Integrity is often seen as one of the key traits of a successful leader. When someone has it they are trusted and valued because what they say and do are always consistent with the values they claim to embrace.
Integrity has to be demonstrated just as trust has to be earned. Leaders in the public eye are also in the spotlight: they have the power and opportunity to affect the lives of others. All too often, though, those we expect to lead us have been proven to have only their own interests at heart.
Integrity can't be bought nor is it possible for it to handed down from Father to son. We might expect the sons of the Father to be competent and all caring but their real concern is to make their lives easier for themselves and enjoyable at others' expense.
How different it is when we encounter the real deal. Samuel's conception and birth was soaked in prayer: he learns by being in the place where God is worshipped. In time, he will become the power broker as a nation regains its strength and the worshipping community regains its connection to God.
After we've heard from Andy Johnson about CAP (Christians Against Poverty), we'll be considering how we can help to support those in need.
Whatever we have, however pushed we are for time there are always opportunities for us to get involved where God is already at work. We have a lot to give, the greatest of this being to tell people about Jesus and to show (practically) that this matters.
If you had the opportunity what one thing would you want from God?
It's a big ask (in some ways) but it's also likely to have a big impact: instead of wishing things would change, I’m asking God for His strength to make a change.
We can be confident that whatever happens, we are safe and secure when we trust God.
GHBC supports the work of the Leprosy Mission. We'll be hearing about their work this morning.
God calls us through circumstances and our convictions to respond to him. Although, we may be in torrid and risky times, What he does when respond will change the world. This gives our lives profound purpose.
There's always someone who is richer, stronger, more successful than you are. (OK sometimes you have to look a long way but you know what I mean).
We can come to terms with that kind of comparison but it can be a lot harder if/when we think we are entitled to more than we actually get. It's tougher still when we get all the rough stuff despite trying our best to get it right … and then the bad guys get all the good breaks.
The fact that the wicked prosper did not escape the attention of David or the other authors of the Psalms. For them, it was matter of being content with what God had given them rather than focusing on what they hadn't got.
It's said that an Army marches on its stomach: the soldiers have to be fed in order to keep going. At the same time, they also have to train continually to reach (and then remain), at peak effectiveness.
The analogy of an army on the march is a good picture of the Christian church. To be really effective, the common elements of being fed, trained and application to the task must be observed. It is a step by step process to live by the Spirit.
It’s often the most unlikely people who seemingly have the least claim to be anything, who end up having the greatest impact.
God’s purposes are worked out through those who He chooses (Acts 2:39). On the face of it, Hannah has little to commend her - a barren woman, accused of being the worse for wear for drink at the Ministry meeting.
God has other plans. At a time of national breakdown, Hannah's faith and faithfulness will be rewarded and her son will play a major part in the future of Israel
When you're facing your worst nightmare it's very hard to stand still. The last thing on your mind is probably a face off especially if you are afraid of the issue itself or the possible consequences.
Trusting God brings perspective to any situation. It may not bring about an immediate solution but it does remind us that we are not on our own. God is not just in our corner but actively looking after us.
Whether it's "natural" disasters or decisions which affect us all, there are things in life we simply cannot avoid. (The American humourist Mark Twain, classified these as being born, dying and paying our taxes).
The prophets - those who spoke on behalf of God - help us to see such circumstances from God's point of view. Where there are problems, what might it mean for us to be part of the solution?
How do we live as Christian exiles in a community where the values and lifestyles are at odds with Christ’s teaching?
A social revolution will only follow a spiritual transformation. Impacting our community will only happen once we commit to God's plans and are prepared to stock it out where we are, living by example.
You can’t help but be struck by the radical uncompromising teaching of Jesus as you read, say, the Sermon on the Mount. He had no time for hypocrisy wherever it came from: he took to task anyone who dare to look down their noses at the less fortunate.
When the early church eventually exploded onto the world scene, it was so totally different from anything else that it was dubbed the ‘The Way’- it was so vigorous, animated and challenging, it really did take the world by surprise.
How can we continue in that tradition of radical dissent today?
We each have a part to play as this is not the preserve of any so called spiritual elites: our example will show how much we love Christ and others.
What do really expect from Christmas? If all goes to plan, it'll be a nice meal, time with friends and an opportunity to wind down or chill for a day or two. The festival over, we'll pick up the threads and all go back to our busy lives as we enter another year.
The Christmas story goes beyond expectation to embrace need. Whatever we may want or expect, God knows what we need - that is why he sent His son into the world. The story brings a massive awakening for us as we see in an ordinary birth, the seeds of an extraordinary spiritual transformation that will follow.