The thoughts below reflect different aspects of how to walk the religious life, we trust you will find them inspirational.
‘Take time to pray’ is a statement which many people laugh at or disregard, being too busy, or not inclined to belief. But prayer doesn’t mean an outward position e.g. kneeling, putting our hands together, bowing our head – it is an attitude of heart. Many people, although they wouldn’t admit it, have a sense of their littleness in the universe, sometimes even have the sense that there is ‘something’ greater than them. They get a feeling of awe and wonder at great natural events and scenes. At these moments their heart rejoices or feels humbled and allows itself to express itself in words, spoken or unspoken. This too is a kind of prayer – a communication with the ‘bigger things’ of the universe. It is perhaps a small step from here to allow our heart to speak when faced with the everyday situations of life.
God will not be mocked says the Bible, and yet today many feel the need to do so, denying His existence, hating what He stands for, they feel they have the right to rail against Him and His people. Similarly His Son is treated with ridicule, disregard, or just plain derision. People have the inability to take serious things seriously, and therefore put themselves at odds with their Maker. God responds to them not with angry words, but with compassion and patience. He gives them opportunity after opportunity to change, to make amends, to take life seriously. He does so to avoid their destruction. His justice means that every mocker will have his comeuppance. He delays because he wants to give them what they don’t deserve – he wants to lavish upon them what they are not capable of receiving at present. He knows that what is coming will sweep them away and He hates the thought of that. Delay is not impotence or non-existence – it is for their benefit if they could only see!
God employs his people to encourage one another. He did not say to an angel, ‘Gabriel, my servant Joshua is about to lead my people into Canaan—go, encourage him.’ God never works needless miracles; if his purposes can be accomplished by ordinary means, he will not use miraculous agency. Gabriel would not have been half so well fitted for the work as Moses who had led them thus far, experiencing the hardness and also the blessings along the way. Today seek to be an encouragement to others and watch God work a miracle in them!
There is wisdom in the following truth – ‘you shall reap what you sow’.It’s easy to be critical, cynical and dismissive of others’ efforts. In fact to be this way can make us feel good, even superior, and give us a sense of control over others, and over the circumstances of our lives. Be sure that what you put into life you will get out of it. If you live by negatives it is likely you will die by negatives. Rather take the harder route of being joyful, content, generous and encouraging – your reward will be great!
God loves to give good gifts to His children. The Bible says they come, ‘pressed down, shaken together and running over’, in other words they are generosly, abundantly and freely given. There is nothing mean about the Giver. This too is how we should give. As with the Father so with His children. We should not count the cost when giving to others but be prepared to lay down our very lives if it will save the life of another and point them once again in the direction of their Heavenly Father.
‘Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit’ says God. Why then to we tackle the world in our own strength, trying to tame it by our own efforts. We see a problem and must solve it ourselves. This is not the Biblical way – we must commit our way to God and let Him work out our paths, our direction, our every move. You see, a farmer can do nothing to make a seed actually gro. The things he can do, he does – he sows the seed, he puts it in the right environment for growth, and he will eventually reap it when it is harvest time. But he is not responsible for the actual growth process. We too must learn that once we have done what we can do, we must leave the miracles to God. After all He’s the only one with the power and the ability.
Do you find reading the Bible tough? Does every page just seem full of words without clear meaning? Here’s some practical ways of dealing with this.
Firstly find a Bible version in a style of language that suits you. You shouldn’t have to learn 16th century English to understand what God is saying.
Secondly, tell God what you think. If you’re having difficulty understanding, ask Him for help. He’s more than willing to give it.
Thirdly, avoid rigidity and too much flexibility in your approach. Both can lead to not taking in what you are reading and you may give up because you feel ‘forced’ to go through the routine, or because you are lazy.
Fourthly set time to do this – not when you’re tired or meant to be doing something else that would distract you. Quality time is important, both for you and for god.
Fifthly, keep things simple. Remember complex reading plans can be destructive. God and understanding His Word are your goals, not the rules you set yourself.
Too many people are too content with a ‘narrow’ view of God. They hold on to images given to them as children – an old man with a white beard, or perhaps someone like granddad. Indeed, sometimes these images seem so simplistic that some people discard them when they grow older, and put God behind them too.
Images are just what they are – images. They limit our understanding and appreciation of God’s reality. He cautions us from having images of Him as He knows they don’t represent Him properly. The positive side of this is that He is much bigger than our finite minds can understand, and so if we put aside our ‘childish’ images and update our understanding by opening up to Him and His Word without pre-judging
Or a dismissive spirit, we may well find Him more real than we can imagine, and more excitingly, well able to deal with the demands we place upon Him. Give Him a chance and look out for the results!
How fed up do you get when friends seem to let you down? Does it spoil how you treat others, or do you shrug your shoulders, take note of what they’ve done, and just get on with life nursing a ‘bruised spirit?
Sometimes there’s a purpose in friends not understanding us or not being there for us when we need them. God is like a good parent trying to help His child to walk unaided. Instead of clinging on to the furniture or other people, we must launch out on our own, make our own decisions as to what is a safe rout, then stick with them and with the consequences. Of course there’s also the joy of achievement when we get things right. It’s all part of growing up.
You see, God wants us to walk towards Him, taking ever bigger steps in faith. Constant reliance on others can be counter productive and can stunt our faith and our ability to progress. Make God your first port of call, and then the many voices of confusion will evaporate.
‘Time waits for no man’ – we must be careful how we use our time. As humans we work on a limited timeframe yet often we go around as if we’ve all the time in the world. This is crazy and we know it! Yet we push it to the back of our minds and somehow pretend we and those around us will go on forever, thus removing all necessity for urgency.
It’s time to get real. Honestly face up to your limitations, don’t hide away from the future. People around us need us to be real and there’s nothing worse than a person who goes on in delusion. God too wants us to get real – there are decisions to make which will affect our future, both here in this world and in the next. When overwhelmed it’s good to ask God, who has your times in His Hand, for help. Inevitability is a terrible thing when faced on your own!