The honesty of Psalm 51

One of the standout features of Psalm 51 to me is the honesty shown by David as he prayed the words of this wonderful prayer to God from his heart.

Nathan the prophet had come to see him, after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the murder of her husband, to bring the king a word from God. This was a quite a courageous act from Nathan to confront the king with God’s word.

How would David react to Nathan’s word? Would he accept it or reject it?

David could have said:

  • I’m the king I can do what I like?
  • It was not 100% my fault. Bathsheba is partly to blame too.
  • I could not help it as she was very attractive.

However David does not respond like that. He acknowledges his sin before God, taking full responsibility for his actions and recognising his wickedness he prays:

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (v3-5)

If you are looking to use some scripture to aid you in asking God for forgiveness then this Psalm is a good place to look.

David was very honest about his sin before God. He confessed it and stopped trying to hide it turning to God in deep repentance. We can learn much from this.

The Theology of Work

There are many different areas of life where it is very challenging and difficult to live out our Christian faith. One of these is the workplace. Many people feel under pressure from the long hour culture that is prevalent today. Additionally with the advances in technology some feel an expectation of always being “on-call” to their bosses.

Not to mention the challenge of our working relationships with our work colleagues and managers. If we are honest there are probably some colleagues who we prefer not to work with! All of us at times at work have lost our cool with people and then felt embarrassed about it afterwards.

Why do we work? Is it just to earn enough money to pay the bills and to go on holiday occasionally? Should we be sharing our faith at work or is that not appropriate? Is God really interested in what we do at work? What does the bible say about work?

If you are interested in looking more in depth at this subject then you may find The Theology of Work website helpful.

On their website they say the vision of the Theology of Work Project is that every Christian be equipped and committed for work as God intends

Considering how much time many of us spend at work it’s certainly worth looking more closely at this subject from a Christian prospective.

Developing Good Habits

One of the towns I like to visit has a one-way traffic system running through the centre of it. However for some reason whenever I cross the road in this town I always look both to the left and right before walking across the road.

I have often wondered why I look both ways in this situation because the cars can only come from one direction! After thinking about this I have come to the conclusion that I do this out of habit. I was taught from a young age to look both ways before crossing the road so that is what I do, even in a one-way street.

This got me thinking on the importance of developing good habits in our lives. When we develop good habits we find that they become second nature to us and we do them naturally. They become part of us.

So how long does it take to develop a habit? If you type that question into Google there are a number of web pages you can find that suggests that 21 days is the answer to that question. However I’m not sure there is an exact science to this. There are obviously some habits that take longer to develop than others. Also it goes without saying that there are some habits that take considerable more than 21 days to break.

There are many good habits that we should seek to develop as a Christian. The following three I believe are worth pursuing:

Regular Bible reading and Prayer

One of the good habits I was taught as a young Christian was the importance of setting aside some time each day to read my bible and prayer.

For a new Christian it can be useful to start off by either reading through one of the gospels or alternatively using bible reading notes.

You might ask “when is it best to read the bible and pray?” When I was younger I tended to do my daily bible readings and prayers in the evening as that best fitted in with my daily schedule. However as I got older I changed that to the morning as I found that worked best for me. Whether you do this in the morning or evening does not really matter though. The important thing is to find time each day to read your bible and pray.

Controlling our tongues

Perhaps the most challenging thing in life is controlling our tongues. There are plenty of bible verses that tell us the importance of this. The book of James has some very strong warnings about our tongues and how we should not criticise others.

I expect we all have many times deeply regretted saying something to someone that has caused unnecessary upset. So much damage can be done by careless words.

One of the best habits that we can develop is to decide that we will not criticise others and to think before we speak.

Forgive as we have been forgiven

As a Christian it is a wonderful thing to know that Jesus has forgiven me. He has totally forgiven me.

Therefore just as we have been forgiven we should also be willing to forgive others who have wronged us. If we are being honest most of us would admit that we find this difficult at times.

However we need to remember that forgiving others is extremely important. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer “forgive us our sin as we forgive those that sin against us.” If we don’t forgive others then we run the potential risk of not having our sins forgiven.

So we really need to develop the habit of forgiving others. It’s an important habit to develop.

 

 

 

You became imitators of us and of the Lord

1 Thessalonians verse 6 starts with an interesting phrase “you became imitators of us and of the Lord.

Now it would not surprise anyone to see it mentioned that the Thessalonians became imitators of the Lord. That is surely something to which we all should be aiming. However Paul also says they became imitators of them too. It might be that some would think Paul was being arrogant in using that expression. Surely he should just say they became imitators of the Lord?

Interestingly he also says something similar in the first letter to the Corinthians in the following two verses:

  • Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (4:16)
  • Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (11:1)

Paul in his writings certainly comes across as a man who loved, obeyed and served Christ wholeheartedly. He was striving to follow Christ in every circumstance and situation he faced. Therefore by living this way I would argue that he was a good person to learn from and imitate in what it means to live the Christian faith. The Thessalonians certainly thought he was.

So who do we try to imitate? Do we try to imitate our church leaders or maybe another mature Christian? Or are we easily influenced by those who behaviour is not compatible with Christian faith?

Whether we like to admit it or not we are all influenced by others and imitate their ways in some form in our life.  It is sometimes said of people that they got in with the wrong crowd when they do bad things. We need to be very careful who we imitate.

Would we recommend that others became imitators of us? Is my life a good example for other believers to imitate? Or am I too worldly in the way that I live that I would not recommend that others imitate me?

 

Prayer before Communion

Last Sunday I visited another church and the service included communion.  Just before the bread and wine was distributed the following pray of invitation was read out:

“Come to this table, not because you must but because you may,
not because you are strong, but because you are weak.
Come, not because any goodness of your own gives you a right to come,
but because you need mercy and help.
Come, because you love the Lord a little and would like to love him more.
Come, because he loved you and gave himself for you.
Come and meet the risen Christ, for we are his Body.”*

These are different words to the ones that are used at my home church, although I have heard them before at another church.  I found these words very powerful and helpful. Hopefully they might encourage any who may read this posting.

*[W. Barclay, The Lord’s Supper, SCM, 1967]

Who are you following?

Last Sunday in the church service I attended the preacher asked us the question “Who do you follow?”

I guess many of us might think that we do not follow anyone. However most of us probably follow either: a sports team, musician, film star or TV series.

If we check our various social media accounts we would realise that there are many different people we follow on these platforms too.  When I look at those I follow on social media and put these people into categories broadly speaking they would be, in no particular order:

  • Sportsmen
  • Politicians
  • Comedians
  • TV presenters
  • Christians
  • Friends and family
  • Technology

If though you were to ask me why I follow these people then for many of them I’m not quite sure what reason I would give you. Although I might like a particular sportsman I’m not quite sure why I need to follow them on social media. There might be occasions when I congratulate them, via social media, for winning an event or achieving something outstanding in their sport. But it’s not necessary though to follow them to do this.

Some of the people I follow on social media do post interesting updates. I especially enjoy updates from certain comedians I follow who use their accounts to share jokes with their followers.

Social media has helped me to keep abreast of what my old friends are doing as I’m not very good at keeping in contact. Updates from Christians can encourage and challenge me in my faith in addition to providing me details of their latest blog postings.

I wonder though if those we follow on social media influence us for better or worse, or is it just harmless fun following these people.

Last weekend there was a boxing match shown on You Tube between Logan Paul and KSI. These two individuals are hugely popular on You Tube and between them have over 34 million subscribers to their channels. That is a phenomenal number of subscribers / followers. According to the BBC the majority of their subscribers are young men. Just think of the influence Logan Paul and KSI can have for better or worse in the lives of these young men.

Maybe one of the reasons we follow certain people on social media is because we want to feel part of the crowd. If all our friends follow someone we may feel isolated if we also do not follow them. Perhaps we get a sense of self-worth by following these people and hoping that they might follow us back in return.

I remember feeling pleased that a couple of people I follow, who were popular on Twitter, started following me on that platform.  I think secretly I was hoping that they might retweet my tweets and I would get many more followers out of this! It can be quite interesting, eye opening and embarrassing when we honestly examine our motives.

In closing I think it’s wise to be mindful of who we follow and to ensure that we are careful not to allow ourselves to be influenced in a negative way.