The enemy of faith is self-sufficiency

Architect's elevation of building
Image credit: Ian Greig


The punishment you brought me through was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me Your ways.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:71‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Good News

Life is not all plain sailing and threats and difficulties arise. God does not cause these but uses the difficulties to strengthen our relationship with Him, and get us exercising our faith.


The present fall and then rise in Covid-19 infections teaches us a fundamental principle: when everything is going well, we become more careless.

This is our experience of isolating or gathering, which is about being socially responsible — or negligent. How rigorous we are about maintaining a good sanitisation regime is about being practically diligent — or lax.

Psychology tells us that how we perceive the threat — increasing, or decreasing — drives how we react to and safeguard against danger.

So what happens in the spiritual realm? Our spiritual awareness, we could argue from Scripture, is an overarching influence that governs all of the other strands. The Holy Spirit in our lives doesn’t tell us how to live or what is morally unacceptable. That is much more the voice of religion.

But He leads our thinking, gives us prompts, nudges our decisions and gives us an inward witness of what is good or what might be a danger.
But He can only do this when we listen. When we give Him space. When we ask. We have to make the running, ask the questions prayerfully, seek wisdom — and then it is up to us to put it into practice.

How much do we need His guidance? “All the time,” comes the ready answer, but of course our perception is that we need guidance more when difficulty threatens and less when the going seems easy. And that’s the danger, right there. Complacency and self-sufficiency are what lead us away from faith, from seeking God, being open to His leading and — most damaging and sinful — from knowing our dependency on Him

Take away

What is God teaching you about His ways through the difficulty you are battling with right now? How could you use this to encourage someone else to exercise faith?


For a prayer based on this verse, go over to

Knowing who to turn to

Image credit: Roman Fox, Unsplash


Then call on Me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give Me glory.”

Psalm 50:15 NLT

Good News

God is already close for us to turn to Him — it’s all on us to call.


From the first day at a new school onwards through life, knowing that there is someone looking out for you is good.
Just that person being there is one of the big factors that governs whether we feel secure or not.

In adult life, being part of something bigger than oneself has traditionally helped to balance that sense of isolation.
In the past century, many people spent part of their lives in the armed services, and the sense of belonging to something bigger carries on with the Royal British Legion, reunions and other connections. It was an age of belonging and identifying — with a political party, or within a trade union or professional association.

For many, belonging to their local church was as much part of their local identity as it was spiritual. Where club membership is an important part of the culture, church can easily be treated as another club, with its committee rewarding long involvement with a title.

The present age is individualistic and a distrust of institutions has made people wary. It is no longer an age of belonging. Nor is it an age of formality. At times, the two went together, the institutional identity, the respectful titles. Now, politicians and pundits alike appear on television in ‘smart casual’. Older readers might remember (or be aware anecdotally) how early BBC television presenters wore evening dress!

That facet of something bigger and grander than oneself has disappeared. But it’s not all bad. The need for a personal connection with a personal, loving God is all the greater. Jesus — simply known without formality or the packaging of an institution or organisation — has made it possible for us to know who to call when we are in trouble, who will rescue us, and who we give the glory to. And not just possible, but more desirable than ever before.

Take away

How is your sense of belonging and safety changing, and where is God in it?


For a prayer based on this verse, go over to


The elastic stretch of faith

Clifton Suspension Bridge. Image credit: wiki commons

Verse for today

O LORD, do not stay far away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!

Psalm 22:19 NLT

Good News

God is our strength, and any of us who believe in Him enough to turn to Him, can simply ask for His help.


These words were written as a prayer by King David, the renowned godly, worshipful and generally righteous leader of Israel. He saw Israel become prosperous and secure, as never before. Yet — perhaps because of His dogged devotion to God — he attracted some vicious opposition.
Good dispels evil, but it also attracts the attention of evil.
There is a prophetic picture in this psalm which is a remarkable fit with the circumstances of Jesus undergoing crucifixion. According to Mark and Matthew, His last words were the opening words — the context of today’s verse — which are: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
What is happening in heaven can seem disconnected with what we are experiencing on earth. Prayers, even desperate ones, can appear to be unheard and unanswered.
But David, in our verse, puts “Do not stay far away!” together with what he believes and trusts: “You are my strength”.
When we cry out to God and nothing seems to happen, it is good to be reminded that this is normal!
The gospel accounts of healings and deliverances are very compressed accounts. They can read as more instant than they are. There is usually a time element in there. Sometimes Jesus asks His question again.
Sometimes He prays again. Sometimes the salvation occurs as the person starts to journey back. We don’t have a full picture of /how long/ Jesus was with the sufferer.
Faith is like a bungee rope which connects our appeal with receiving heaven’s response. For a time it just pulls out. You have jumped off Clifton Suspension Bridge in your harness and it feels like free fall, far too long in free fall! But this is normal. This is where faith is generated, and does its work. This is where the bungee takes up its tension.
Where are you, in your feeling of ‘plunge to disaster’ right now? Is it the terrifying weightlessness of free fall? Or are you starting to feel the restraining pull of heaven’s support? What matters is not wavering from our declaration: “God, You are my strength”. Especially when it really doesn’t feel like it.


For a prayer based on this verse, go to this page on

Ask for anything — true or untrue?

Image credit: Ian Greig

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. If you love me, keep My commands.    John 14:13-15 NIV

“Whatever you ask….”

IT’S TEMPTING to dismiss this before engaging with it. Or to trivialise it by praying for a lottery win or a sports result. But let’s slow down… and see this for what it is. A promise of Scripture… and a clear promise of God’s Son, Jesus. What He says is what He says.

What is the context? Jesus has been drawing His disciples out on the question of who He is1. So Philip’s lesson is that seeing Jesus is like being able to set eyes on the Father. He is also “the way” — the one way we can access to the Father.

Religions and philosophies (including the Christian church variants) put forward their own suggestions of paths to God and these have similar requirements: combining correct observance of prescribed worship, obedience or pilgrimage, participation in rites or ordinances, and living charitably and sharing wealth. Worthy objectives — but this is not the path that Christ set out for us. Yes, He did teach living unselfishly and imitating His unconditional love, but *not* as a means to salvation. Rather, the result of it.

The Good News — and what it isn’t

All religious redemption is based on us doing, or performing, or going without, something for God. Faith in good works is the opposite of faith in Jesus and the gospel. The Good News of Jesus and His kingdom is all about who He is and what He has done. The way, the truth and the life that Jesus spoke about — using the divine name I AM — is about whether or not we believe the reality, or truth, of who Jesus is, and receiving and trusting in Him for rebirth into life with a renewed spiritual dimension — a life that continues into eternity in fellowship with Him.

So the promise “Whatever you ask in My name” is about Jesus and His kingdom. AskingTo keep the context the same, we are asking for what brings His rule and reign and justice. Our personal needs, important to the Lord who loves us, have to be submitted to that greater purpose.

So what about those “difficult” questions about physical and emotional healing? What about material things?

Keeping a focus on the kingdom

All our needs are on God’s heart and part of His concern — as part of His desire to bring the just and fair rule and order of His kingdom. This brings with it a general prosperity or “well-doing”, of spirit, soul, body and our situation.

Why do we not see dramatic and visible healing in the way recorded about Jesus’ ministry in the gospels? The answer is we do, but not as repeatably or often! When Jesus in person drew near to a person, the kingdom of God drew near — and justice of the kingdom with it. There was an intensity of the presence of Jesus — as you would expect with the visible person of Jesus present.

Intensity of presence

Today, Jesus is seated in the heavenly places. However, where much prayer has been invested in a gathering, there can be an intensity of the Holy Spirit presence of Jesus. The kingdom draws near, and the signs of the kingdom, healing among them are manifested. By contrast, the routine reading out of names week after week in formal church service intercession may not have that preparation of the Holy Spirit of Jesus, and may not be shared with a level of expectation and faith as our human counterpart.

The Lord will meet us in our “asking” prayer, but first things first — our “praise prayer” acknowledging Him as king of His kingdom is a necessary approach. So is our general awareness of His kingdom purpose, and our wanting, most of all, His rule and reign in our hearts and communities: not just coming to Him for our need of the moment to be met.

If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find Him in the chalice. — St. John Chrysostom (lived 347-407)


“Ask me for anything” invites the equal and opposite follies of asking God for what is inappropriate, and not asking for what tests our faith. The context of the verse helps us find the balance — Christ is drawing out from His disciples who He is. He alone is the way into the kingdom — and that kingdom life and kingdom order meets everyone’s needs, your personal ones included.

For a prayer linked to this verse, see on this page

  1. John 14:6-14 []

God’s love came first

Mother goose watches over her baby gosling on Weobley Marsh common.    Image credit: Ian Greig 03412

This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:10 (NIV)

Why should God love me?

“If you really knew me… knew what was in my life behind the front that I put up … If you really knew me (I suppose God knows me like that) you wouldn’t expect God to love me.”

It’s not a real quote but I have heard a version of that comment many times as a pastor.

The way we see ourselves and the way God sees us, are not the same. The way we value ourselves and the way God values us are not the same.

We work on the premise that our relationship with God works like the way we get to know anyone else. God has to get to know us, and hopefully He will see some things He likes and over time, become warm to us.

Wrong. God loved and accepted us first.

He may not love and accept all our attitudes or behaviour… but He created us and sent His Son Jesus to be the “atoning sacrifice”, to pay the high price to make things right for us.

Is this automatic? The fact of God’s love for us is not a maybe — that’s established. What is not automatic is our love for God, and our acceptance of Jesus for who He is. That requires us to make a choice!

We agree with Jesus about who He is and what He has done in our behalf. What He did was costly. Our decision also has a cost to it – the cost of our independence, of giving someone else a higher place in our lives. But now we realise the extent of God’s love for us that was there all along. We just had to make our move, to receive it.

As the Passion Translation puts it:

This is love: He loved us long before we loved Him. It was His love, not ours. He proved it by sending His Son to be the pleasing sacrificial offering to take away our sins.” 1 John‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭TPT‬‬

In a few words

Three white-hooded Cistercian monks from Mount. St Bernard, UK
Christian filmmaker Nick Hamer recently spent three years getting to know the monks of Mount St Bernard Monastery, Leicestershire, and learning about how they value quietness and listening and reflection — few words, not many. They also embarked on a bold plan to modernise and be self-sustaining. It’s a must-see film! Image credit: Nick Hamer,


In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.  

Ephesians 1:7 NIV

A little more interpretative in the New Living Translation:

He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.  

Ephesians 1:7 NLT

Good News

There’s one act of the heart for us — to believe — and four things that happen without us doing anything more. The grace of God forgives us and puts our lives right and gives us new life and new identity — because of what Jesus has done on our behalf.


A recently-released film, Outside the City, by Christian filmmaker Nick Hamer, explored the life of Britain’s only Cistercian Trappist monastery at Mount St Bernard, Leicestershire over a three-year period. During this time they invested in modern brewery equipment and began to brew their own niche brand of bottled ale. By contrast with this specialised activity, the rule of life they follow values quietness and reflection. There was a scene in the refectory where instead of conversation the Abbott is reading from the Rule of Benedict, and we hear (approximate quote): “Be sparing with your words… for if your words are many, their emptiness is great.”

Churchgoing in the UK is in sharp decline, in the traditional denominations at least, and one thing often cited is the association of worship services with unwarranted wordiness. We may fall into the trap of too many words and too little meaning, but Paul didn’t. In this one verse and about 20 words he sets out five massive foundations of Christian faith:

  • Being joined to Christ — our new life “in Him”
  • Redemption — the NLT puts this plainly as “He purchased our freedom”. If someone else paid the fine for a prisoner’s offence, or purchased the freedom of a slave from the owner, that person was described as having been redeemed.
  • Through His blood — the OT principle was clear, that without the shedding of blood there could be no forgiveness. The worship of God through priests offering sacrifices foreshadowed the one, final and conclusive sacrifice made by Jesus Christ in the Cross for our sins, past, present and future. His blood remedies our sin and makes the personal relationship with God possible, no priests required.
  • The forgiveness of sins — much conventional religion makes a meal of striving to be forgiven, when that forgiveness has already been granted to all who truly believe in and receive to their hearts Jesus as Saviour and Lord.
  • The riches of God’s grace. What we cannot earn, Christ earned for us. What we cannot achieve, we can receive in and through Him. Most man-centred philosophy revolves around merit — whether or not we deserve a particular reward. That is the basis of the pass mark or grade that operates in school, graduate and professional qualifications, driving tests and promotion boards — and produce shows and ploughing matches! It’s what we are used to, but God deciding to treat us according to His love, not our performance, is difficult to accept. Because accepting us all we can do, to respond to what He has done and the love He has already shown.

For someone who has taken that step of faith to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, it all comes down to just two words — “in Him”. Our being joined, spiritually, with Christ Jesus and His righteousness is a kind of transfusion of God’s life and good motivation.

It upsets our ordinariness. And (something no religion can do) it frees us from needing to prove or earn any moral achievement.


For a prayer based on this verse, go over to

Never far from the supply

White Castle. A prisoner here could be confined and forgotten, without hope — a foretaste of hell. God’s promise to those that are His is the exact opposite!
Image credit: Ian Greig 01755

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13 NLT

Good News

If we have allowed Jesus into our life, we are not and never will be forgotten. An eternity of friendless separation is the prospect for those that reject God. If we turn to Him, we have His promise to meet our needs in this life, and to be with Him for ever.


Living in an area where every few miles there was a garrison with its castle, and every church still displays the tombs of knights from that era, it is a reminder that medieval life was an unpredictable helping of plenty or poverty, security or injustice. One if the more horrific ways of perishing was to be imprisoned in the oubliette dungeon of a castle — the word meaning ‘forgotten’ — the prisoner that didn’t exist, for whom there was no ransom and no hope. It is a fair picture of the hell the Bible tells us we will face without God’s grace — and the way to that is the Way of Jesus, recognising Him as Son of God and our personal Saviour when we ask Him into our life.

This good news is the exact opposite of the oubliette experience. If we belong to God through Jesus, we are not — and will never be — forgotten.

Times of plenty are a danger because we too easily forget the source of our security and let our praise of the Lord who saved us lapse.

But in times of need — the present pandemic has been a jolt to our complacency — it is good to know that in Christ, we are not at all forgotten, and we are never far from the supply. The Good Lord of the friendly castle is not far away and looking out for us.

This is what Paul meant, writing from imprisonment to his friends in Philippi

His actual circumstances of little or plenty mattered less to him than his prospects which were assured in heaven.

Just as the share price of a company goes up on forecast earnings although present profitability may be poor, Paul says he knows how to be content — not anxious, not in fear of tomorrow — in every situation, because “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”. And believing and declaring these words does seems to change the weather, the news and the outlook of the day in a way that’s hard to explain. Perhaps it is because we are taking a stand in agreement with heaven — a call that is heard up on the friendly castle walls as “one of ours”.


For a prayer based on this verse, head over to

The extraordinary privilege of being adopted by God

Image of tabby kitten rolling — a picture of adoption
Image credit: EugenieM on Pixabay


Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.  Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT

Good News

God chose us long before we ever thought about choosing Him. He has made it possible for us to be holy, fully accepted and in the closest of relationships by accepting what Jesus has done for us — there’s nothing to earn.


Everybody has a need to belong. And to belong to the family of God, with heavenly privileges and standing — it is not just belonging, it is being esteemed by God and the company of heaven!

Two threads run through the Bible which at first sight seem to be contradictory.

One is the idea of election, or being chosen. That is mentioned here. Even before creating the world, God chose people like us (He operates outside our rules of time and place) to be holy, like Him, and with Him.

The second is free will — God did not create man as an automaton, He did not create us to be boringly, unthinkingly subservient, either. So the choice of predestination also brings with it the element of our choice and our response to Him. We are free to be as independent as we like, although independence taken too far doesn’t play out well, it becomes close to a definition of, or root cause of, sin.

Chosen people

The children of Israel were God’s first chosen people, and they were set apart from other nations to know God and live by His ways. The code of conduct He gave them through Moses seems complicated and pedantic to us, but these were tribal, nomadic  people with an oral learning tradition, and surrounded by evil influences where life was cheap and belief was superstitious. They had freedom to live well before God, or to make mistakes and there was grace to learn from them.

That’s the background to what Paul writes here, to people who had no historic reason to consider themselves chosen unless they were Jewish, and even then the fulfilment of their ‘chosen-ness’ had come in Jesus Christ. God has always intended the Jews to be the people who would demonstrate a knowledge of the true and living God, and lead others to know Him. Now Paul is writing to a church assembly which is multicultural. All can share an understanding of the historic background, going back to creation itself. But now Jesus has made a way through the barrier of sin which kept people apart from God. Through Jesus, and only through Him, all can share in fulfilling God’s desire for people created in His image to choose to be His.

Receiving what Jesus has done

He has chosen us to be those who choose Him, and to have His life in us, connecting with the huge privilege of sonship which was always the intention. Through personally deferring to Jesus and trusting Him with our lives by asking Him into our hearts, we can be counted blameless and holy by grace — receiving what Jesus has done.

This is very different from trying to live a holy and blameless life. Christ in our heart changes us, so we want to live as those who are His — and are enabled to do so by the Holy Spirit in us.

Over the centuries the relationship of Christianity, us knowing God personally through Jesus, has been institutionalised. Relationship is difficult and unpredictable, and so the ingenuity of man has constructed various systems to achieve a holy and blameless life with priests, rituals, monastic and celibate setting apart and various legalistic adherences to words of Scripture — all of which fall short of the spirit behind the words, which is all about the relationship.

By contrast, sonship is the ultimate relationship. There isn’t a higher aspiration. If we have that, we are freed from the need to work to achieve it, and freed to live in this new identity.

Take away

  • God chose you before birth, called you and revealed Himself to you. For what?
  • What is your destiny, your special purpose in His plan?
  • To God, you are chosen, you are special, unique even. How would He introduce you?

For a prayer based on this verse, head over to

Back to

Verbal attacks have a short life

Image credit: Evi Odioko on Unsplash

No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.  Isaiah 54:17 NIV

Good News

The world’s hatred of what is right and true can be real enough, but God’s love is far greater, and if we know we are His, He is for us1. This “heritage of the servants of the Lord” translates for believers into the new covenant in Jesus, which is founded on even better promises2


In our society generally, murder has provoked strong public reaction and a demand for severe sentencing. Strangely, murder of a person’s reputation is not seen in the same way, although strongly forbidden throughout the NT gospels and letters. 

Yet false witness is such a fundamental evil it is called out in the Ten Commandments3.  In the NT we find slander paired with malice as evils to avoid, and the fact that almost every letter to churches warns against this, shows it to be common even in Christian communities4.

Sooner or later we will encounter the reaction of someone who feels threatened or just jealous, in harsh and untrue words. Everyone who aspires to leadership tastes the bitterness of betrayal from someone who should have been counted a supporter.

Moses faced this on a number of occasions, notably in Korah’s ‘insolence’ (NIV)5.King David endured this from one of his sons who would gather support from travellers entering the city gate, by suggesting that his justice was better than his father’s6.

Today, politicians and sometimes civil servants face the subtle and difficult to defend attacks of ‘briefing against’. 

Unlike physical assault, or direct confrontation, slander  evades debate or defence. It is also the favoured tactic of the devil whose name, Satan, means accuser or slanderer7.

If we belong to Jesus, or even if we are on a  righteous path, we are a target and the enemy of our souls, making use of suitably compliant and undiscerning people, will use this weapon to discredit or if possible, destroy what is God-given. It is “the heritage of the servants of the Lord” — it goes with the territory, as we say.

However, if we are the Lord’s and submitted to Him and His way, lies will be revealed, truth will come out and God’s order will prevail. Not immediately — there has to be a process of turning and realisation. The kingdom of God is no spiritual dictatorship, even if at times we wish it was! There are the twin currents of freewill and grace flowing, and those who have been deceived and used by Satan need every opportunity to find the way back into God’s will. But the promise of Scripture is that the weapon of evil words will not prevail and those assaulted by them will be enabled to set the record straight so that truth can bring healing to all.

Take away

Who has talked about you untruthfully to others? Who has been a false accuser? Now do the very hard but powerfully Jesus-like thing of forgiving them — extending to them the grace that God extended to you when He invited you into his kingdom. Not waiting for an apology, or confronting them personally — this is between you and God.

Father, You know what has been said (outline the accusation and how it made you feel).
Now I choose to forgive (name them) without condition.
Whatever compensation would be fair, I cancel it.
I thank You for Your grace to me, and so I extend grace to (name them)
And I choose to call down Your blessing on them.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.


For a prayer based on this verse, go over to on this page

  1. Romans 8:28 []
  2. Hebrews 8:6 []
  3. Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:20; Proverbs 6:16-19 []
  4. Mark 7:21-22; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; 1 Peter 2:1 []
  5. Numbers 16:1 []
  6. 2 Samuel 15:1-4 []
  7. Revelation 12:10 []

Bringing it down to one word

Image credit: Derek Thomson on Unsplash

“Love makes it impossible to harm another, so love fulfils all that the law requires.”. Romans 13:10 TPT

Good News

The Good News of Jesus and His kingdom is that we CAN live differently, because His living presence in us — the Holy Spirit — enables us.


The ‘golden rule’ — treat others how you want to be treated — is not unique in Christianity.

What is unique is the enabling or empowering that having Christ in your life brings to day by day living.

Christians are not just called to live above themselves. There is plenty of teaching about how to do this! But it is not simply the moral “do better” exhortation of a typical homily.

The Good News of Jesus and His kingdom is the good news that we CAN live differently for and in Him, because His living presence in us — the Holy Spirit, third person in the godhead — who gives us abilities and insights we don’t have in a natural way.

He builds on what is there. As God’s creations, we are all made like Him. But at the same, made different with a variety of stand-out characteristics.

  • Are you a caring, patient person? The Holy Spirit will add His gifts to what is already good.
  • Or an enterprising one? The Holy Spirit can turn you into one of God’s pioneers.
  • A musician? That can take you into a new area as the Holy Spirit focuses your talent in leading others in worship.

But there’s one attribute which is like a hallmark in precious metal. It is love, or rather, being one who is actively receiving God’s love, the love that took Jesus to the Cross on our behalf. What happens when we are being filled and impacted by God’s love? We overflow with it!

This is the hallmark of being genuine inhabitants of the kingdom of God that others see and want for themselves.

“Love makes it impossible to harm…” and this is what makes new life in Jesus, new. More than half of the foundational statements of the law, the Ten Commandments, are about not doing harm to your family, those around you, their marriage relationships, possessions and reputation. Knowing what not to do is important — but having a heart that is set on the very opposite of selfish harm, is even better. It is powerful!

Take away

Go to and enter this verse, Romans 13:10. You will see the verse in the version of your choice. (e.g. New International Version).
Just under the search box is a link to see the context of the whole chapter and also the verse in all English versions. There are some interesting emphases. What stands out to you?


For a prayer based on this verse, see this post on

Knowing where to look for God’s guidance

Image credit: Ian Greig 03229


I set my heart on Your precepts and pay close attention to all Your ways. My delight is found in all Your laws, and I won’t forget to walk in Your words. Psalms 119:15-16 TPT

Good news

God is constantly revealing Himself, especially through different dimensions of His word. That’s how He speaks to us, personally, as His children, as we listen.


Principles. Covenants that require our willingness. Kingdom principles e.g. as taught by the parables of Jesus

Demonstration from examples

Foundational commands like 10 Commandments, Great Commandment etc

God’s ‘now’ word for me


What is our compass to guide us through life? It depends where our hearts and values are.

If you live in a village, the traditions and committees and clubs of that self-contained community may well be the values you live by. And they may be considerate and good — they have been ‘proved’ over a long period.

Our need to belong

In a town or city there is more of a sense of ‘being in the flow’ of what others are doing. There is peer pressure from those you work with, commute with, follow fashion with.

For a young person without strong ties to family or school, a gang may be the way of belonging. In ethnic communities, the laws of that minority culture, its related families and religion often dictate behaviour and stifle any individual aspiration to grow beyond those confines.

Everyone has a need to belong. The need to belong and be accepted in a local community can be the overruling factor — it’s part of our security.

God’s kind of belonging

God wants us to belong (in a good way — the loyalty of a slave offset by the freedom and honour of a son) and His kingdom community is protective, supportive, nurturing — and eternal. It also guides us into what works. But this is a choice — to give greater regard to belonging to God and listening to what He says, than other traditions or affinities that want to ‘own’ us.

God’s precepts, laws, ways and words overlap, but there are differences.

  • Laws are foundational, like the Ten Commandments or the Great Commandment of Jesus to love God and love others.
  • Precepts are principles like covenants where there is a partnership involved, needing our active participation.
  • God’s ways are what we learn from the whole of Scripture and Scripture’s commentary on itself, and the record of salvation history and more recent church history illustrates the tension between God’s ways and man’s ways.
  • God’s words are how we hear Him day by day. God is always speaking, and His Holy Spirit in us will often ‘lift’ a verse that was originally spoken or written for people centuries ago, a different time and context, and bring it to us with fresh meaning.

Fresh bread for today

God’s ‘now’ word is God’s fresh bread for today, and it’s something we all desire. It’s part of the reason — if we are honest, maybe quite a big part of the reason — we attend church, possibly take part in a small group — and read the Bible for ourselves. It’s not the only way God speaks to us but it is His number one way, and all other ways are checked out by it. Because it is fresh bread, we delight in it and pay close attention to it — together with the more enduring forms of revelation God has given us in His law and precepts and His ways, brought into sharp focus by Jesus.


A free account with gives different versions of the Bible to compare (NIV and NLT are two of the best, accurate, contemporary-language Bibles available). You can receive their verse of the day — the source of many of these reflections. But many people prefer to read, and mark, and add notes to, their printed Bible.


For a prayer based on this verse and theme, head over to and
this page