Wisdom

Many of you who read this are aware of friends, family members or work colleagues who exude wisdom. In the bible, we all can think of King Solomon who was renowned for his wisdom in the Old Testament.  

When I think of wisdom I immediately come up with men and women of God who have a lot of life experience. Deliberating further I have come up with the following using the word WISE;  

W – Words limited. In Proverbs, we read when words are many sin is not absent and those who speak few words are wise.  Generally, people who say less are often wiser and have learnt to practice listening more than talking.  

I – Interest in others and mentoring younger Christians, people who put others ahead of themselves and are keen to disciple others. In the past, I have spent time with and benefited greatly from older believers who guided me in my faith and helped me out.  

S – Sensitive to one another – people who are sensitive to other people’s circumstances and feelings and do not offend other people or rush into a situation.  

E – Encouragers, people who recognise the importance of encouraging other people in whatever circumstances and bless other people through words, prayers and actions   Remember that true wisdom comes only from God.

Although God uses other means like other people to teach us wisdom, be careful to evaluate such other sources. While they may seem insightful, screen everything against the wise words recorded in the bible as it is God-inspired and breathed.  

I quite often when making a decision draw on advice from more mature Christians and we need to continually ask God for wisdom and discernment to make the right choices. 

Wise people generally, put their trust in God and do not rely on themselves, when we learn to do this we realise He is the true guide and can show us direction in our lives. Acquiring wisdom does not come quickly but can decades, immerse yourself in Scripture and spending time with God in prayer and with mature Christians.

Jonathan Moore

Money

The prosperity gospel is basically a perversion of the gospel of Jesus that claims that God rewards increases in faith with increased wealth.

Biblical blessing is primarily focused on the relationship one has with God. Principally, a person who is blessed is one who is the recipient of God’s protection, God’s holy pleasure, and God’s grace. We are blessed beyond measure when we become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ (The inheritance promised to a faithful believer is spiritual, is future, and is eternal; God promises treasures in heaven)  And yet, with all the blessings spoken of in Scripture, God’s pleasure and favour upon the Christian does not necessarily mean that He will make each faithful person materially rich.

Some experienced financial poverty because of their faithfulness to God, like Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus. Poverty and wealth happen to all kinds of people and Jesus teaches us that God causes the rain to fall on the just and unjust . In His sovereign good pleasure and providential control, God makes it so that some inherit or produce great wealth while others live without, choose to abstain from, squander, or fail to produce great wealth.

Rather than teaching us to pursue prosperity, the Bible teaches us to be content and to find our contentment in God through Jesus Christ. 

Paul speaks about his trials and hardships in the book of Philippians, and towards the end he says that he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 

He writes in chapter 4:11-12, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Contentment is being pleased with what the Giver of every perfect gift has given you, and ultimately If we are content, then we are really prosperous.

Too often, Gospel is distorted into what many call a “Health and Wealth Gospel,” which is no gospel at all. Proponents of such a teaching believe that if a person has enough “faith”, then they will experience healing or great financial blessing. 

Unfortunately, this teaching is grossly misleading and has resulted in many turning their backs on Christ and His church. If God intended for people to be prosperous when they have faith in Christ, why do we read of so much affliction, persecution, scorn, and trials being experienced by the Apostles? Jesus addresses financial wealth multiple times in the Gospels and on so many occasions, He warns against a heart that pursues money. 

We cannot “serve two masters” – God and money. We will love one and hate the other. Instead, Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” “Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all these things (food and clothing) will be added to you as well

Timothy gives us a stern warning about pursuing or expecting prosperity. “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” Jesus says this in Luke 12. “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

When confronted with the question of God’s promise of prosperity, we should turn first to how Jesus viewed His prosperous state. 

We read in Philippians 2 that Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing. He took the very nature of a servant, rather than presenting Himself in full glory and taking over as a master. He became poor, so that we might be rich in spiritual blessing. How could we suppose that a path of discipleship would follow a different course than the one Jesus led? God would rather that we focus on Him and let Him be our pursuit, joy, and treasure.

While it is possible that God would extend the spiritual blessings into temporal and earthly financial blessings, our hearts and prayers should always be focused on developing our relationship with Jesus and our single-minded devotion to God. For richer or for poorer, the Christian life is the true prosperous life.

Speed

Many of you have read John Mark Comer’s book the Ruthless Elimination of Hurry or are currently absorbing its contents. If you are like me you enjoy nothing more than reading the book in your car overlooking the Racecourse on a wet Sunday, November afternoon for one to two hours at a time or driving to Delapre Park and sitting in your car reading this wonderful exposition of practical Christianity with an outlook over one of Northampton’s finest listed buildings and open parkland. 

For me so much of the book makes sense and is so relevant in many ways to daily Christian living. It is quite hard to comprehend the author is in fact 3 years younger than me and at the age of 40 has amazing knowledge, wisdom and maturity expected of someone at least 20 to 30 years his Senior. His passion for Jesus is so apparent and his faith so important to him. This is most admirable.

In terms of today’s topic, Comer talks in detail about the need to slow down, avoid being overly busy and just relax and not rush around like there is no tomorrow. We all need to take a chill pill, pardon the colloquialism.

In my personal opinion, his comments and general remarks make not only good reading but more importantly is sound, wise advice from a young man that has barely reached middle age but speaks from experience, from applying and recommending the utilisation of basic biblical principles and through being mentored by other older Christians.who have discipled him over many years presumably?

Generally in the year 2020, every one of us and sorry for the generalisation are undeniably in a hurry, as we rush to take the three kids to school, breaking the speed limit at the same time, driving at 40mph in a built-up residential street 10 mph above the legal speed limit set at 30mph for a reason.

At the same time, we can’t spend two minutes without checking our phones for text messages and impatiently checking our emails even at home every half an hour on our Google Chromebook or Smartphone or at work every few minutes.on Microsoft Outlook.

We even three times year get in our cars and rush out to that church members meeting trying to get there on time before Pastor Adam introduces the meeting and commences the introductory prayer and worship time led by our very own Steve Town or Owen Dawkins.  Does this all sound vaguely familiar?

Why is it that nearly 50 per cent of the attendees arrive not 10 minutes early but two or three minutes before the meeting actually commences?

Furthermore, we get into work in the morning well before 8 am just in time to grab that quick Starbucks Skinny Latte or Capuccino when the doors open and just in time to check those 20 emails received overnight having just left the office the evening before at 5.20 pm or like me grab a coffee at Greggs and bacon roll often well before 8am?

So why do we all rush around like madmen? ( and women)?

Generally, we are al very impatient and don’t know how to relax and whether it is driving, eating, sleeping or socialising with close friends we have to do everything rapidly and can’t even meet with your best friend at Costa Coffee, Riverside for more than 30 minutes without rushing off to the next appointment, what a shame. In summary ask God to help you slow down, to relax and maybe rather than drive to the shop which is only a mile away, walk or even cycle assuming that you don’t have more than two bags of shopping to purchase? This may make you smile but it is all true and relevant to most of us.  If you want to chat pick up the phone and we can exchange anecdotes, Bless you today

Jonathan Moore

Friends

As a 42-year-old and having been a Christian for over 30 years, I have acquired and been blessed with many friends in my life, people who have encouraged me, supported me, stood by me and generally been there for me through good times and challenging times.

As a single person and never been married this is especially important as there will inevitably have been occasions in the past when I would have experienced some feelings of loneliness as a younger male believer. When looking for a friend we obviously identify similar qualities, such as loyalty, honesty, availability and someone who we will not betray a confidence.

In the Old Testament, we see the example of a great friendship between my namesake Jonathan and David and the example of also Jesus spending much time with his own disciples sharing in prayer, meals, intercession together and general fellowship.

As I see it many of us may have a decent circle of friends people we meet up with socially for coffee, for meals, for walks and chats on the phone but we also have a smaller circle of three or four friends who I would categorise as ” Close friends” who we meet with for times or prayer, talk to more regularly, share secrets with and depend on for advice, mentoring or fellowship. 

Having been in Northampton for nearly 14 years I have acquired friends from church, from the Welcome Team and Men’s Group for example who I socialise with, exchange texts with and enjoy company and encouragement from. I also still have friends from my school days, from university days and from back home in Northern Ireland who I hope will remain friends for life and also people who have been a rock to me through times of trials and tribulations. For this, I am most grateful to God for bringing such people into my life.

When I moved to work and live in Northampton in August 2006, I met in a Prayer Quad with three other young men and enjoyed prayer fortnightly and support and fellowship.  I also currently meet up with a dear friend from church regularly for prayer, fellowship and conversation, someone I can depend on as an older Christian who I know will never betray my confidence, can be depended on for encouragement, support and brotherly love. This is a real blessing to me and is someone I genuinely appreciate, look up to and admire as a companion, a brother and a mentor.

At university, I befriended a young man called Stewart from the Christian Union over 20 years ago who was a real blessing to me through very challenging times and will remain a friend for life. I know he is a blessing and will never judge me. 

I also had a close friend from Northern Ireland who is visually impaired and until recently when he sadly passed away I would speak to him pretty much every day for the last 21 years and has been a true example and inspiration to me over approximately half my lifetime. This man was also a Christian and a wonderful person.

At the same time, we need to choose our friends wisely and with care and I have seen examples of believers who have been hurt by their friends, and that is where forgiveness plays an important part, I have seen instances of a Christian’s sharing fellowship with others in apparent friendship and later that same person spreading gossip about” their friend” and bad-mouthing that same person to another believer, this has the potential to wreck relationships, trust and can even destroy marriages.  This should not happen in the context of a Christian ” friendship.”.

We also meet people who we try to be friends with but they never even respond to any of our texts or phone calls and clearly don’t appreciate our efforts to try and be-friend. Not every one is prepared or willing to respond to your attempts of friendship, so don;t be discouraged too much. Some people live very busy lives and don’t always appreciate our desire to encourage.

In the Old Testament in Proverbs, we read ” A friend is always loyal and a brother is born to help in a time of need”.  We also read in Ephesians “Be kind to each other tenderhearted and forgiving one another just as Christ forgave you”.

Remember it is a most beautiful gift to have friends however we must truly appreciate that we have a greater friend in Jesus who will never leave us, is also there for us and will always be available and can never disappoint us.

Not only is He reliable, but He is also compassionate, forgiving, ever-present and dependable and has all the characteristics of a true friend and a Heavenly Father. So as I finish, learn to appreciate your friends, learn from them and support them and make sure as brothers and sisters in Christ we encourage each other daily and demonstrate love and we walk together in our faith through good times and bad.  Bless you, today.

Jonathan Moore

J Factor

Every one of you who watches Saturday night television will be all too familiar with the well-established X-Factor a popular singing competition that has produced global superstars such as One Direction, Little Mix and Leona Lewis and even more.  

Many aspire to be budding singers or vocalists but very few are at the required standard to make an impact and reach the latter stages of a competition that is entered by thousands of young people every year many who are sadly deluded and persuaded by unrealistic family members who think their sons or daughters have a talent that is clearly overestimated by them.  

While very few people will ever obtain the much sought after X Factor as Christians we should all aspire to acquire something much greater what I call ” The J Factor”  

So, Jonathan what could you possibly be saying?  

As believers young and old, inexperienced and mature our ultimate aspiration and goal is to become more like Jesus and acquire many of the Fruits of the Spirit as defined in Galatians in the New Testament.  Jesus evidently was sinless, He was perfect and demonstrated love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control and many more wonderful traits. He was able to resist temptation at the evil hands of the devil and set an example of humility to his disciples even washing their feet and leading by example in all aspects of life through His teaching, miracles and compassion.  

This is what I call The J Factor. ( J for Jesus)  There are very few believers that can honestly say they can demonstrate all Fruits of the Spirit, that they are always honest, always obeying the Ten Commandments and always inspiring to younger Christians.  

By cultivating a deep, meaningful and truly intimate relationship with Him, being led daily by the Holy Spirit, by spending time in prayer, reading the inspired Word of God and getting to know Him better we can begin to acquire the J Factor and over time we will become more and more like Him and people will see in us that we are different, we possess a Life worth living for and a real distinguishable purpose that is rare, unique and contagious.   

Let us wake up tomorrow, seek to glorify Him in all we do and ask Him for more passion, fire and love so that we can progress our God-given faith and move to a position in our spiritual walk where we can confidently say we are acquiring the J Factor. Amen.

Jonathan Moore