God has given us his Word in Scripture to feed our hearts and minds. As we allow the Bible to shape us we are changed by God’s promises of grace and by the presentation of his amazing character.
Proverbs is a special and unique part of the Bible. Thirty one chapters are good for daily reading. Chapter 1-9 give a big picture of the way of wisdom. Wisdom is based on the foundation of fear and reverence for God. Chapters 10-31 are much more creative and complex in layout and arrangement.
The many Proverbs are there for extended reflection and consideration. A verse that previously we took for granted may strike us with new conviction or insight. It can help to keep a journal of thoughts and responses as you read God’s Word. I have found it helpful to underline and to write directly into the margins of the Bible my responses.
Remember, in Christ we are adopted as God’s children for ever. God’s Word is there to bless and nurture us as we grow up in God’s forgiven family. Let us not ignore the food God gives!
As the Federal Election is fast approaching, it is worth considering how Christians should vote. In my opinion, no one political party or group has a monopoly on Christian support. Thus we have to carefully weigh up the different political parties, their leaders and their local candidates that are all vying for our vote. But how should we do this?
The Book of Proverbs (as always) has some wise advice, and Proverbs chapter 11 in particular helpfully describes what kind of qualities we should look for in our public leaders. Above all else, we should look for signs of integrity and character. As Proverbs 11:11 says; ‘Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed’. Thus if we care about the welfare of our nation and our city, we should vote for people of integrity.
How do you identify people of integrity? You carefully and prayerfully watch how they act in day to day life. Do they possess decency and humility in the way they conduct themselves? (‘When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom’ Pr 11:2). Are they carful and gracious in their speech towards others, including their opponents? (Whoever derides their neighbour has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue’ Pr: 11:12). Do they take the advice of others in setting policy? (‘For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers’ Pr 11:14).
Of course nobody is perfect, but these are the qualities wise people will look for in choosing whom to send to Parliament as their representatives. So over the next few weeks, please pray for all those standing for Federal Parliament, and consider their character. Because, to quote a (non-biblical) contemporary proverb; ‘The government we vote for, is the government we get!’.
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday in the church calendar, when we especially honour God as Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. However, it is probably fair to say that we often overlook the significance and practical value that the doctrine of the Trinity holds for us. The Trinity can sometimes seem a bit ‘pie in the sky’!
But our Christian understanding that God is one in Essence yet three in Persons is a most important and comforting doctrine. Crucially, that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit it is a key part of the Christian gospel! Because only a Trinitarian God is capable of restoring fallen human beings back into an eternal relationship with himself.
As US theologian Kevin Vahoozer puts it: The “integrity of the gospel is fatally compromised if either the Son or the Spirit is not fully God. If the Son were not God, he could neither reveal the Father nor atone for our sin. If the Spirit were not God, he could unite us neither to the Father and Son nor one another. The gospel, then, requires a triune God.” Or in the words of Australian theologian Michael Bird: “The salvation that the gospel promises portrays the Father as choosing, Christ as redeeming, and the Spirit as renewing – all in a unified work by distinct persons in a single Godhead”.
Therefore, let us celebrate that our God is Trinity, and give thanks that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work together in perfect unity to bring salvation to all who have faith in Jesus Christ!
The New Testament speaks of the gift of the Holy Spirit as being the birthright of every born again Christian believer. The Apostle Paul writes, ‘And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ’ (Romans 8:9).
The Holy Spirit works to bring us to Christ, to regenerate us in Christ, to sanctify us in Christ-likeness. The work of the Holy Spirit cannot be separated from the work of the ascended Lord Jesus, who first poured out the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
In the worldview of the New Testament, something is ‘spiritual’ if it pertains to the Holy Spirit. This means that true spirituality is only found in the Spirit of Christ working to show us Christ and helping us to experience the love of Christ. Beware those talking up spirituality without Christ!
It is popular to label any experience that is strange or solemn a ‘spiritual experience’. However true spiritual experience is found in the Spirit of Christ – God’s gift of pointing us to Christ, helping us to trust in Christ and fix our eyes on Christ as Lord. Where Christ is honoured, there the Spirit is working, and there we have true spiritual reality.
Today we thank God for our mothers and seek God’s blessing on the mothers in our church community. We are blessed if we have had godly mothers who presented Christ to us. Today is a great day to honour before God the unspoken and untold service of our mothers.
Godly mothers have an incredible ministry and impact. Moreover the Christian community is to be a place where spiritual mothers can bless, teach, serve and protect a new generation of disciples.
There are many ways in which today can be painful or difficult. Today we glorify God for those women who have walked in a godly reverence and fear of his name. Sentimental traditions come and go, but disciplined love for God and his church builds a legacy.