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The PASSION Blog

The PASSION Blog is a place where I share some of the things I have been reflecting on in my Bible studies or morning devotions. As a Christian they revolve around faith, life and the Bible. I hope you enjoy them. The more recent ones are at the top of the page.

Romans 12 and being a living sacrifice (18/9/2014)

In Romans 12:1-21 NLT we see a section that talks about being a living sacrifice for God. If we break up these verses we see nine things that help understand what it is to be a living sacrifice.

1.    Renew your mind from worldly patterns to Kingdom patterns (v2)
2.    Realise you belong to others, we are all part of Christ’s body (v3-5)
3.    Use your God given gifts to bless others (v6-8)
4.    Really love others with genuine affection, don’t just pretend (9-10)
5.    Work hard and serve God enthusiastically (v11)
6.    When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them (v13)
7.    Live at harmony with each other, bless and pray for those who persecute you (v14-16)
8.    Don’t take revenge or pay back evil with evil, let God deal with it (v17-19)
9.    Don’t let evil conquer you, overcome evil with good (20-21)

Some of these things can be easy to do, while others can be hard. That is where the being a living sacrifice comes in. It is where the rubber hits the road as they say.

Why not take some time to meditate on these nine things today?


Ecclesiastes and life with God (16/9/2014)

Over the last week or so I have been reading the Book of Ecclesiastes for my morning devotions. It is an interesting book written by Solomon.

Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, he was wealthy beyond measure and he achieved many amazing things during his life.

In Ecclesiastes he writes about achievements, wealth, work, pleasure, wisdom, injustice, relationships and political power and describes them all as meaningless.

While the tone of Ecclesiastes can be taken as quite depressing, it really is a positive book. Solomon writes from the perspective of doing these worldly things as a means to themselves.

He writes as doing these things and achieving a lot without a relationship with God. He says that these things are meaningless, like chasing the wind, if they are not done with God in mind.

As I have reflected on Ecclesiastes I have had two important reminders. Firstly, it is important to have a strong relationship with God. And secondly, it is important to enjoy life as a gift from God.

I am really enjoying reading Ecclesiastes again. It is a book that is rooted in the reality that while life is often hard, but we can make sense of it if we are connected to God and see it as a gift from Him.
 

The Power of Prayer (7/9/2014)

James 5:13-18 NLT is titled, “The Power of Prayer”. Verse 13  reminds us to pray when it says, “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises”.

It reminds us to pray when things are going bad and to praise when things are going well. Whether good or bad is happening to us we should be connected to God.

The passage gives us two examples of how powerful prayer is. The first is healing for when we are sick. It tells us to call the Elders of the church to anoint a person with oil and to pray.

The second is when Elijah prayed for the rain to stop and the rain to start again three and a half years later. The text tells us that Elijah was as human as we are in verse 17. His prayers were powerful, so are ours.

I have experienced many amazing things as a result of a prayer of faith in God. When I trusted God’s ability to intervene or bring change, He has acted mightily.

Let us remember today the power of prayer. Verse 16b reminds us, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results”.


Listening and Doing (28/8/2014)

In James 1:19-27 NLT there is a section titled, “Listening and doing”. There is two very important ideas in this passage.

1. Being quick to listen

James 1:19 NLT says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry”.

Sometimes we have so much to say on a subject that we can be overcome with the desire to speak and be heard. At times it can be good and helpful, but at others we can overrun people and not hear what they think.

James warns us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. As someone once said, we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak.

It is important to take the time to listen to others so they feel valued. It also allows us to hear fully and respond correctly when we do.

2. Don’t just listen to the Word

James 1:22 NLT reminds us, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves”.

A few verses later James reminds us not just to listen, but to do something. This time he is talking about God’s Words in the Bible. We need to put it into practice, to live it out.

I love the analogy of looking in a mirror and then walking away forgetting what we see. It brings it home to me that I need to have action to my memory verses and they need to be lived out.

I don’t want to just fool myself thinking I am doing ok because I have a 123 verses memorised. I would rather know three and put them into practice to the best of my ability.

So today let us listen to people and hear what they are saying. And let us also listen to God’s Word and then put it into practice.


Paul's life for Christ (22/8/2014)

Today’s reading comes from Philippians 1:20-26 NLT. It is titled, “Paul’s life for Christ”.

Verses 21-24 explains Paul’s heart. They gives us a glimpse of his priorities….

“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live”.

For Paul, living was all about Christ. He was all consumed with Christ. He desired earnestly to go and be with Christ, but knew staying here would mean he could continue His work in the world.

Paul knew he could help others come to know Christ, he could plant churches, and he could strengthen the churches he had planted. In short his mission was to know Christ and make Him known.

Over the years I have known people like this. They have been completely sold out for God’s Kingdom. Their life was hidden in Christ and His will was all they wanted. Some are alive still serving, while some have gone to be with their Lord.

I am so inspired by these three verses and the sold out Kingdom people I have met over the years. It is something that I aspire to myself. I hope and pray that I can wholeheartedly say, “To live is Christ, to die is gain”.

Prayer

Dear God, thank You for Paul’s words in this passage. Thank You for his commitment to Christ and his commitment to making Him known. I pray today that I will have that same commitment to Christ and to His mission in this world. I pray my life will be all about Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Paul commends Timothy (15/8/2014)

Today’s reading is from Philippians 2:19-24 NLT. It is titled, “Paul commends Timothy”.

In this passage the Apostle Paul speaks highly of Timothy to the Philippians. In verse 12 we see he Paul wants to send Timothy to them to see how they are going.

Bible scholars tell us that Timothy had already been to Philppi. Timothy accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey when the church was planted. So some would have known him, but not all.

In his recommendation Paul says three encouraging things about Timothy…

1. That he really care for the Philippians. In verse 20 he says, “I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare”.

2. That he cares for Christ’s work. Verse 21 says, “All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ”.

3. That he served Paul well. Verse 22 says, “But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News”.

This is a great recommendation! One that most of us would be proud of. In it we see that Timothy really cares for the Philippians, he cares for Christ’s work and he serves Paul and the Gospel like a son serving his father.

When I read this passage I can see why Paul love his “spiritual” son in the faith so much. He was a great young man with lots of potential and he really cared about what mattered to God.


Living in the light (10/8/2014)

In 1 John 1:5-10 NLT there is a section titled “Living in the light”. Today I read from the NLT and several verses jumped out at me.

The first was verse 6 – So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.

At the time of writing false teachers had infiltrated the church and John was partly writing to address that.

The various false teachers taught that the physical body was evil and they took one of two approaches.

1. Live in strict discipline to deny the body and hence defeat evil, or

2. Give in to it and live a life of lust. They reasoned that since the body was evil you can give in to it. This approach was popular to many.

The problem was that we can’t live in the light if we are walking in darkness at the same time. If we do we are not walking with God and practicing the truth.

John goes on to share a truth that helps us to live in the light – confession. Verse 9 tells us that if we confess our sin God is faithful and will forgive and purify us.

I long to live right before God and walk in the truth. But there are times when I fail in word, thought or deed. Rather than beat myself up, I simple go to God, confess and ask forgiveness.

Sometimes I feel a huge flood of relief in my soul knowing I am forgiven. Other times I don’t really feel anything but I know from His Word that I am forgiven and purified.

When I do this I know I am free and I can walk in the light with God. I know my sin is covered by Jesus’ blood and I am in fellowship with Him.

Here are some questions for personal reflection and application:

What are some of the ways you used to walk in darkness and you no longer do? (This to show God’s work in your life)

What are some of the habits and patterns you fall into now that may need confessing to God? (This is to keep you walking in the light)


Seen and Heard (3/8/2014)

Reading: 1 John 1:1-4 NLT

Over the last few weeks I have been reading over 1 John. It is one of those times where I feel God speaking to me as I read.

He is drawing things to my attention that I am meditating on and trying to apply to my life. I have finished the books several times only to go back to the beginning again.

One thing I really noticed at the start of 1 John is the phrase “seen and heard”. John uses it several times in the start of chapter one. He is saying we have seen and heard Jesus ourselves and touched Him in the flesh.

He wants us to know he is an eye witness and he knows who Jesus is. He knows He is the Christ, the Messiah, and the Son of God. He knows He is eternal and there from the beginning.

John also wanted his readers to know these things so they would have fellowship together and that their joy may be complete. We see this in verses 3 & 4…

“We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy”.

Here are some questions for reflection and application:

What have you seen and heard about Christ in the pages of the Bible that you could tell others about?

What things could you share that would help others to find fellowship with the Father and the Son?


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