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

Archive for the ‘Fellowship’ Category

For Whom Christ Died

1 Corinthians 8 addresses the issue of how we interact with one another when we see things differently in the church. In particular it deals with the issue of when we perceive that we have freedom in Christ to act in a certain way, whilst other Christians do not feel comfortable in engaging in that same behaviour.

In such a situation we need to be careful about how we speak and act towards such a fellow Christian. Our freedom should never be a means for bringing the other brother to stumble in their faith.

Paul reaches the apogee of his argument when he speaks of how the brother you could stumble is one for whom Christ died. He writes of how by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died (1 Cor. 8:11). Christ gave up all of His freedom that he eternally and joyously enjoyed in the favour of His Father in heaven. He relinquished that in order to bring eternal blessing to your brother. And that blessing was only brought through the Christ suffering ignominy, shame and dereliction on His cross.

Won’t I and won’t you then, be very careful about indulging our freedom in Christ. We should always act circumspectly to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. True love motivates us to do this.

It is a worthwhile thing to have always in our minds in our dealings with fellow believers that they are ones for who Christ died. This title, in a sense, rests over them and is an insignia upon them.

Woe betide me if I am selfish and careless in my treatment of another Christian.

Why Am I Here?

In Psalm 71:16-19 we read:

My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
    of your deeds of salvation all the day,
    for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
    I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
    and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and grey hairs,
    O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
    your power to all those to come.

The psalmist here relates how he has had a living experience of the living God. He has known of the workings of the Lord in His life. “Righteous acts”, “deeds of salvation”, “mighty deeds” and “wondrous deeds” have all come within the ambit of his life-story. These experiences are not to be stored away or even worse disposed of as refuse, rather they are to be the focus of his ongoing life-story. Specifically, he is to make these things known to others.

I was particularly struck by the aspect of him having this ministry to old age and grey hairs. The fact that, what hair I have left  is all grey makes such observations very personal. So I ask myself what am I here for now? The answer is that I am here to proclaim the mighty deeds of the Lord to another generation. I want to tell of the Lord’s power to all that are coming up after me.

Certain cultures and professions function around the passing on of accumulated wisdom and knowledge. In western cultures we seemed to have lost this. However, in the church and among the people of God this should be a vital aspect of how we live.

So as I set myself for further years, in the Lord’s will I set myself to passing on what I know of the Lord’s workings. I know of these through His words, through His own personal dealings with me and through what i have come to know in fellowshipping with others.

Undergirding this whole process is implication that I am to have a heart of delight in the Lord for all His workings. Surely when I consider all the works of the Lord in His gracious dealings  with His people and most particularly with me, how can I be anything other than a man who delights in the mighty acts of the Lord. In the person and work of my Saviour, Jesus Christ, I see this most gloriously as He, in one act of obedience (see Rom. 5:19b), has made salvation. How wonderful is this great salvation (Heb. 2:3a). 

And so all may prayings and actings and livings should be to pass on to the generation to come what I know of Him. The younger generations can never then be seen as a threat  or as a nuisance, but rather as a great opportunity. They need to know of the Lord and the Lord wants them to know of Him. And He wants me and all others of grey hairs to be excited to be involved in this passing on ministry.

Oh Lord may it be that all my energies are operating through your Spirit to that end. Amen

A 3×3 For You

Hoping for a brand new 4×4?!  Well here is something far better on offer. And if used regularly (and appropriately) this will enhance you life more than any elaborate 4×4 will.

So here is my 3×3 for you:

I WAS WRONG
I AM SORRY
PLEASE FORGIVE ME

To have that 3×3 in our lives, marriages, families, churches, workplaces and communities will lead to all such realms being much enhanced. We are not talking about disingenuous manipulation here, whereby an apology is used for selfish purposes. Apologises are to be made out of love not self-protection or self aggrandisement.

Alas, the problem is often the other way. There are too many people who do not seem to have “sorry” in their vocabulary. Either these people are perfect, which is unlikely or self-deceived or proud. The latter two amount to the same thing. We are talking about people caught up in their own self-interests.

Rather, when love is found among us then there will be the beautiful functioning of this beautiful 3×3. What an impact that will have for you and me in all realms of our lives.

Please please accept the offer of this 3×3 today and I promise it will revolutionise your life.

 

 

Setting The Standards

This is an interesting clip by Peter Crouch (see here). It touches on the whole issue of having those among us who set the highest standards. When you have individuals, or a group, in a community who are committed to the most exacting standards then the standards of that community are generally elevated. So Peter Crouch describes how having people, such as Steven Gerrard, who really are demonstrating that only the best will do, then this impacts the whole of the group.

Oh and how we need these people in our churches who pursue godliness with a passion. Those who will not settle for a lacklustre Christianity, but rather will pursue the highest demonstration of the life of the Lord. Such people are gold to a church. And when you get a group of them it will only enhance the life of the church.

However, as Crouch says in the podcast some will not want to fall in with that regime and will rather fall away. As long as there is no intimidation, but solely a pursuit of godliness which repulses people then that is to be expected even though we do not welcome it.

In 1 John 2:19 we read: They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. Here it is a rejection of the standard of doctrine concerning Jesus Christ that is the issue. The false teachers rejected the doctrine that Jesus is the Christ manifest in the flesh. But this has a wider application as to when people in a church conclude that they do not want to adhere to the standards in that church and decide to opt out.

Let us the seek to those who set the highest standards in our churches for our Lord. Let us be praying for people of this ilk. We need to remember as Crouchie says in the podcast, that as a result of having people setting the standards then the standards  in “the club” rise. However, if they are not around the standards fall. Your godliness influences the levels of godliness in your church.

 

How Can I Help?

We serve a Saviour who came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matt. 28:20b). We are called by Him to be servants ourselves. He gives this great teaching through his own example in John 13:1-20. He says If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:14-15)

The Christian has a bias towards serving others. If there is not that bias in the heart and attitude of servant we can rightly question whether they are a true servant of the greatest master of all.

Accordingly a question that should be in our hearts always and on our lips frequently, is “How can I help?” We ask this question because in a Christlike manner we want to use all our energies to help others.

So in the church, and any situation in fact, don’t just wait to be asked, be asking others about how you can help. If you are such a person then you will be a delight to have around. And you will be a living demonstration of the life of your Lord and Saviour.

You Must Have Time With The Lord

This is essential for the Christian; you must have your personal time alone with Him. You put your life in peril if you do not. Church fellowship is essential and we need to be experiencing that to grow in the Lord. Worshipping in the family at home  must also be there in our schedules. But we must not neglect being in the secret place with the Lord.

You have to find out what works for you. You may be able to operate on a spontaneous basis, whereby in the natural flow of life you are having space to worship the Lord and be with Him. However, for most of us, I suggest, that this is not the case, We need to be more disciplined. we need to set aside a specific time to be alone with our Father and our Lord Jesus. Regular habits are normally good in this respect.

And if your Quiet Time or personal time with the Lord is becoming dull and lacklustre then mix it up. Try whatever works. Try reading a few passages of good Christ centred books. The Puritans are good here and Richard Sibbes is always a good place to start. Try prayer lists. In all this make sure that your prayings and worshippings are Bible framed so you must have the Word.

Living Christians are always God’s presence Christians. No time in the presence of the Lord means death to your soul and impoverishment in spiritual desires and worship.

And of course our Lord Jesus sets the pattern here. He was so keen to spend time with his Father that he would get up early to make sure it happened. Perhaps that is what you need to do (and me). You need to be thinking about getting up a bit earlier and having time in His presence.

I have written about personal devotions at further length here if you are interested.

S.S. SIOSA

It is good to have S.S SIOSA as a motif for life. To embrace teh principles within thsi acronym is to set yourself up well for life. Livinng out S.S. SIOSA will make you a valuable person to have in any community of people. So what am I referring to here?

I am thinking about those situations in life where you are responsible for causing a difficulty, problem or just generally messing others around. Upon being aware of this immediately call S.S. SIOSA to mind. So you will:

  • Say Sorry: Go to the person(s) involved and apologize for what you have done wrong. Apologise to the doctor if you have missed an appointment. Apologise to your boss if you have forgotten to do some work. Wherever you are responsible apologise for your actions or non-actions.
  • Sort it out: Speak the matter through with the relevant parties so that you all now know how you are going to move ahead. Alternatively you may just have to write an email to inform others how you are going to rectify things.
  • Straight Away: When you become aware of having messed someone around unnecessarily get on to the matter immediately; do not delay. Allow no wounds to fester; allow no confusion to drag on. Leaving matters for a time tends to poison matters as people stew upon why you messed them around.

So enlist the S.S. SIOSA in your life and you will have gained a good life skill. And if everyone one lived out this motif marriages, families, churches, work places, communities and nations would all be better and happier places.

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