If we are feeling unproductive

‘Making Every Day Count’

 If you have been enjoying these daily ‘thoughts’, you might like to know that a book of them has just published, priced £9.99.  Please go to www.healingmission.org for details.

Also, there will be a Book Launch at CHM in Hammersmith, London, on Monday 2nd December from 6.30 – 8.00 pm, to which you are very welcome.  Please let us know if you would like to come.

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‘For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 2 Peter 1.8

Peter’s desire is that we be effective and productive in our knowledge of Jesus. He goes on to say that if we possess these qualities we will never stumble (verse 10).  However, what if we have gone wrong and stumbled? What if our spiritual lives do feel unproductive?

A good place to start is to go through Peter’s list: how secure is your faith and how good are you to others? Is the practice of your religion matched by an intimacy with Jesus? Are you calling upon him to bring restraint to your life and are you persevering, even when you can’t see results? Are you exhibiting kindness to others, looking out to meet their needs, and laying aside your own personal desires for the sake of others?

Of course, if these qualities are rigorously applied we are all bound to fail! But as you look through the list, is there perhaps one attribute that leaps out and stirs your conscience? If so, revisit it. Rejoice that Jesus has in him everything that is lacking in you; focus on his presence within you and ask him to pour that quality into your heart.

The power within

‘Making Every Day Count’

 If you have been enjoying these daily ‘thoughts’, you might like to know that a book of them has been published this week, priced £9.99.  Please go to www.healingmission.org for details.

Also, there will be a Book Launch at CHM in Hammersmith, London, on Monday 2nd December from 6.30 – 8.00 pm, to which you are very welcome.  Please let us know if you would like to come.

_______________________________________

‘…make every effort to add to your faith … self-control’ 2 Peter 1.5-6

Self-control is a concept that can be applied to so many things, such as breaking the control bad habits have upon us or checking our words before we say anything harsh. Just as New Year Resolutions seldom last for more than a couple of days, all too often we fail our attempts at self-control because we cannot control what is within. Interestingly, this is the message of the Bible; that laws – whether applied by others or by ourselves – have little power to bring change to what goes on within us. So why does Peter encourage us to add self-control if it doesn’t work?

The way this passage is laid out is rather like making a lasagne – it is about adding to what is already there! None of these qualities  – goodness, knowledge, self-control – is enough in itself, but rather they are to be seen in relation to each other. We have already noted that self-control in itself has a tendency to fail, but when added to the faith that we bear the very presence of God, and that we can have an intimacy with God, then it takes on a new meaning. Rather than us being able to control what is within, we realise that we have another power within us bringing change – the power of Christ.

Take a few minutes to practise Jesus’ presence within you, perhaps by gently speaking his name, catching his breathe within you as you breathe or simply by letting the truth of the words, ‘You are here’, sink in deeper.

When you are next consciously aware of the need for self control, come back to one of these and draw upon a different power within.

Letting Jesus shine through you

‘…make every effort to add to your faith goodness’ 2 Peter 1.5

We have already been reminded of God’s presence within us, and now Peter goes on to talk about how we can really let our faith make a difference to us. He tells us to add goodness to our faith. In this context, our faith is that wherever we go we have the presence of God within us, and his presence can change every situation we face.

Think through the day ahead of you. What situations will you face, who will you meet and which are going to be the particularly difficult times ahead of you? Peter’s encouragement is not to automatically head into the day, but to catch a vision of how you could live out the day ahead. He urges you to add goodness to your faith.

This word ‘goodness’ carries with it the sense of moral excellence. If you like, it is the very best that you could possibly be; perhaps it is how Jesus would be in your situation. This is what you are encouraged to capture as you look ahead to your day. Since you have his life and presence within you, it really can be like that, but you are more likely to live this way if you can first catch a vision of it for the day ahead.

Spend a few moments looking at some of the situations facing you. How would Jesus handle them? Take time to genuinely thank him that he is already within you and will remain within you, and now walk into your day and let his life shine through you.

Overcoming Temptation

‘My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight’ Proverbs 5.1

If there is one thing that unites us all it is this – we all face temptation. You might think you are the only person facing a particular temptation, but the Bible clearly states some very good and releasing news – there is nothing new about the particular temptations you face, they are common to us all (1 Corinthians 10.13).

This theme of avoiding a particular temptation features in the book of Proverbs, and in today’s passage the writer gives us two insights about overcoming temptation. First, he begins his advice with the words, ‘My son’. We may not know why he chose these words, and exactly whom he was addressing, but if we take the Bible as a love letter from Father God to his children, then these words take on a new significance. He is trying to share his insights and wisdom with us, his much loved children. We are not dismissed from our Father’s loving heart just because temptation strikes us. When we feel the pull of temptation, this beautiful phrase is a glorious invitation to us to turn to ‘Abba, Father’, and enjoy the wonder of relationship.

The second truth is that God has insight. His Holy Spirit lives within us and if we choose to seek him and listen to the voice within, he will whisper to us a way out of our temptation.

The absolute beauty of our situation is this; even if we get it wrong and fall, Jesus has opened the way for us to come back to the loving heart of the Father, by receiving the forgiveness his death has released for us.

Where is the area of greatest temptation for you at at this moment? Begin by rejoicing in the Father’s love for you and the knowledge that your temptation is not greater than his love. Then listen for the voice of the Spirit within you, guiding you to a different place. If you feel you have failed, then accept the forgiveness that is available for you.

Carrying his presence

“But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple that I have built!” – 2 Chronicles 6.18

This verse formed part of Solomon’s dedication of the temple that he had just built. No expense had been spared on this building project because of the enormity of its significance. It was to be the very house of the Lord. Yet even as he was praying over this finished building, he grasped that even the most magnificent of buildings could not, in truth, be a house for God, such is his vastness and glory.

The very thought of God living in a specific building is amazing. What would it have been like to stand in that place which was deemed to be the presence of God?

This adds renewed significance to Paul’s statement that we are temples of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are now the physical frames in which the Holy Spirit dwells. We bear his presence everywhere we go.

Are there events today about which you are anxious? If so, know that you do not face them alone, but rather as one who has the presence of God within. With his presence comes his wisdom, strength, patience and kindness. Before you face a tricky situation, think it through and acknowledge that when you are there you will not be alone but will be bearing his presence.

Finding the right clothes

‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ – Colossians 3:12

This verse speaks about some beautiful qualities, and it speaks about them as clothing. There is a lovely sense within this verse that we already have the clothing and are called to put it on.

We have this clothing within our grasp because we have the person of Jesus living within us; Jesus who so clearly demonstrates and exemplifies these qualities. If he is within us, then these qualities are within us too, and all we have to do is to take them and put them on.

To do this you need to recognise that you need them, in the same way that you naturally reach for a coat when it is cold. There will probably be moments today when you will sense you are without compassion or kindness or when your patience is wearing a bit thin. At these moments call upon Jesus, who is closer than the air you breathe, and ask him to give you what you so desperately need. Jesus is the personification of these qualities, and if he is in you, then you can receive them from him.

What God smells

“For we are to God the aroma of Christ…” – 2 Corinthians 2:15

Smell is a very evocative sense. It can take us right back to a memory of the past, or even alert us to danger (if we smell gas or fire) no matter whether or not we can see the risk. This verse says God smells us! What’s more, we smell beautiful to him because we give off the scent of Jesus.

You might have a few problems with this. Don’t you smell a bit rotten to God? Surely he can small the bad things you have done? What this verse says is that because of what Jesus did for you when he took your sins away, he has utterly removed the smell of those sins from you. The Bible says that God remembers your sins no more (Hebrews 8:12), so when he draws close and breathes the air around you – what he smells is the beautiful scent of Jesus.

As you draw close to God, it is stunning to think that he does not see your sins, but looks at you with wonder and joy as he catches the scent of Jesus.