Today we look at Partnership, the second focus in our new series of ‘Signposts that help us navigate life’ .
It almost goes without saying that unity (partnership) among brothers and sisters does not mean having the same tastes and preferences on a hundred issues. As our God has many aspects and character traits, we can expect variety in His creations. So often though, we forget this and expect and or want everyone to think, speak and believe as we do. Much of Scripture tells us that love is the real key to Christian unity and partnership. It is in the spirit of true humility, compassion, consideration and unselfishness, that we are to approach our problems, our work and even our differences.
Working together in partnership for the one purpose is what unites us. When we count others more significant that ourselves, look out for the interest of others and reflect the mind of Christ as servants we can achieve great things for God’s glory.
Let’s reflect on ways that we can partner with others—whether it be joining a ministry, praying, or simply actively pursuing ways in which to show God’s love. May it be that we too please Him as the Psalmist writes...
Lord God, I pray for an increase in Godly partnerships. Show me I ask how and where I should serve. Bring the right people at the right time to my mind and circumstances for the purpose of fellowship and community. Please give me the discernment that I may understand the right steps and the right partnerships to pursue. I ask that my life and partnerships be a blessing to Your Kingdom, in Jesus name, Amen.
Fruit of Wisdom—In Our Wisdom
‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight’ Prov 3:5-6
How many of us think that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission? We don’t want to know the answer could well be a no, so we do it anyway.
How often do we take the same approach with God? We make our own plans for what we want and leave God totally out of the planning process. After all the choices have been made by us, in our own ‘wisdom’ we then involve God by asking Him to “bless” what we have already decided to do.
Let’s not treat God like a magic wand that we wave over our plans. As Proverbs tells us, let’s not try and figure out stuff according to our own understanding, but rather include God from the beginning. Let go and let God show us, direct us, and then we will be on the right path to being fruitful and glorifying Him.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your guidance. Forgive me for getting ahead of Your plans, and help me know when to stop and listen for Your direction. Your ways are perfect, Lord. Thank You for offering gentle grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Colossians 3:23 tells us... Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.
Some of us have the privilege of paid work, some of us have the privilege of unpaid work. Whether we receive a pay packet or not, we as Christians are called to work heartily and with our focus on the Lord.
Whether it is doing the dishes at home, volunteering in the community, working in an executive role, or digging trenches it doesn’t matter what we do. What matters, is they way in which we do it.
Whatever our role, task or commitment, we all will deal with people at some time of our day. Even if it is just in the supermarket. How we treat people is part of our daily ‘work’ as Christians too. We need to treat people with respect, no matter if they are rude or treat us unjustly. We need to speak to them as we would Jesus Himself.
When we are working as unto God, we can ask Him for wisdom when we need it. (James1:5) God tells us wisdom is readily available to those who need it. With wisdom, we will know how to respond, instead of letting our feelings cause us to react.
When we are working as unto God, we need to do it without grumbling (Phil 2:14) And while we can sometimes hide our feelings, God still sees our hearts. We can ask Him for help with that too, after all He cares about our hearts and attitudes.
When we work as unto God, our hearts will reflect it. We will be content and thankful because we know what God expects and we know He will empower us to do whatever He asks of us. The one we work for is our Loving Father. The one who has always cared for and provided for us. Remembering that will cause our hearts to be grateful.
A prayer for us as we work:
Father, we want to thank You for giving us our tasks. Lord, we pray that you would give us grace each day for whatever we encounter. We ask for those who are out of paid work and need it, we pray that You will provide them with the job You want them to have. Thank You Father for loving us as you do. We pray this in Jesus name.
Proverbs 9:10 ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.’
This week we begin a new series looking at various Proverbs and the Fruit of Wisdom. Proverbs is a wonderful collection of literary design. It gives us standards of living out our values; moral behaviour; right conduct and so much more. It invites us to live with wisdom, and in awe and respect of God, in order to experience a fruitful life.
Verse 10 of Chapter 9 shows the infrastructure of our faith, that is ‘the fear of God’ (meaning submission to the will of God), is the beginning of wisdom.
Often we can become confused about the need to fear God. Does this mean to be frightened?
No I don’t believe so, being frightened has a negative connotation, whereas a healthy fear of the Lord is a positive response. Fear in this sense is acknowledgement of God as the Almighty and powerful One. It is a position of respect, reverence and awe. But that still doesn’t cover it. There are over 300 mentions in the Bible of fear in reference to God . When we look at the various passages in Scripture, we can begin to understand that fearing God is good because it saves us from caving into our own sinful nature.
God poses an ominous threat to our ego, but not to us as people who follow Him. God rescues us from our delusions, so He can reveal the truth. As we grow in our faith, the more opportunities there are for God to reveal His truths to us. So you see, fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
May our walk with our Lord continue to be reverently close to Him and so with open heart we may learn more and more of His truths as we grow in Him.
‘And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus’ Phil 4:19
Last week we looked at the Possession Signpost and how we can be content. An integral part to successfully being content is an understanding of God’s plan for our life.
As we look at the above verse and we can see another one of God’s wonderful promises.
Do you remember as a child and you would ask your parent for something? The first response might have been a ‘no’ and you quickly replied with ‘but I need it!’ Mostly, if we were truly honest, we would know that what we had asked for, wasn’t really a ‘need’!
As we reflect on this promise, we would also benefit from honestly assessing and differentiating between our needs and our wants.
Our Heavenly Father does know best! We may not have what we think we need, because it is actually only a want and not a need according to His perfect plan for us.
On the flip side, everything, and I mean everything we need to live out a fruitful life for Jesus will be provided.
God owns everything, He is not going to run out. So if you perceive that others are getting and you are not, don’t be alarmed. God’s timing is perfect and He will provide from His endless riches, right when we need it and not before, and never too late.
So, relax and trust. Let us give God thanks once again for loving us so much that He makes sure we have everything we need. Let us also thank Him for the extra blessings He gives us, because He is our loving Father and He wants to show us just how much we mean to Him.
Phil 4:8 "What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (ESV)
We have often heard, that practice makes perfect. But we also know that sometimes, some things take a whole lot more practice than others. We also know that not everything we practice gives us a reward.
Remember when you were a child and you first learned to ride a bike? If you were lucky, you would have someone who walked along behind you, holding the seat. Then as you gained your confidence and skill, they would begin to let go and let you go it alone. Most of us wobbled and fell, but the person would be there to pick us up, dust us off and encourage us to try again.
They would tell us we need to keep practicing to get the hang of it, but once we did, we would know it forever. Once we had learned how to ride we were on our own, we could go as fast as we wanted.
How true is this for our faith journey. Once we decided that we were ready to get on board and give our life over to Jesus, we would try to live out our new way. We would wobble and fall in the early days, make our mistakes and have to confess we messed up and try again.
There is one significant difference with learning to ride a bike and learning to live out our fruitful, faithful life though. That difference is, that Jesus never lets us go. He is always nearby to encourage us, to give us the strength and the stamina, to equip and to guide us. He is there along side us to show us the way and give us direction.
Most things we practice, the reward is the achievement of doing. The knowledge that we kept at it, persevered and kept practicing.
With our faith journey we get an added bonus, and we can be sure we will receive it, because it is promised….and the God of peace will be with you.
Yes! When we practice living out our faith, as our perfect example Jesus Christ, we receive God’s peace. His peace, as we have learned over previous weeks, surpasses all understanding. It is perfect peace and He gives it to us freely.
The beauty is that the more we practice, the closer we know Jesus, and become more intimate, and the more peace we receive.
Wow, what a blessing is our God! Let’s keep on practicing our faith and live out our fruitful lives for His glory.
‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (NIV)
In order to live right, we must first think right, and to do this we need the mind of Christ. The above verse lays it out beautifully doesn’t it!
In Proverbs 23:7 Scripture also tells us that as a person thinks in their heart, so they are. Which is another way of saying, we are what we think. As what is on our mind is easily reflected in our actions, we need to regularly ask ourselves: ‘what am I thinking’?
As many wise people have said in several different ways:
Watch your thoughts
because they become words.
Watch your words
because they become actions.
Watch your actions
because they become habits.
Watch your habits
because they become character.
Watch your character
because it becomes your destiny.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I humbly come before You today, submitting myself at the foot of Your throne. I know taking my eyes off of You hardens my heart. My mind races with discontentment and I forget all the great and mighty things that You have done.
I pray for a thankful heart. I pray that I would keep my eyes on You and remember what You have done.
I pray that You would protect my heart and mind, and help me to be content, satisfied, and confident in You. Please help my unbelief and my negative attitudes. Thank You for Your grace and Your overwhelming love that fills my heart. May the power of Your Holy Spirt transform me in Jesus’ name
‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (NIV)
Wow that’s a big call! However, it is not one that is empty or overstated. It is a promise and God keeps His promises.
It is Gods desire that we walk in peace. Often, it’s easy to become more aware of our troubles than God’s peace.
The trick to walking in peace is to choose it at all costs. It might mean saying no to some things that are good but don’t bring peace into your life. Choosing peace in your life isn’t always easy, but it is good for you.
It also takes practice to choose peace, especially when things are stressful. The good news is that you get to choose your response every time. Whilst your situation or circumstances may not be able to be controlled, how you respond is within your control. We can respond with peace even when things look bad around us.
So today, if you have fallen into the trap of stress and anxiety, determine to change your response. Choose to not let all the little situations around stress you. Instead take a minute to tap into God’s peace.
How do you do that? It might be different for each of us but a good way to start is to breathe deeply. As breathe in, focus on God and His peace, as you breathe out, imagine releasing that stress.
Perhaps you could sing a praise song or recite a favourite Scripture that brings you joy. As you do, you’ll find that the stress goes and peace comes. You might have to do this over and over again all day long, but as you practice it, walking in peace will become a habit in your life.
‘Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you’ 2 Thes 3:16 NIV
Imagine being able to watch the apostle Paul in action. How did he treat people, especially those who often failed? In 1 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul gives us a glimpse of how he treated others: “We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.”
Gentleness is a strong hand with a soft touch. It is a tender, compassionate approach toward others’ weaknesses and limitations. A gentle person still speaks truth, sometimes even painful truth, but in doing so guards his tone so the truth can be well received.
Puritan leader Jonathan Edwards called gentleness “the Christian spirit.” Edwards said, “All who are truly godly and are real disciples of Christ have a gentle spirit in them.”
The Bible goes out of its way to demonstrate Jesus’ gentleness. In fact, the Old Testament depicts the Messiah as unusually gentle, telling us that Jesus would not break a “bruised reed” or snuff out a “smoldering wick” (Isaiah 42:3). In the Gospels, Jesus affirmed His gentleness: “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). And the apostles often reminded the early church of Jesus’ gentleness: “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you” (2 Corinthians 10:1).
Unfortunately, too many people equate gentle with weak. Unless you would call the heroic apostle Paul, the fiery Puritan Jonathan Edwards and the almighty Christ “weak” individuals, it is clearly a misunderstanding to assume weakness has anything to do with gentleness.
In fact, the reverse is true.
When my daughter was young, she used to love to squeeze my hand as hard as she could, trying to make it hurt. She could squeeze with all her might, but it never hurt. She didn’t need to be gentle because she lacked the power to cause me any pain. Then, just for fun, I’d give her hand a tight little squeeze until she yelped.
It’s the strong hand, not the weak one, that must learn to be gentle.
Press On Signpost
Our Signpost for this week is encouraging us to press on, or in other words…’keep on keeping on’. The urban dictionary describes it as...
‘the act of doing what you have been doing but an encouragement to do it more’.
So it is with us in our Christian walk, it we want to be a growing and successful Christian believer, we just need to stick with it. Just keep on doing what you know to do.
More than anything, keep feeding on God's Word. The Word is what has the power to change things in your life. It is the power that drives the whole Kingdom of God.
Don't worry if it seems like your progress is slow. Just keep on the right road and you will reach your proper destination.
You can't feel a tree growing by putting your arms around it either, but day by day it surely grows stronger and stronger. Then one day you stand back and look at that tree and see just how much it has grown! This is our encouragement, to keep on going and every now and then check in. When we stand back and assess, have we grown—are we stronger?
And let’s not quit just because we mess up and make some mistakes. We simply need to confess, receive forgiveness and go forward. Just because we fall over it does not mean we should stay down.
So be encouraged, keep on keeping on.
Keep reading the Bible. Keep on talking to God about everything. Keep on being thankful. Keep on praising God. Keep on walking in love. Keep on trusting God even when you don't understand what is going on.
God understands -- even when you don't. And we can be certain of His never-failing love for us. So, trust God and keep on walking in faith and love. Keep on doing what we know is right.
Let’s make this our slogan for the week, month or however long it takes for us to be convinced and assured: ‘I will not quit but will keep on walking with God.’
Philippians 2 says….
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky “
In the Bible, Jesus is called “the true light, which gives light to everyone” (John 1:9). Throughout the New Testament, the followers of Jesus are called to be light in the darkness. So, what does it mean to shine?
God’s Word tells us to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light’ (Rom 12:12) The world in which we live is dark, that is, it is full of deceit, hate and confusion. This darkness leads to selfishness and hopelessness. However if we put on God’s armour of light and ‘shine’ like Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16a “Let your light shine before others”, those around us will have the opportunity to ‘see’ God.
Especially as Jesus has just explained, verse 15...that we are to shine like a lamp. No one lights a lamp just to hide it under a basket. A lamp is meant to be placed on a stand to give light to everything around it. We as Christians, that is people seeking to be like Christ, are all called to be a ‘light’ to people around us. For this to be possible it is important that we are intentionally taking the time to interact with people and cultivate relationships.
Why is all this so important? As we continue to read in Matthew 5:16b
There is more to Jesus’ words as He went on to give us the reason why ...
“so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” Our goal should never be to bring recognition to ourselves, but to bring glory to God.
This week let us be intentional about showing God’s light to those around us. If you are missing God’s light, then you need Jesus. How? You simply ask Jesus to come into your life and show you His love, light and saving grace. It is the best decision you will ever make.
Todays Signpost is looking at People.
The way we as people behave and treat others is paramount to how we honour God in our living a fruitful life.
Philippians 2 :3-4 ‘then make my joy complete by being like-minded,
having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
These are simple instructions, but how difficult to achieve when 'king self' is sitting on the throne of ones life.
We may start the day with good intentions, but unless we start the day with Christ we are not going to be too successful. We also need to give over our own ways and allow Jesus in to direct and control.
Humility of spirit, gentleness of disposition, love for each other and joy in the Lord are all the fruit of the Spirit, which burst forth in a life that is centred in Christ. So let us be encouraged to allow Jesus in more and more each day. We also need to know Jesus and His ways to help us do them. His Word, the Bible gives us insight, instruction, and understanding—but we do need to read it, reflect and think on it.
May we be like Paul who’s earnest cry at the end of His life was — ‘may I know Christ’. And pray for God to help us to let this be our earnest desire today and for the rest of our lives.
Father, it is my desire to do nothing out of selfish motives or ungodly incentives, but rather I pray that I may in humility of heart, value others above myself, to Your praise and glory. Help me to value the needs and concerns of another more than my own and keep me humble in heart - in Jesus name I pray, AMEN.
It’s much easier to do the right thing when things are going well, isn’t it? We all know, however, that life is not always ‘peachy’. In fact there are more often than not, challenges at some time in every day. These are just the daily pressures we can feel, then there can be the ‘added’ pressures. Sometimes they are imposed upon us, sometimes we put pressure on ourselves.
How do we respond? We know that we can’t always control our circumstances but we can control how we react to them.
Philippians 1:27 Paul talks about us as believers and how we should respond. “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”
Paul continues on to encourage us in saying that we are to behave in a God honouring way, even when no one is watching. It is encouraging, it is also challenging.
However, God in His truly awesome ways not only calls us to action, He equips us as well. As we continue to read on, and in many other places in the Bible, we can be assured of God and His Holy Spirit as our Helper.
We still must do our bit. Each and every day we need to choose to unify our hearts, our thoughts and mind with God and His ways. The more we do this, the easier and more ‘natural’ it can become. But, it is a choice, it takes a conscious effort to willingly hand over our ways and pick up the ways of Jesus. Jesus, our perfect example showed us how to live, whether we are feeling the pressure or not, whether someone is watching or not, it comes down to choosing to live out God’s love.
We also have the support of our fellow believers. We are to be firm in our stance and united with our Church Family. As we journey daily, we can lift up each other and be encouraged. Let’s decide again today, as Isaiah 30:21 says ‘this is the way, walk in it’.
Heavenly Father, help me to live a life that is worthy of You. May my conduct and behaviour be uncompromising, whether I am alone or in the company of others.. and may the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to You. I pray that I may stand firm in the truth of the glorious gospel of grace and strive side by side with my brothers and sisters in Christ for the faith of the glorious gospel of Christ - Who alone is worthy of our praise and worship, AMEN.
We have been blessed with the Fruitful Life Preaching series over these past months. Bill has made it easy for us to remember the aspects as they all started with “F”.
To help us remember:
Fear factor; flesh factor; failure factor; fog factor; famine factor; flame factor; fellowship factor; financial factor; food factor; friction factor; future factor, forgiveness factor, fairness factor, fight factor, fill factor; fish factor; fresh factor and finally finish factor!
It is our prayer that we have all experienced growth in our life and our hearts and minds are becoming more fruitful each day for the glory of God. We thank God for giving us this Fruitful series, and the many speakers that shared His Word.
Did you know that ‘finally’ is in the Bible at least 73 times! So as we finish the Fruitful Life Series with the ‘finish factor’ I leave you these words from Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His power.
The previous verses are instructions for how to live and the following verses lead into us putting on the armour of God so that we may stand firm.
However, even in the few words of verse 10 there speaks a lot and are a good reminder of how to begin our days if we are to live out our life fruitfully for our Lord.
So, let us be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Let us put our trust where it needs to be, the one and only true God who loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die in our place. Our God who is so mighty and powerful that He raised Jesus from the dead. We too can have that victory.
Praise God today and forever more!
Dear Heavenly Father, You are the mighty Creator of the universe and Your power is shown throughout all the earth. You hold the world together by the might of Your glorious arm. Nothing is too difficult for You for You alone are my mighty God and heavenly Father. Lord, please help me to rely on your mighty power and strength every day.
Praise and glory to You,