Next Issue – Wisdom for Living

Tomorrow, we start a new issue, ‘Wisdom for LIving’ – in Mick Brooks’ introduction, he (as Consulting Editor) writes: “Selwyn leads us through the book of Proverbs, introducing us to God’s wisdom for living. … These things don’t come from a set of rules, or even a set of principles, but from following a Person – following Jesus. He’s the One who has gone before us, who has lived life to the full and even conquered death. What better way is there to live than to follow Him?”

[Remember if you have not yet obtained your copy of this issue, you can view the first week in pdf format, found on CWR’s website, here .]

More fire!

God’s love sets you on fire – what happens after that depends on you. You can either respond to His love and burn brightly – like a beacon on top of a hill and allow your light to be seen by many. Or, you can hide your light away, not allowing the breath of the Holy Spirit to fan the dying embers into a useful, warming fire.

In some cases the urgency of God’s work may fade as we settle down to a routine of attending church, bible study and being nice to our neighbours. Not wanting to upset anyone by talking about what Jesus has done for us, least we be accused of ramming ‘religion’ down their throats. We can also feel good that we don’t commit murder or steal large amounts of money but when there’s a disaster somewhere we often give some money to alleviate the suffering – and, so, the flame of loving God in our heart – dies down – such that it no longer illuminates the path ahead. 

What better way to finish, than Amy Carmichael’s words:

“Give me the love that leads the way,

The faith that nothing can dismay,

The hope no disappointments tire,

The passion that will burn like fire.

Let me not sink to be a clod:

Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.”

What is fire-lighted evangelism?

I thought this area of today’s study was really special.

“Fiery discipleship involves entering into the lives of those with whom we relate day after day after day. It means laughing with them as well as praying for them, crying with them as well as inviting then to church, going out of our way to let them know we care for them as individuals as well as putting their names on a prayer list.”

Evangelism means going out into the harvest field and rolling up your sleeves; working along side those who are thirsty and telling them that Jesus is the only one who can quench their thirst.

‘Lips only too ready’

Selwyn introductory comment is sufficient. “Another thing we must do to keep the fire burning on the altar of our lives is to share with others what Christ has done for us.”

If a Christian has any idea of the amazing rescue undertaken by Jesus they can never keep silent about the greatest event that has ever happen to them.  Said another way – there are no silent Christians! Do you agree?

Maintaining the glow

Selwyn asks a challenging question: “What should we do to maintain the glow of God at the centre of our soul?

I think that there are two main issues: one, keeping our mind and heart focused on God, and keeping His commandments – that is, to love God and to love everyone else – to look after the needs of others. We demonstrate to God that we love Him when we follow His commandments. One sure way of smothering God’s fire is to allow habitual sin back into our lives. A sign that we are sliding backwards is when we start to trade in ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deeds. For example, we might say to ourselves – ‘well I might have had too much to drink last Friday night and disgraced myself but I’ll put extra money into the plate on Sunday – to make up for it’!  Instead, you should address the issue of sin by seeking God’s help, honestly admitting that it was wrong, and also actively avoiding the circumstances which led to sin.

The second issue is that we fail to trust in the fact that God is constantly working for the good of those who love Him. As Selwyn states: “The Christian who sees himself or herself as maintaining the Christian life by self-effort rather than by dependence upon the all-sufficient God will fall – and fall severely. … We must recognise that the divine fire is not ours to create, but it ours to receive.”

All to often, we can start to place our trust in Christian activities, yet cease to follow Jesus. Christian activities are things like attending a Sunday church service, being a member of a bible study group, or helping a local charity. We may start to do these things out of habit and not think about our relationship with Jesus even when we are undertaking our Christian ‘committments’. In a very real sense we may become so busy doing stuff, that we fail to remain attentive to what the Holy Spirit might be telling us to do.

Maintaining the glow, involves maintaining our relationship with God, by following His ways, by talking to Him, and especially by listening to Him. As a concluding thought, I liked this bit in today’s study: “It also means taking God at His Word: According to your faith will it be done to you. Once you have opened your life to Him, and all sin has been put aside, then you must believe that He is now at work in you.”  Then, God’s fire will burn so brightly in you that others will be attracted by the light and ask you the reason for your faith. What do you think?

A prayer for power

Well, what a great prayer (originally framed by Dr Frank Laubach) – which I’ll repeat here – it needs no additional comments.

Lord, end this wishy-washy, lukewarm, mumbling religion and set us on fire. Put the divine fire in us before the demonic fires destroy us and our world. Take away our small thoughts and our small loves. Make us big as the world in vision. Take away our weaknesses. Fill us with the strength of Jesus Christ. Help the sleeping might of the nation in which I live to be awakened into glorious action by the Holy Spirit. We are sick of our disgusting indifference and we know that You are sick of us.

Do not spew us out of Your mouth, but set us on fire. God of courage, sweep aside our pitiful timidity. Make us divinely unafraid. Help Christendom to rise, not in fine sounding words but in deeds and in fire and in truth; change our defeat, in this battle for freedom and for Christ, into glorious victory. Give us a Pentecost at any cost. Send a Pentecost right now and begin it in me. Keep Your promise, Lord Jesus Christ, and baptise us with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The altar is ready, the offering is laid. Now, Lord, send the fire.’

The verses (below) set for reading and meditation are also inspirational – could we too, catch on fire and act in the same way?

Acts 4:23-31 (NIV): “On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ” ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

Today, will you boldly speak the word of God?

‘Where is this place?’

It should be kept in mind that what God is seeking to do – is to develop a relationship with you.

It’s a process – like any human relationship – it’s based on spending time, together – it’s about sharing our thoughts, feelings and dreams. God is not like a distant king who remotely hears about your needs and then dispenses some good thing for your enjoyment.

He is our Father, who seeks to create an environment where we can sit and discuss life’s issues with Him; in Him we can enjoy the perfect father and child relationship. He responds to our prayers in a way that does not spoil us; but which develops a solid, loving and trusting relationship with Him. His responses are unique for us – they are tailored to meet our own special requirements.

As Selwyn mentions today: “God not only wants to give, but waits to give. … Before the Holy Spirit is given there must be a real desire to receive Him.”

It bears repeating there must be a real and genuine desire to receive the Holy Spirit into your heart. Consequently, we all should know exactly when we actioned this desire – if not – why not?