to intervene, and yet retains the imperfections that separate this universe from the Creator.

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Bible Verses

Reflections on Faith (2)

What will you be remembered for? What attribute do you possess that, in the future, when people think back on your life, they will say, “This was the way they lived.” Will it be your integrity, your intellect, your ability to make others laugh?

Hopefully, you won’t be remembered merely as someone who sold their soul to the corporate dream, who lived for work and little else.

Even sporting achievements or TV celebrity status – being famous for merely wanting to be famous – these things fade into insignificance over time – until they are trapped in the scrapbooks of a minority of obsessive fact collectors – in the same way that beetles would be pinned to cards in previous generations.

Hebrews ch.11 v.2 is short and to the point – the figures we look up to from days gone by were commended for their faith. Not their charm and beauty, or their ability to amass piles of shiny yellow metal; but something of infinitely higher worth.

It was their ability to see forward to a world that God had called into being – to live today in the light of the promise of what they were certain was coming. They caught a vision of a reality made the way the Creator intended and would not rest until they saw it into completion. They were as certain of its existence as they were of their own. In effect, they straddled two worlds, knowing deep down that the truth of the word of God would bring the unseen eternal reality they grasped through faith to prevail upon the tangible, temporal world they inhabited.

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Bible Verses

Reflections on Faith (1)

The Letter to the Hebrews ch.11 v.1 gives us a simple definition of faith. We put out trust in the unseen, our confidence in the benevolence of our Creator who has promised to fulfil His purpose in our lives.

Faith is the sure knowledge that He will not change his mind or go back on His word. Faith stems from experiencing His unfailing love in all our circumstances – seeing Him meet our needs in one area, and knowing He is able and willing to do the same in others.

Faith comes from deepening our relationship with Him – so that our certainty is based, not on a merely theoretical, abstract awareness of his Goodness – but from a hands-on  personal encounter with Him in our daily lives. We do not just read the book – we live it. The pages of the Bible come alive to us as we see our experience dovetail with that of those who have walked a life of faith before us.

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Bible Verses

Our plans and God’s plans

There is a vast gulf that separates the Creator of the universe from the creation He is intimately involved with. This distinction cannot be ignored. We may be created in His image; we may have amazing powers; we may partake of His divine nature and be one with Him – but we are not God.

This becomes apparent when we comare our thinking with His. We are bound by this space-time universe. Our intellects are limited, not least by our perspective – which, because we cannot know everything, is therefore imperfect, fallible. We see – through a glass darkly – a distorted, clouded mirror image.

It is no surprise therefore that the Good Lord takes the trouble to not only remind us of this – but that He gives a solution to our predicament.

You want to see your plans come to fruition? Consult with the Master Planner – humbly bring your ideas to Him, dedicate them to Him and let Him review them. He may have suggestions, refinement – or outright commandments to radically change your direction. One thing is sure. It is better to go through that refining process as you plan than to make a decision and watch it fall apart because of faulty foundations or shoddy materials.

Hebrews ch.11 v.1-6 provides an interesting starting point to meditate on before embarking on a major project.

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Bible Verses

An Encouraging Bible Verse on God’s Goodness

There are some things we can be absolutely certain of. For example, we can say with confidence that God has a plan for every single one of us.

He called you by His own goodness and has already given you everything you need in order to achieve all that He has called you to do.

To claim otherwise, we would first have to rip 2Peter ch.1 v.3 out of our Bibles.

Note, it says all – not some or a few of the things He has called you and set you apart to do.

Action is the key principle for us here. There are many promises that God has declared in the Bible. Take a look. But they will just stay there as ink on the page if we do not make the effort to find them, apply them and exercise faith in our lives to see them come to fruition.

The choice is essentially ours. God has done His part – as He is a good God, always faithful to His word through which He has chosen to reveal himself .

The good news is that we are not left on our own. As we begin to exercise faith, we find that He will work inside us to complete the task. Which is why it is essential to allow His word to motivate us into taking those first steps of faith in the direction of fulfilling His word – with confidence that even though we may not know how we will arrive at our destination, He will provide everything we need in order to do so.

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Bible Verses

A plan to prosper…

Jeremiah ch.29 v.11 is a popular verse – it makes a number of specific claims, that the Good Lord has a specific plan for each individual called to serve Him – that the plan is in our best interests, that we can be confident that He is not perversely lifting us up in order for us to fail catastrophically.

But to me, there’s something else to give hope in the passage – it’s a call to return from a wilderness experience.

For seventy years, the exiles would feel that their prayers were unanswered, that everything they had worked towards was cast aside, that they were forgotten and cast aside like broken toys.

But then, they would perceive, He hadn’t abandoned them, that He had raised up a prophetic voice among them – that, when they had given up on being able to manufacture something spiritually unsatisfying on their own, and turned to Him wholeheartedly; then, and only then would He intervene on their behalf.

Then, the Almighty would make Himself known to them, would restore them in full fellowship with Him, would restore them on track to fulfil His vision, His plan, His purpose.

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Bible Verses

The most important thing in the world

So, what is of the most importance to you? Where do your priorities lie? Is it to hold true to the calling or vision that God has given you – to be a person of integrity? Is it to be a success in stewarding earthly treasure, so that the Good Lord can entrust you with spiritual treasures?

Our perspective is not necessarily the same as God’s – it is far too easy for us to be distracted by the temporal – missing out on the big picture because we focus on just one small detail, blowing its importance out of proportion. We’re human after all. We make errors of judgement. We let ourselves and others down because of our limited vision.

In 1Corinthians ch.13 – we’re introduced to the most excellent way. We are reminded that spiritual gifts, social justice and a successful ministry do not occur in a vacuum. Without love, they are worthless, discordant, futile.

Are these things imporant? Only if their frame of reference is founded on a genuine love for God and for everything that He loves.

The criteria are high – but He doesn’t leave us there on our own.

We may not be able to see perfectly, but we can experience His perfect love. We may find it difficult to be faithful, but He has promised to never let us down. We may experience problems in discerning His will, hearing His voice, following His lead – but He has declared that He will not give up on us – He will faithfully, continually call out to us to inspire us to follow Him more closely.

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Bible Verses

God’s Purpose for You!

Given that God is all-powerful, all-loving and has an unstoppable plan of redemption for the universe He has created; it is not an unreasonable assumption to believe that He has a purpose for each person who comes to develop a faith in Him.

In the letter to the Romans ch.12 v.2 we are told that His will is good, pleasing and perfect.

Good: we find we have an aptitude for the work we believe we are set aside to do, opportunities arise for us to exercise our gifts in an uncompromising way.

Pleasing: we enjoy what we do, and would rather do this than anything else.

Perfect: we look back and we see His plan unfolded in our lives, even though we did not recognise it at the time; we see how events that we could not understand fit together in a process that prepared us for what happened next.

It is therefore time to take stock of your life in order to determine God’s ultimate purpose for you. What are you good at? There will be something. No matter how insignificant and small you feel your talents are, you have not been blessed with them for no reason. An ability to sing, make models or act is not merely an ornamental distraction from the ‘real’ stuff of Kingdom building. Your mix of talents is unique and has real purpose.

What do you enjoy? What gives you pleasure? It is not a sin to enjoy exercising the gifts that God has given you. This is the scandal of grace. God, the Creator of the universe has set you apart to derive pleasure from doing what you have been equipped to do.

How do you see God shaping your experiences? What Biblical principles can you see at work in your life? What do you believe God is saying to you through your circumstances?

Knowing God personally enables you to find answers and encouragement through patterns of events that show you who you truly are and give you an insight into your destiny. By putting your faith in Jesus Christ you open yourself up to an adventure of self discovery through selfless service.

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Bible Verses

God’s Plan For Us…

God’s ultimate plan for the universe is spelled out in Ephesians ch.1 v.9 – to bring all things under one head: Christ. This is not an isolated verse. This is a theme running throughout scripture.

In Numbers ch.14 v.21, Isaiah ch.11 v.9 and Habakkuk ch.2 v.14 the emphasis is clear for anyone to read – the Good Lord is not merely looking for a small isolated clan that worships Him in obscurity – but a people that transcends national and racial boundaries, influencing everything it comes into contact with. That is the destiny of the church – a huge company of worshippers drawn from every tribe and nation, praising God in every tongue imaginable.

Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel ch.2 v.34 -35 in line with this; pointing to the Messiah’s rule where the eternal breaks into human history culminating in a destiny that makes earthly empires pale into insignificance as His kingdom spreads across the world.

This is paralleled by Jesus’ parables of the Kingdom – yeast, that is mixed in with dough, having an influence on the structure of the bread, causing an obvious dynamic, irreversible change; the mustard seed that starts small, yet has an impact and influence above and beyond anything else in existence, bringing safety and sustenance to all who require it.

And yet, into all this – He chooses to involve us intimately as His partners and co-workers in the task of redemption. We see the grand vista of His plan for redemption; but to implement it, we each have a unique part to play according to our talents and calling. We do not need to emulate somebody else or look to others’ gifts and write ourselves off as useless. We all have a destiny that no-one else can fill – that is the exciting challenge that drives each of use to deeper intimacy with God. The urge to know who we truly are and our purpose in His universe.

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Bible Verses

Men’s Health

The Bible has a great deal to say about our physical well-being. We’re told in 1Peter ch.2 v.24 that by Jesus’ wounds, received on the cross, we have been healed. This is not merely a future hope for an afterlife, but a blessing we can experience now in our mortal bodies.

Of course, reality sets in. We live in a sin-sick, warped universe – its brokenness is evident to us and everyone else around us. We don’t always see an instantaneous, miraculous healing for our friends every time we pray for them. Quite the reverse.

But does that stop us from praying? By no means. It is discouraging, but that on its own is no reason to stop.

If we’re asked to explain why a friend isn’t healed on the spot, it’s best to be honest – tell the truth. We just don’t know. We could pontificate about hidden sin, a lack of faith, a spiritual battle against demonic forces or any other strategies used by Job’s friends to make themselves look good while concealing their cluelessness – but in the end, we have to confess; we just don’t see the bigger picture.

We may experience one dimension of reality. But there is a greater, richer, truer reality that undergirds and invades our experience. That is: the source of the miraculous – and we have intimate access to the One who is in authority over it all, as He seeks to bring our world inexorably into line with the eternal.

With that in mind we can be confident that our prayers are heard by an all-powerful God who cares about us and will intervene on our behalf in our best interests.