To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Christian Life’ Category

Growth.

Peter urges us as Christians to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Every Christian should be growing. If a Christian is not growing there is something wrong. Furthermore, if someone is not interested in growing in grace and knowing Jesus then it is unlikely that they are a Christian. So what about you as we enter 2016? Are you wanting to grow? In this study, which is due to continue into the February newsletter, we intend to consider: “What Do We Need In Order To Grow?”

Food 

As a priority, in order to grow we need food. For a child to grow physically, he needs to eat food, and so it is with a child of God. For a Christian to grow spiritually he needs to be eating the food of the Word of God. The first concern that every parent has for their child is that they are getting good food. Fellow Christian, you need good food! Without good food, you will not be healthy. Peter used the imagery of the need for healthy bodily nourishment, when he says that Christians should crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation (1 Pet. 2:2b). Oh, how Christians should be desiring the pure spiritual milk of the Word for the nourishment of their souls? To re-inforce this point we observe that Our Saviour answered the devil by quoting from Deuteronomy in Matt 4:4 ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. This is the food we need.

There are three particular realms in which we can feed on the Word of God.

  1. Personally.

You must read the Word of God on your own. As we need food for our bodies everyday, so we need food for our souls even more. We must get before God every day, and read and study his Word. We read for the feeding of our souls that we might grow. The Feltham Journey (see Notes) is one means of doing this, but there are many other ways. As you move into 2016, think about continually keeping your personal reading of scripture fresh.

  1. With Others.

When you meet with other Christians, open up the Word of God, read it and discuss it. Alternatively, if there is something on your mind from your personal studies, talk about it with others you meet with. Share with them what God has been teaching you. What do you put on Facebook? Why not put there what God has taught you? The Feltham Journey WhatsApp group provides a forum for this as well.

Are there any issues that you are wanting to resolve or find out more about? Then why not be asking other Christians about their understanding of the issue from the Bible. Through such a means you can be finding out what the mind of the Lord is on such matters and you will be growing.

  1. In Church.

Perhaps this is the most important arena in which to be hearing God’s Word. Here the sheep of God come together to be fed by hearing the Word preached and taught by those who have been raised up as teachers of God’s Word. One of the gifts God gives to His Church is that of pastor-teacher. They are gifted so that all may be benefited by the food they provide. So make sure you are there often so as to be fed on God’s Word. And as we, as a church, feed to together; we learn together.

An observation concerning those who separate themselves off from the flock is that they do not grow in a rounded and wholesome way. “Isolationist Christians” are generally malnourished and also malformed because they have an impoverished diet. They have not been using God’s means, provided in the church, through gifted preachers and teachers, for their strengthening in the Lord. Therefore, they have not been having their beings formed through a balanced diet of God’s Word. One consequence of malnourishment is malformation. One way of spotting that a Christian is malformed is when they have an obsession with certain doctrines which is out of all proper proportion. Minor issues are majored upon, whilst the keys issues of our faith are given little attention. This is not good.

As and attender of Feltham Evangelical Church why not make a point in 2016, of getting to the meetings/services where the Word of God is taught. Read through the newsletter and see when they are. If you want guidance speak to the elders, Zach and Philip. Oh, for the good of your soul make sure you are fed well! True shepherds have the best welfare of the sheep at heart and want to make sure that you are being fed well.

However, ultimately each individual is responsible for his/her soul before God. So each must makes sure they are receiving nourishing food. Accordingly, you must be continually checking as to whether the spiritual food being brought before you is nutritious. Remember, much poison looks attractive and nutritious, but is still poison. So be like the Bereans who received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Act 17:11b). One simple way to do the examination is to ask how much of Christ is in this teaching. The Word of our Lord Jesus is that ‘I am the bread of life. (John 6:35b). When the Word is being brought so that it leads to Christ, focusses us on Christ and exalts Christ, you can be sure it is being preached and taught in a healthy way. When there is a continual emphasising that God works out and fulfils His purposes in Christ, then we can believe that all is well in our feeding and we will grow thereby.

Oh, as you move into 2016 make sure that you get yourself fed! Get yourself well fed with nourishing spiritual food. Food lacking in nutrition leads to stunted growth. Even worse, it could mean that you shrivel, and perhaps losing all spiritual vigour.

(Next month we plan to look at “exercise” and “getting the right help” as two further factors in making sure we grow well.)

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Newsletter of January 2016.)

 

The Way Of The World.

We were considering the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men (and women and children) with a small group aged 10 to 17 at church last week. We read this in John 6:5-7

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’

The response of Philip led us to ponder upon the way that this world thinks. Amongst us, and this was not from me, we noted that the way of the world is to think of “money, shops and the things you can see”. I felt that was quite a pithy, but very helpful description of the world in which we live. In fact Philips’ words would indicate that these reflect a mindset which permeates the ages.

Sadly it is not the way of thinking that helps to deal with the real issues of life and to find ultimate solutions. That way of thinking focuses on Jesus Christ as the miracle-working Lord of eternity. When He steps into a situation he brings satisfying transformation. “Money, shops and the things you can see” always lead to an ache for more. When Jesus comes and intervenes there is always satisfaction.

So in the feeding of the five thousand we read that all the people had as much as they wanted (v11b) and they had all had enough to eat (v12a)

Amidst the issues of life. Do we look to the way of the world or the way of Jesus?

John Allen Chau: Christian Sacrifice

Here is the BBC report on the death on November 17th (last week)  of the American missionary, John Allen Chau. His willingness to give up all, even life itself, so that others might know the love of God in Christ Jesus is surely the love of God in demonstration. It is must be truly Christ-like self-sacrificial love.

It is reminiscent of the desire of the five American missionaries to reach the Auca Indians back in the 1950’s (see here for basic details).

I am challenged and effected as to how much my life reflects this self-denying love. Am I constrained / compelled by the love of Christ (see 2 Cor. 5:14). I preached on that at our church back in September the audio is here. But how much am I living the message I preached? And now we have this portrayal before us in the life of Mr Chau. In all his weakness, he was willing to risk his life to teh end taht others might have life.

In his letters shortly before his death he mentions about who will step up to take his place if he is taken. Sobering words indeed.

So how seriously do we take the great commission to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19a)? How much am I longing to see people gathered around the throne of God praising God in their own language?

Ordering Our Ways

Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God (2 Chron. 27:6). Jotham was a leader of substance. He was a man who had a good influence upon the people. He was the type of leader you want around. He was a man with a strength and capacity derived from a life set on pleasing God. What made Jotham what he was?

When we read an alternative rendering in the English Standard Version we get a flavor of his character So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.  He was what he was because  ordered his ways before the LORD his God. His life counted because his life was lived in the presence of the Lord. He took time to consider his actions in the light of God’s Word. Implicit in the statement that ordered his ways before the LORD his God is the fact that he was a student of the law of God. It would be impossible for him to walk steadfastly before the Lord his God without the law being at the heart of his life. Moreover, we must reasonably infer that he took time to draw near to God; he sought the Lord in prayer. All his life was lived in fellowship with the Lord.

So how about us? There is a direct correlation between the way we are walking and our effectiveness. Those who walk steadfastly before the Lord will be effective people. those who study the Word and pray will be effective people.

Should I Go To Church?

Life is busy for so many of us. A phrase often heard is: “there just does not seems to be enough hours in the day”. So we have to be thoughtful about what we put into our lives. One thing to consider is whether we should bother going to church.

Before getting into directly answering that question we need to ponder upon which church we should consider going to. There are many fake churches which are not really churches at all. The church we should consider going to is the church which

  • believes that The Bible is the inspired, authoritative and infallible Word of God.
  • preaches the message of the Bible that focuses on how God has brought salvation through Jesus Christ.

It is the church that professes this and seeks to live it out that we should consider attending.

The issues to consider in whether or not we actually do attend church are dependent upon whether or not we are true believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the true Christian church attendance should be a normal part of their life. In fact, we have to say, that if a person is not attending church, and is professing to be a believer, the genuineness of their profession must questioned. Right at the beginning when the church was established in Acts 2 the people drew together so that they could hear the apostles doctrine; enjoy fellowship in the grace of God, worship in the breaking of the bread and seek the Lord through their prayers (see Acts 2:42). These things continue to be at the heart of what a church does when they meet together.

Christianity is a “together” religion and this togetherness is displayed in the church. The church should always be together in their support for one another 24/7, but there must also be those important times when they come together. So we see as God works to bring salvation in the book of Acts that churches were being formed and those in the churches came together. If we look in Acts 20 as an example we see there reference to the believers meeting together on the first day of the week in Troas to break bread and to hear God’s Word (see Acts 20:7). Paul in Acts 20:20 indicates how the church in Ephesus was taught publicly as well as house to house.

The rest of the new testament shows how believers are to live for the Lord. At the heart of that experience is being in church. It is interesting that the book of Revelation is sent to churches. The exhortation to true believers in churches in Hebrews 10:25 is that they should not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching. It is important for Christians to meet together.

But what of the non-Christian? Why should someone who does not share this faith come to church? They should come:-

  • To Hear: The greatest need for the non-Christian is to be saved. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. It is in church where you will hear this message.
  • To See: In church you see God at work. The church is God’s special place. In church you see a disparate group of people coming together as one in Christ. You should come to church and see how these people love one another and display their unity. As you observe it your wise response is to say “I want that”.
  • To Anticipate. If you are a human being you want to live. The place where you find life is in Christ. And that life in Christ is to be lived in the church. So if you are not a Christian you will yearn for that life and come to church to see the place where that life is lived. And that is all in anticipation of you one day being a part of that body.

So always and for everyone the church is the pace to be. It is God’s place. For believer and unbeliever alike, there are good reasons to be there. For the believer it is an essential place to enjoy your salvation. For the unbeliever it is the place to learn about Christ so that by faith you will obtain your salvation in Him.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of December 2016)

Big Commitment.

In Matthew 13 our Lord uses parables to teach about how the kingdom of heaven operates. In vv44-46 we come to the parables of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price. And as we come to them we have to ask: “What do these parables teach us about the kingdom of heaven?” If you look at bible commentaries regarding you will find differing perspectives. There are those who say that the parables teach us how Christ loved the church so much that He gave His all so as to obtain the church for Himself. Others say that these parables refer to how an individual should view salvation. Each person should view the salvation of God as being so important that they are willing to give up everything in order to obtain it. With these differing perspectives we can be left feeling perplexed as what really is the teaching. However, I suggest, that there is no need to choose. This is because the parables are both teaching the same essential truth. That truth is total commitment.

In looking at the passage we need to remember that the key thought concerns what the kingdom of heaven is like. Both parables are introduced by the phrase “The kingdom of heaven is like” (see v44a and v45a). Also both conclude with the same thought, namely that of selling all in order to obtain the desired possession. The man who bought the field and the man who bought the pearl both sold all in order to obtain what they yearned for. Both parables therefore teach that in the kingdom of heaven there is commitment, zeal, devotion, self-sacrifice and passion. These characteristics are displayed by the person in order to obtain what the person wants.

This teaching accordingly is applicable for both the attitude of our Lord Jesus giving Himself for His people and the individual obtaining salvation. They both involve the display of the same phenomena which can be summed up in the term passionate commitment. This is what the kingdom of heaven is like. Accordingly if someone is lacking zeal for God, passion for Jesus Christ the Lord, devotion to The Word, passionate interest in salvation and commitment to the church then that person is not a kingdom of heaven person. So each of us must ask ourselves: “Am I displaying, through my commitment to all that belongs to God, that I am a kingdom of heaven person?”

However, I do not want to hasten on too quickly in looking at out involvement in the kingdom of heaven. Rather we must stop and consider how our Lord Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of what it is to show commitment. We will never be able to fathom the depths of a statement like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph. 5:25b). Here is One giving His life for the benefit of others. Here is One securing eternal life and blessing for others by giving, NOT a vast amount of money, but His own self. Here is passion, zeal and commitment like no other. But further we can ponder upon the zeal of the Lord for the glory of God and the honour of His cause. Prophetically we read of Him in Psalm 69:9a saying that zeal for your house consumes me. Oh what passion He had and still has for the cause of God and the benefit of His people.

But why do we have two parables here that teach essentially the same thing? I suggest that the two are developed in order to give two lessons about commitment.

  • Wisdom

The parable of the treasure in the field shows how wisdom operates in the midst of total commitment to God’s ways. The man here seems to stumble across the treasure. This was not unreasonable given that in those days there were no banks and people often stored their precious possessions by burying them in the ground. When he finds it he buries it again. If he had gone off with it he would have stolen it. If he had told others about it then that land would have an inflated value. So he goes and obtains the field and all that is in it (and that includes the treasure) at the best price; a price that is within the extent of his resources. He did this because he wanted that treasure. He knew the level of his resources and he gave all, but he did not give more than his resources.

Wisdom necessitates that we each are committed to the level that is appropriate for ourselves. To over-commit is to destroy ourselves in obtaining the treasure. The kingdom of heaven is a place of full commitment, but not over-commitment. To over-commit can lead to us ruining ourselves. Each of us must know ourselves in this.

  • Total Commitment.

However, in case we move towards under-commitment because of the danger of over-commitment which has emerged through understanding the parable of the treasure in the field, the parable of the pearl of great price underlines that total commitment is vital, even normal, in the kingdom of God. Here is a very wealthy man who gives all. Here is a man who has a large capacity for commitment, but he does not hold back anything. He gives the whole lot. In the kingdom of heaven under-commitment is not an option. Even for those who have a big capacity to give. They give the lot.

Let us then be thoughtful about the issue of commitment. Are we displaying in our lives the characteristics which show that we want to be with the Lord and in His ways? If we are half-hearted we are likely showing that we are not kingdom of heaven people and that is serious.

But does this commitment lead to joyless drudgery? No, not at all. We read concerning that the man found the treasure in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field (v44b). Commitment in the kingdom of heaven leads to joy. Do we miss out on so much delight in God and His ways because of our lack of commitment. And finally we remember our Saviour who for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:2b).

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of May 2016)

 

Be An Example.

We hear a lot of talk about there being a need for good role models in our society. So what kind of role model are you? A role model is someone who sets an example through their own life and conduct. This example influences others for good or ill. So in your sphere of influence, whether that be at school, work, home, church or wherever, what kind of influence are you providing? Do people look at you and conclude that you are living a life that is worth emulating? Paul encouraged Timothy to be such an example among Christians when he said set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity (1. Tim. 4:12b). Let us pick up that exhortation to Timothy and ponder upon what kind of example we are to others in the church.

Paul infers that everything in Timothy’s life should recommend God to others. It is not about him being popular and winning the favour of others. Rather it is about him (and us) so reflecting the Lord Jesus that we bring honour to God. We live in a world where we are encouraged to impress others through our achievements. This kind of thinking can so easily affect the church. Accordingly, if we have an effective ministry or church then people are encouraged to follow us as regards to how that ministry / church has became effective. Through these things we are considered to be a good example. Such may be the case, but Paul has a bigger priority.

Paul’s primary desire for Timothy does not focus upon his ministry, but rather upon his character. Quite simply Timothy is urged to be an example in:-

  • The content and manner of his speech. He is to be a man who heeds Proverbs 10:19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
  • His displaying godliness in his conduct. Anyone observing his life (and ours) should conclude that here is someone not living according to the ways of this world. God’s Word is determining their lifestyle and not contemporary thinking.

  • The way he shows self-sacrificial love. Timothy is to live in such a way as to demonstrate that he is living for the benefit of others. Love is “the king fruit” among the fruit of the Spirit (see Gal. 5:22-23) and must be evidenced in his life. And it should be in ours.

  • Being a man who is known to have his trust is in God. He is not a self-made or a self-trusting man. He is to be God-trusting, realising that it is only in dependence upon God that he can truly live.

  • How he is to be a man who shuns evil and loves purity. Purity has a bad image nowadays because it is portrayed as drab and boring. But true purity is beautiful. It reflects the beauty of God, who is the ultimate pure, holy (and certainly not boring) being.

Feltham Evangelical Church needs great servers of God, but of even greater importance are great livers for God. We need more of those who devote themselves to fellowship with the Lord. I say that because the five characteristics mentioned are all sourced somewhere; they originate somewhere. They originate in a soul which is set upon God. It is the one who is walking in the Spirit who has these things in their lives.

So through you learning of God’s Word, praying to and worshipping the Lord, and fellowshipping with God’s people you need to keep on knowing the Spirit moving in your life. And then consistently godly conduct will emerge in your life. The church of God needs such examples. So go and be radical, go and live for God, go walk in the Spirit and be a great demonstrator of God in every sphere that you influence. Through that you will have a blessed life, you will be a great role model to others and an example that many should follow.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of July 2016)

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