Being Filled

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians‬ ‭5:18-20‬ ‭NLT

What was in Paul’s mind when he compared an alcohol-induced drunkenness with an infilling of the Holy Spirit? Was he implying that the same “high” could be achieved with the Holy Spirit? Whatever his thoughts, the comparison is striking – the destructive effects of alcohol as against the constructive effects of living a life filled with the Holy Spirit. 

What does it mean to “be filled with the Holy Spirit”. Apparently the original meaning was that we must be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Just as the effects of alcohol will disappear from our bodies, so too will the impact of the Holy Spirit, as we use His power within our daily lives. But there the analogy must end because there is no real comparison. 

The Bible is rich with verses extolling the benefits of a life filled with the Holy Spirit. For example, Galatians 5:22-23 reads, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…“. We need the Holy Spirit to help us in our pilgrimage through life – don’t we just! As we encounter daily interactions with those around us, being filled with the Spirit can make the difference between worldly and Godly responses. As we constantly give of our emotional and spiritual resources to those around us, we need to constantly call upon the Holy Spirit to replenish us with His power.

Jesus taught His disciples much about the Holy Spirit – one such example was in John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth…”. “Truth” is something much lacking in life today, as it was in the First Century. During Jesus’ mock trial, Pontius Pilate himself confessed to not knowing what truth was (John 18:38). But through the power of the Holy Spirit we know the Truth that matters. 

Part of my testimony is about the time I saw Christians working together and relating with each other in a community setting. They had something shining through them, that I now know was the outworking of the Holy Spirit, filling their lives. And I have over the years experienced help and love from other Christians, many of whom I hardly knew, but who have ministered to my situation through the power of the Holy Spirit.

So on our life-pilgrimage we too have an obligation to obey Paul’s call to “be filled with the Holy Spirit”. Daily getting on our knees before Him, asking for more of His presence and resources in our lives. Father, fill us afresh today, we pray, and again tomorrow, and again … Amen.

Getting Drunk

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians‬ ‭5:18-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Drunkenness. As Paul wrote, it ruins lives. But not only the lives of the drunk but the lives of those in their families and communities. Health destroyed. Destitution probable. The future for an alcoholic is bleak except for the fact that there is a loving Heavenly Father. There are many testimonies from men and women who have found healing and a new life through the power of the Holy Spirit, prayer and care leading to salvation and freedom. And it started with a pilgrim introducing a drunk to Jesus. But from those who don’t find God, the slippery slope can end in an early death with the final years blighted by illness and misery. I know because that is what happened to my sister-in-law. 

On my early morning prayer walks, there is a man I occasionally meet who is an alcoholic. The ravages of drink are clearly visible in his face. His unsteadiness on his feet, even first thing in the morning, betrays a legacy of inebriation. He is usually locked into his own world, but I try and speak with him, desperately trying to find common ground over which we can walk and talk together. Always looking for an opportunity to share the love of God. One day, when he was more lucid than usual, he opened up and shared how he would love to get a job. But in the natural world he was a reject. A man to be managed, rather than helped, by the society around him. But in God’s kingdom there is a place for him. God will never turn away a repentant sinner. I’ll keep trying to introduce him to the love and forgiveness of God. And I’ll pray for him in the meantime.

A dear lady I know is a very committed Christian in a family blighted by alcohol and drug addiction. It’s a family where misery and devastation is constantly knocking at the door. She is a lung cancer survivor but suffers from constant ill-health. Her brother, a lovely Christian man who I once had the privilege of knowing, died in his forties from lung cancer – he was a very heavy smoker. Her husband, died young, what of I don’t know because she doesn’t speak of him. This lady had four children – three boys and a girl – but sadly in the past year or so the two oldest boys have died in their forties of substance misuse – alcohol and drugs. A family destroyed. A family devastated.

So Paul was right when he advised not to get drunk on wine. I would add to his list beer, and anything else containing alcohol, while we’re at it. And I’m sure if drugs were available in his day he would have been writing about them as well. He wasn’t advocating teetotalism. He was just saying that we must stop drinking wine before we get drunk. I personally have no objection to drinking wine. It can be a pleasant companion to a good meal. Or perhaps something that would be appropriate in a social setting. But like many things in life, an alcoholic beverage is good in small quantities, dangerous if taken to excess. And potential addiction is always lurking in dark corners.

As pilgrims in our societies, moving slowly but surely through the corridors of life, alcohol will never be far away. Premises dispensing alcohol are ubiquitous, at least in Western societies. So as Christians we cannot avoid contact with drinks that contain alcohol. Of course, we can exercise our right to free choice, and replace them with soft drinks. And alcohol-free wines and beers (and even gin I understand) is available. Drunkenness is a dark place for many but we can shine our light into the lives of needy people who have been seduced by an alcohol-fuelled lifestyle. We can show a better way. And we can share God’s love and compassion with people who have been left to their fates by institutions and governments who seem powerless or unwilling to get involved in their misery. 

Paul goes on to write about being filled with the Holy Spirit, but more of that in tomorrow’s blog.

Four One’s

“There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.”
Ephesians‬ ‭4:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians continues the theme of unity. And in these two verses he presents a fundamental view of God. Paul sets out the bottom line. The bedrock of our faith. A picture of God that is total and complete in every way. I see a picture before me today of an onion, and Paul is peeling away the layers, exposing truths that are seismic and fundamental to our beliefs. We have to peel away each layer to be able to appreciate the next. This view of God is so profound and true that if we cannot accept in turn each of Paul’s statements, then there is no point in continuing. This is a creed with five truths that underpins all other creeds. 

So for the first layer, Paul says there is “one Lord“. Believe it or not, in the world today there are many “lords”. And all except one are the wrong lord. We can make a loved one “lord” of our lives. Or even the devil. We have a privileged class in the UK of “lords”. And a part of our government here in the UK is the “House of Lords”. Many people make a “lord” out of their hobbies, or jobs. But Paul said there is only one Lord who really matters and that is our Lord Jesus Christ. If we hold a view that Jesus was anything other than the Son of God, a Member of the Holy Trinity, both human and divine, then there is no point in proceeding to the next layer of Paul’s “onion”.

The next layer refers to “one faith“. A sad phenomenon in some established churches today is the willingness to have “multi-faith” services. The bizarre spectacle of a Rabbi, Imam, Priest, Buddhist monk,  and a Clergyman holding joint prayers is directly at conflict with the God-truth of there being “one faith”. But is this what Paul was bothered about? No. I believe Paul was pointing out that true faith was not only believing that Jesus was, and is, the Son of God, that He died for our sins and that He sent the Holy Spirit to be His representative here on Planet Earth, but Paul was also pointing out that the faith we have extends to an unshakeable belief and assurance that God knows what is best for us, and regardless of our circumstances we will continue to have faith in Him. For an example, Abraham showed true faith when he placed his son on the altar as a sacrifice to God. True faith involves obedience to God regardless of the circumstances.

We continue to the next layer by considering what “one baptism” means. The New Testament mentions two types of baptism – baptism in water (Acts 8:36-39) and baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:16). The fact that Paul mentions baptism here is therefore significant. It is an essential, non-negotiable, part of what being a Christian is all about. In Acts 2:38 we read, “Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit“.

The next layer of our onion is the all-encompassing declaration of who God is. There is only “one God“. I can remember a Muslim man I worked with telling me, some years ago, that we both worshipped the same God. But the God of the Christians, Paul’s God, our God, is different to Allah, the Muslim God. very different. Sadly, even amongst Christians there are different views of who God is. Some Christian denominations worship a God that is different to the One described in His Book, the Bible. But one thing is very clear. God is a God of love and grace. He is infinitely patient and kind. “The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” (Psalm 145:8).

Finally, Paul continues with the statement that God is “Father of all“. God is our Heavenly Father. We are His children. And as with any family, children can be naughty and rebellious. Well, that is how we started off in our natural lives. The religious jargon is that such behaviour is “sin”. Sadly, most people deny that they have a Heavenly Father. But saying we don’t have a Heavenly Father is the same as saying we don’t have a natural father. One day everyone will stand before God to give an account of their lives – most people will get a nasty shock if they continue to deny He exists! But it is so sad for those who don’t believe in God’s Fatherhood. He is the perfect Father. Loving. Fair. Helpful. A Guide when we need Him. Gracious. Merciful. God’s parental attributes could fill a book – well they do – His Book, the Bible. And the more we read it, the more we find out about Him. Imagine what it would be like to be in a situation where we never knew our natural father. But he left us a book about his life. I can guarantee we would read, and re-read the book he left us, to try and find out as much as we could about him. So it is with our Heavenly Father. He left us a book all about Him. And just for good measure, He threw in a shedload of information about our elder Brother, Jesus. Oh – and don’t forget the Holy Spirit – there’s a lot about Him in there as well. Three for the price of one?

The rest of these verses describe God as being, “over all, in all, and living through all.” Paul included these words just to make sure that what he had been saying was total. Complete. Nothing missed out. The word “one” is mentioned four times in these verses. Someone once said that if God said something once, we should take note. If He said it three times then we had better sit up and do something about it. Well, here is Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saying something four times. Something important, don’t you think?

Explosive Power

“And I pray that He would unveil within you the unlimited riches of His glory and favour until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with His divine might and explosive power.”
Ephesians 3:16 TPT

Paul continues to pray for his friends back in Ephesus. And this is not a prayer along the lines of “Please bless Aunty Mary…”, good though that is sometimes. This is a powerful prayer. A prayer that is tuned into the God-zone. A prayer for a life-changing transformation to take place in lives that were perhaps not fully aware of what was within them. Now imagine a room with a door that has never been opened. In fact, a room where the door blends into the surrounding walls to the extent that most of the time its existence is hidden. But one day, someone detects that the door is there and opens it to find an amazing treasure trove behind it. Perhaps Paul had a picture of a similar door in the hearts of his readers, a door that they were only dimly aware of. A door that they had timidly opened just a crack, and had peeped in to see what was there. But they had ventured no further. Well, Paul was praying that they would grasp the door handle and yank the door open to expose “the unlimited riches of [God’s] glory”. And he prayed that they would keep it open until what was behind the door could flood out into their lives.

So what were these “unlimited riches” hidden within them? And how will a knowledge of them help today’s pilgrims in their life journeys? The Passion Translation which I have used today mentions God’s “glory and favour“. Paul prayed that “supernatural strength floods [our] innermost beings“. And he doesn’t stop there. He mentions God’s “divine might and explosive power”. If true, this verse has to be transformative for our lives. For our pilgrimage. If true, where is this power? Where are the lives being impacted by it? 

On my pilgrimage through life, I have come across Christians who deny that the power Paul wrote about was applicable to today. They claim that the work of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity who delivers God’s “divine might and explosive power“, stopped when the Apostles finally all died. Sadly, I think they worship a limited God who I don’t fully recognise. I worship Paul’s God, the Almighty Being who has made His “unlimited riches” available to me. Why would He say to me that He has all this power, that He has put it within me, but then say He was sorry but He only allowed those first Apostles to use it? 

So back to my question. What is this power? I suggest that the only limitation to what God can do in our lives is our faith, or lack of it. Matthew recorded Jesus’ words about faith – he wrote in Matthew 17:20, “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” I think we can all agree that telling a mountain to move, and seeing it happen, is a pretty convincing demonstration of God’s power. Jesus also said, as recorded in John 14:12-14, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” There doesn’t seem to be any limit to what God can do. 

So there is only one answer to my question. It is an answer that starts and finishes with God. I have to tune into my own God-zone, with faith that He is who He says He is – the Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient Almighty Creator God. And so we take small steps of faith in our life-pilgrimage, building up the spiritual muscles that will enable God’s “explosive power” to impact our lives and the lives of those around us. In my life there have been occasions when God’s power has been indisputable. And I continually thank Him for making His resources available to me. He truly is a God of power, and love, and grace. We worship an exciting God, who only waits for willing servants to share in His exciting plan for mankind.

Spreading the Good News – 2

God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets. 
Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.”
Ephesians 3:5, 8-9 NLT

So imagine the scenario. We have an amazing secret that we now want to go public on, revealing a bombshell of life-changing information to a fractious and divided population. How would we go about it? Obviously, we would need to choose men and women of good standing in the community, with a reputation of being experts in their particular field of science, medicine or theology that the information was related to. People who would be well respected. It would be hoped that they would be listened to and their information and advice therefore followed. We see such an activity today – someone, for example, stands up and announces a new diet that, if followed, would prevent our risk of this illness or condition, or other benefit, usually for the bottom line of some corporation or other. 

But not so with God. Firstly, his “bombshell of life-changing information” was infinitely greater than any man-made quackery. God’s secret plan was so life-changing that human plans paled into insignificance in comparison. Secondly, God did not choose to announce His plan with the help of the religious experts of His day. Those mighty theologians who dominated Jewish thought and teaching. No. He used ordinary men and women to announce His plan. Fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor, a tent maker. The human response would be that it would be bound to fail. But. There’s always a “but” when God is involved. We read in Acts 4:13, “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” In 1 Corinthians 1:27, we read, “Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” God didn’t need the experts and educated people of the first century to disseminate His plan. Just Spirit-filled men and women who were bold enough to turn to God and say “Yes, Lord”. Like a young peasant girl did when an angel asked her to bear God’s only Son, Jesus. God doesn’t need educated people. He doesn’t need university degrees, or long years spent in a seminary. Just people who have “been with Jesus“. God has turned our world values upside down. So on our pilgrimage through life we may be considered fools for believing what we believe. But God thinks we are wonderful and He has entrusted to us the privilege of sharing His message of hope with the dying world around us. What an amazing God we serve.

God’s House

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through Him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:19-22‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Can we imagine what it must have felt like? Knowing that there was a God in Heaven but being excluded from being able to know Him. It was like a religious apartheid, with signs saying “No Gentiles” plastered everywhere. Life would have been much like those racially segregated times in South Africa and the US. The Jews claimed that God was exclusively their God. No-one else’s. But an amazing thing happened. God had a plan, as we read earlier in this Epistle. Through the wonderful act of mercy of Jesus’ sacrifice at the Cross, all of a sudden, God was accessible to everyone. No exceptions. But Paul was now saying to the Gentiles, the “strangers and foreigners“, that they were citizens of the Kingdom of God. However, we know that this new and wonderful status comes with some responsibilities. 

Paul said that as members of the same family, God’s family, we become His house. And we get this foundational picture of Jesus being the main support, the “cornerstone” with the apostles and prophets completing the substratum, the bedrock. Solid stuff, certainly. And Paul completes the house building analogy by saying that God’s people are carefully and exactly joined together forming the house. A house which then, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, becomes “a holy temple for the Lord”. And Paul couldn’t resist pointing out the Gentiles forming the Ephesian church were also made part of it.

But coming back to the responsibilities. A bit scary really. Any member of a house and family, has responsibilities. We all know what it must be like to have a rebellious and aggressive person in our houses. My wife and I fostered difficult children with challenging behaviour for many years. When everyone of them was following the house rules and were doing and behaving as they should, peace reigned and all was well. But when one of them decided to smash up his or her bedroom, all mayhem broke loose. It’s the same with God’s Temple. We are each “bricks” that dovetail into the next “bricks”. A brick that decides to be something else will cause some difficulties for the house. In today’s verses, we see that “we are carefully joined together in Him”.  And that is the secret of being part of God’s Temple. Our relationship with Jesus. Our constant referral to, and our relationship with, the master builder, who is carefully joining us together in Him, will ensure a Holy Temple. And God lives with us by His Spirit. 

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul wrote,  “Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honour God with your body.” So God is using “bricks” that are in themselves places where the Holy Spirit lives. 

At this point, we would be forgiven for thinking that we can never measure up to these standards. And in our own strength that is right. But we serve a loving and gracious Heavenly Father who understands our human frailties, and who has given us the means to become suitable building material. As we read earlier in this Epistle, through Jesus we are made anew. So in humble thankfulness we praise and worship Him. There is no alternative.

One With Christ

“But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ.”
Ephesians‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What does being one with Christ actually mean? Superficially, being that close to someone who died over 2000 years ago would seem to be the stuff of a science fiction novel. And do we have the capability to be that close with anyone, because we are each created as unique individuals? We all have walls we put up. We all tend to keep people at arms length most of the time. So the questions I ask today will puzzle us until we realise that Jesus introduced us to the Holy Spirit. In John 14:26, Jesus said, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” The Holy Spirit unites us with Christ. So as pilgrims continuing on our journey through life, we are not alone. We are always in the presence of the Holy Spirit. He is always there to call upon. He is the gentle whisper at the crossroads of life, leading and guiding us as though Jesus was right there with us. 

Paul reminds his readers yet again that through God’s grace they are close to Him. At one time they were so far away they didn’t even know He existed. The God-yearnings inside of them were filled with other gods. Counterfeit deities that failed to satisfy. But Jesus provided the opportunity for all peoples, not just His chosen people, to be united with Him. And that was possible through His sacrificial death at Calvary, where His blood was shed for us all. 

So as pilgrims we continue through life, one step at a time. In deep gratitude for the Helper at our side. Unified with Christ. Blessed beyond measure. Today we hit the refresh button. Today we have the opportunity to reboot our lives and include the Holy Spirit update once again. As we open ourselves to Him we expose a new dimension of living, oneness with Christ.

‭‭

Our Inheritance

“Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan. 
The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him.”
‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:11, 14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Paul continues by informing us that because we are part of His family, united with Christ, we have an inheritance. Note that verse 11 says we have already received this inheritance – it is not something that awaits us “at the right time”, as he said earlier in this chapter. Now normally we would only expect an inheritance to come our way after someone dies, leaving a Last Will and Testament that contains a clause in our favour. But God said that we have our inheritance now. Right now. This very minute. And we are reminded that we have our inheritance because we were chosen, and before we ask about how all this is happening, Paul says that God will make it all work out. All sorted because it’s in His plan.

So what is this inheritance we have? And how do we know we have it? If we list the benefits of being in God’s family, we find that amongst them is the assurance that one day we will be in His presence. Justified. Sanctified. Free of sickness and death. There will be no evil there. We will have a new body. And so on. And as we develop these thoughts, it is obvious that we will not assume all the benefits of our inheritance until we join God in Heaven. In fact, we might think that there are no obvious signs of our spiritual inheritance in this life at all. Except! Verse 14 tells us that God’s gift of His Spirit has been given to us as His guarantee. Through the Holy Spirit we can get a glimpse of our inheritance. Through the Holy Spirit we can start to enjoy our inheritance in this life. Later on in this Epistle we will find that through the Holy Spirit we will enjoy full access to God’s resources; His power can work through us into our daily lives now. 

We Christian’s are blessed people. Let us be a grateful people as well, grateful for this wonderful and amazing gift of the Holy Spirit. Through Him we can tap into God’s very presence, experiencing our wonderful inheritance now. And with Paul we will praise and glorify Him, our loving Heavenly Father. 

Unity

How good and pleasant it is 
when God’s people live together in unity!”
Psalms‬ ‭133:1‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

Another Psalm from David. This is another “Song of Ascents”, sung by God’s people during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. You can just imagine him watching the crowds of pilgrims, ascending the roads and paths up to Jerusalem. And what he observed brought into his mind thoughts of unity. You can almost feel the emotional glow in his musings, when he thinks about “How good and pleasant” unity is. And we too can imagine joining that throng of people, singing, shouting, laughing. A throng full of joy and camaraderie. But perhaps the exclamation mark at the end of this verse reveals that this was not the normal state of affairs. Perhaps, in those days long ago, God’s people were far from being unified in their approach to their lives and religion. David finished the Psalm with thoughts about the anointing of Aaron back in Leviticus, and the importance of that event in Israel’s history. How it then unified the people as they stood before God. 

Today there is little unity in society. Everyone seems to have their own opinions about everything and anything in life, and Christians are not excluded from having their own ideas. Perhaps this was what was in Jesus’ mind when He referred to people as “being like sheep without a shepherd”. Lost and rudderless in the sea of life. In many ways societies today have lost their way because they don’t have a life compass any more. Their moral parameters have disappeared. The concept of there being an ultimate Creator God is now largely missing from society and if thought about at all, is considered irrelevant. So perhaps when David observed the pilgrims ascending the heights, he realised what was missing from his society. I wonder what he would have thought about 21st Century Western society!

The verse about oil is significant. The ritual of a priest being anointed with oil is a practice not normally found in our liturgies today. But if we replace the precious oil with the precious Holy Spirit, then we have a different situation. God loves unity. And through His Spirit He brings that unity, that togetherness, into our lives and communities. Unity doesn’t mean that we all have to be clones of some God-image, all behaving in the same way. But it does mean we must all have the same understanding and are in agreement over the important issues in our faith, and particularly our faith in our loving Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit is the glue that binds us, God’s people together. Sadly, too many Christians get caught up in differences between denominations. Instead of celebrating the Biblical foundations of our faith, they criticise and ridicule the liturgical differences. And on the way, the Christian faith can be replaced by militant sectarianism, demeaning God and His ways. 

So how do God’s people, Christians, live together in unity? We pray of course. But more than that, we do what Jesus would do – we show God’s love, grace and compassion to those around us, regardless of their denominations.

Confidence

Good comes to those who lend money generously
    and conduct their business fairly. 
Such people will not be overcome by evil.
    Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
They do not fear bad news;
    they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
They are confident and fearless
    and can face their foes triumphantly.
Psalm 112:5-8 NLT

To be a confident person in this day and age can be a wonderful place, and is even better if that confidence is based on our trust in the Lord. You see, to be truly effective, the confidence we have must be founded on a place of security, and that doesn’t include our own human understanding and abilities. Our prisons contain many confident people, but their confidence was misplaced and underpinned by wrong foundations and motives.

This Psalm presents a counter-cultural world, in which fairness, in this case in regard to money, is recognised and imputed as righteousness. And from that place, such people know that they are aligned with God’s Kingdom and therefore can trust God to look after and care for them. In today’s Covid-ridden society, bad news is also pandemic, and it induces high levels of anxiety in people, bringing on ever-increasing degrees of mental health challenges. But the “such people” in our Psalm are balanced mentally and “do not fear bad news“. And from their position of God-confidence, they can face the world fearlessly. 1 John 4:4 reads, “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

So on our pilgrimage in this world, a journey full of the pandemics of life, we are in a position of unassailable confidence. Quite simply, we have a God who cares for us, and we have the knowledge that the Holy Spirit within us is a true foundation, stronger than anything to be found in this world. But what should we do with our confidence? Sit at home in a smug, warm glow, thinking like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, “The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people…”? No. God has given us a confident ability to reach an anxious and sin-soaked world with His message of hope. Let’s do it!