Food for the Journey: Simplicity

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The following blog post is an extract taken from our Food for the Journey booklet which covers seven disciplines for Christian living. If you would like to download a digital copy of the booklet and work through the daily devotions please click here: FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY

DISCIPLINE 6
THE DISCIPLINE OF SIMPLICITY

KINGDOM ORIENTATION

Through this discipline, the Lord seeks to instill in us a “Kingdom-orientated value system”. From the day we are born there are many influences which shape and form us, the way we think, what we relate to, what we see as important, our desires, needs, wants, hopes. Without the Lord in our lives, all these things are mainly influenced by self and, very probably, selfish desires.

We see clearly in Scripture that a number of people close to the Lord were wealthy, influential people, so certainly the Lord does not begrudge these things. They are there for us to enjoy – they must just not be our reason for living. The Lord Himself chose to live very simply here on earth. He worked, enjoyed visiting and meeting with people, took sufficient “time out” to be alone with His Father.

What the Lord is drawing our attention to by this discipline, is a new understanding of what truly is important, in Him we can always rely on our basic needs being met. What He wants to do is help us separate “needs” from “greeds”. When we are dominated by the things we think we need, that becomes our focus, those needs then become consuming, – it is all we can think about.

We start making choices that bring strain and worry to us, and hurt relationships that we have. Under these circumstances we have very little over to give others as everything goes to our “need” and Kingdom values are sacrificed.

When we talk of a “kingdom-oriented value-system” we are seeking to discover what God thinks is important for us and for those around us. We are pounded all the time with what the world thinks we should have. In the workplace it can be very difficult to not get sucked into the work, work and more work frenzy. Christians will always seek to do their very best at work, but in the light of “kingdom values” will learn where to draw the lines.

Achievement, success, healthy goals and desires, have a definite place in “kingdom values” but they must just not crowd God out or take us over. If the need for “material possessions” becomes our driving force, when will enough be enough, and what are we prepared to sacrifice to have the things we want?

There are many, many inspiring testimonies of people who have chosen a God-centered life, which then influences all the choices, needs, wants, desires that people have. The enrichment of lives of people who have chosen to live trusting God for their needs are immeasurable, and along with this comes the freedom from a “debt-controlled” life, and the journey into “The uncluttered life”.

One of the results of this discipline in our lives, will definitely be a lessening of anxiety. We will also learn to say no to anything that is producing an addiction in us, things like television, movies, money, even petty things like coffee, tea, shopping!

Most importantly we will learn to refuse to be a slave to anything or anyone but God!

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Food for the Journey: Study

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The following blog post is an extract taken from our Food for the Journey booklet which covers seven disciplines for Christian living. If you would like to download a digital copy of the booklet and work through the daily devotions please click here: FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY

DISCIPLINE 5
THE DISCIPLINE OF STUDY

KNOWLEDGE

Knowledge is information + understanding = application.

For the Hebrews in the O.T., knowledge was not an accumulation of facts or concepts. For them reality was what happens and knowledge meant understanding what was happening. Knowledge of God meant not thoughts and ideas about God, but recognizing and obeying the One who acted purposefully in understanding what He’s doing and then co-operating with Him.

It is no different for us. The Lord speaks strongly through the prophets in the O.T. warning against lack of knowledge – lack of knowledge of the Lord and His ways – which leads us from Him and gets us into trouble. The apostle Paul in the letter to the Ephesians said: “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,” ch1.v17. Paul as an apostle understood the importance to our journey of an increasing knowledge of the Lord.

How do we acquire the knowledge? As in every aspect of our journey with the Lord the Holy Spirit is indispensable for our understanding of the Scriptures and a true interpretation of what we have read and need to apply. Before any Bible Study there should be prayer asking the Spirit to help us understand what we are studying and how it applies to us and what we need to think, do, or feel about it.

A Bible dictionary, commentary and concordance are useful tools to Bible Study. Certain Bibles have commentaries and concordances in them and are worth the extra cost.

The Biblical concept of knowledge therefore means the combination of information, understanding and application. We can’t claim to “know something” until these three have come together for us.

Growing in knowledge through understanding and application, will develop in us a keen listening ear, discernment (wrong from right, what is of God and what is not) wisdom (not our own opinions – but strong biblical understanding,) it will assist in responsible, faithful decision-making, will correct and instruct us, maintain in us a consistent understanding of the Lord. So as you can see it is a vital discipline!

It must never be just an academic exercise or superficial study. This discipline will always to talking to our hearts and looking for our response. At the same time we will find we are energized and refreshed as we discover new things, new ways of looking at the Lord, new ability to live as a faithful Christian, hope and encouragement as we meet ourselves in some of the characters of the Bible and their struggles, failures, joys, situations and longings.

In your quiet times, as you work through this discipline, you will be gaining experience in how to use the Bible to gain knowledge. May you have a very blessed time. Remembering your discoveries and sharing with your fellowship group will bless them, and remind them of their need to be faithful to this discipline. Your fellowship group leaders will do their best to help you, rest assured of that. They too are continually learning and trying to apply what they have learnt.

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Food for the Journey: Integrity

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The following blog post is an extract taken from our Food for the Journey booklet which covers seven disciplines for Christian living. If you would like to download a digital copy of the booklet and work through the daily devotions please click here: FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY

DISCIPLINE 4
THE DISCIPLINE OF INTEGRITY

HONESTY, SINCERITY, PROMISE KEEPING

The word integrity means being the same through and through, “What you see is what I am”. It also means completeness, soundness, wholeness, blamelessness.

As followers of Christ we are the ones who show others what Jesus is like. Therefore old habits, ways of doing things before we knew Christ, “grey areas in our lives if you like” have to be carefully looked at and adjusted to the “new life” in Christ we now have. Lying, insincerity, dishonesty, unreliability etc. cannot be a part of us anymore, otherwise we give a false impression of the Lord we serve.

Things that we do and the things that happen to us that have a deep affect on us, (death of a parent, divorce, mugging, etc) shape us and our responses to life and people – “new life” in Christ can bring healing to damaged emotions, failure and hurt. Restoration and wholeness comes with knowing Christ. In Christ all our past sins are dealt with and our relationship with God restored, yet as completely as our past sins are forgiven there is still a need to allow Him to do some  overhauling” in our lives. We may have very rigid mindsets about things. He is certainly going to teach us to think differently about a lot of things and people. He will address our prejudices, resistances and weaknesses as well as our areas of compromise. The Lord will do this very lovingly but very firmly.

Correction and instruction form a very necessary part of our journey. How else can we be true witnesses of Him?

When we receive Christ into our lives we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and it is the Holy Spirit who “guides us into all truth” and very often that is the truth about ourselves and what needs changing.

We cannot be any more accepted than we already are as the Father’s children, but we can become progressively purer in the practical details of living.

Often our integrity gets tarnished because we speak or act too hastily. The end product is usually thoughtlessness or selfishness, giving others the wrong impression of the Lord we serve.

Lip service is simply not enough. The proof of our sincerity about Christ will reflect in how we handle people around us – the care and acceptance we show them – the decisions we make regarding them – our response to their pain and need. This is a real challenge to us – but we must never think we have got to do it alone. We have the Holy Spirit to empower and enable us at every point.

Businessmen and women who, as a result of giving their lives to Christ, made the necessary adjustments to their management style and approach to work, while it was tough at first, have found tremendous peace in doing things “Christ’s way”. Doing things “Christ’s way” requires a constant submission to His Lordship – in other words giving Him full control of every aspect of our lives. It is a constant temptation to try and control our own lives and a daily need to surrender our lives to Him. Who better to lead, direct and guide us

The important thing is we do not have to “make ourselves over”, we simply need to let His Holy Spirit convict us of the areas that need to be changed and then to be obedient to those pointers and what a blessing that will prove to be.

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Food for the Journey: Worship

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The following blog post is an extract taken from our Food for the Journey booklet which covers seven disciplines for Christian living. If you would like to download a digital copy of the booklet and work through the daily devotions please click here: FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY

DISCIPLINE 3
THE DISCIPLINE OF WORSHIP

RESPECT

The purpose of this discipline is to help us maintain a deep respect for who the Lord is. It also helps us to honour the Lord consistently in what we say to Him and how we express our high regard for Him. WORSHIP is evaluating God properly – acknowledging all His attributes and affirming His incredible worth.

God is infinite. His qualities are not measureable by any standard we know. We cannot understand infinity, but we can stand in awe of God who is infinite. God is above and beyond everything we know. God is the source of all holiness, all strength, all authority, full power in creation. His worth stands alone, we can value nothing on a par with Him. He is completely perfect.

When we worship God, our worship springs from a sense of awe and wonder: “Who is like Him?” Worship takes place out of hearts that are thrilled by God, there just does not seem to be enough to say about Him – one is caught up in a sense of someone far greater, far more perfect, far more beautiful than any other person one has known. The Holy Spirit opens our hearts and minds to the wonder of God, so the Holy Spirit is a vital part of worship. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). From our perspective, worshipping in the spirit is: our response to the Spirit; our dependence on the Spirit; and our sensitivity to the Spirit’s leadership. True worship is not a religious action that produces pride, or a human effort to satisfy a human desire, but rather an expressive outpouring of a deeply grateful heart, seeking to acknowledge all that God is and does.

When we meet together as a body on a Sunday, it is glorious to worship the Lord together, and unite in our praises of Him and our thankfulness to Him. In worship He is our focus, the one we want to bless and so when we worship; it should be done with the intention of delighting Him. Some find it easy to be demonstrative and raise their hands in praise of the Lord, this is precious but it is not a cardinal rule. What is essential is what is going on in the heart. Worship rejoices in God and longs to seek Him further – we love whom we worship so we long to know Him more.

The most expressive act of worship is to sing to the Lord and wouldn’t we all love splendid voices, yet somehow every single voice singing praise to God delights Him.

Worship not only helps us to see the Lord clearly but it also transforms us as we, through worship, are blessed by acknowledging Him in every way. We are lifted into a wonderful sense of His presence, His magnificence and His love for us.

“WORSHIP IS A GRAND CELEBRATION OF GOD’S GOODNESS AND MAJESTY;
IT SHOULD REFRESH ALL WHO PARTICIPATE!”

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
    Worship the LORD with gladness;
    come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
    It is He who made us, and we are His;
    we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
    and His courts with praise;
    give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the LORD is good and His love endures forever;
    His faithfulness continues through all generations.

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