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.
Matthew’s Gospel invites us to consider that there are no restrictions to who receives, responds and is involved in the story. From a family tree with 4 female leads, to a teenage pregnancy and culminating in Gentile gift bringers, the story illustrates the universal intentions of the Gospel. It’s good news for all
Will we still walk the same way after encountering Jesus or will we “return by another way?”
At the heart of this story is the fact of God identifying himself with His people - those who He desires to save.
Alone amongst world religions, this is the distinguishing - and disarming - mark of Christianity: instead of expecting us to change ourselves, to somehow aspire to raise ourselves to become him, God comes down to us in our frailty.
We'd all like to be part of something special but it can often feel as if we're like the child in the playground who is the last to be picked for the sports team.
Christmas tells us that we are part of something special. Mary was chosen but we are invited to join in with what God had planned through her. Turning the world upside down may not be our first choice for a Christmas present but that's the result of God's coming to live in our neighbourhood.
When God shows up, it can be fearful and threatening. Immanuel might not always seem to be soft and fluffy and affirming. Jesus can convince us that God’s love is tough, He calls us through His love to walk with him to confront the world about a new a living Way….The Way of the Lord Jesus Christ
How can we reconcile the idea of servanthood with God's call to some to assume leadership positions?
Discipleship is not blind obedience but guided (directed) growth. When there is no guidance, no oversight and no vision, God's people lose sight of the greater goals of living by God's standards to bring about God's purposes (His Kingdom).
The wonderful thing about prayer is that it never remains unanswered. There may be times when we do not get the answer or response we want or are expecting. Then, God's reply to our enquiry helps us to learn more about ourselves, our circumstances and Him.