Category Archives: spirituality

Are you allowing God’s Holy Spirit to access and influence your life?

‘Then the Spirit of the Lord came on me, and he told me to say: “This is what the Lord says: That is what you are saying, you leaders in Israel, but I know what is going through your mind.’ (Ezekiel 11v5)
In this verse, there are three things that strike me about the Holy Spirit’s influence over Ezekiel in that:
  1. It is immediate! No sooner has the Spirit come upon Ezekiel then he is ready, willing and waiting.
  2. Ezekiel – like all prophets – is a conduit that God can use to speak to the leaders.   (note that when receiving a word or revelation, prophets are often burdened until they reveal it to others. Sometimes, verbal; other times as some sort of living metaphor [Hosea 1])
  3. The spirit discerns the heart and actions. That’s why God (and Ezekiel by extension)  is aware of how God’s words to Israel’s leaders is fallingl short when it comes to eliciting their action because he knows they are conflicted to do what God tells them.
Of course, this verse has application for us today as we (if we’re honest) also can be rebellious, holding out for what we would like to see happen rather than seeking God’s will in a situation. Understanding this and applying it in our lives is the beginning of spiritual wisdom. Be blessed!

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When you’re tired, sleep. When you’re weary…

‘Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said: “Go, shut yourself inside your house.’ (Ezekiel 3v24)
As always, context is everything. We pick up this verse after God has appointed Ezekiel to be a watchman for the people of Israel, relaying to them God’s warnings. As such, in v24 we see the term ‘Spirit ‘ which refers directly to the God who causes Ezekiel to:
Rise to his feet (then)
Listen
What I love about this verse is the model that it establishes for how each of us can best make ourselves  available and attentive to the leading of God.
Years ago, a christian friend spoke an adage into my life, telling me that ‘when I was tired I should sleep but when I was weary, I should pray.’ That advice has remained with me all my life and I tell you this because while the physical rising to our feet shows a willingness to meet and engage with God (rather than slouch around on a sofa), it is the fact that this action is the prelude to listening to God that is the most interesting part of this verse for me.
Obviously, I can’t speak for anyone other than myself but my experience is that an overly relaxed posture is more conducive to me being drowsy and falling asleep than being receptive to God and what the Divine might be saying to me or instructing me to do.
In summary, all of us can and will fail to live up to being available and receptive to God – thankfully, the Divine is gentle, kind, gracious and understanding . Even so, we each have a responsibility to do our best to make ouselves available to God so that when moved by His Holy Spirit, we will rise and listen to what He has to say.

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How God’s Holy Spirit motivates us to praise and worship

‘Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound as the glory of the Lord rose from the place where it was standing.’ (Ezekiel 3v12)
In 1984, shortly after dedicating my life to Christ, I remember having a very distinct dream in which  I was seated in – what I can only describe as – a  large ‘aircraft hanger’ auditorium. Around me were thousands of other christians who were talking excitedly. Suddenly,  down below the elevated position where I and others were seated, someone walked onto the stage. What happens next is a bit of blur but a loud roar went up and as people rose to their feel they just as instantly fell to their knees in praise and worship – all except myself and a few others who blissfully lagged behind those who were on the ball. Falling to my knees, I remember my head being bowed and lips speaking praise as I joined with those around me
In Last week’s post – on Ezekiel 2 – we saw how the weary prophet was lifted and filled by God’s presence to the point where he was enabled to continue despite his fatigue.  In today’s passage, we see how the Spirit not only motivates humans to rise before God but the whole of creation as well for…
Thirty-five years on from my vivid dream – one truth remains standing in that just as believers are afforded a crown only to lay it before God, so too God’s Holy Spirit that causes us to rise will also cause us to find our knees in praise and worship to our Maker.

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Trusting and believing in God?

‘As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.’ Ezekiel 2v 2

In the New Living Translation,  verses 1 and 2 of Ezekiel 2 are phrased in this way:

‘”Stand up, son on man” said the voice. “I want to talk with you,” The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet (as) I listened carefully to his words.’

In these verses, it is clearly God’s voice that calls and commissions Ezekiel. Indeed, no sooner does Ezeliel hear the voice then he is aware of God’s Spirit enlivening him to rise to his feet. Actually, what I love about this particular translation is the intimacy between God and Ezekiel in His words “Stand up, son on man. I want to talk with you.”

Surely this is a verse we should all hold on to in the midst of our fraught lives and busy days?  God knows our weariness: He is aware of our mistakes: those things that haunt us; the ways we have failed him now and will continue to fail him in the future; and our lack of strength to even rise before our Maker. And yet, God is always ready to meet and recommission us to do his bidding in the world. Such is the personal and active God we worship and His gentle way with those who believe and are receptive to God!


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Free but priceless?

Twenty years ago I started an Arts Cafe at the church. My minister asked  how much I would charge? When I suggested a small amount he told me to double it because when things are cheap, people don’t come because they imagine it  to be worthless. It’s the same with things that are offered ‘free ‘ on the Internet.

Now, until recently, my spiritual gift test was on sale as an app. However, with  the rise of 5G technology it  has become necessary to remove it from sale  for a number of reasons. Now, while the spiritual gift test that you and your friends can download on this website is FREEit is also PRICELESS as it has the potential to help people understand and discover their primary and formational spiritual gifts so they can grow God’s Kingdom!

Please do pass on this email to any who you think might benefit by taking this test and discovering their spiritual gifts and calling. Blessings, Bob

Take spiritual gift test


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Pride versus humility?

‘Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.’ (Prov 29v23)
As we continue our journey through the Old Testament – identifying the different ways that the term ‘spirit’ is understood  – we  come across this  contrast between ‘proud’ and ‘lowly’ in which we are told that ‘Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.’
Interestingly, ‘pride’ is often rendered as ‘haughty.’ Although ‘haughty’ is a word that is rather out of fashion these days, we are all aware how a haughty person behaves and acts  – namely, in a way that suggests they are superior…but is this really what ‘haughty means?’
A quick look online renders haughty as ‘arrogantly superior and disdainful.’ For me, it is the word disdain that is key to understanding this verse in context. It is one thing to think more highly of yourself than you ought – quite another to believe others are inferior.
Q) Why does the person who is lowly in spirit gain honour in this proverb?
A) Because there is a grounded reality of who they are and their dependence on God.
In summary, those who are humble in spirit recognise their shortcomings in a way that the proud struggle to see. Something to remember in our day to day dealings,  especially when we feel the temptation to consider ourselves superior to those around us,.

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Resistant to God’s purposes or open to change?

‘Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.’ (Proverbs 16v 19)

Continuing our odyssey through the Old Testament in which we have been considering the different ways ways that the term ‘Spirit’ is used and understood, we come across this scripture from Proverbs – one of 4 wisdom books.

Clearly, the context of the verses relates to human interaction as it offers guidance to the listener as to what is wise and unwise behaviour. Indeed, the two verses before it give us the context of what is being taught/advised here. 

‘The highway of the upright avoids evil;  those who guard their ways preserve their lives. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.’ (v 17-19)

In this context, the writer is not referencing God’s Holy Spirit within the person – indeed, that won’t happen until after Pentecost when Christ has been crucified, resurrected and replaced by his Holy Spirit  who comes to fill and indwell his followers.

No, in this passage the writer of Proverbs is referencing the human heart and the destruction it brings to each of us when our speech, pride, attitude, action (and inaction) goes unchecked.

Hence, the writer’s final warning as to why such an error is a serious concern as spiritual life and well-being lies at the heart of the instruction:

‘Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.’ (v 17-19)


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Why we need to overcome obstacles to spiritual growth?

Following on from last week’s post about finding leaders in the church among those who serve tea and stack chairs, we turn our attention today to an excuse people sometimes use to to explain why they don’t engage with their spiritual gifts.

‘We don’t receive much teaching on that sort of thing in our church.’

Now, while there is definitely a dearth of teaching on spiritual gifts in many churches which can relate to factors How do I know this? Well, meeting with christians I simply ask them ‘What’s your primary spiritual gift?’ Sometimes I have to explain what I mean but the  response I most normally hear are  the six excuses we have just looked at. Seldom do they say – I’m a pastor with a passion for….Or I’m a server engaged in …(lists ministries).

While there are many reasons why teaching on spiritual gifts in churches might not occur – everything for ther minister’s predeliction to the perceived response of the community of believers’  it does seem to me that Spirit gives birth to spirit. All of which means that although the church minister should take responsibility for what is and isn’t taught in church and why, when it does not occur then the onus of learning and response to spiritual gift discernment and growth, rests with each of us as we are inspired and motivated by God.

So let us each (as individuals) respond to the challenge of identifying our primary spiritual gift and ensure that we utilise and maximise the time spent using our primary gift – in doing so, God’s Kingdom will advance and we will marvel at how energising, fulfilling and satisfactory it is to do the thing we have been called to do.  Find out more at primary gift.


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‘Lamp of the Lord or God speaking through another?

‘The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being.’            (Proverbs 20v27)
Interestingly, a footnote to v27  renders this verse in a way that reads:
‘A person’s words are the spirit of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being’
For me, both translations make sense as it is about God’s intervention with wayward human behaviour.  In short, it’s about change and spiritual growth. Change that may occur directly as God convicts the person of selfish behaviour and wrongdoing but also through others who speak at His behest to  that person where they are unreceptive to change.
Whatever approach God takes, it is His to initiate and the motivation is always clear as the Divine is about transformation! God transforms all who are open to His Holy Spirit’s prompting. Why?  So that our inmost being – the communication centre by which we commune with God – will function in ways that keep us attuned spiritually (but also physically, mentally and emotionally) but also make us good news in the world to those around us. Be blessed.

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Finding leaders from those who serve refreshments and stack chairs?


Having considered in last week’s post how we each have the potential to operate across a range of spiritual gifts with one of them – our primary gift – being uniquely tailored to building God’s Kingdom here on earth, we come to a fallacy that can affect spiritual growth – namely:

‘I just make the tea and coffee.’

While it is great that some provide tea and coffee each week in church, there is something wrong when this is the only activity they engage in. Why? Because the remit of one’s primary spiritual gift as ‘server’ should be so much more than that. To be servant-hearted is to allow oneself to be moulded and directed by God to support other people in their ministries, providing a witness to Christ through sacrificial giving.

Years ago, a minister was quoted as saying that if he wanted to find the next set of leaders within the church, he would look to see those people who remained behind at the end of a service to stack chairs and wash dishes. True, making the tea and washing dishes are useful  acts of service but those who are diligent in these aspect would do well to expect other opportunities to follow that may (or may not) result in them taking on greater responsibility in the church.

Summarising, if a person makes the tea and coffee in church, this is the first of many acts of service that they may be called upon to do as they fulfil their calling to model Christ to those people around them. If you are that person, understand that  God is pleased but he has so much more in store for you!

Find out more at primary gift.


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