Tag Archives: Bible

How do we know if we really love God?


I had a short but interesting discussion today with someone and it went like this:

  • Me: Do you love God?
  • Them: Yes
  • Me: How do you know whether you love God or not?
  • Them: I don’t understand what you mean
  • Me: Does God love you?
  • Them: Yes
  • Me: How do you know whether God loves you or not?
  • Them: Because the Bible tells me so.
  • Me: Do you love God?
  • Them: Yes
  • Me: How do you know whether you love God or not?
  • Them: I suppose the Bible will tell me?

They were absolutely right! To love God the Bible says that we must first accept His love for us in Christ (1 John 4: 10) and then it describes with clarity what our lives would look like if we loved God and it has much less to do with feelings that it does with obedience (summed up in 1 John 2: 3 – 6).

 

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August 15, 2012 · 1:55 pm

Is there a way to love people without being a people-pleaser?


_ People _

Sabbatical reflection 3: I need to be a God-pleaser not a people-pleaser. The more I please God and don’t offend Him the more I will be able to love people as I ought to even if it at times offends them. If I live as a people-pleaser I will spend all of my life trying to contort myself and what I do into hundreds of different shapes instead of sticking to the one vision and shape of ministry that God has laid out in the bible.

The Bible commands us to love people and only please our neighbor for their good and to build them up (Roman s 15: 2 – and that would be defined by the bible). But the bible doesn’t call us to be people-pleasers, that is people who do anything people want just to make them happy. Sometimes what will build them up, be good for them and show love for them will not be pleasing to them but will be the right thing to do. The bible also commands us to love God and live in such a way as to please Him. Jesus lived to please Him (John 8: 29). And our lives should like Christ be geared to loving and pleasing God in all things (1 Corinthians 7: 32; 2 Corinthians 5: 9).

And the point of this reflection is instead of focusing on pleasing people let’s focus on pleasing God and then God is pleased and people get the love they need from us whether pleased or not.

Now there is more that need to be said than that but I think that is the key principle. The bonus is as we grow in being God-pleasers and not people-pleasers we also don’t get our lives all knotted up in the emotional roller coaster ride of being a people-pleaser which is probably at the heart of most of our stress in life!

The struggle with this will be that most people want to be pleased all the time and many of us in our weakness can’t help but enable them (in fact many of us just give up trying to fight this battle). So pursuing the life of not being a people-pleaser will initially be really tough but ultimately produces great joy and peace and relieve us of much stress.

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Some reflections on the 21st of May “End of the world” prophecy


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The Bible does say that one day this world will come to an end, be destroyed and God will create a new heavens and earth. BUT THERE IS NO INDICATION AT ALL IN THE BIBLE AS TO A DATE WHEN THIS WILL HAPPEN. NOR WILL THE HOLY SPIRIT LET ANYONE HERE ON EARTH IN ON A DATE BEFORE THE TIME… EVER.

Even the so called “signs of the end times” teaching (without a specific date) is mostly a misunderstanding of the Bible. Go and read church history – every generation from Biblical times has believed it was their generation when the end would come and could “show” all the signs and even who the anti-Christ was. The Bible says He will come as a “thief in the night” when no one is expecting Him not even His own (time wise, but they will be ready to meet Him life wise).

And when it comes to this kind of prophecy and prophecy in general, whatever kind of prophecy went on in the Old Testament and even New Testament times… when it comes to Paul setting out what should happen in the local church from that time onwards (in the pastoral epistles) he says that pastors should have good character, teach the Bible and do the work of an evangelist. Pastors are not called to be issuing “new revelation prophecy” about what God is or isn’t going to do. We should be teaching and living out what God has already revealed in the Bible and helping our people do the same. Yes it seems more exciting to be giving all sorts of “fresh” stuff but lets regain our confidence in the Bible and Paul’s directive to “prophesy” the Bible day in and out… and then amongst other things the reputation of the gospel wont be subjected to the kind of nonsense we have just witnessed.

By the way, I wish the world had ended on the 21st of May because my family and I (by God’s saving grace) are ready to be with Jesus in the new creation which is by far better than living down here in this fallen place.

The world could end soon, I don’t know – Are you ready?

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Which song would you choose to sum up the gospel?


Music

I would choose “In Christ Alone” written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty in 2002. Read the story of how this song came into being by clicking “In Christ Alone” in the previous sentence.

Read these amazing Biblical lyrics carefully and prayerfully and you will see what I mean:

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

May my thinking and living reflect these powerful words!!

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What happens to babies when they die?


This baby is one month old.

Today I had the privilege of conducting a memorial service for a very precious one year old baby boy called Luke. Luke while on earth was a Down Syndrome baby with major heart defects that caused serious complications in other areas of his body.

Luke’s amazing parents are followers of Jesus and one of the many questions they wanted to be clear on was where Luke would go after death. At the memorial service I said these words to them and the other people there, “I want you to understand that I believe that Luke is in heaven right now with Jesus.  And I don’t say that just as some religious cliché to make people feel happy but on the basis of God’s character as revealed in the Bible and other Bible passages too.”

Why did I say that? This is my reasoning.

  1. The Bible doesn’t say that when babies die they go to heaven.
  2. Luke was not old enough to choose Jesus as his Savior as is the normal way for sinners like us (and Luke was a sinner by nature like all of us from conception as David says in Psalm 51: 5).
  3. But it is ultimately not just our choice of Jesus as Lord and Savior that saves us but the prior work of the Holy Spirit in us (according to His plan) that saves us and then allows us to choose Jesus – John 3: 3, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
  4. There is no passage that I can take you to for this but what if it was God’s plan to give the new birth to all babies who died so that when they reached heaven they would acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross?
  5. I say this in part because it certainly is possible for God to give a baby the new birth as in Luke 1: 39 – 45. And yes this is only one verse and two special people in a unique time in Salvation history but ultimately John the Baptist was just a sinful human being like us and it would be impossible for him to recognize the King of God’s Kingdom if it were not for the action of the Holy Spirit.
  6. And when you consider how graciously Jesus dealt with children while on earth this is not an impossible avenue of thought to go along.
  7. And ultimately I think there is a much stronger case to say that the children of believing parents go to heaven when they die on the basis of God’s electing plan, the Spirit’s work in them and their status as the children of believers as seen in 1 Corinthians 7: 14. This passage is problematic in some ways not only because of the different perspectives that people come to it with (some come with an individualistic mindset others try considering first century biblical thinking which is much more community oriented; some are determined to uphold a believers baptism point of view and others are determined to prove a paedo-baptist view-point) but also because at a certain level it is a difficult passage. But ultimately we must come to this passage seeking to understand what it is saying in context. In this passage Paul is dealing with some concerns in the Corinthian church about marriage in general and in the section where we find this verse the situation of a believer married to an unbeliever. Certainly whatever the “sanctification” of the unbelieving spouse (a responsible adult) means there is enough scriptural evidence to know that it can’t be that one adult goes to heaven because their partner is a believer. But when it comes to their children, if even one of the parents are a believer then the child is not “unclean” (def: that which cannot be brought into contact with divinity) but is holy (can come into contact with divinity). I think Paul is being much more radical that just saying that the children are now under the influence of the gospel (he would have used other language for that). I think Paul is saying that this child (one who is too young to stand responsible before God on their own) fall under the holiness of their parent(s). This has nothing to do with baptism but with the way God chooses to do things. Which seems so clear to Paul and his readers that Paul just states it without any clarification or qualification. And if that is so then I could apply this passage to any baby / child of believing parents and say that until he or she is old enough to take the responsibility upon themselves, if they die, they will go to be with the Divine, with God… The Holy Spirit having given them the new birth so that when they get to heaven will see Jesus and recognize Him as their Lord and Savior!

And that is why I believe that Luke is in heaven now! And ultimately why I believe that at least the babies of believing parents go to heaven when they die.

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Top posts of 2010


thank you note for every language

Thanks so much to all who popped in for a visit during 2010. I hope your visit was thought-provoking, encouraging and made you want to know more about the Bible and Jesus? Here are the top 5 most visited posts during 2010.

5. The Real Threat of Pagan Christianity
4. Marriage is underrated! A celebration of 23 years of marriage
3. Suffering: Joni Eareckson Tada on Something Greater than Healing
2. My mother gave me away!
1. A prayer to start the work day

I hope and pray that this blog will help in some small way to you having a Jesus-filled and Bible-drenched 2011.

Lots of love, Mike

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Let’s stop moaning and celebrate Jesus this Christmas!


When Roman Christians decided to replace a pagan festival with a celebration of the coming to earth of the Son of God… who cares if they got the date wrong (we don’t even know for sure when He was born), what matters is they decided to celebrate Jesus. Let’s do the same!

Yes, Christmas can end up in one big “secular” (I don’t really like that word) money-making exercise for business… but we don’t have to let that consume us! As we buy gifts for our loved ones let’s celebrate the greatest love gift given to mankind when God the Father gave His one and only Son to the world so that we might be saved. Let’s celebrate our Father’s love and Jesus!

Clearly many of the Christmas cards and some of the Carols get the biblical story wrong… well let’s gently and with respect tell people the real story from the Bible and be known more for celebrating Jesus coming to earth more than for how clever we are at moaning about all the faults of those who get it wrong. Let’s celebrate Jesus!

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

I know that at Christmas we have to stand in much longer queues and deal with people we would normally avoid like the plague… but let’s get over ourselves and as we celebrate Jesus remember how much it must have “inconvenienced” Him to become a human to save us and thank God that most churches will double their attendance and many people will hear the gospel for the first time this year… and that we will have more opportunities to talk about Jesus at Christmas than at most other times of the year. Let’s celebrate Jesus and the wonderful gospel opportunities we get at this time of the year!

Let’s celebrate Jesus and the joy of His salvation that began with His coming to earth as a human which most of the world “celebrates” on the 25th of December. What a wonderful opportunity for us to stop moaning and celebrate Jesus this Christmas!

Have a joyful Christmas

Love,

Mike

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