Giving up resentment

As Selwyn says in today’s study: “You cannot live happily in the kingdom with resentment in your heart.”

I thought his conclusion, was excellent – great advice: “Pray for those who have hurt you. Make it a rule that every-time you think of someone who has injured you, you will turn your thoughts to prayer for them. Establish it as a habit and the forgiveness will become habitual. Once you practice forgiveness then you will have no more enemies for you will have no more enmity.”

Genuine forgiveness requires us to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit – it is not a natural thing for our sinful nature to forgive and forget, past and present hurts. The ability to totally forgive, only comes by complete surrender of our self to Jesus – then He changes our heart, so that we can forgive.

‘For His sake’

Selwyn writes the following: “The fifth law of the kingdom is this: ‘Happy are the merciful, for they will have mercy shown to them.’ (Matthew 5:7, Phillips).

Life in the kingdom teaches that as we forgive all those who have hurt us so we carry no hurt, bitterness or resentment with us on the road to heaven.”

I think that ‘forgiveness’ of serious and deep hurts is a challenge – even for mature Christians; and, as Selwyn mentions in his conclusion – ‘it isn’t easy, but it can be done – with Christ’s help.’

Your view?

[I hope to write more on this topic – in the next day or so.]

Turning the tables

I think that a lot of the changes that we experience in our spiritual life is due to God’s love working to transform us into the likeness of His Son.

Perhaps, when I was younger – I may have wondered about the way – things seemed to happen at the right time – now, I can see Jesus’ fingerprints, on all of the pages of my life’s story.

Selwyn introduces today’s study, as follows: “We must spend a little more time considering an important aspect of human behaviour namely the way in which our feelings are influenced by our thoughts.

We cannot by an action of our will command our feelings to change, but when we use the influence of our wills to marshal our thoughts towards prayer and the reading of the Scriptures we soon discover that thoughts exposed to God in this way begin to influence and change our feelings.”

It’s true, that when we fall-in-love with a person, we want to find out as much as we can about them – what they like- what they don’t like; and, we often go to great lengths to strengthen the relationship we have with this person. In a sense, we build our lives around the person who is, at the centre, of our attention.

Our love for God – is exactly the same – we take hold of any insight into what He likes and what He doesn’t like – we do this by reading the Bible, which reveals the nature of God; and, in the life of Jesus – we see God at work.

We strive to strengthen our relationship with God, and we work to make Jesus known to our family, friends and neighbours – empowered by His Spirit; by the way we live.

If loving God is our purpose in life, He will change our thoughts and feelings to reflect the holiness of His glorious Son.

Your thoughts?

From creed to deed

Selwyn continues to look at this issue: ‘the need to develop a healthy spiritual appetite through daily prayer and the reading of God’s Word – the Bible.’

In recent days, I have come to think that the starting point for any activity – is our love for Jesus, our Lord and God. In response to His calling – we love Him with all our heart, mind and spirit – this means, as it does with the love we have for our partners, children, friends and neighbours; that we are always, on the look-out’ for ways to express our love.

Consequently, I think the amount of time we spend seeking our Lord, and His Word, is a reflection of the strength of our love.

Selwyn writes the following; “The Christian life involves more than a belief in certain doctrines: it requires a discipline which causes us to move beyond creeds – to deeds. The deed is really the creed – the thing we believe in enough to put into practice. What we do not believe in we do not practise.Those who go from week to week without establishing a daily discipline of prayer and Bible reading are severing themselves from the very life by which they grow.”

Our love for others is seen in the ways we serve their needs. Our love for God is seen in the way we set aside time to be with Him – the way, we follow His teaching – the way we show His love to others. We love – because it’s our new nature to do so – it’s natural; our love for God is the breath of life, and we don’t think about doing it – it just happens!

Do you agree?

Do it anyway

Selwyn now turns his attention to his fourth law of the kingdom, which is centred on Matthew 5:5 (NIV): “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

It’s good to remember that the words used by Matthew for hunger and thirst – carry with them – the sense that the hunger and thirst is ongoing, which I take it to imply that we always hunger and thirst for righteousness – the lasting and complete satisfaction of these driving forces is found when we reach ‘home’ – the promised land – heaven.

Selwyn tells us: “The message here is that each one of us needs to have a healthy spiritual appetite for the things of God, which is developed through prayer, reading the Word and living by the principles of His kingdom.”

As we follow Jesus, our hunger and thirst for His love is satisfied to the extent that we continue to follow Him and to grow in our likeness of Him –  it’s a foretaste of what it will be like in heaven.

In John 4:14, we read: “… but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst”; like wise, in John 6:35-40 (NIV): “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Therefore – during our journey – we hunger and thirst for righteousness; and we receive spiritual food which enables us to keep on following in Jesus’ footsteps. Eventually, when we are raised with Jesus, on the last day, our hunger and thirst is completely satisfied – and, we will never be hungry or thirsty again.

Any comments?

The effects of anger

In today’s study, Selwyn talks about the effects of anger and impatience on our health. I don’t think, I need to add much to what he says because we should all be aware of the connection between bad temper and bad health.

He starts by saying: “At the moment we are considering the consequences of failing to live according to the laws of the kingdom, and we see that anger and impatience are often the result of a failure to recognise that everything that happens to us can be used” (by God to mould us into the image of His Son).

In Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV), we hear Jesus, say: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ (a term of contempt) is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Anger is often an outburst caused by wounded pride; and if we don’t practice self-control based on humility (by the power of the Holy Spirit); then it’s easy for this emotion to take control – and lead us into destructive action. You only need to look at the evening news on TV, to see examples, where uncontrolled rage has run rampant.

Listen to what James (1:19-21, NIV) has to say: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

Over time, anger damages our health and well-being; but the consequences for our spiritual health can be far worse.


The cause of anger

In today’s study, Selwyn writes: “The emotions, of anger and impatience, arise whenever we lose sight of the fact that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose’ (Paul’s letter to the Romans 8:28).

I don’t have much to say about today’s study.

However, I found myself – deeply immersed in the text for today – Paul’s letter to the Colossians 3:1-17 – these verses re-inenforce what Selwyn has been addressing over the past couple of weeks, in particular, they paint a picture of what a follower of Jesus, is like.

All of these verses are good – but even just recalling the highlighted parts – as we go about our busy lives – I think, would be a joyous exercise.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

The above verses provide an amazing summary of our new life in Jesus, after we have put to death our sinful nature through the power of God’s Spirit. Notice, that it’s natural for us, to give praise to God with gratitude in our hearts  and we give thanks to Jesus, with love (through words and deeds).

Your view?