A militant group based in occupied Gaza launched aerial attacks and broke through the heavily secured fence into the State of Israel. Hundreds of Israelis have been killed, a historic scale of violence for the country. The Israeli counterattack will inevitably lead to more death and destruction for Palestinians and a tightened occupation.
In a world marred by strife and division, Christians are called to be instruments of peace and reconciliation. The power of prayer is a divine gift that allows us to bring our concerns and desires before the Creator of the universe. One of the most pressing concerns today is the prevalence of conflicts and wars around the world. As faithful believers, we have a sacred duty to pray fervently for peace to reign in these troubled regions.
The Bible is replete with verses emphasizing the importance of prayer, especially in times of strife and conflict. In Philippians 4:6-7, the apostle Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This verse reminds us that prayer is a powerful means to attain peace that surpasses human comprehension.
Moreover, the Gospel of Matthew (5:9) calls us to be “peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” As children of God, we are not only called to seek peace for ourselves but also to actively work towards peace in the world through our prayers and actions.
Praying for Conflicts Worldwide
When we turn our attention to the conflicts around the world, we see numerous places plagued by violence, hatred, and suffering. From the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East to civil unrest in various countries, countless individuals are experiencing the devastating effects of war. It is our Christian duty to intercede for these regions.
One of the most powerful examples of intercessory prayer can be found in the life of Jesus Christ himself. In the Garden of Gethsemane, facing the impending crucifixion, Jesus fervently prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Even in the face of immense suffering, Jesus sought the Father’s will through prayer, ultimately paving the way for the redemption of humanity.
How to Pray for Global Conflicts
Pray for Leaders: 1 Timothy 2:1-2 instructs us to pray for all those in authority. Lift up political leaders, diplomats, and those in power, so that they may be guided by wisdom and seek peaceful resolutions to conflicts.
Pray for Victims: Remember the countless innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Pray for their protection, comfort, and provision.
Pray for Reconciliation: Ask God to soften the hearts of those involved in conflicts, so that they may be open to reconciliation and forgiveness.
Pray for Healing: Pray for physical and emotional healing for those affected by violence and war.
Pray for Peacekeepers: Lift up those working for peace, including humanitarian organizations, peacekeeping forces, and peacemakers on the ground.
The Power of Persistent Prayer
In the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus teaches us about the importance of persistent prayer. The widow’s persistence moved the unjust judge to grant her justice. Likewise, our persistent prayers for peace in conflict-ridden regions can move the heart of God and lead to positive change.
As Christians, we should never underestimate the impact of our prayers. James 5:16 affirms, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Let us, therefore, remain steadfast in our commitment to pray for conflicts worldwide, trusting that God hears our cries and is at work in ways we may not fully comprehend.
In conclusion, praying for conflicts around the world is not just a Christian duty; it is a divine calling. Through prayer, we can tap into the extraordinary power of God to bring peace and healing to the darkest corners of our world. Let us heed the biblical mandate, lift our voices in prayer, and stand as beacons of hope and agents of peace in a world that so desperately needs it.
In the journey of a Christian’s life, one of the most challenging aspects can be waiting for God to answer our prayers. We live in a world that thrives on instant gratification, where waiting feels like a burden rather than a blessing. However, as believers, we are called to have faith and trust in God’s perfect timing. In this article, we will explore the importance of faith while waiting for God to answer our prayers.
God’s timing is not like our timing. In the Bible, we are reminded in Ecclesiastes 3:1 that there is a season for everything and a time for every purpose under heaven. God’s timing is always perfect, and He knows what is best for us. When we pray, we often have our own timeline in mind, but God’s plans are far greater and wiser than ours.
Faith as a Foundation
Faith is the foundation of our relationship with God. Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” When we pray and ask God for something, we may not see immediate results, but faith allows us to trust that God is working behind the scenes, orchestrating events for our good. Having faith while waiting is an act of surrender, acknowledging that God’s ways are higher than ours.
Waiting on God to answer our prayers can be a test of our faith. It is easy to have faith when everything is going well, but true faith is refined in the fires of adversity. James 1:3-4 encourages us, “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” As we wait, our faith is being strengthened, preparing us for the blessings God has in store.
Patience is a virtue that is developed through waiting. Romans 8:25 reminds us, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Waiting for God’s answer teaches us to be patient and to trust His timing. It also allows us to grow in our dependence on Him, seeking His guidance and wisdom in the waiting period.
While we wait, we can take comfort in the knowledge of God’s faithfulness. Throughout the Bible, we see countless examples of God’s faithfulness to His people. He has a track record of answering prayers and fulfilling His promises. Lamentations 3:22-23 affirms this: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
In times of waiting, when we eagerly anticipate God’s answer to our prayers, let us remember that faith is our anchor. It reminds us that God is in control, His timing is perfect, and He is faithful. While waiting may be challenging, it is also an opportunity to grow in our faith, develop patience, and deepen our relationship with our Heavenly Father. So, let us hold on to our faith, knowing that God is working all things together for our good, and His answer will come in His perfect time.
Discovering that C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia blew my young mind. To learn that one of my favourite stories was penned by a man rooted in faith was all in inspiration I needed to know that one could make the Gospel persuasive in a secular culture.
C.S. Lewis, a renowned writer and scholar, left an indelible mark on both the literary world and the Christian faith. Born in 1898, Lewis’ imaginative storytelling and profound insights continue to captivate readers worldwide. However, it was his journey from atheism to Christianity and his subsequent defence of the faith that solidified his influence on believers. In this article, we will explore the life, works, and lasting impact of C.S. Lewis on the Christian faith.
The Conversion of a Skeptic
Many may be surprised to read that C.S. Lewis was originally a staunch atheist who then underwent a transformative spiritual journey that led him to embrace Christianity. Through conversations with friends and mentors, most notably J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis began to question his atheistic worldview. Eventually, he experienced a profound encounter with God, recognizing the truth of Christ’s redemptive work. This radical transformation became a central theme in Lewis’ writings, as he sought to engage both believers and sceptics alike with the intellectual and heartfelt defence of Christianity.
The Chronicles of Narnia
One of Lewis’ most notable contributions to literature is “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. Through the enchanting tales set in a fantastical world, Lewis skillfully wove Christian allegory, presenting timeless truths in a captivating and accessible manner. The themes of sacrifice, redemption, and the presence of a loving Creator resonate deeply within these beloved stories, captivating the hearts and minds of readers across generations. “The Chronicles of Narnia” continues to inspire readers to embrace their faith and embark on their own spiritual journey.
Mere Christianity and Apologetics
In “Mere Christianity,” Lewis masterfully defended the rationality and relevance of the Christian faith. With clarity and intellectual rigour, he addressed the foundational beliefs of Christianity, such as the existence of God, the nature of Christ, and the problem of evil. His profound insights, combined with his engaging writing style, helped bridge the gap between intellectual scepticism and heartfelt faith. Lewis’ contributions to apologetics offered believers compelling arguments and strengthened their confidence in the truth of the Gospel.
The Abolition of Man and Moral Reasoning
In “The Abolition of Man,” Lewis warned against the erosion of objective morality and the consequences of a world devoid of ethical standards. With prophetic foresight, he challenged the prevailing relativism of his time, urging readers to recognize the timeless principles that underpin a just society. Lewis’ insights into moral reasoning continue to resonate today, reminding believers of the importance of upholding God’s moral truths in a world that often seeks to redefine them.
C.S. Lewis, with his remarkable literary contributions and his unapologetic defence of the Christian faith, remains a towering figure in the Christian world. His personal journey from scepticism to faith and his ability to articulate complex theological ideas in a relatable manner have impacted countless lives. Lewis’ writings continue to inspire, challenge, and equip believers to confidently live out their faith and engage with the intellectual and spiritual questions of our time.
Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, “speaking in defense”) is the religious discipline of defending religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse.
Apologetics is an essential discipline within Christianity that equips believers to defend their faith with confidence, clarity, and compassion. Grounded in Scripture, apologetics enables Christians to articulate and uphold the truth of the Gospel in the face of scepticism and intellectual challenges. In this article, we will explore what apologetics is and why it is crucial for Christians to engage in this vital practice, drawing insights from six scriptural passages that emphasize the importance of defending the faith.
Be ready to provide a defence
1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
This verse encapsulates the heart of apologetics. Christians are called to be ready to provide a reasoned defence for their faith when called upon. However, it is equally important to approach such discussions with gentleness and respect. Apologetics allows believers to engage in meaningful dialogue, showcasing the reasons behind their hope in Christ while maintaining an attitude of love and humility.
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3)
Jude’s exhortation reminds Christians of the need to actively contend for the faith. Apologetics equips believers to engage in intellectual and spiritual battles by presenting a reasoned defence of the truth of the Gospel. In a world rife with scepticism and opposing worldviews, Christians are called to stand firm in the face of challenges and preserve the integrity of the faith entrusted to them.
A lesson from Paul
Acts 17:2-4 “And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.’ And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas.” (Acts 17:2-4)
The apostle Paul’s example in Athens showcases the power of apologetics. He engaged with the Jews and God-fearing Greeks, presenting a well-reasoned argument from the Scriptures to persuade them of Jesus as the Messiah. Through reasoned discourse, Paul’s apologetic efforts resulted in people being persuaded and embracing the truth of the Gospel. Christians today can follow his example by presenting a thoughtful defence of their faith, leading others to encounter Christ.
Apologetics should be accompanied by wisdom and graciousness
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6)
Apologetics should be accompanied by wisdom and graciousness. Christians are called to engage in respectful dialogue, being mindful of the opportunities presented to share the truth of the Gospel. By embracing apologetics, believers can respond effectively to the questions and objections raised by non-believers, offering compelling reasons for their faith while exemplifying the love and grace of Christ.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Apologetics involves critically analyzing opposing worldviews and arguments that seek to undermine the knowledge of God. By engaging in the practice of apologetics, Christians are equipped to demolish false ideas and ideologies, offering sound reasoning that aligns with the truth of Christ. Apologetics enables believers to take captive every thought, ensuring that their faith is grounded in reason and firmly rooted in the knowledge of God.
Make it plain and rational
Romans 1:20 (approximately 100 words): “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
Apologetics draws attention to the evidence of God’s existence and the revelation of His nature through creation. By engaging in thoughtful discussions, believers can point to the fingerprints of God evident in the world around us. Apologetics allows Christians to reveal the rational basis for belief in God, inviting others to recognize the divine presence and respond to His call.
Apologetics equips Christians to confidently defend their faith, engaging with intellectual challenges while demonstrating love and respect. By drawing upon scriptural insights and reasoned arguments, believers can present a compelling case for the truth of the Gospel. Apologetics not only strengthens individual believers but also contributes to the persuasive power of Christianity, inviting sceptics to encounter the life-transforming grace of Jesus Christ.
On my mount rushmore of heroes whose words have shaped my life sits Charles Spurgeon. A juggernaut of preaching who had a strong command of the English Language.
I was recently taking a leadership group of young preachers through one of Spurgeon’s lectures when it dawned on me that many young people may not be fully exposed to his work. In this short article, I want to reflect on his work.
Charles Spurgeon, often referred to as the “Prince of Preachers,” was a prominent figure in Christian history whose impact reverberates to this day. Born in 1834, Spurgeon’s ministry was marked by an unwavering commitment to proclaiming the Gospel and a deep love for God’s Word. Through his powerful preaching, prolific writing, and compassionate heart, Spurgeon left an indelible mark on the Christian faith. Let us explore who Charles Spurgeon was and the enduring impact he had on believers worldwide.
A Prodigy of Preaching
Spurgeon’s gift for preaching became evident early in his life. At the tender age of 19, he was called to pastor the New Park Street Chapel in London, where his congregation rapidly grew. Known for his dynamic and passionate sermons, Spurgeon preached the Gospel with clarity, conviction, and an unwavering commitment to biblical truth. His eloquence and ability to connect with people from all walks of life drew immense crowds, filling the Metropolitan Tabernacle to its capacity.
A Devoted Student of God’s Word
I recently wrote about the importance of adopting a daily bible study habit. Spurgeon’s impact was rooted in his deep love for Scripture. He diligently studied God’s Word, investing countless hours in biblical research and exploration. His commitment to the Bible’s authority and his ability to expound its truths captivated his listeners and readers. Spurgeon’s sermons and writings were saturated with biblical insights and practical wisdom, making the Scriptures accessible and relevant to the lives of his audience. His renowned work, “The Treasury of David,” an exposition of the Psalms, remains a valuable resource for believers seeking spiritual nourishment.
A Heart for Evangelism and Compassion
Spurgeon had an unyielding burden for the lost and a compassionate heart for the suffering. He established numerous charitable organizations, including an orphanage that cared for hundreds of children. Spurgeon’s commitment to social justice and his emphasis on the importance of practical Christian living inspired many to engage in acts of mercy and compassion. His passion for evangelism led to the distribution of thousands of tracts and the establishment of a Pastor’s College, equipping ministers for the work of the Gospel.
A Legacy of Faith
Spurgeon’s impact on the Christian faith extended far beyond his lifetime. His sermons, which were widely published, continue to reach and inspire millions of believers worldwide. His emphasis on the grace of God, the centrality of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit resonates with Christians of all denominations. Spurgeon’s influence can be seen in the lives and ministries of numerous pastors and evangelists who have been inspired by his example. His legacy serves as a reminder that God can use one faithful servant to bring about significant change in the world.
Charles Spurgeon’s life and ministry serve as an enduring testimony to the transformative power of God’s Word and the impact of one person wholly committed to Him. Through his passionate preaching, unwavering devotion to Scripture, and compassionate heart, Spurgeon left an indelible mark on the Christian faith. His legacy continues to inspire believers to faithfully proclaim the Gospel and live out their faith in service to others.
It is difficult to overstate just how important a daily reading practice of reading the bible can be. From my perspective, it’s the single most important thing that has changed my Christian walk.
Our faith is nourished by a daily encounter with God’s Word. Today many applications help us with reading a verse a day, but I want to encourage readers to go deeper and commit to the daily study of the bible. The Bible holds immeasurable wisdom, guidance, and encouragement that can shape our lives and draw us closer to our Heavenly Father. Let us delve into some passages and discover the transformative impact that consistent engagement with the Word of God can have on our spiritual journey.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
This verse reminds us that the Bible is not merely a collection of ancient texts but a divine guidebook for our lives. Just as a lamp illuminates a dark path, God’s Word shines a light on our journey, showing us the way to live according to His will. By studying the Scriptures daily, we allow God’s light to guide our steps, offering wisdom, clarity, and direction in a world often shrouded in confusion.
If we want to be guided by God, then we must pay close attention to his words which provide us with the daily guidance we need.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
Joshua received this instruction from God as he prepared to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. The same principle applies to us today. Daily meditation and study of God’s Word lead to a deep understanding of His commands and promises. By internalizing Scripture, we align our actions with God’s principles, resulting in true prosperity and success—a life lived in harmony with His perfect plan.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
These verses emphasize the comprehensive nature of Scripture and its impact on our lives. God’s Word teaches us, convicting us of areas where we fall short, correcting our course, and training us to live in righteousness. Through daily study, we allow God’s Word to mould our character, equipping us to fulfil His purposes and engage in good works. It is through the transformative power of Scripture that we become vessels of God’s love and instruments of His grace in the world.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)
This verse emphasizes the importance of applying what we learn from Scripture. Daily Bible study should not be a passive exercise but an active pursuit of understanding and obedience. Merely hearing the Word without putting it into practice is futile. As we engage with the Scriptures daily, let us allow God’s truth to penetrate our hearts, leading us to live lives that reflect His love and grace. It is in the application of God’s Word that we experience genuine transformation and make a meaningful impact on the world around us.
Daily reading of God’s word is an indispensable practice for every Christian. As we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, we encounter His wisdom, guidance, and life-transforming power. By meditating on Scripture, we allow God to illuminate our path, prosper our ways, equip us for His work, and transform us into His image.
Let us make a commitment to engage with the Bible daily, allowing its truths to shape our lives and draw us closer to our Heavenly Father.
Whilst many believers know prayer is essential to the Christian life, many still find it difficult to build a consistent prayer life.
When asked, “What is more important: prayer or reading the Bible? Charles Spurgeon replied, “What is more important: breathing in or breathing out?”. Prayer is as essential to a Christian life just as much as breathing is. In fact, in the Bible, we are told to“rejoice always, pray without ceasing, 1give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Here is a simple way to pray which may help structure your prayer so it has a format you can follow
Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need” (NASB). So, here is a way that you can confidently come before God’s throne to praise Him, repent, thank Him and request what it is you need.
What Is the ACTS Prayer Method?
This method of prayer serves as an outline or guide for prayer so you can organize your thoughts and requests. The acronym ACTS stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. It’s a model of prayer that is more than a century old, as it was believed to first be published as part of a story series in the August 1883 periodical The Continent.
This model of prayer prioritizes our time with God so we first approach Him with reverence (adoration), then repent of the sin in our life (confession), then express our gratitude to Him for all He has done (thanksgiving), and finally submit to Him our requests (supplication).
A – Adoration of God
Theletter A of the A.C.T.S acronym stands for the adoration of God. During this time of prayer focus directly on God. Adore Him for who He is and His attributes, His character. Worship and praise God with your whole heart and mind. Focus your heart and mind upon the full majesty of God and His glory. As you spend this necessary time adoring God it not only pleases Him but also has benefits for you!
“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
As you wait in God’s presence adoring Him, you are refreshed too and your faith muscle grows much stronger as you contemplate and remember how big and amazing our God is.
Prayer of adoration
So how do you adore God? You need a few prompts to raise up a sacrifice of praise in adoration of God Almighty. You will gain lots of inspiration for praising God from the words of hymns or worship songs, and of course, the Bible is full of adoration verses!
If I find it hard to settle my heart but long to adore God that if I sit quietly listening to a hymn or worship song suddenly my heart engages in the worship and instead of focusing on the things that I can’t control, I am in full adoration of the One who can bring the necessary change in my circumstances.
Here are some of my favorite adoration scriptures: Sit still in God’s presence contemplating just one of these Bible verses and wait and watch for the adoration of God to rise up in your heart.
Psalm 8:1: O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
1 Chronicles 29:11-13: Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.12 Both riches and honour come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand, it is to make great and to give strength to all.13 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
Psalm 63:3-4: Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name, I will lift up my hands.
Revelation 4:8: And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Ephesians 1:7: In Him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
Psalm 135:3: Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
Psalm 34:15: The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
Isaiah 55:8-9: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Psalm 89:8: O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you?
C – Confession
The “C” in the ACTS prayer is admitting and confessing your sin to God so that your prayers will not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7). In Psalm 32:3-5, David prayed:
“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality failed as with the dry heat of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to You, And I did not hide my guilt; I said, “I will confess my wrongdoings to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin (NASB).”
Yes, God already knows about our sins, but by confessing them, we are admitting to and acknowledging that our sin is offensive to God and agreeing with Him that we need His Son, Jesus, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. First John 1:9 tells us “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
T – Thanksgiving
Scripture is very clear on our command to be grateful, and not just for what God has given us. First Thessalonians 5:18 instructs: “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” Notice the verse doesn’t say “In good things give thanks” or “in the pleasantries of life, give thanks.” Rather, it commands us to be thankful in everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly. As you do this, you are living out “the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” as the verse states.
Practice gratitude to God in everything, by thanking Him for the difficulties you are facing on any given day, for the things He has withheld for your own good, for the refining work He is doing in your soul, for the trials that are moulding you into the image of Christ, and for the way He can redeem all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
I have found that when I begin to thank God for everything, not just the good things, it completely changes my perspective and makes me far more of a grateful person. Thanking God in everything gets the focus off of us and what we’ve been given and puts the focus back on God, the ultimate Giver.
S – Supplication
Lastly, lift up your cares and concerns to God. Pray for the people in your life, for those who are suffering, for the needs of all people throughout the world. Ask God to show you who to pray for today.
The biblical definition of supplication is a form of reverential prayer to God. It is a prayer of humility while seeking God with boldness. It is a time of prayer where you lay your requests before God about your own personal situation and also for others. This type of prayer is also known as intercession.
Praying scripture during your time of supplication is such a powerful way to pray. The Bible is full of scripture that you can use for various purposes.
A powerful way to pray scripture over someone is to insert their name into a verse. When you do this you are praying God’s words back to Him and you are also praying God’s will for that person. This discipline will strengthen your faith and instil hope in your heart.
When you pray scripture, you can be sure you are praying the will of God because you are praying His very words back to Him!
The ACTS prayer ensures that you are praising God for who He is, confessing sin in your heart that could otherwise hinder your prayers, and thanking Him for all He is doing in your life before asking Him for all that you want and need. And for those on the other side of the spectrum who hesitate to come before God and ask Him for anything, this prayer can help them gain confidence that there is a proper place and time to do that in prayer.
As Christians, we are called to live lives that are marked by joy. However, in the midst of life’s challenges and trials, it can be easy to lose sight of the joy that is meant to define our faith. Yet, true joy is not dependent on our circumstances but is a gift from God that transcends the ups and downs of life. In this article, we will explore the essence of joy, its source, and how we can experience it in our daily walk as Christians.
Joy is not happiness
First and foremost, joy is not merely a fleeting emotion or momentary happiness. It is a deep-seated sense of well-being and contentment that comes from knowing and being in a relationship with our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit working within us (Galatians 5:22). Joy is the result of recognising that our sins have been forgiven and that we have been reconciled with God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. It is the assurance of eternal life in Christ and the hope that we have in Him.
The source of our joy, as Christians, is rooted in the character of God. Our heavenly Father is a God of love, mercy, and grace. He delights in His children and desires to bless us abundantly. When we align our lives with God’s will, we tap into His joy and experience His presence in a profound way. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” In other words, true joy is found in seeking God, abiding in His presence, and finding our satisfaction in Him alone.
Furthermore, joy is not a passive state but an active response to our faith in God. The apostle Paul, despite facing immense persecution and trials, proclaimed, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Paul understood that joy is not circumstantial but a deliberate choice to focus on the goodness of God and His faithfulness. It is an act of worship and a testimony to the transformative power of the Gospel in our lives. When we choose joy, we are a witness to the world, pointing them to the hope and peace that can only be found in Christ.
So, how can we experience joy in our daily walk as Christians? Firstly, we must cultivate a heart of gratitude. Recognizing and appreciating the blessings that God has bestowed upon us, both big and small, help us to shift our focus from our problems to the goodness of our Heavenly Father. Secondly, we need to immerse ourselves in God’s Word.
The Bible is filled with promises and reminders of God’s love, faithfulness, and the hope we have in Him. Meditating on Scripture and allowing its truths to penetrate our hearts will bring forth a deep sense of joy. Lastly, prayer is vital in cultivating joy.
Through prayer, we can pour out our hearts to God, seek His guidance, and experience His peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).
Experiencing joy as a Christian is not contingent on our circumstances but on our relationship with God. It is a gift from Him that flows from a heart that is surrendered to His will and rooted in His Word.
As we continually seek His presence, cultivate gratitude, and engage in prayer, we will find that true joy becomes a constant companion on our journey of faith. May we be known as Christians who radiate joy, drawing others to the hope and love found in Jesus Christ?
On the 19th of May 2023, Tim Keller went home to be with the Lord. A hugely popular figure who left his mark on both the Christian and Secular worlds. As the tributes poured in remembrance of a life well lived, it caused me to reflect on the impact that Tim Keller left on me.
There’s a famous saying “Never meet your heroes”. I didn’t get to meet one of mine, I only got to see him from afar. In my view, Tim Keller consistently exuded grace and gentleness in his writing, preaching and interactions on social media. These observations seemed to be backed by many tributes from people of all denominations and backgrounds who despite the various interactions all seemed to be left with the same impression – Tim Keller loved Jesus. At the end of my life, I would love to be remembered the same way.
Tim Keller on friendship
Very few sermons have impacted me like the sermon Tim Keller gave on Friendship. With such an important relationship being the bedrock of human life, you would assume that it would be preached on more. Tim Keller reminds us that to be a true friend requires “constancy, candour, carefulness and counsel”.
In a little under 40 minutes, I realised that I had undervalued this gift that God had granted me. Often, people do not want to appear to be a burden. However, according to Tim Keller, to be a true friend, you must be willing to repeatedly bear the burdens of your friends. After all, doesn’t Galatians 6:2 exhort us to do this very thing? What is clear from this sermon is that we must avoid the tendency to coast through friendships. Instead, the friendships we cultivate here on earth should be rooted in the great friendship we find in Jesus.
Keller on suffering
I wonder what went through Tim Keller’s mind when he was first diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in May 2020. We all know that we will go through some sort of suffering in this world. We don’t need an in-depth theology to know that the effects of sin can be so disorienting. And yet, when suffering comes the scripture exhorts us to glory in our sufferings (Romans 5:3-4). This is hard to hear when the suffering is seemingly unbearable.
Tim Keller taught us that when suffering is great, we need to lean on God who is greater than our suffering. When we feel hopeless, the scriptures teach us that suffering has a strange way of leading us to hope (Romans 5:3-4). Tim Keller didn’t spend his days trying to diagnose why he was suffering from stage IV cancer, instead, he put all his hope in the Great Physician. Tim Keller taught us that all those who put their faith in Christ will always eventually hear “Your faith has made you well” (Mark 10:52).
Be gentle because God is gentle
To paraphrase Dane Ortlund, Jesus only described Himself once in the scriptures and He called Himself “gentle and lowly” (Matthew 11:29). In a society where there is much debate about what being masculine is, Tim Keller taught us that the most masculine thing men can be is gentle. Oh how much better the world would be if we would follow Jesus in this way.
Tim Keller would often share his thoughts on social media and this would bring engagement from all corners of society. Sometimes, he would encounter a harsh response that would question his reasoning, motive or sincerity. Not once did I see Tim Keller respond in kind. Instead, he was eager to embody this Proverb “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). When tensions threatened to boil over online, Tim Keller would endeavour to disarm his opponents with grace and draw them in with the truth. This mixture of grace and truth inevitably points us to Jesus (John 1:14).
Tim Keller taught me a lot. I’m sad that he has died. But I’m also happy because he lives. Tim Keller taught me that the goal of the Christian is not to be perfect but faithful. I never got to meet one of my heroes in this life, but I’m certain I will get to in the next. Until then, I look forward to carrying on the charge I think embodied Tim Keller’s ministry – showing that Jesus Christ is worth trusting.
Following Jesus is not easy. It requires whole-hearted devotion to God as we make Christ our priority (Luke 14:26-27), considering Him our greatest gain (Philippians 3:7-8). To follow Christ is to obey God irrespective of the consequences (Acts 5:28-29 ). The magnitude of the task demands the help of others. We need to join those who embark on the same course as us in following Christ. Therefore, we must ask ourselves: “Who do I follow in my efforts to follow Christ and “What is guiding them?”
Who to follow
We are to follow those whose example points us towards the ultimate example: Jesus Christ Himself (1 Corinthians 11:1). Their character should reflect the nature of Christ. Like a child who follows the example of their parents, we are to imitate God and those who follow Him faithfully (Ephesians 5:1). Some things to look out for include:
Those who live under the authority of the word of God. Accordingly, their way of life is consistent with the standard of God as set out in the Bible
Repentance from the sin which marked our lives outside of Christ. A continual pursuit of righteousness and a commitment to holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24; 5:8-11; Colossians 3:5-14)
Those who follow God’s example by their love, selflessly sacrificing themselves for the good of others (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Compassionate and forgiving people (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12-13)
People walking in sexual purity (Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5-6)
Those who speak encouraging words (Ephesians 4:29) and God-honouring speech (Ephesians 5:4)
Finding who to follow
Moreover, we must consider where to find people to follow. You may find Christ-like examples in well-known pastors, teachers, speakers or social media influencers. Although there is value in this, there is only so much you can identify in a person and benefit from at a distance. You cannot limit who you follow to those from afar. You need personal relationships. You need flesh on flesh contact with fellow believers around you. Look within your church, fellowships, friendships circles and the like. Commit to the Christian communities in your locality. By doing so, you can sharpen each other and motivate one another to live for Jesus and remain steadfast in following Him (Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 10:24). You can follow others from a distance, but you maximise your growth by following those within your proximity.
How to follow
Lastly, how are we to follow these people? With Christ Himself being our ultimate standard, the other examples we have in our lives are bound to fail at times. The same goes for ourselves. As such, we do not follow in a spirit of judgement, but with grace. Furthermore, we follow consistently and with persistence. The athletics metaphor often used in the New Testament demonstrates how we and those we imitate can follow Christ. Like a runner, we are to be disciplined, remaining persistent by staying the course despite the challenges we may face (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1-3).
We run with the goal of Christian maturity, knowing Jesus and becoming more like Him with an unwavering focus (Philippians 3:10-14). So dear friends, whoever and whatever we follow may they always point towards and exemplify Christ and I pray that as believers we would have the discernment to know when the person/thing we’re following needs to change.