Sunday, 26 June 2011

More Precious than Gold

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Its an evocative statement when we say that something is more precious than Gold. Gold carries with it a sense of value, of richness, of worth, so much so that many seek for Gold or its modern day equivalents as they try to find security and happiness in life.

Its all too easy to miss what is before us in life, my recent holiday with my family in Dorset (England) reminded me that happiness and contentment have a lot more to do with love and family than success or wealth, in whatever forms they exist. While being family can be difficult as we vie for position, sometimes looking to one-up each other with our achievements, it can be an amazing place where we can share our joys and sorrows, where we can encourage each other and be who we were meant to be.

To me spending a week with my wife, three grown up children their partners and girlfriend and our granddaughter was worth more than any gold or success that life has to offer. Love in that sense is intoxicating and heady, it revives and refreshes as I take in all that they are, their conversations, the fact that I am valuable to them and they are valuable to me, we share something that gold cannot buy.

The psalms remind us that God's commands are "more precious than gold", Peter reminds us that our faith is more precious than gold to God. Those who are truly in fellowship in faith with Christ and with each other share the love of Christ and of each other and this is something more precious than any gold or silver or success of worldly value. Treasure it and hold it precious.

Friday, 17 June 2011

It isnt right

I was reading an Old Testament book today - Habakkuk, before you switch off cos its OT just hang in there ...

Habakkuk was around at the time just before Judah was overrun by the Babylonians, he has seen what had happened to other countries and therefore what was coming for Judah. But something just did not fit for him, it wasn't right, that God was not defending his people, he was, to some extend blinded by the expectation that as God's chosen people, they would not fall foul of some marauding empire building nation. He, like most of Judah had not understood God's warnings of what would happen if they did not get right with him again and put down false gods and perverse ways.

This prophet complains not once but twice to God about what he see's - why is God not with his people? Why is God going to let a less righteous people overcome God's people?

Cholera compound - Congo
And what of us today? I see complaint after complaint in the news about the economy, about the health service situation (in the UK), about pensions - no one wants to loose out no matter who has to pay; yet in spite of our apparent troubles, we ignore the many in the world who have no money for food, no basic health care ( I saw children dying of malaria in the Congo a few years back, which should be preventable!) - exactly the kinds of things God says that his people were not doing.  

It isnt right  that we show so little concern for where our food comes from, how our pension funds increase in size (at whose cost?) and complain about our medical care while so many die through lack of basic medicine, clean water and food. Judah was concerned only about themselves and not about those struggling, with nothing - Justice and mercy were low on the agenda and I think, are in the western world today.

It is not until Habakkuk finally hears rather than just listens to God , that he understands the problem and he is able to put God back into the right place in his heart, God is sovereign and not Habakkuk or Judah or for that matter Babylon. When God is sovereign in our hearts we will see things more as he does and begin to feel as he does for the widow, the orphan, the homeless, those without medical care ...

When we start to care about others, our neighbours in this world, more than about our lifestyle, our spending power then we might more fully be called the people of God.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Simple Beginings

I am sure we have all heard of or read books on how to ... how to be better at something, how to be more confident. how to attract or get on, the list is endless of how to books.

Possibly one of the hardest things to achieve in any walk of life is consistency, many of us get bored or fed up quite fast, expecting results too rapidly is a human condition. Relationship with God takes time, time for us to learn to trust him, time for us to learn to hear him, time for us to learn to be in his presence, over praise and worship and talk with him.

No amount of how to books work on this front, they may give us some good and useful ideas but what is needed is discipline, time and a faith in the God who is among his people. What is needed is a heart in us that wants to find its place with God, in relationship, conversing with him regularly.

The simplest of beginnings can produce the most spectacular results - in prayer in bible reading, in listening, prayer and fasting, in worship. When we look to the giants of faith, their example can be too daunting and so put us off. Wesley and his multiple hours of prayer a day, Martin Luther spent 2 - 3 hours at the start of the day. But if we could ask them I suspect it started with a few minutes regularly that built in time as their experience of this time and its impact built faith in them and a desire to spend more time in this way.

If you struggle with daily spending time with God in these ways, try a few minutes at a time, see what a difference it will make daily in your life and in your relationship with God.

Oh and if you like how to books, try Richard Fosters "A Celebration of Discipline" or one that I am currently reading on reading the bible "Life With God" - but without discipline they can't produce results in your spiritual life.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Unexpected bonuses

One time having just finished working on a particular project in my industrial career, I had a surprise, my boss told me that the company were giving me a "bonus". An unheard of thing in that company, but there it was an unexpected payment for the hard work that had been put in.

Often we work hard and no matter how much effort we put in or how great our achievement we get the same salary cheque at the end of the month. I have known people get quite disgruntled that their efforts were not better rewarded. The fact is though, when we take on a job, we accept the terms and conditions which usually include a clause that extra hours will need to be put in as required to get the job done.

My life in Christ isn't like that, in accepting him as Lord and saviour, a package deal was credited to me without me doing anything. Christ had paid the price of the things I get wrong, given me an "excited expectation" of eternity with him, become a friend that I can trust and given me a lifelong role in his kingdom - to share that truth. A truly unexpected bonus with a value far in excess of anything I could ever earn for myself.

My hope is that one day I will see him face to face and offer him all the stuff that I did in life that was truly for him with no expectation of payment, reward or praise - it's kind of reverse about in that I already have more than I could earn from Christ, there is no need for me to do anything and yet my heart just wants to praise him and offer him the fruits of a life, which I hope is well lived in him.

Theres a Casting Crowns video on youtube that I think just sums this all up, try listening for a few minutes, it might just make your day.

                             Living he loved me,
                             Dying he saved me,
                             Buried he carried my sins far away ....