Christianity

Speaking to a worldwide convention of demons, Satan told his followers, “As long as Christians remain close to God we shall have no power over them, so this is what I want you to do:

1) Keep them busy with the nonessentials of life, and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds.

2) Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow as much as they can.

3) Persuade them to work long hard hours so they can afford their lifestyles.

4) Make sure that couples are too exhausted to be intimate with each other so that they will be tempted to find intimacy elsewhere.

5) And keep them from spending time with their children so that when family life breaks down their home will offer no refuge from the pressures of work.

6) Over stimulate their minds: Entice them to play music whenever they drive, and to keep their TV, DVD, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their homes so they can’t hear God speaking to them.

7) Fill their coffee table with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogues, and every kind of newsletter and promotions, offering free products, false hopes and get-rich-quick-schemes.

8) Don’t let them go out amongst nature to reflect on God’s wonders. Send them instead to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts, and movies.

9) When they meet for spiritual fellowship tempt them to get so involved in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled minds.

10) Involve them with so many good causes they have no time for God. And keep them so busy working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family, that they will never experience God’s peace or his power working through them

Has the devil been successful at his scheme? You must judge for yourself. (Anon)

Do you sometimes think Christianity is boring? Do you think being a Christian isn’t exciting? Check out these headlines: Man in desert discovers burning bush that can’t be extinguished. Sea opens and thousands walk through on dry land. Giant who threatened a nation killed by teen with slingshot. Jewish girl saves her people from destruction. Three young rebels survive blazing furnace. Man brought back from the dead after four days. City walls mysteriously fall. Preacher swallowed by giant fish lives to tell the tale. Prophet caught up to heaven in a fiery chariot. – Christianity isn’t boring, it’s an adventure. – Adventure means ‘exciting and dangerous undertakings’. When you embark on the spiritual adventure with God you can expect Him to test your faith in ways you never imagined. The book of Hebrews talks about those ‘who through faith conquered kingdoms… shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the Flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength…’ (Hebrews 11:33-34). John Eldredge says: ‘Adventure, with all its requisite danger and wilderness, is a deeply spiritual longing written into the soul of man… Moses doesn’t encounter God at the shopping centre. He finds him in the deserts of Sinai… Deep in a man’s heart are fundamental questions that cannot be answered at the kitchen table… it’s fear that keeps [us] at home where things are neat and orderly and under [our] control.’ When God wants to do something wonderful through you, He has to get you from where you are to where He wants you to be. How about it: are you ready to embark on a spiritual adventure with God?

Source: The UCB Word For Today, 21/12/2014

Bishop J.C. Ryle voiced it like this: God says, “Abide in me. Cling to me. Stick fast to me. Live the life of close and intimate communion with me. Get nearer and nearer to me. Roll every burden on me. Cast your whole weight on me. Never let go of your hold on me for a moment.”

More than one hundred years ago, General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, said, “The chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.” That’s as true today of the twenty-first century as it was in the twentieth. Religion without the Holy Spirit is a lifeless, listless religion. It’s a religion without power. It’s legalism without legs. And frankly it’s downright boring. If you go after the Holy Spirit, you’ll discover that the Holy Spirit is coming after you. All you have to do is open the door to your heart and He will open the door to opportunity.

Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson, IF, 2015, Grand Rapids: Michigan, Baker Books, p.155

We may not know what the future holds but we know who holds the future.

A clean slate, a fresh start and a bright hope:

In a sentence the offer of Christianity is this: Forgiveness for all that is past (a clean slate), new life here for today (a fresh start), and a wonderful bright hope for the future.

“The Gospel is not something we come to church to hear; it is something we go from church to tell.”

Vance Havner

Nicky Gumbel writes: ‘Prince Charles has many tiles. He is the Heir Apparent to the Crown, his Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Knight of the Garter, Colonel in Chief of the Royal Regiment of Wales, Duke of Rothesay, Knight of the Thistle, Read Admiral, Great Master of the Order of Bath, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Great Steward of Scotland. We would address him as ‘Your Royal Highness’, but I suspect to William and Harry he is known as ‘Dad’. When we become children of God, we have an intimacy with our heavenly King.

Source: The Official Website of The British Monarchy: ‘Style and titles’, https://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/titles-and-heraldry quoted by Nicky Gumbel, Alpha Questions of Life, 2007 edition, Eastbourne: Kingsway Communications, p.130-131

When I say, “I’m a Christian,”
I’m not shouting, “I am saved,”
I’m whispering, “I am lost!”
That’s why I chose His way.

When I say, “I’m a Christian,”
I don’t speak of it with pride.
I’m confessing that I stumble
And I need Him to be my guide.

When I say, “I’m a Christian,”
I’m not trying to be strong.
I’m professing that I am weak
And pray His strength to carry on.

When I say, “I’m a Christian,”
I’m not bragging of success.
I’m admitting that I have failed
But Christ has paid the debt.

When I say, “I’m a Christian,”
I’m not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are only too visible
But Christ believes I’m worth it.

When I say, “I’m a Christian,”
I still feel the sting of pain,
And I have my share of heartaches,
Which is why I share His name.

When I say, “I’m a Christian,”
I do not wish to judge.
For I have no authority.
I only know that I am loved. (Anon)

Try to imagine what life on the ark must have been like for Noah. He probably didn’t get much sleep. He was feeding, cleaning and caring for thousands of animals around the clock. And it must have smelled to high heaven. Did you know that African elephants produce 40 kg of waste per day? It was smelly and messy. And that’s a pretty accurate picture of what obedience sometimes looks like. It’s hard work, and it gets harder. The blessings of God can complicate your life. But unlike sin, they bring a level of joy and fulfilment you have never known (see Proverbs 10:22). No matter what vision God has given you, it will take longer and be harder than you ever imagined. Noah offers a little reality check, doesn’t he? If a decade sounds like a long time to patiently pursue a God-ordained passion, try more than ten!

It’s amazing what God can do if you just keep hammering away year after year! (…) Be a planner and a plodder. Planners see into the future and cast a vision; plodders put one foot in front of the other and keep going one day at a time. Success is not just about getting where God wants you to go, it’s about who you become in the process.

Source: The UCB Word For Today, 16/12/2017 adapted from Mark Batterson, All In

“You do not have to go to church to be a Christian. You do not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship.”

R. Kent Hughes

“What makes life worthwhile is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance; and this the Christian has, in a way that no other person has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?”

J. I .Packer, author and theologian

Let me ask you this: If it were against the law to be a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? Would your serving or your financial giving be sufficient enough to convince a jury, beyond all reasonable doubt, that you are a committed Christian? – How can you tell if someone is a Christian? Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognise them” (Matthew 7:16). Question is, then: how fruity are you?

Obedience: ‘Noah did everything just as God commanded him’ (Genesis 6:22 NIV). Noah’s ark measured 300 cubits in length, 50 cubits in width and 30 cubits in height. A cubit is the equivalent of 44.4 cm. That means the ark was the length of one and a half football fields. The internal volume of the ark was 43,000 cubic metres – the equivalent of around 350 buses. If the average animal was the size of a sheep, it had capacity for 125,000 animals. To put that into perspective, there are 21,600 animals from 700 different species at London Zoo. That means you could fit nearly 6 London Zoos on board Noah’s ark. And since it was the first boat ever built, it’s not like it came with an instruction manual. It was back-breaking work that required blood, sweat and tears. And it took an incredible amount of faith to build the ark. Who builds a boat in the desert? Who hammers away for over 100 years on something they might not even need? Who banks their entire future on something that has never happened before? According to Jewish tradition, Noah didn’t just start building the ark. He planted trees first. After they were fully grown, he cut down the trees, sawed them into planks and built the boat. And here’s an interesting piece of information: not until the late nineteenth century did a ship that size get constructed again. Yet that design ratio is still considered the golden mean for stability during storms at sea. Noah’s act of obedience literally changed the world – and obedience will change your world too. So do what God has told you to do.

Mark Batterson (adapted)

Source: adapted from Mark Batterson, All In, p.94

It is no secret that many, many people are completely unaware of the relevance of Jesus. Mostly this is because they have just never taken the time to really explore Christianity and discover who Jesus is and what he came to do. Strange really, especially when you consider that the whole world records time as either before or after his death! Even our very own date of birth is a perpetual reminder of Jesus life and death. How much more relevant does a person have to be?

Phillips Brooks, an English bishop who lived over a hundred year ago, wrote this about Jesus:

“He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn’t go to college. He never visited a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

[Twenty] centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind’s progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not effected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life.”

People often say, just as there are lots of different paths to the top of a mountain, so there are many different religions and ways to God. Our God, however, says something very different: God says, yes there may be different mountains but only one of them leads to life with Him. Truth is, the only way to know how to get to the top of the mountain is to have been there! Jesus is not a prophet come to Earth to find God. He is God come to find us.

“If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, but He chose your heart. And what about the Christmas gift He sent you at Bethlehem? Not to mention that Friday at Calvary. Face it, He’s crazy about you!”

Max Lucado

Saints don’t really walk around with a ‘Ready Brek Glow’ a ‘Colgate-smile’ and with a halo hanging above their heads… ping! But actually, that’s not a bad description or caricature because saints are people, followers of Christ, who radiate Jesus, who reflect His love and His light in this dark world, and (as Philippians 2:15 puts it) ‘who shine like stars in the universe’. I am reminded of the young lad was asked by his Sunday school teacher to describe what a ‘saint’ was. The boy couldn’t answer immediately and so he pondered the question for a moment and as he did so he thought of all the saints portrayed on the stained-glass windows in the church. “I know” the boy chirped up, “a saint is someone who the light shines through them.” That’s a wonderful picture of a saint.

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, Empowered Personal Evangelism, Weybridge: New Wine Press (2014), p.141-142

’Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house,
not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care,
in the hopes that Jesus would not come there.
The children were dressing to crawl into bed,
not once ever kneeling or bowing a head;
And mom in her rocker with baby on her lap,
was watching the late show while I took a nap;
When out of the East there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter;
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
threw open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The light of His face made me cover my head,
it was Jesus returning, just like He said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw him, in spite of myself.
In the book of life, which He held in His hand,
was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name,
when He said, “It’s not here!” my head hung in shame.
The people whose names had been written in love,
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound,
while all the rest He left standing around.
I fell to my knees, but it was too late:
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight.
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.
In the words of this poem the meaning is clear,
the coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There’s only one life and when the last name is called,
we’ll find that the Bible was true after all.

Anon.

With Jesus, it costs a lot to follow him, but it costs even more to reject him!

A Christian is someone who enjoys a personal relationship with the risen Christ, a person who knows God personally. Christianity, that is, true Christianity, is not about rules, robes, rituals or reverends. True Christianity is not about religion, it’s about a relationship; it’s not about intellectual head knowledge, it’s about heart knowledge; it’s not about religious rule keeping or doing things a certain way, it’s about our love for Christ expressed in our willing obedience to follow Him.

R. Ian Seymour

‘You and I can live in a way, today, that causes the Creator of everything, the Sustainer of the cosmos, to say: ‘Look at that – I’m really pleased. Oh, the way he has just obeyed me… the way she has just resisted that sin – gives me such pleasure.’ What a wonderful thought! What a supreme motivation to obey God! We do not obey to merit God’s love or earn his approval or become his children – he already loves and approves of us as his children, in Christ. We obey to bring pleasure to our heavenly Father.’

Explore

Explore Bible notes 19/8/2015

“… we must not select a few favourite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”

A. W. Tozer

To get the most out of a Bible Study ask these questions of yourself:

  1. Is there an example here for me to follow?
  2. Is there a sin for me to avoid?
  3. Is there a command for me to obey?
  4. Is there a promise for me to claim?
  5. What does this particular passage teach about God or about Jesus Christ?
  6. Is there a difficulty here for me to explore?
  7. Is there something in this passage that I should pray about today?

Source: Paul Little, How to Give Away Your Faith, 1988, Downers Grove Illinois, IVP, p.183-185

It has been well said that the entrance fee to the Christian life is free (because Christ paid for it), but the annual subscriptions costs us everything we have.

Christianity is the largest movement of all time. It is the only movement that never loses a member through death!

I will surely bless you… because you have obeyed me.

Genesis 22:17a, 18b

Is it possible to sum up the Christian faith in a single word? If it is, that word might be ‘forgiveness’.

Stephen Cottrell

Stephen Cottrell (Source: Pilgrim: Turning To Christ, 2013, Church House Publishing, p.48

Martin Lloyd-Jones used to say, ‘if someone is not surprised that they are a Christian, then he would question whether or not they were one.’

“He never wrote a book, yet the book that tells His story, the Bible, has outsold every other book in history. He never wrote a song, but there have been more songs written about Jesus than about anyone else. He never travelled more than a few miles from home, yet there are few places you can go where His name is not known.”

Tony Evans

Source: Tony Evans, Time To Get Serious, 1995, Wheaton Illinois: Crossway Books, p.32

C.S. Lewis said: ‘Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.’

Being a Christian does not mean we become perfect – at least not straight away – it means we are being sanctified, we are being prepared and made ready for perfection. A Christian is a weird kind of hybrid: a cross between sinner and saint.

Who are the saints? Are they a select group of Christians who lived especially godly lives – like nuns or monks in a monastery? No. The word saint comes from the Greek word “hagios” which means “consecrated to God, sacred or holy ones, those who are set apart”; in other words… all believers who are in Christ Jesus. Saints are not just a few special people: Saints are Christians, the body of Christ, the church, us. If you are trusting in Jesus then you are a saint – not like Simon Templar (the character played by Roger Moore in the 60’s and Val Kilmer in the 90’s), but a saint like St Paul, or St Timothy, or St Mary.

“Do not come to him because you are fit, but because you are unfit to come. Your unfitness is your fitness. Your qualification is your lack of qualification.”

Charles Spurgeon

Wise men still seek Jesus, wise women too.

The story is told about a man who inherited a family heirloom, an old copy of The New Testament. The book had sentimental value and was in reasonable condition, but the cover was worn and tatty so the man arranged to have it rebound in leather with gold-leaf writing. The bookbinder did a wonderful job except there wasn’t enough space on the cover to emboss the words ‘The New Testament’. Instead the bookbinder abbreviated the title and inscribed, in large gold letters, the initials T.N.T. At first glance the man was a little disappointed but then he realised that T.N.T. was not a bad way of describing The New Testament (Dynamite)!

A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to a person who isn’t!

Jesus is the Truth, the Bible is the truth about the Truth, and commentaries are the truth about the truth about the Truth.

The world: in it to win it.

God is perfect. Take nothing (O) away from ‘GOOD’ and you have ‘GOD’. Add nothing (O) to ‘GOD’ and you have ‘GOOD’.

Christians are God’s upside-down people. They are to live the other way up from everyone else, as they go for God’s treasure, not the world’s wealth.

“A Christian is mortal, yet immortal.”

Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia

Prayer, Bible study, Christian fellowship, our relationship with God – or, for that matter, our marriage, our relationship with our children, exercise, diet, whatever… it is so very dangerous to let yourself slip. Why? Well, simply because it doesn’t feel dangerous, at least, not at the time, and that’s the problem! It’s like a boat being moored loosely to its anchor; before you know it the outgoing current has swept it so far out to sea that you can’t retrieve it, and what you once had is then lost forever. So, be on your guard, and don’t give in to complacency or lack-lustre effort. Be disciplined, anchor your boat firmly and maintain it regularly; make that daily!

R. Ian Seymour.

Most people’s opinion of a good sermon is one that goes right over their heads and hits their neighbour right between the eyes!

The Christian name for God is Father; Dad.

“The holiness of vocation is as close to the fabric of Christianity as dye is to the cloth.”

Patrick Morley

Patrick Morley, The Man In The Mirror, 1997, USA Zondervan, p.99

History is HIS STORY

“The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance.”

Oswald Chambers

Remember the promise of Jesus: “I am with you always.”

Matthew 28:20

We are on the winning side and cannot lose. “Lo, I am with you” makes ultimate defeat impossible.

A.W. Tozer

The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

1 John 4:4