Being a blessing, through spiritual fruit.

“Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Spirit three in one……”, the beautiful hymn is echoing through my mind and heart as I find myself meditating again on God’s creation – the wisdom, variety, ingenuity etc. “You were right to remember that you are part of My creation, made in My image – you are right to remember that I am busy moulding you – Creator, Potter, yet Father of all love – Now I am working in your life so that you may reflect me more and more – and be a witness to me.”

I see a picture in my mind’s eye of me, like a plant, a rose and God’s fruit coming out of me like a bud, a beautiful multicoloured bud. Then I remember Jesus’ words in John ch 15, speaking of a vine – I need to remain in the vine to produce the fruit – the more I draw of the sap of the Spirit, the more I will produce luscious, golden, swollen, grapes, sweet to taste, beautiful to look at the fragrance of joy, of purpose, of obedience and of trust. But then comes the warning; beware of rotten berries in the bunch, which will spread to the rest – pride, selfishness, impatience, frustration, lack of trust, lack of love, deceit, slander, hypocrisy. They will spoil the whole bunch.

I take up my reading in 1 Peter 3:8-12. His general theme is still submission and interpersonal relationships but now he has moved on to the wider relationships of the members of God’s church. Strong words in vv 8 and 9 of mutual love featuring a desire to be sympathetic and loving, showing compassion to each other, all with an attitude of humility, regarding others as better than ourselves.(cf Philippians ch 2)

Then follows a quotation from psalm 34 with the emphasis on the words “tongue, lips and speech”, which remind me again how important the fruit of our lips is. Dr Phil often used to say “you can’t undo stupid”. Well you can’t unsay words that reflect evil, deceit and lack of love and sympathy. Then comes the surprise, “God’s ears are attentive to the righteous in prayer” vs 12. OK… second time Peter has mentioned how important our holiness is in terms of God listening to our prayers. The previous time was in vs 7 where he speaks of a husband’s prayers being hindered because of a wrong attitude towards his wife.

Then there’s the word “blessing” in vs 9. With the right attitude towards others, Peter says we will “inherit a blessing”. I take that to mean that the one who walks like this will benefit from it by being in harmony with God. So, he/she will have that and the promise that God will hear his prayers, I presume as part of it. So there is a a warning which goes back to vs 7. If our attitude is not right towards others, especially brothers and sisters in the church we will NOT experience harmony and He will NOT be attentive to our prayers.

So as I consider all this, I come back to my initial meditation. What is Jesus saying to me today? Well, it is clear how important interpersonal relationships are. The harmony within the church and love shown to each other is the best witness there can be. Yet from a personal point of view He seems to be saying that this harmony is part of the fruit of the Spirit He was showing me, which cannot be produced in any other way than being “in the Vine and drawing the supernatural sap of the Spirit”. More than that, much as it is a huge benefit to be under God’s blessing, our real witness is when we demonstrate this by being a blessing to others. So that is my challenge: To see that in each and every interpersonal relationship I have, I must be demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit, if I am to be a witness. Even in the quiet of the inner room where it is only myself and a beloved wife who is struggling with dementia. Or my interaction with the nurses and helpers who I come into contact with daily.

“Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Spirit, three in one”!

God’s grace, Love and Suffering.

Yesterday I found my conversation with Jesus continuing from the previous day, concerning God’s love for me and His creation. This is what I wrote: “Remember, you are my beloved son – however, just as complex as the body’s functions are (I had been imagining in my mind’s eye some of the most incredible functions of our bodies, far far more complex and ingenious than I could even imagine), so complex is my creation – each individual is unique and I love each one I have made – even Adam and Eve -the firstborn. Have I made some for destruction, like Pharoah? Don’t try and understand, don’t question – just accept my absolute attitude for my whole creation – It hurts me that I have had to judge it with a curse, it hurts me that I have to judge each person – it hurts me when people turn their back on me and deny me – it hurts me even when people suffer – that is why my grace has been poured out, lavished on my creation to be with those who are suffering. Each person is unique and will never be tested more than the grace I give them. (There was more for me, to do with my ministry).

So my reading, starting yesterday in 1 Peter 2:11 and ending today at vs 25. The underlying theme is submission and humility and today moves to the submission and suffering slaves should do and what their attitude should be towards suffering unjustly. There is no witness when you suffer justly and accept it. The witness is when you suffer unjustly and accept it. This is why you need the power of the gospel to carry you through and the example is Christ’s suffering, although He never deserved it.

So before I even had the chance this morning to truly stop and ask what this meant for me, this came to me: “This is for you Ian – you may feel you are suffering unjustly, but you are participating in Christ’s suffering; to this you were called (vs 21) – you are not a slave to humans but you are a slave to Me – doulos – in a hugely good way you belong to me, for I not only made you but I bought you with my blood – and equally your suffering is not brought about by evil intent – it is because I love you – it is drawing you closer and bringing you into greater dependence and humility”.

Then looking further down the passage came this wonderful summary of the gospel in vss 24-25: “He Himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you are healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”. Wow! There you have the gorgeous gospel in a nutshell.

I challenge each of you to try and memorize these two vss, so that when a crisis strikes they will be of the first words that will flood your mind.

Rescue from the Storm.

This morning I am taken into a storm. A storm on the lake – the sea of Galilee. I step into and become part of this terrifying experience. The pitch dark envelops me, the wind is howling, tossing the boat unmercifully around, huge waves appearing out of the dark, towering over the boat with foaming crescents. And the noise is unbelievable, the wind is howling, while the waves are crashing onto each other and foaming over the boat and the violent flapping of the sails, my mouth is filled with the taste of salt and fear, the disciples and myself clinging to each other soaked to the skin, calling for help. Over at the end of the boat is a figure, serenely asleep in the midst of this chaos. The disciples are calling out to Him, “Teacher, Teacher – wake up help us surely you can do something”. The sleeping figure sits up slowly clinging to the side of the boat and speaks out into the darkness “Quiet! Be still!”

The most amazing thing happens. No its not just the wind that slowly calms down. Instantaneously the wind stops, but also the waves cease their onslaught on the boat and within seconds the sea is like glass. A new fear washes over all of us in the boat as we realize and experience this huge supernatural power. The fear of injury or death by drowning is replaced by an overwhelming awe as we realize who is sitting in the boat with us. “Why are you so afraid”? The figure in the boat asks – “don’t you believe – don’t you trust Me?”

The huge penny drops as we hear what He is saying. Not only does He care, but He can and does change things completely. Then my thoughts go to the furocious, Covid storm that is threatening and ravaging the whole world – like an ominous miasma – cloud of unholiness – of filth and fear. But hear now – as much as Jesus was in complete control of the storm on the lake, so much is He in control of this pandemic. The world is still under the curse of Gen ch 3 and this storm is a clear reminder of that. He is allowing it because in the midst of it all, He is working in each person’s life in the whole world – ease and pleasure cause mankind to turn to their own resources and enjoyment and leave God out – even Christians. We need to be reminded of the fact of Jesus and the fact of our lostness – the pandemic is a stark physical reminder of our spiritual lostness and only when we can “see ” that, will we turn to accept and appreciate His salvation package.

So my continued reading today in 1 Peter is from 1:22 – 2:3. This is a continued discussion on the ‘salvation package’ we have seen before. Firstly we are reminded that this salvation change is supernaturally wrought by God, when we are “born again of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God”. On the other hand the sure sign of this change that takes place is the ability He gives each one of us to love one another, with a deep love from the heart. But this is our responsibility. We are called to do it in response to His work of giving us the new birth. This is also the positive side of salvation. There is also a negative side, a putting off of the wrong behaviour and attitudes – malice, slander, deceit, hypocrisy, envy….. Am I guilty of any of these? Oh dear for sure, as evil as they sound, it is easy to do these things, dressed up in their Sunday best to look like something else.

What is the antidote? Here comes the double reminder of the importance of God’s word. His Word has the power to continually change us supernaturally, not only with our initial regeneration.. So we must crave His word like a baby craves milk…. continually hungry for it and entirely dependent on it (this expression is used by Peter in a different way to Hebrews and 1 Corinthians, which both speak of new Christians) – this is the attitude every Christian should have towards the life giving, rescuing word of God.

So what is Jesus saying to me? He firstly reminds me of the word he gave me on the 24th March, the day of “lockdown”. from Psalm 58:1b “I will take refuge in the shadow of thy wings until this disaster has passed”. He cares and is in control. Secondly I am warned not to sit back and become idle, but to continue to grow spiritually through His word and trusting obedience. I will never stop needing to deal with all the issues He mentions, till I get to be with Him. Thirdly I am reminded of the hugely precious nature of the ‘salvation package’ a message not to be kept to myself.

Praise His name for that great and glorious day.

The glory and centrality of Salvation.

This is the Lord’s day (not the Sabbath). Let us rejoice and be glad in it – let us rejoice and be glad in HIM. I am so grateful for my quiet little corner that the Lord has given me, where I can experience the closeness of my relationship with Him. As I become quiet I see a picture of a giant wave rising up to engulf me and those I love. Is it COVID? God’s word to me – “My grace is like that, like a flood, I have lavished My grace on you – I have not only chosen you and taken you on a specific path – despite yourself- I have done this – every step of the way in love – and the sign of my love is this abundance of grace for you. It is by grace that your sins have been forgiven – that you have been given the New Birth and have received all the benefits of being “In Christ Jesus”. It is by grace that you have experienced rejection [here I will break because this is highly personal] – this has enabled you to experience a tiny part of the rejection I have suffered as a result of my people’s unfaithfulness – yes and even yours. My grace means you are not only accepted, you are loved out of your socks, like the lost son to whom the Father ran to meet and clothed with a robe (of salvation), I run to meet you when you recognize my presence”.

Yesterday i started reading 1 Peter. Wow! What a rich passage, so dense – As I noted down what it was saying I made out 10 points between vs 1 – 9 of the first chapter and behind the input of what Christ has done for us, 4 exclamations of joy it brings him as he writes and should arouse in us in vss,3,6,7,8. I am not going to unpack this passage that is not the purpose of this blog. If you want to share this with me why don’t you go through these vss slowly and ask Jesus what He is saying to you.

Today I continued up to vs 12 and something really struck me. Verse 9 tells us what is the purpose, the goal as it were for these abundant gifts – “the salvation of our souls.” In vs 10 he picks up that “package” as it were the package of salvation and fetches it from the Old Testament, where it was first revealed although not understood yet. What struck me especially was something a commentator said about this passage and about salvation. We tend to think of Salvation as our final destination with God in heaven. However we need to remember there are three stages to our salvation. We were saved the moment we first believed. we are being saved now throughout the rest of our lives and we will be saved ultimately when we go to be with Jesus. The fact of salvation permeates every part of our lives from then on into heaven. It changes everything. The joy, the power from above, the purpose – to glorify God. Every aspect of our new lives is influenced by this amazing fact and process.

OK I can hear you say, but that’s old hat I have heard that often. But to me it was as if Jesus was showing me afresh how rich this “package” is, if we can use that imagery. As I contemplated the thought of it being a package, I thought: “Heh this is my Christmas present”. In my minds eye I could see this salvation package – gift being opened on Christmas morning and out of it poured all the wonderful truths which have been and are being given to me from it like a stream of jewels. Election, forgiveness through the sprinkling of Jesus blood, reconciliation with God, a relationship with Jesus, the hope of an eternal inheritance, shielded by the power of God through faith, all the tests He puts us through. And the wrapping of the package is His grace and the colour which glows over all is His love for us.

the package is hugely appropriate for me, for us, because all these things are necessary for this process of being saved. Wow! In Peter’s own words the thought of all this fills me with an inexpressible and glorious joy, a real Christmas joy.


The Lord takes me on a visual journey – past and through the cross – with Jesus hanging there, His work finished – up, up with the resurrection – up into the picture of Heaven in Revelation 4. The magnificent throne, the King of Kings, indescribable beauty, the closest John can come is using the picture of myriads of precious gems – and then the Lamb – slain- for us. An uncountable multitude worshiping and singing surrounding the throne. “It is THE wedding”, He is telling me. I am betrothed now, but the actual wedding is far, far greater and more magnificent, than I can ever imagine – yet there are glimpses of that every day in my life now – I must see them for what they are, as I stumble through the wilderness of this life – and I must experience the joy that goes with knowing Him. Yes and He is also telling me to lighten up and not take everything in life so seriously. He is filled with joy and wants me to rejoice with and in Him.

Coming near to the end of Ecclesistes 8:17 – 11:5, I am struck by the fact that this section is bracketed by these two vss. 8:17 I saw all that God has done. no one can comprehend what goes on under the sun.. 9:1 So I reflected on all this and concluded …. what all the righteous and and wise do are in God’s hands, but no man knows…. 11:5 As you don’t know the path of the wind or how the body is formed in the womb – so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.

So I meditate on this. It so fits our experience of life. So much is inexplicable. We search for easy answers for the randomness we see around us. Good people suffering yet others prospering. Evil people apparently untouchable, enjoying their wealth, yet others in misery. The ultimate – death coming to all at a time and a place we can never anticipate. But here we read that behind this is a loving God in control. We are told to go out and make the best of all His gifts 9:7-10. Do whatever your hand finds to do with all your might.

So what is Jesus saying to me? “It is delightfully freeing to know God is enigmatic. He has revealed what we need to know about Him – that is extremely rewarding and exciting, but just as exciting is the realization there is so much more to Him and knowing Him than I can put into a box. So I must earn to see and enjoy everything as part of being betrothed to Him and in the light of it being His gift. Continue to work diligently at whatever task(s) He gives me, knowing that, if I focus on the things happening in this world, I could easily become discouraged at the random equality of it all. No, it is not random, behind it all (above the sun) is a loving, mysterious, God controlling all things.