A Know it all?

“Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.” Acts 18:24-26

We have a saying at work that we use a lot as a balance and check:

“You don’t know what you don’t know”.

Think about that saying for a moment.

It’s demonstrated here in the story of Apollos. He didn’t know what he didn’t know until two fellow believers told him and gave him a more full understanding of faith and explained the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, we are deficient in our knowledge, but until we discover that or someone points it out to us, we are blissfully unaware. We think we are fully informed but we may not be. As a lawyer it makes me consider and research carefully before giving a client advice in case there’s something I have missed.

There are some keys we can learn from these verses.

Apollos knew the Scriptures. He had been taught about Jesus and he taught others. What he taught was correct but it wasn’t the whole story, He had limited knowledge. Whoever had introduced Apollos to faith had limited knowledge too because he only knew what he had been taught up to that point.

You will only learn as much as your current teacher knows.

Aquila and Priscilla had been given a more complete teaching. They had been with Paul and learnt from him. When they heard Apollos speaking publicly they realised that he was lacking in knowledge. They didn’t just leave him in ignorance though but they acted. They didn’t leave Apollos in the dark. Instead they took him aside and explained things more fully to him.

Note that Aquila and Priscilla didn’t publicly shame Apollos. They didn’t flaunt their knowledge or act in a superior way. They took him aside these verses say and so would have explained things privately to him. This was wise and respectful. It also meant that they didn’t squash his enthusiasm and his gifting. He was already an eloquent speaker.

Let us also be careful how we correct those who may not be as mature in faith or have more limited knowledge. We don’t want to be responsible for squashing the gift within them or dampening their enthusiasm in the wrong way. We also need to understand their current level so as not to overwhelm them and make things too difficult to grasp.

As we considered in the last post about Being Open-Minded it seems that Apollos was just that. It was to his benefit and then the benefit of others that he listened, was teachable and then went on to share with others what he had learnt.

I pray that today I won’t consider myself a know it all but will be willing to be shown a more excellent way when I am deficient or lacking in knowledge and understanding of God.

Have a blessed day friends.

Adding knowledge

Portraying God

As Christians we want to portray God accurately to others. Misrepresentation is a serious thing. So serious that there are laws in place to protect people from misrepresentation and compensate them when it happens. This is certainly the case in the UK where I live and practice law and I am sure in other nations.

Although this week’s blog will have a bit of a legal influence (it’s my day job after all) I promise it won’t be boring…now there’s a possible misrepresentation if ever there was one!! 😊

This theme of misrepresentation caught my attention recently when I read again Job’s story. It’s certainly not the easiest book in the bible to read. As a heads up, the things that happen to Job and his family are terrible. If you’ve never read Job before then do try it and persevere as it has lots of rich nuggets in there and spoiler alert…a happy ending.

One of the things though that we can easily overlook as we get to the end of the story and the good stuff for Job is that God is not happy about some things that have happened. In fact He is angry that Job’s friends have not spoken accurately about God in their discussions with Job when they were trying to ‘help” their friend. They have misrepresented God in their talks and God is now taking them to task for it.

That’s serious stuff and really got me to thinking and it’s a big challenge. As a Christian do I accurately represent God to people or do I misrepresent Him? Do I accurately reflect God in my blog and my writings? In my family life, church life, with my Christian friends and in my workplace. When I preach in church and in our small group fellowships. This is a massive topic for thought and discussion and I’m sure will prompt lots of thoughts and comments from others as we reflect and consider this more.

Now in legal terms there are different levels or types of misrepresentation because the law realises that not every type of misrepresentation is the same. There are two though that I thought might help us think about this a bit more.

There is an “innocent” misrepresentation where the person didn’t realise that they had said or done something wrong. They hadn’t meant to mislead the other person into believing something which wasn’t true because they believed it to be true themselves.

That’s an easy thing to do and it can happen to us. We say something about God that we believe to be true, perhaps it’s something we have been told by others or taught, even brought up in faith to believe or was our mindset before but actually it’s not correct. Our source of information was wrong or we have not interpreted it incorrectly. We didn’t mean to mislead anyone but we have done it. We have believed and repeated a false teaching or doctrine. We have become the blind leaders of the blind that Jesus warns about. We may have given the wrong impression about God perhaps because we don’t want to offend someone

There are consequences for both parties though when this happens because even an innocent misrepresentation is wrong and leads us on the wrong path. Someone suffers along the way. Perhaps not immediately but at some stage it will have an impact.

When I read the story of Job I think that’s what his friends have done. They were sincerely trying to help. They thought they were giving Godly advice and they were learned, sincere, passionate and believable. There’s a responsibility on us to ensure that what we tell others about God is true especially when we think we are helping others with Godly advice. I always remember being taught in class that “ignorance of the law is no defence”. In other words if I’m caught speeding I can’t say I didn’t know that the legal speed limit was 70 and I was doing 90. I’m expected to find out what the requirements are to be a responsible citizen.

The good news is that as believers we have been given the tools to portray God properly. We have the bible, Jesus’ example to follow and the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth and God himself that lives within us. Thank the Lord that we can trust in God that He will lead us and guide us into all truths. If we have doubts then we have the ability to discover the truth about God. We need to have that humble attitude of heart though and be willing to listen and be corrected. If we think we know it all then we will be heading for a fall.

We also need to take our responsibility seriously to check things out for ourselves and apply ourselves to knowledge and understanding and seeking guidance from Godly leaders and teachers. God has blessed us with the gifts of ministry especially the gift of teaching within the body of Christ for this very reason. Paul used to do this within the early church and there are examples in his writings. This is why it’s beneficial and necessary to belong to a good fellowship of believers and meet together to be discipled.

The other type of misrepresentation is a fraudulent misrepresentation. Now in this case the person knows that what they are saying or doing is wrong and they are deliberately misleading the other person for their own gain in some way..it could be for a material benefit or for more subtle benefits. This is why Jesus himself warned us about the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Those within the body of Christ who are pretending to be believers but are deliberately trying to sabotage the work of the Church and hurt believers. They will be exposed and they can and will be identified. They won’t display the fruit of the Spirit and Peter and Jude’s letters to believers also help us to look out for the signs and warn us to avoid following their behaviours.

I want to portray God accurately. I ask God to forgive me when I have not done so and pray that He will lead me and guide me in His truth. To put the record straight when I have got it wrong. Teach me your ways God so that I may and will also help others to discover you, the one true God, your son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit of Truth.

Let me know your thoughts and have a blessed day. I have a feeling that the Lord has much more to teach me on this topic. Bless you.

After the Lord had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.”
Job 42:7

We all need a helping hand

The Lord’s Anointed

Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul and said, “I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, his special possession.”
1 Samuel 10:1

Whilst away this week in the Peak District we visited Thor’s cave, which is a natural cave and has been used by people over many thousands of years. It was a large cave which you could access quite easily, but as you went further into the cave there were hidden passages and it quickly became very dark.

Thor’s Cave

Being in the cave reminded me of the story in the bible of David hiding in the cave with his men as a fugitive from King Saul who wanted to kill him. Saul came into the cave not realising that David was in there. He passed so close to David that he was unknowingly completely at his mercy but David restrained his hand from killing “God’s Anointed One”. He did however cut the edge of Saul’s robe but even felt guilty for doing that.

Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe. But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.”
1 Samuel 24:4-6

Saul was certainly not behaving like God’s anointed one and God had already rejected him from being King. Samuel had already anointed David who God had chosen to replace him but Saul was still at this time King. Here we have two men both anointed by God. One whose time was over but was still King and the other who had not yet become King.

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.” 1 Samuel 16:1

David could have taken Saul’s life in the cave and probably would have felt justified for doing so, but he was not prepared to usurp his position and take matters into his own hand. David was prepared to wait for God to position him and fulfil His plan for his life. Self-Promotion was within David’s grasp. It would have fulfilled the prophecy over his life. He had been anointed to be King. The temptation was there to take advantage of Saul but David did not fall into the trap. He waited for God’s promotion.

Notice how David’s men even encouraged him to kill Saul saying that it was God’s will that God had put him in David’s power that day to do as he wished. A word that sounded good and in the circumstances could have persuaded David but this was not a word from God. It was not God’s intention that David killed Saul. It is so important that we test and discern words, even if they are from those closest to us who may have our best interests at heart, so that we do not act on anything contrary to God’s will and purposes.

There are people anointed by God for certain times and seasons. There are people who have received prophecies over their lives or clear direction from God of what the Lord is calling them to do. They have visions of ministries which God has given them. David’s reaction in the cave is a great lesson to us to wait for God’s timing to bring about His plans for our lives and not seek to take the inheritance too early or in the wrong way. God will bring about opportunities and open doors or close others in His timing. We submit to Him and actively seek His will. Let us beware and avoid the trap of self-promotion or being encouraged by others to move too quickly before God’s appointed time.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” James 4:10

David didn’t just have one opportunity to kill Saul, he also had another one when he snuck into Saul’s camp past his bodyguards. Even though, David was again encouraged by his companion to kill Saul, he still refused.

No!” David said. “Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one? Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed! But take his spear and that jug of water beside his head, and then let’s get out of here!” 1 Samuel 26:9-11

Here is your spear, O king,” David replied. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. The Lord gives his own reward for doing good and for being loyal, and I refused to kill you even when the Lord placed you in my power, for you are the Lord’s anointed one. Now may the Lord value my life, even as I have valued yours today. May he rescue me from all my troubles.” 1 Samuel 26:22-24

David was willing to trust God and allow the Lord to deal with Saul in God’s way and in God’s timing. I believe there is a lesson and encouragement in this bible story for somebody today. May God bless you richly.

Curve Balls..

Life has curve balls. For me, For you. For our families. For our friends. Even for Christians. Things happen, shocking news comes that we weren’t expecting to receive. Times of pain, hurt, disappointment, unsettling times of trouble. It shakes us, throws us off track and then we remember that we serve a God who knows all things, is our Rock, our Fortress and an ever present help in times of need.

In such times, the Lord draws us to Him with love and reminds us of His faithfulness and goodness. That He is a good, good God and we can trust in Him.

Recently, the Lord gave these promises from His Word to sustain us in the difficult and painful times ahead. I hope that if you are experiencing such times yourself that you will also find hope and comfort in these verses. I have meditated and spoken them aloud especially at the start of the day. They have uplifted my soul.

Psalm 91:2. “ I will say of the Lord:He is my refuge and my fortress, My God in Him I will trust”

Nahum 1:7. “ The Lord is good; A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.”

Psalm 25:5. “ Lead me in your truth and teach me. For you are the God of my salvation on you I wait all the day.”

Psalm 96 1-3. “ Oh sing to the Lord a new song, Sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name, Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.”

John 3:16. “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Lamentations 3: 22-23. “Through the Lords mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning:Great is your faithfulness”.

Isaiah 26:3-4 You will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is steadfast because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever He is the rock eternal

My friend also gave this wise advice.

I believe the Lord wants us to stop fretting and to rest in his love and goodness for this season and also to look and see His beauty in nature all around us.

Have a blessed day.

One of my favourite places in Wales
La belle France
The amazing rock formations in southern France