Tag Archives: God’s word

That’s The Way To Do It

We all do things for different motives.  Often we are trying to help, sharing knowledge or experience, or passing on advice; it is possible that sometimes we are guilty of manipulation or even gentle coercion, maybe (dare I say it) even nagging, trying to bring someone else round to our point of view.

Perhaps sometimes it seems that the end justifies the means, but is that necessarily the case?  Is there a better way?  A right way?

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 (CEV)

Paul’s Work in Thessalonica

My friends, you know that our time with you wasn’t wasted. As you remember, we had been mistreated and insulted at Philippi. But God gave us the courage to tell you the good news about him, even though many people caused us trouble. We didn’t have any hidden motives when we won you over, and we didn’t try to fool or trick anyone. God was pleased to trust us with his message. We didn’t speak to please people, but to please God who knows our motives.

You also know that we didn’t try to flatter anyone. God himself knows that what we did wasn’t a cover-up for greed.We were not trying to get you or anyone else to praise us.But as apostles, we could have demanded help from you. After all, Christ is the one who sent us. We chose to be like children or like a mother nursing her baby. We cared so much for you, and you became so dear to us, that we were willing to give our lives for you when we gave you God’s message.

Paul is keen to impress upon the Thessalonians that he did things the right way and with the right motives.  He brought the gospel to them straight.  With no gimmicks, no tricks, no outlandish claims.  He didn’t dress the message up to be what they wanted to hear, and he wasn’t doing it for his own glory.  He just brought what God had asked him to say.

Are we so trustworthy with God’s message?  Can I be trusted to bring it straight?  Without additions, fuss, wild claims or any compulsion to ‘look at me and what I’m doing’.  Do I let God’s message speak for itself without feeling I have to make it something more?

Because God’s word stands – as is.  It is powerful and life-changing all by itself.  Can God trust me to share it?

Lord,
I come as I am,
just as I am,
nothing fancy,
no bold claims,
just wanting to get things right
to do them your way.

Lord,
may I go with your word,
just as it is,
no gimmicks,
no tricks,
no pointing at me.
May your word
stand in its power
and change lives
through you.

Lord Thy Word Abideth

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Back Home

You know what its like, the place you grew up.  The people who saw all the mistakes you made, heard the stupid things you said, the bold claims you made…

I did a fair bit of that in my time.  I wonder how those people would view me now?

One of the potentially scary things about Facebook and the like, is that people can catch up with you (I suppose you may be reading this having known me as that brash teenager who lived in a world where issues were so easily either black or white… If so, sorry)  The internet makes it no longer so easy to leave our past behind, however far we have travelled.

By William Hole [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So Jesus has been working in Galilee, doing some good stuff, and everyone is very pleased with him.  Then he goes “back home” to Nazareth, and they’re not quite so pleased to see him.  As hinted at last week, they very quickly turn against him.

Luke 4:21-30

21 Then Jesus said to them, “What you have just heard me read has come true today.”

22 All the people started talking about Jesus and were amazed at the wonderful things he said. They kept on asking, “Isn’t he Joseph’s son?”

23 Jesus answered:

You will certainly want to tell me this saying, “Doctor, first make yourself well.” You will tell me to do the same things here in my own hometown that you heard I did in Capernaum. 24 But you can be sure that no prophets are liked by the people of their own hometown.

25 Once during the time of Elijah there was no rain for three and a half years, and people everywhere were starving. There were many widows in Israel, 26 but Elijah was sent only to a widow in the town of Zarephath near the city of Sidon. 27 During the time of the prophet Elisha, many men in Israel had leprosy. But no one was healed, except Naaman who lived in Syria.

28 When the people in the meeting place heard Jesus say this, they became so angry 29 that they got up and threw him out of town. They dragged him to the edge of the cliff on which the town was built, because they wanted to throw him down from there. 30 But Jesus slipped through the crowd and got away.

Jesus has come to tell them what he’s all about – what God is all about, and all they can think about is who he is.  “We know you”, “We remember you growing up round here”, “You’re Joseph’s son”.  They couldn’t see his message because they were so tied up with who they thought he was.  They got so angry, they threw him out and dragged him away.  That is quite a response.

I wonder why they reacted to Jesus that way?  Did they think he had ideas above his station?  Did they think he was lying?  Or mocking them?  Could they just not see beyond the person they thought he was and accept he had something to share with them?

How would we react in that situation?  How many times do we miss what God is trying to show us because we cannot see past what we think of the person who is telling us – our pre-conceptions, misunderstandings and biases?

I wonder…

Last Sundays Songs of Praise had an interview with a Christian Goth, who has had some interesting responses by people.  A Goth and a Christian – “you can’t do that!”

Lord,

may my ability to hear your word

not be hampered

by my inability to hear who is saying it.

May I lay aside

my preconceptions,

my rememberings,

what I think I know,

and be open to hear your voice

even in places where I don’t expect to,

and from people I don’t expect to.

Lord,

please,

may I never drive out

those who bring your word

A Good Soak

Before we go away, my seedlings have been put in a large bowl full of water.  They will need watering and this way they can soak it up from their roots.  They will not, I hope, go dry and die on me.

The Christian life is a constant challenge to keep ourselves nourished – and to find the right way to live.  The way that both pleases God and brings honour to him, that others can see his ways lived out in us.  This effects both big lifestyle choices and little ones, it all adds up to being one of God’s people, “the righteous”.

Psalm 1

So what does the Psalmist tell us?  Well continuing the analogy of the tree, the vine bearing fruit, it is the person who is like a tree planted by water, who will yield fruit, not withered leaves.  The law, God’s word, is not there as a list of instructions to be read, but something to feed us, for us to soak ourselves in, to delight in God’s word.

As human beings, living and growing we have to eat.  Eating is a function, but we also enjoy it, we take in the nutrients we need in a way that is enjoyable as well.

We take delight in feeding our bodies, so why not our souls as well?  Do you enjoy feeding on God’s word?  Do you soak your roots in it, so you are nourished and refreshed for the life you live?  If you are responsible for teaching God’s word to others, do you put it across as something life-giving and life-enhancing, rather than dry and stuffy?

The other piece of advice we are given is,

Do not sit in the company of mockers,

wise advice indeed.  For we can tend to get caught up in the activities of those whose company we keep.  Sitting with the mockers can take us to places we don’t want to be, before we know it we can be joining in.  Great if you are going to be challenging their behaviour, but not so easy.  Better to be delighting in God, spending time soaking in him that we may bear the right fruit in season.

Do you want to belike a tree growing by a stream?

Lord

may I delight in you,

long to know more of you,

for you to be the place I find my refreshment,

my joy,

my peace.

May I soak my roots deep into you

and your word,

that my life may be lived in your ways.