Bible Verses

Who would be a prophet? (1)

For some, there’s a certain mystique about being a prophet. They imagine it comes with power, influence over others and a special relationship with an all-powerful deity, then the recipient of the gift must be some sort of superhero – a larger than life figure who deserves to be worshipped in their own right. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are just ordinary people, made extraordinary by the sovereign intervention of an extraordinary God.

In fact, this hum-drum lack of the spectacular works both ways. Scepticism is nothing new. It flourished 2,000 years ago and was in vogue long before then. Our modern sophistication did not invent doubt. Humanity does not need to evolve to a hypothetical level of maturity before it is able to question the assertions of those who claim special powers or privileges.

A person claiming special revelation will meet the same response now as someone would in the Bronze Age. Some people are gullible, and will believe whatever they are told. Others are not – our ways of making sense of our existence might differ in semantics. But it boils down to the same thing. We want proof that will satisfy us intellectually and help us gain a better understanding of our purpose and place in the universe.

To be a prophet is therefore a calling not to be surrounded by adoring believers, but to stand out and demonstrate a different reality to those who may not yet perceive it.

In this series of meditations I will be looking at the place of prophecy in the context of Advent – ordinary people who foresaw an extraordinary event that was certain to come…

Bible Verses

Inspiration from John’s Gospel (2)

John ch.2 v.19 Destroy this temple…. – it was an odd thing to say. Many people misunderstood it. Was Jesus moving into the construction business on a grand scale? As one preacher I knew put it, “Restore a pretty building; and people will thank you for it. Restore the lives of people with no hope, no future; and you’re under suspicion as a subversive element – you threaten the cosy status quo!”

But there’s more to it than that. Jesus is claiming something much more important than the ablity to perform conjuring tricks with buildings or bones. He attacks our preconceptions on the nature of death death and His divinity with a simple, bold claim.

We’re human, we’re full of uncertainty with impossible questions that desperately clutch at answers from thin air. What happens when we die? Are the dead conscious? Do they cease to exist? Who, if anyone, has the right, the authority, the power to raise the dead?

Jesus’ statement is shocking in its impact. I wil raise it! You believe that only God can raise the dead? Good – then accept my Divine authority based on my resurrection. Simple – and to the point.

Bible Verses

Inspirational thoughts from John’s Gospel (1)

There are 21 chapters in John’s Gospel. This means, if you read one chapter a day, you will read the entire book in exactly three weeks.

Today, let’s  look at John ch.1 v.17 “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

There’s more to this verse than meets the eye. On the one hand, John is contrasting the Old with the New. Demonstrating the distintiveness of what Jesus has brought, and how different this is to what came before Him.

But in the preceding erses he makes it clear that this is no mere theory about a hypothetical teacher. This is a story grounded in reality – a reality that he himself shared and experienced. A reality that doesn’t do away with the traditions, but fulfils the promises made and has a clear connection with the historical roots of the faith.

This then is John’s message. That the same Prophet that Moses declared would come is the almighty Word who created the universe. That the One who gave the Law to Moses, is the One who fulfilled its demands on our behalf.

Bible Verses

Inspiring Joy

Joyfulness is not the exclusive property of small children. We may try to fool ourselves into believing that we’re too sophisticated, too cynical to want to experience joy. But, deep down we want to be happy, we ache for satisfaction.

This is why Luke ch.10 v.20 excites me. Jesus is our ultimate example – he models the life for us that we aspire to. A relationship with God, a clear purpose and power to direct his life. Yet here we see him full of joy – this childlike glee inspired by the Spirit because he sees his friends grasping an eternal truth through their experience with him.

Let us not fall into the temptation of thinking ourselves too wise or too clever to miss out on a bit of joy…

Bible Verses

Inspirational Bible Verses to Bring Hope (3)

We have a hope. Not just any old wishful thinking; but a powerful living hope that focuses in on our eternal destiny and the impact that this has on the way we live now.

Peter put it well in 1 Peter ch.1 v.3-4 where he talks about a living hope – as it is based on the indisputable fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is no room for it to die. By conquering death, Jesus has already demonstrated the reality and power of His promises.

We have an inheritance – what have we inherited? All that was Jesus’ before His death. The fact that He is alive again now, never to die again; is itself a key to our entitlement. Through His death, instead of just one person reaching out to reconcile humanity with its creator; Jesus is able to work through a multitude of heirs of salvation, each with a specific rle to play in bringing God an man back together in harmony.

Our inheritance cannot fade away or become spoiled over time because it is timeless. Our inheritance allows us to taste eternity in the moments we have. This is what motivates us in our quest to fulfil the destiny we have been given. We have seen the Lord, we have grasped at the infinite and will not be satisfied until we experience it in all its fulness.

And deep down, we know that this is inevitable. No matter how far away the resolution of any of our problems would appear now; we are convinced through the prompting of the Holy Spirit that goodness will prevail.

Bible Verses

Inspirational Bible Verses to Bring Hope (2)

There is a dimension of reality to our hope that cannot be explained away in terms of the psychological benefits of not feeling guilty. Forgiveness is powerful, but it is also real.

There is more to having hope than just knowing that we have been forgiven. It’s a good starting point, but without the Holy Spirit, we would be powerless to prevent ourselves from falling back into old ways, bad habits and self destructive desires.

The constant presence of the Holy Spirit to transform us was promised unequivocally by Jesus in John ch.16 v.7 onwards. His manifestation in our lives is not conditional on anything we could say or do. He is there because He is able to change us fro the inside out. He is there as a guarantee that what has been promised to us will come to pass.

That is why He guides us and empowers our prayers. He confirms to us that if God can do this through us on earth, then it is possible for Him to perform all that He has promised in our futures too. This is what motivated Paul when he wrote Ephesians ch.1 v.14.

Bible Verses

Inspirational Bible Verses to Bring Hope (1)

It was such an odd blessing – sandwiched between exhortations in Romans ch. 15:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans ch.15 v.13

But there is far more in this than meets the eye.

First of all – immediately precedng this promise, we’re told that Jesus – by implication this same God of hope in whom we have put our trust – is both the source and object of our hope. We, who were without hope, without purpose, without meaning – have found direction, destiny and a new desire through the One who fulfilled promises made about Him centuries before He walked among us as a man – God in human form.

However, this hope is not abstract – it has a practical application that Paul is all too confident to remind his readers of. If we hope, it is not some vague sensation of wellness. It is a firm conviction that inspires us to believe and act on that faith.

Not only that but hope, peace and joy are inexticably woven into faith. We are convinced by hope which gives us peace of mind for we know that God will keep His promise. Our conviction is firm because we know the One who made the promise, and He has always proved to be faithful. Because we are at peace, we can see and experience the benefit of what we hope for before it arrives in the flesh. This is joy – not some desperate confession in a vain attempt to manufacture faith, but the overflowing result of a genuine belief in God’s specific favour granted to fulfil His will in our lives as a direct response to prayer.

And this is Paul’s concept of a normal Christian experience. Not the rarified heights of a legion of super-saints, but the birthright of all who confess the name of Jesus – whether Jew or Gentile, male or female. No-one is exempt from this power.

We receive – purely through the power of the Holy Spirit – again, the birthright of all, the guarantee of our salvation – providing the same life-changing power to accomplish this as He did when we first confessed Christ’s lordship.

One final point – this is abundant hope – not just a small measure of hope or a hope reserved for special occasions and the holiest of acts, but an overwhelming surge of hope that energises all that we set our hearts upon under the inspiration of His Spirit.

Bible Verses

Inspirational Bible Verses to Calm Fears (1)

The Bible is not merely a book of facts. It has a purpose far more important than just communicating useful information. Accurate knowledge is essential, but serves no purpose if we do not act upon it.

This is an issue that every Christian must face. As we read the Bible, it challenges us. It reminds us of the reality of faith that is expected of us and inspires us to aim for the same quality of experience as its authors.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts His followers, “Do not let your hearts be troubled … You trust in God, trust also in me.”

Within these few short words, there is an ocean of spiritual power waiting to be unleashed in the heart of every believer who lacks confidence.

The first thing to notice is that fear and despair are volitional. We can choose from our perspective whether we will live a life handicapped by ‘what ifs’ or whether we will choose to confront our fears. Fortunately, we don’t even have to do this alone. Paul reminds Timothy that God has not given us a spirit of timidity; the whole crux of this passage we have taken a single verse from is the promise of God’s Holy Spirit sent to transform us into Christlikeness in our attitudes and actions.

Secondly, Jesus reminds them that they trust in God – harking back to the Psalms where the characteristics and benefits of the man who trusts in God are spelled out in the very first verses. But He doesn’t stop there.

Jesus challenges them to trust Him in precisely the same way – taking the authority of the Divine by claiming to be the visible mainfestation of the all-powerful, invisible Creator. In essence, he’s saying. “By trusting in me, I guarantee that you will experience the inner peace and steadfastness promised to those who trust God;” – something He can only back up with genuine results if He truly is who He claims to be.

This then is the Good News – that these guarantees are not empty words on paper, but promises that are fulfilled by the indwelling Holy Spirit – our personal guarantee that Jesus is Lord over all things.

If Jesus is Lord over all, then there is nothing left to fear.

Bible Verses

Bible Verses to Build Faith (2)

Where building faith is concerned, understanding the message of the Bible is essential. Although it is true that all scripture is God-breathed and therefore useful for teaching us to be fully equipped for every good work (2 Timothy ch.3. v.16-17), some passages are more appropriate than others for building faith.

Consider the analogy of a tool-box. All of the items in it have a specific use. If you want to drive a nail into a piece of wood, you will find a hammer far more useful than a saw.

Similarly. If you want to develop a simple faith in Jesus as your saviour and gain a greater understanding of His role in transforming you into the person you are meant to be, an excellent starting point would be the Gospel of John.

If you are aspiring to move into church leadership and you need to build up your faith surrounding the possibility that God has set you apart to serve His people; a more appropriate place to begin an in-depth study would be the letters to Timothy and Titus.

The one thing not to do is to sit down and say to yourself, “I don’t know where to start,” and end up not reading your Bible at all. Fortunately for us, we have not been left alone. Within each of us who have dedicated our lives to serving Jesus, the Holy Spirit will work to guide us into truth and teach us what we need from the scriptures.

Bible Verses

Bible Verses to Build Faith (1)

Faith, we’re told in 1Peter ch.1 v.7, is of greater value than gold. That makes sense – to many, faith is a guarantee to material prosperity. In reality, is is much more than that, but also transcends our physical and material needs or desires.

As Jesus put it, even a tiny measure of faith can produce outstanding, unbelievable results – essentially because faith does not depend or rely on human effort, but on the One who inspired and empowers it to achieve His purpose.

So, how do we build faith? What is the secret to developing a faith that moves mountains?

In essence, it depends on developing an intimacy with God, knowing His will and understanding His purpose. Then you are able to see events from His perspective, become aware of His plan and pray intelligently. You will be able to speak clearly about His will – revealed to you – without fear of presumption. Instead of speaking empty words – without power or conviction – concerning what you would like God to do on your behalf to make your life more pleasant; you will be able to highlight God’s unfolding revelation of what He will accomplish through you.