The Essentials of Christianity

Discipleship, Faith, Hope and Love.

Daily Spirit & Word 570: The Essentials Of Christianity.

Over the last few weeks, since our Open Air Baptism, we’ve been running a Small Group Discipleship Course in church, but I’ve been thinking about it, the course that we’re studying emphasises many aspects of what life is going to be like for the follower / Disciple of Jesus, but it doesn’t really boil it down quite enough for me. What are the most important things every follower of Jesus must grasp? What are the Essentials of Christianity? Once we grasp that we can continue in our discovery of everything else that the LORD has prepared for those who love Him.

So what are the Essentials? Is it developing a strong prayer life? Is it a disciplined pattern of Bible memory? Is it to be a faithful witness to those who don’t yet know Jesus Christ as Lord? Is it to be a worker of wonders?

Well there’s no doubt that those things are critical to every followers walk, but there are a few more basic elements.

I used to go down old Tin Mines with a group of friends in Cornwall at the weekends, we’d meet up in the London Bar in Redruth and then proceed on our adventure. Mike Merry, who was a Mine Assayer, had ancient abandoned Tin-mine maps and would lead us on trips into the wilds of Cornwall ūüôā to find the long-lost mine entrance. Once we hacked away at a hedge in a lady’s garden, she was amazed to discover that there was a great big hole she never knew was there, it was only covered by a little hedge, but that hole opened up a voyage of discover and a trip into Cornwall’s history. It was a hand-carved tunnel, shaped like a Key-Hole and it went straight into the solid granite; we found tools, miner’s lamps and bits a pieces down that mine. No one had been in there¬†for hundreds of years. It was a real WOWzer! But going into old mines is dangerous, there could be a build up of toxic gases so we had to be¬†vigilant.

Getting into the Essentials will enable us to know what’s MOST¬†CRITICAL for every follower of Jesus, yes there are some really exciting aspects, but sometimes they are like those bits and pieces of treasure we discovered, they can become so alluring we forget what’s most needed in our walk with the Lord and it’s dangerous to ignore the Essentials.

1) HOW’S YOUR FAITH? ‚ÄĒ In our following Jesus are we believing in God?

If I were to ask you to spell FAITH you’d probably say, “F, A, I, T, H” right? Well is partially right ūüôā I would like to venture that we should think about FAITH as “R, I, S, K” because if you are not daring to trust God by believing ALL that He’s said, we’re beginning to get a bit stuffy in our form of Christianity. As you know, like ponds and old mines, things that lies still for a long time get stale and stagnant, so it is with your FAITH.

Are you demonstrating a willingness to take a RISK when the chips are down? Like David when he was a young man who wanted to face up to Goliath for God’s Name Sake. (David didn’t want Israel, God’s chosen people, to be shamed because of a mere man). Remember how Daniel was thrown into the Lion’s Den? and how Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? (Daniel 3) faced the fiery furnace. Is your own faith really prepared to take those kinds of RISKS?

It was a sad day for everyone on Monday, we had the funeral of an Infant, Mina Esther Nystrom, who’d died in the womb. Though obviously devastated, John and Josi had been¬†and were still going¬†through the fire and had proven to have a faith that could be tested. They were both still praising the LORD. Yes they grieved the loss of their precious baby. Like every new parent, they had dreams for their child, but it was not to be. The LORD gives and the LORD takes away. However, they knew they could not deny their love for Jesus or for God’s gift of faith. In May, knowing there was something wrong with the baby, Josi and John got baptised in St Luke’s Church; In July (on Monday) they buried that baby. They had lost the most precious thing anyone could ever wish to loose and still they¬†continue¬†to walk with and praise Jesus. That kind of fiery faith is REAL.

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

So what is it that God wants us to do?
John 6:29¬†¬† “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.””

If the first ESSENTIAL is FAITH, then the second must be ….

2) HOW’S YOUR HOPE? ‚ÄĒ Are you living as a Member of God’s Kingdom? Is your thinking Kingdom focused?

I used to live in Plymouth, an ancient part of the City marks the spot where the Pilgrim Father set sail from England, to escape persecution and begin a new life in America. It’s still a very special place at sunrise, so peaceful and quiet. But they demonstrated that they would NOT LIVE in a world where their faith in Jesus would not be tolerated. What they showed the world was, that this place, Earth, was NOT THEIR HOME, but they had a hope of a better place and were prepared to give up everything to continue to worship Jesus. So quite rightly they’ve been called; “The Pilgrim Fathers”.

A Pilgrim is focused upon God’s Kingdom priorities in life and looks forward to their Eternal home in Heaven with deep¬†assurance¬†that it’s their real home.

Are YOU a Pilgrim Christian my friends? Are you living with this deep HOPE in your heart? It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit, it’s evidence of His presence in your life. You’ll demonstrate that HOPE by the way that you invest in your Eternal future, in your giving, generosity, kindness, because you’ll be INVESTING in your Heavenly rewards instead of Earthly things that you cannot take with you.

You’ll LOVE Heavenly Focused Hymns and Songs: Like, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine, oh what a foretaste of glory Divine”… that’s Pilgrim focus, that’s Kingdom mentality.

Hebrews 11:13-14 13  All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. (A HEAVENLY ONE).

So the Essentials are Faith and Hope, but you’ve probably guessed the last one by now;

3) HOW’S YOUR LOVE? ‚ÄĒ The way that we really show God’s love is by how SELFLESS we are as followers of Jesus.

A true follower of Jesus will be so touched and transformed by Christ’s LOVE, that he or she will want to (NOTICE that, “want to”) show love towards others and serve the LORD with complete willingness. It’s a want to my friends, it’s not as if God has to poke and promt a true believer into action. Your heart’s desire will be to serve the LORD in any way He directs.

That will be very costly at times; in time, in money, in energy. It will mean sacrificing what you’d like of love to be doing and going the extra mile for Jesus.

You’ll be desiring to serve rather than indulge yourself.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17¬†“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
15¬†¬†And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.¬†16¬†¬†So from now on we regard no-one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.¬†17¬†¬†Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

God’s WORD reveals these three; FAITH, HOPE & LOVE as the ESSENTIALS for the follower of Jesus. It does so in countless different ways, over and over and over again. Read about Joseph, Abraham, Isaac, Noah, Moses, Elijah, Samson, Daniel, Ruth, Esther, Solomon, etc etc etc… they ALL demonstrated these ESSENTIAL elements in their walk with God. An essential is something, that without it, it will not stand: i.e. a three legged stool will not stand with just two legs or one. Now it’s your turn, the batton has been passed, you’ve got the KEYS to the KINGDOM, now lets go and open the doors for others to see and seek God’s glory. Amen!

1 Corinthians 13:13¬† “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Have a fantastic day my friends, I’m praying that you’ll be full of FAITH, HOPE and LOVE today. Amen!

Don.

P.S. Please, continue to pray for Josi and John as they grieve the loss of thier baby Mina Esther. Her death has touched so many people who know and love them, but we’re also encouraged by their testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness and presence in their heart-wrenching trials. It’s such a joy to have led them to Jesus and know that they’ve found Jesus to be the LORD of ALL. Amen.

 

432: God Rewards Faithfulness.

432 Fire Leads to Promotion
God Rewards Faithfulness. Enduring the Fire: God is with them.

 

Daily Spirit & Word, 432: God Rewards Faithfulness.

And the World Will Stand AGOG in Amazement. 

Enduring the Fire Leads to Promotion.

God Rewards Faithfulness: Good morning my friends, Being faithful to God in times of trail, testing and fire. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego prove faithful and He rewards them.
I’ve got that Friday feeling ūüôā The weekend is coming and I’ve only got a few things to do before Saturday; A funeral this afternoon for a 92 year old man and the CRU (Youth Group) tonight, who’re making pancakes. We’ve also got our grandchildren and daughter staying for a few days whilst her bathroom is being renovated. Life is busy, but good. How’s your weekend looking?
Today is the day we finally get to see what happened when three of God’s chosen people refused to bow the knee and worship a created idol. Yes they aroused the King’s anger and rage. Yes they ended up being thrown into the fire, but WOWzer! They also get another transforming experience of God’s power over nature and the schemes of evil men.
INTO THE FIRE:
Daniel 3:19-30 19  Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude towards them changed. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual
20  and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
21  So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.
22¬†¬†The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
23  and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24¬†¬†Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.”
25¬†¬†He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
26¬†¬†Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,
27  and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
28¬†¬†Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
29¬†¬†Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
30  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Firstly notice:¬†Fury, Anger and Rage will lead men to do the most evil things. We mustn’t make any mistakes, because King Nebuchadnezzar was a very powerful king. He’d conquered much of the Middle East and now commanded the obedience of millions of people, but three young Jewish men refused to obey him; no wonder then his anger was roused.
But what would have happened if he’d been less rash? What if he’d taken time to sit down and discuss this willingness to die rather than worship another person’s god? He may have discovered in a less dramatic way the God of the Universe is real, powerful and commands obedience even of great kings.
Secondly Remember:¬†Nebuchadnezzar had stated in yesterday’s reading; “What god is more powerful than me, who can rescue you from the fire?” He thought himself untouchable, above everything and everyone, even the gods. We know there is only ONE God, but this account in chapter 3 reveals just how blinded men had become, their awareness of the true and living God was much like the people of our own day who think belief in Jesus or God an irrelevance to modern living. Faith and trust in God are outmoded because we’ve moved on from superstitious things like that ūüôā How foolish the people of the world are. Nebuchadnezzar’s pride led him into the most evil cruelty in his dominance of others, thinking nothing of human life, using fear and domination to get his own way. However, his intimidation of the three young men didn’t work.
Thirdly Notice: When they are thrown into the heat of the ten-times-hotter oven, though they were bound and helpless, the next time we hear about them, they are walking in the midst of the fire and heat and smoke without being harmed. The King was obviously sitting in a position where he could observe them being thrown into the furnace. He must have imagined that death would be instant, but here they were walking in the fire.
My friends, the people of this world are often totally amazed at how believers cope when the fiery trials come. It’s because at those times, God’s presence is known more keenly than at any other times in our life. That has happened to many of my friends and countless brothers and sisters throughout history. In the heat and smoke of disaster, God comes and brings relief, comfort and courage to face the flames. They’d trusted God with their lives and He’d proven to be faithful, present and powerful.
When you trust God in the HEAT: He’s promised to be with you too. Now we know that not everyone gets the kind of DELIVERANCE Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego enjoyed; because some of God’s chosen ones died at the hands of evil men; John the Baptist lost his head to an evil King, Stephen was stoned to death for proclaiming Jesus Christ as God’s Son. So sometimes being a believer won’t mean rescue from the trial, but we can be confidently assured that when we endure with faith, hope and trust, God will ultimately deliver us; either in this life or the next. That’s the confidence the three young men had too.
It’s my hope and prayer that your trials will lead to promotion as it had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but what’s more important for us to consider is the outcome of their faithful witness; not their promotion, but that God gets the GLORY. Because of what they did, being prepared to die for their beliefs, God Himself Gets the HONOUR and GLORY and PRAISE of the King of an vast Empire, Babylon would now honour God Almighty.¬†Hallelujah. Praise the LORD!
Has there been a time in your life when you could say, “God Rewards Faithfulness?” or “The Lord has rewarded my faithful service?” Sometimes it’s just a feeling of deep peace or joy and gladness, but at others we receive great blessings from the LORD.
So our promotion or demise will both bring glory to the LORD, that’s what the Christian life is all about. When we get the revelation that it’s much more abut Him than Us, then we’ll experience the JOY unspeakable. Let that JOY flood your soul today as you praise HIM, and you sing of HIS glory, power and might. Honour God and even if the world throws you into fires and flames you’ll be lifted higher than you can ever imagine and they will stand agog in amazement.
Have an awesome weekend with Jesus my friends.
Don.
P.S. I do hope you’ve enjoyed our dip into the little book of Daniel this week. But please do continue reading, there’s so much more, but don’t just read it through quickly, take time to meditate upon each and every even within the book, you’ll be astounded at how valuable it is to take a week to look at a single story as we have. You’ll get fresh revelation for your life as a believer in the world today by thinking things through with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Remember my motto: “No READ, No FEED” If I don’t read the Bible I don’t eat breakfast. Why because going hungry reminds me I’ve skipped my ‘spiritual’ breakfast. I need God every day, and I’m not ashamed to admit I can’t do anything apart from Jesus, so I need to come to Him, to be filled afresh and fed by Him every day. If I skip Bible devotion I know I’m going to get hungry spiritually, I’ll feel the darkness creeping in, and it really does in tangible ways. Come afresh to Jesus every day and you’ll continue in the light of life.
Finally (Again) ūüôā¬†I’ve been left with a Question that’s been bugging me all week. I’ve been pondering over it and wondering. “Where was Daniel when his friends were being thrown into the fire?”
Perhaps, because the King knew¬†Daniel¬†would never bow the knee, he’d sent him away to protect him from his own decree. Let us not forget that Daniel had¬†already¬†won the king’s favour, because he’d recounted and interpreted the dreadful dream.
What do you think my friends, where was Daniel?
You can also read the Daily Spirit & Word @ St Luke’s Church Facebook Page:
Post God Rewards Faithfulness @ St Luke’s Facebook Page.
Over the next few weeks¬†I’ll be moving over 400 Daily Devotions for you to enjoy at your leisure.
It’s difficult to archive on Facebook, but a website allows so many more ways to search through and find the articles that may be of help.

428: Fiery Furnace Faith.

428: Fiery Furnace Faith.

 

Fiery Furnace Faith
Fiery Furnace Faith
Daily Spirit & Word, 428: Fiery Furnace Faith.

Good moring my friends, it nice and warm outside today, amazing after such a cold snap, but it’s like a summer’s morning. Today, we’re going to see that for the young Jewish boys in Exile their faith and trust in God is going to be tested to the limit. Read through Daniel Chapter 3 today and we’ll reflect tomorrow.
Daniel 3:1-30. 
1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.
2  He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up.
3  So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.
4¬†¬†Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language:
5  As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.
6¬†¬†Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
7  Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshipped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
8  At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews.
9¬†¬†They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live for ever!
10  You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold,
11  and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace.
12¬†¬†But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon‚ÄĒShadrach, Meshach and Abednego‚ÄĒwho pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
13  Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king,
14¬†¬†and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?
15¬†¬†Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16¬†¬†Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.
17  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.
18¬†¬†But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
19  Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude towards them changed. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual
20  and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
21  So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.
22¬†¬†The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
23  and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24¬†¬†Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.”
25¬†¬†He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
26¬†¬†Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,
27  and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
28¬†¬†Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
29¬†¬†Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
30  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
They ARE proving to be faithful witnesses of the true faith in the LORD whilst they are in exile in Babylon. Praise the Lord!
You may face trials of many kinds as a Christian in the world, but be assured the LORD is able to rescue you from the all.
I’d be interested to know how the LORD has proven to be faithful when you’ve been tested in the Fiery Furnace????
How’s your Fiery Furnace Faith?
Have an awesome Monday my friends,
Don.
P.S. Please pray for the family of a young man called Jimmy. He was a resident at the British Home where I serve as Chaplain. He died whilst in Hospital on Saturday. He’d been taken ill last Sunday and was not responding to treatment. Jimmy was an awesome witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. He was¬†increasingly¬†incapacitated and could only just move his head a little, the rest of his body had been slowly shutting down for the last six years. He’d been in the home for many years suffering with MS. But what a faith in Jesus Jimmy enjoyed. Everyone who went to visit him came away as if they were walking on air. I’ll never forget singing with Jimmy, he loved all the old favourite hymns and some of the modern ones too. He had a fantastic memory, Jimmy knew the names of people even before they spoke, he remembered their children’s names and prayed for them often. He remembered all my grandchildren, and was overjoyed when he finally met Aminata after hearing about her for over five years. Oh yes my friends, we’re definitely going to miss Jimmy, but we’re so glad that he got his desire of his heart, to be at Home with the LORD. He had had enough of not being able to praise and sing properly. His favourite hymns were “What a friend we have in Jesus” and “The Lord’s my Shepherd” He really loved the modern version too.
P.P.S. Can also be read at St¬†Luke’s Facebook Page