Friday, 30 October 2009


Clothe yourself with humility, the aged Apostle Peter writes (1Peter 5:5). Who would dare proclaim themselves an expert in humility? Yet the Scriptures command that followers of Christ be humble. To be an expert Christian is to be a humble Christian. Because of this amazingly high goal for Christian discipleship, no one can claim to be an expert Christian. "Clothe yourself in humility" is not just a command, but a major goal of following Christ. But it is a goal that we cannot attain. We must therefore continue to strive toward it, but actually draw on one of the major attributes of humility to achieve it: dependence upon God and His grace.

In the context of what the Apostle Peter is saying in First Peter 5, humility immediately requires submission to teaching and governing elders (1Peter 5:5). A humble person is a teachable person.

Here's some humility test questions based on this short passage-

How do you respond to someone who tells you what to do?

How do you respond to someone who corrects or directs you?

These seemed to be important questions for the Apostle Peter. He commences this chapter by addressing those who who were called to lead. While it is perhaps true that there are some leaders who do so because they are power-hungry and attention-seeking, for most church leaders it requires humility because they are serving people. Whenever you serve someone, you are inevitably going to be criticised, compared, or taken advantage of. This requires humility. Even though leaders may be in the 'spot-light' this actually demands humility to be prepared to put yourself forward in front of the scrutiny of others. It takes humility to serve. But pride can also stop someone from being served. If any Apostle knew this, it was Peter. Remember the night of His Lord's betrayal? While the disciples were fighing among themselves who was the greatest, Jesus stripped to the waist and took a basin and a towell and began to wash His self-absorbed apostles' feet. But when He came to Peter He met with resistance. Peter was too proud to let Christ serve (minister) to him! It takes humility to allow someone to serve you.

If asked to serve in some way, do you positively respond by serving?

If you have an offer of help or assistance from someone, do you generally accept the offer?

The over-arching point of Peter's passage is to have peace and harmony within the church. The clearest strategy he has in mind for achieving this goal is: humility. It seems that pride will always cause hurt, injury, and division. But humility - forebearing, forgiving, and forgetting - will always strengthen relationships (whether they be within the church or the home). Many churches have been destroyed because of pride. No churches have ever been destroyed because of humility.

Humility questions-

How quickly do you cover and forgive those who have hurt or offended you?

Do you generally overcome the temptation to tell others of the hurt you felt from someone else?

Mark 7:21 - 22 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.

Peter opens this closing chapter of his first epistle by charging elders to care for the church. These leaders were leaders because they were considerate. Because pride is essentially self-focus it is almost impossible for the proud person to be truly considerate of others. People who leave their mobile phones on while going to the cinema or theatre are inconsiderate enough, but those who actually talk on their phones during a movie or play are even more inconsiderate. I once heard of someone who was sitting on a long plane trip next to someone who had their iPod turned right up as they listened to the "Greatest Hits of the 80s". They endured Duran-Duran, Culture Club, Village People, Tina Turner and others. While they noise from the headset was inconsiderate enough, the passenger was clearly using their iPod experience to prepare for their upcoming TV appearance on "Idol". It was then that the Boy George song- So You Really Want To Hurt Me? - came on. The person beside this iPod Kareoker could take it no longer and ripped out one of their ear-buds and yelled "Yes!"
Romans 11:20b ...So do not become proud, but stand in awe.

Humble people consider those around them. They are aware of how others might be feeling. They remember if someone was sick or ill and asks after them next time they see them. They listen to others and remember things such as a person's name. If asked to do something, a humble person will be prepared to go out of their way in order to make the request happen (note Psalm 15).
James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Humility is our command and our goal. It should be strived for but only in the grace of God. That is, we become teachable, respectful, forgiving, helpful, considerate and thankful followers of Christ because of the grace of God (God's enabling). May God help us to serve Him and be served by Him in the humility that most glorifies Him to this proud world.
First Peter 5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”


Wednesday, 14 October 2009


ConfidenceBeing confident is tight-rope for the Christian. Slip one way and our proper place of confidence looks and sounds like cocky arrogance. Slip the other way and it sounds like false humility. The first deviation is caused by an over-estimation of our own ability. The other deviation is caused by attention on our own ability. The Christian's source of confidence is not themselves, yet they are involved.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Confidence means "con" - with + "fide" - faith. It originates in the concept of having a "safe, sure, refuge". This is why the Scriptures reveal that -
Proverbs 3:26 for the LORD will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.

Hebrews 10:35The New Testament prescribes that Christians live confidently. But this doesn't mean that we are to be brash or bombastic. Neither is it the same as self-confidence. The apostle Paul contrasted this typemof confidence with the confidence that comes through a relationship with Christ. In Philippians 3:4 he told these Macedonians that he had many reasons for being religiously self-confident. But this was not the basis that enabled a person to approach GOD (1Tim. 1:7). Rather than mere self-confidence, we are told live confidently in Christ, because this is the path to receiving a "great" reward from the Lord-
Hebrews 10:35 Therefore do not throw aay your confidence which has a great reward.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that they could have confidence when relating to God, because of Christ. Perhaps we live in too flippant a society that the idea of God being 'transcendent' is completely unconsidered. But for those who ponder how a man can approach an ordinarily unapproachable God, the idea of confidently approaching God is either absurd or ignorant.
Job 25:4a How can a mere mortal stand before God...

The New Testament teaching about confidently approaching and communing with God was shocking. Two millennia later, it is hardly earth-shattering news for a generation that has made mankind transcendent above a God who apparently resembles Morgan Freeman. But Morgan Freeman is not GOD. GOD is GOD. He is not to be trifled with. Yet the New Testament writes to an audience who had to be repeatedly reassured that they could now approach GOD: confidently.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The more you seat in training, the less you bleed in battle.But confidence with GOD requires effort on our part. In fact, it mostly requires endurance. This is one of the most prominent themes throughout the Epistle to the Hebrews. We should regard this life as a precious opportunity to relish the opportunity to endure with Christ for GOD's glory. We need to live in the will of GOD by living to please and know Christ. Then we can enjoy a knowledge of the confidence that are invited to approach GOD-
1John 3:21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

Does your heart before God give you reason to be a confident before GOD? Are you a confident Christian? Make Christ your Advocate and Confidence.

Friday, 9 October 2009


Most people don't know how to read. This was the claim of Professor Mortimer J. Adler in his book, "How To Read A Book". He says that most people read a book for the wrong reason. A student reads a text book to pass an exam - rather than to learn. A lawyer reads case notes to win a case rather than achieve justice. A businessman reads a prospectus to see how much money he can make rather than seeing how his investment can make the lives of people better. Prof. Adler admits that in the early days of his teaching career he read books simply to prepare for lectures and to be able to quote from them to impress his students. But then he had an epiphany...
Eccl. 12:12 My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

Perhaps some Christians read their Bibles because they feel they should. Some Christians are less sensitive to their conscience and because they have felt unmoved by their Bible reading, they have just abandoned getting anymore Biblical input than what they get on a Sunday morning. I certainly hope that as people join us and realise that we at Legana are serious about the Bible, they will become daily Bible readers. But why do want this? Another way of asking this question, is perhaps the way Professor Adler would challenge us- Why do you read your Bible?
Matt. 22:29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God."

Jesus rebuked people who made a big deal about reading the Bible but never coming to know God! We want to read the Scriptures so that we can know God and behold Him. This motive for Bible reading changes everything! We read slowly, carefully, and most especially prayerfully. Also read with a pen. Use it to underline, highlight, write a comment, jot down a thought. Some people even journal a prayerful response to what they read in Scripture and invite God to speak to them in writing through they are reading in Scripture and praying back to Him.
Psalm 27:5 For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

When we read a passage of Scripture, like Psalm 27:5, we can pause ("Selah") and ask God in prayer to keep us in times of trouble; hide us in His protection when we feel like hiding from everyone else; keep us in sweet fellowship with His people ("in His Tabernacle"); hide me from people and troubles that seek to harm me; and help me to remain strong and faithful oh God.
Psalm 81:7 You called in trouble, and I delivered you;
I answered you in the secret place

As we read, we pray. As we pray we listen to what God says in our hearts by His Spirit. This way, we hope to fulfil Christ's instructions to know both the Scriptures and the power of God.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

The Two Witnesses

Which two New Testament authors knew Jesus at least two decades longer than any of the 12 Disciples? What qualified these two witnesses of Christ to be the most persuasive and compelling witnesses ever?

While many Bible Prophecy preachers have developed elaborate scenarios for the future arrival of the two prophetic witnesses as was foretold in Revelation 11, the context of the Book of Revelation is clear: John told his audience that his 'apocalyptic' message affected them and was able to be understood by them. Yet if these modern Bible Prophecy teachers are right, then the Apostle John was wrong!

I've written an article on the identity of the Two Witnesses described in Revelation 11 which might help you to understand the Book of Revelation a bit better...[read the full article]

The Secret Place

Some people have plenty of time to devote to their relationship with God through prayer, silence, contemplation, Bible reading and study. In years gone by some people even devoted their lives to this type of devotion. They were called monks. They generally lived isolated lives away from the hustle and bustle of normal life. I have grown to really love the times I get to be still, quiet, prayerful and reflective in my devotion to God. But I am also learning to adopt this attitude during the everyday busy-ness of life. This is becoming my "secret place".
Psalm 91:1He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I find in the Gospels (the first 4 books of the New Testament), particularly the Gospel of Luke that Jesus was a man of activity. Yet He was also a man of "the secret place". We read that even during the busy times- those times when He was crowded with many needs and needy people that He was quiet, restful, prayer to His Father.
Luke 9:18Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?

You may not get extended periods of time to be alone and quiet so that you can read God's Word and pray. But you can learn to enter into the secret place with God in prayer and stillness.
Psalm 27:5 For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

So the next time you feel swamped by the busy-ness of life you can go into the secret place that you and God share. It's that place where you pray. It's that place where you ask God to speak to you. It's that place where you open yourself to God to have Him prompt His Word for the moment into your soul. It's that place where you confess tot he Lord that you need Him.
Psalm 81:7 You called in trouble, and I delivered you;
I answered you in the secret place