Thursday, 24 March 2016

Cause and Effect

When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.
 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’
1 Kings 2:1-4

There is a Biblical principle that if we want our lives to be blessed by God, we are to walk in His ways and keep His commandments. Throughout the Bible, when nations honoured God, devoted their lives to Him and forsook foreign idols, those nations prospered. A read through the books of Kings and Chronicles reveals that when they became complacent and began to introduce other gods into their cultures and daily lives, they faced trials, including invasion, enslavement and what we would term natural disasters.Godly leadership caused whole nations to turn to God, conversely evil rulers brought destruction and misery on their nations.

Much of our western culture was founded on Christian principles – systems of law and law enforcement, business principles, medical and educational systems that originated in church parishes and social systems which revolved around Christian morality. It’s been a long time since the church was the most impressive building in our towns and cities and many children today grow up in families where the gospel is unknown. Some people would say that they have a belief in God, but have no personal relationship, knowledge of His word, or sense of living according to it.
Peoples as individuals, people groups and nations are not necessarily blessed because of expectations, past history, or simply because we ask Him to. God may choose to bless even the ungodly but when we call ourselves Christians, the expectation is that we will increasingly be discerning in our knowledge of right and wrong, and live according to God’s will.

So, what are the principles of Christian living?
Commit your life to God through a prayer of repentance and faith. Commitment is also expressed through baptism and by taking communion. Many people want faith without repentance- which means stopping doing those things which are wrong according to God's word. These principles can be explored in more detail in courses such as Alpha or by talking with a minister or Christian friend, or exploring online.
Read and study the Bible- there are lots of online resources in this area.
Pray – talk with God
Praise – worship God through singing Christian choruses, hymns or songs. It’s an uplifting experience to sing to God with others in a church congregation
Minister- we each have a ministry- a way of serving Jesus through our gifts and talents.
Share Christian fellowship with others – in a church congregation and other groups- bible study groups, fellowship groups e.g.
And what are the commandments that God wants you to obey?  The Bible gives us ten in Exodus 20:1-17, which I will paraphrase:
Have no Gods other than God, our Father – the God of the Bible – God the Father, Jesus Christ His only Son, and His Holy Spirit – three in one.

Don’t make a god out of anything else, or worship anything else.

Reverence God’s name. Don’t misuse it in any way. Don’t use it as a curse word or exclamation.

Follow God’s example in having one day each week given to rest. This provides physical and spiritual strength as we have time to meditate on God’s blessings.

Show respect to your mother and father. For some this may incorporate compassion and forgiveness, rather than approval of their actions. It is also a reminder that those of us who are parents are to strive to live lives that honour God, that model His standards to our children.

Don’t murder. Don’t plot to take anyone else’s life. As the Bible includes many passages referring to the wonder of created human life growing in the womb, this includes abortion.  Jesus raises the bar much higher according to Matthew’s gospel, chapter 5:21-22, by stating that if you are angry with your brother, speak words of condemnation to him and harbours bitterness against him is guilty of murder in his heart.

Don’t commit adultery – sex is for within marriage, with one partner only. Again, Jesus raises the bar on this in His teachings – whoever looks at another person other than their spouse to lust after them is guilty by the intents of the heart. Watch your heart.

Don’t steal. Be honest and fair in your dealings. Give rather than take.

Don’t lie. Don’t misrepresent anyone else, gossip or tell untruths about them. Don’t give false or misleading information.

Don’t be jealous or envious of what anyone else has. God knows what He wants to supply in your life. Don’t envy another’s spouse, or house or success or material possessions. Trust Him to supply – He often does so over and above all we need. Thank Him for His many blessings, including the precious gift of His Son, Jesus, and His Holy Spirit.

Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment, recorded in John’s gospel, chapter 13, verse 34- that we love one another as He has loved us. Various Biblical passages exhort us to love one another, love your enemies, and love one’s neighbour as if they were ourselves. The parable of the good Samaritan demonstrates that our neighbours include those who are strangers, enemies and foreigners. This demonstration of love is one of the greatest witnesses of faith 

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