NickyGumbel ... Is there really more to life than this?
Living a different way of life, one with meaning and a certain hope for the future 
 Start your day with a few thoughts that will encourage, and bless you in this troubled world we live in.
 Compiled by Nicky Gumbel - One of the originators of the Alpha Course at ( HTB ) Holy Trinity, Brompton, London


    Pippa & Nicky Gumbel

 


Nicky and Pippa first introduced the Bible in One Year commentary in 2011 as a daily email for HTB congregation members. It has since grown into an app with a worldwide following.

Nicky Gumbel is Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), an Anglican church in central London. He is the pioneer of Alpha, an 11-session introduction to the Christian faith now running all over the world.

Nicky has written a number of bestselling books, including Questions of Life, The Jesus Lifestyle, Searching Issues and Why Jesus?

Nicky is married to Pippa. They live in central London and have three grown-up children.

@nickygumbel

@pippagumbel

For your past 6 Daily Readings

Click the Titles Below

August 8 Day 220

Money: A Blessing or a Curse?


Laurence was in charge of the finances of the church. He was also a deacon. There was a great revival taking place all around him. It was said that, ‘All of Rome were becoming Christians.’

As a result, persecution broke out under the Emperor Valerian in around the year AD 250. Christians who owned property distributed all the church’s money and treasures to the city’s poor.

Valerian ordered all bishops, priests and deacons to be arrested and executed. He offered Laurence a way out if he would show where all the church’s treasures were located.

Laurence asked for three days to gather it into one central place. He brought together the blind, poor, disabled, sick, elderly, widows and orphans. When Valerian arrived, Laurence flung open the doors and said, ‘These are the treasures of the church!’

Valerian was so angry that he decided beheading was not terrifying enough for Laurence. He ordered that this courageous man be roasted on a gridiron. That is how Laurence died on 10 August AD 258. Apparently, he even joked with his executioners, ‘You may turn me over. I’m done on this side.’ His courage made such an impression that the revival in Rome only increased, with many people becoming Christians including several senators who witnessed his execution.

St Laurence had a profound understanding of the message of Jesus. He understood that the poor are the true treasures of the church.

What should our attitude be to the poor? What about the rich? Is poverty a blessing or a curse? Are riches a blessing or a curse? Does the gospel promise prosperity?


August 7 Day 219

Three Bad Attitudes That Cause Division


During my time at university, I shared rooms together with my great friend Nicky Lee who became one of the associate vicars of HTB. We did all our own catering; I did the cooking and Nicky Lee did the dividing. He was an expert at dividing whatever was cooked into exactly equal portions! This is but one instance where division is used in a good sense rather than a bad one.

Divisions are a fact of life. They need not necessarily be a bad thing. Indeed, they may even be necessary. For example, placing people in different divisions in an organisation may be helpful and important. We see this kind of division in the Old Testament passage for today.

Then, there is the division that will take place on the day of judgment. This is a necessary division between good and evil. This kind of division can be seen in the psalm for today.

There is also a third kind of division, which is not good, helpful or necessary. Disunity and division in the church is a tragedy. This kind of division is one we must do our very best to avoid. It is this kind of division that the apostle Paul speaks against in the New Testament passage for today.


August 6 Day 218

God is With You


I wonder whether you have ever had this experience: you are talking to a friend about your faith and they are looking back at you with a blank stare. They have no idea what you are talking about. When you talk about a relationship with Jesus, to them it is like you are speaking about an ‘imaginary friend’. It makes no sense to them at all.

The apostle Paul makes the point that you can only understand spiritual truths with the help of the Holy Spirit. The person ‘without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Corinthians 2:14). When God is with us by his Holy Spirit he gives us understanding, ‘that we may understand what God has freely given us’ (v.12).

‘God with us’ (Immanuel) is one of the titles the New Testament uses for Jesus (Matthew 1:23). He is always with you. That the God who created the universe should be with you is not something to be taken lightly. It is an extraordinary and wonderful promise. To experience God with you by his Spirit is life changing.


August 5 Day 217

Perfected in Weakness


I kept getting these phone calls. They came mostly from church leaders. They were from many different parts of the church. They were always long telephone conversations. They all wanted to know: ‘How come you get so many people from outside of the church on the course?’ ‘What exactly is Alpha?’ ‘How do you run it?’

I thought perhaps the best solution was to get them together in one place and tell them all at the same time. As a result, we put on our first Alpha Conference in May 1993. To our astonishment a thousand church leaders turned up. I was relatively new to Christian ministry and was extremely daunted at the thought of a thousand church leaders, most of whom were far more experienced in ministry than I was.

The words of the apostle Paul, in today’s New Testament passage, seemed to sum up exactly how I felt. I read them to the delegates at the start of the conference:

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:1–5)

I thought once I had explained what Alpha was to this group of church leaders, I would never have to explain it to anyone again. But in fact, by the end of the conference we had been invited to do many more conferences. Over the years we have done hundreds of conferences. At every Alpha Conference I start by reading 1 Corinthians 2:1–5. It is always what I feel; I always feel nervous. There is always an element of ‘weakness and fear, and... much trembling’. But I thank God that it does not depend on wise and persuasive words but on a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. And God’s power is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

There is a good side to ‘weakness’, ‘fear’ and ‘trembling’. There is also a bad side. In the passages for today we see both the good and the bad sides of weakness, fear and trembling.


August 4 Day 216

Unity


Years ago, I was speaking to a friend of mine who is not a Christian. He said this to me:

‘I don’t understand. You Protestants and you Catholics, you look exactly the same to me. You both have church buildings that look the same. You both say the Lord’s Prayer and do stuff with bread and wine. Whatever it is you disagree about (and I have no idea what it is) has absolutely nothing to do with my life. However, whilst you are fighting each other I am not interested.’

It struck me then how damaging disunity is to the church and our witness to the world. No wonder Jesus prayed for ‘complete unity’ (John 17:23) and the apostle Paul was passionate that we should be ‘perfectly united’ (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Unity is at the core of our faith. We believe in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is unity in the Trinity. Disunity, on the other hand, has been the curse of humankind ever since Adam and Eve fell into sin.

Jesus died to bring reconciliation and unity. Thank God that today, all around the world, we are seeing a lowering of denominational barriers and a greater unity in the church.


August 3 Day 215

Working Without Wilting


The average person will spend approximately 150,000 hours at work in their lifetime – that is to say, about 40% of our waking lives are spent at work.

‘Is God interested in our work? Many people do not see God as a 24/7 God, but as a withdrawn actor confined to a Sunday show with a declining audience. There is a widespread view that God and work simply don’t mix: the competitive, cut-throat demands of the working world are seen as the obvious enemy of Christian compassion and love. But the God who created and sustains the world is also the God of the workplace. If the Christian faith is not relevant in the workplace, it is not relevant at all.’

These are the words of one of my closest friends, Ken Costa, in his book God at Work (see also godatwork.org.uk). For over forty years, Ken has been living out his faith on the frontline of Christian ministry – in the ‘secular’ workplace in the City of London. And he sees that as his primary calling as a Christian.

Whatever kind of work you are called to, it will probably occupy a large proportion of your life. Work is an important part of God’s ‘economy’. It is part of what you were created to do, and will be part of what you do in heaven. Work has an intrinsic value. The Bible has a lot to say on the subject of our work.


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August 9 Day 221

Only Holiness Leads to Happiness

Our magazines and TV screens are filled with stories of the rich, the beautiful and the strong. Our culture places these things on a pedestal and many of us aspire to achieve them. There is nothing wrong with these things – but they certainly don’t always lead to happiness.

The French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, spoke of three orders of greatness. Riches, beauty and strength fall into his first category of superficial ‘physical greatness’.

Above this is a higher, second level of greatness. It is the greatness of genius, science and art. The greatness of the art of Michelangelo or the music of Bach or the brilliance of Albert Einstein – these stand way above superficial physical greatness.

However, according to Pascal there is a third kind of greatness – the order of holiness. (And there is an almost infinite qualitative difference between the second and the third categories.) The fact that a holy person is strong or weak, rich or poor, highly intelligent or illiterate, does not add or subtract anything because that person’s greatness is on a different and almost infinitely superior plane. It is open to every one of us to achieve true greatness in the order of holiness.

The word ‘holy’ (hallowed, holiest, holiness) appears over 500 times in the Bible. God is holy. He gives you his Holy Spirit to sanctify you, and you are called to share in his holiness.

The word ‘saints’ means ‘holy ones’. In the New Testament it is applied to all Christians. You are ‘called to be holy’ (1 Corinthians 1:2). Holiness is a gift you receive when you put your trust in Jesus, receive his righteousness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Seek to live out a holy life in grateful response to God’s gift, through the imitation of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, only holiness leads to happiness.

Holy God

Psalm 93:1-5

God is the creator of all, but he is also set apart from the world he has established. He is greater and more majestic than all creation, even the thunders of mighty waters (v.4).

The climax of the psalmist’s praise focuses on God’s holiness. He concludes, ‘Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O Lord’ (v.5). The NEB translates this, ‘Holiness is the beauty of [your] temple...’ The temple was a beautiful and impressive building, but the psalmist recognises that the holiness of God is the temple’s true inner beauty and glory.

Lord, we worship you in the beauty of your holiness. You alone are holy. ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty’ (Isaiah 6:3).

Holy church

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

There are several pitfalls in talking about holiness in the church today. First, there is the danger of an attitude that is ‘holier-than-thou’. Avoid self-righteous superiority. Second, there is the danger of perfectionism. Only God is completely holy. Strive for excellence, but you will not achieve perfection in this life.

Our holiness is the appropriate response to God’s holiness – and yet it is only made possible by the gift and the grace of God. Holiness in the church comes through the gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).

Because the church is meant to be holy, Paul is horrified by what was going on in Corinth. There was gross sexual immorality of a kind that would not be tolerated even outside the church (5:1).

He writes, ‘And you’re so above it all that it doesn’t even faze you! Shouldn’t this break your hearts? Shouldn’t it bring you to your knees in tears? Shouldn’t this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with?’ (v.2, MSG).

In order for the church to be holy, discipline needs to be exercised. There are some extreme sins that should result in exclusion from the church (v.13). These sins are ones that are very obvious. For example, in the case of sexual immorality it is an extreme kind of immorality (between a man and his stepmother, v.1).

Paul writes about the need for discipline in relation to those who are ‘greedy, idolaters or slanderers, drunkards or swindlers’ (v.10–11). ‘Greed’ here probably carries the sense of avarice to the point of robbery or swindling. Other such sins include idolatry and slander (verbal abuse – maligning and reviling people).

‘Drunkards’ refers to those who willingly and persistently get drunk. Paul’s focus here is not on those who are trying to overcome alcoholism (or any other addiction), for whom the church should be a place of healing and not of rejection. The word here is associated with other vices – violence and unseemly sexuality.

Paul makes it absolutely clear that he is not speaking about people outside of the church (v.10). We are not to dissociate ourselves from even the most extreme ‘sinners’. Jesus was ‘a friend of sinners’. He associated with everyone. These are exactly the people we should be reaching out to.

Rather, Paul is saying that if people continue with these extreme and obvious sins in an unrepentant manner, they have no place in the church. Unless we deal with the issue, ‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough’ (v.6) – it will affect the whole church.

Church discipline is therefore very positive in the sense that it enables the person to confront their own conduct and deal with it (v.5). It is also positive for the church as a whole in that it stops evil spreading through the whole church community (v.6).

Thankfully, forgiveness is possible: ‘For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed’ (v.7). None of us are holy except through the gift of God. Jesus died as the Passover lamb in order that we can be forgiven and cleansed. Holiness is a gift from God. When we fail we need to come back to the cross without delay and receive forgiveness.

Today Lord, I come to you again and ask for your forgiveness and cleansing. Help me to lead a holy life. May your church be a holy place.

Holy temple

1 Chronicles 28:1-29:30

David was called to prepare for the building of a holy temple (29:2–3). Because the temple was holy, David himself could not build it, since he had ‘done too much fighting – killed too many people’ (28:3, MSG).

However, God did guide David in the exact plans for building the temple. The plans were ‘put into his mind’ by ‘the Spirit’ (v.12). This is often how God guides us – he presents reasons to our minds for acting in a certain way.

David entrusted the work to his son Solomon. He called him to serve God with ‘wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts’ (v.9). God calls you, as he did Solomon, to a holiness that goes beyond action, to the heart, the motives and the thoughts.

David said that God is a God who tests the heart and is pleased with integrity (29:17). David was a man of ‘integrity of heart’ (Psalm 78:72). This is a good definition of holiness.

It has been said that everyone has three lives – a public life, a private life and a secret life. Holiness is about living an integrated life, rather than a dis-integrated one. Holiness is where there is no difference between our public, private and secret lives and no difference between what we profess and what we practise. Holiness is linked to wholeness. When God calls you to be holy, he is saying ‘be wholly mine’.

David prayed, ‘Give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided’ (1 Chronicles 29:19).

It is interesting to note in passing that in order to build the temple they needed to raise a large amount of money. They achieved it because the leaders led. The overall leader gave first (v.3). The other leaders gave next (v.6). Then all the people ‘gave willingly’ (v.6) with ‘a sense of celebration’ (v.17, MSG)

God wants you to give willingly. If you are not willing, you can pray, ‘Lord make me willing to be made willing’. And as Sandy Millar often says, at least you can pray, ‘Lord make me willing to be willing to be made willing’!

As God’s people gave willingly, they were filled with great joy. Everything you have comes from God in the first place (v.16). As you give your resources to the work of God generously and freely, you are filled with great joy.

The holy temple which David and Solomon built was only preparation for the holy temple of the church where the Holy Spirit dwells. Not only does the Spirit live in the church, he also lives in you. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

Lord, fill me today with your Holy Spirit I pray, and help me to be holy.

Pippa Adds

1 Chronicles 29:9b

‘… for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord.’

I am always amazed by God’s provision and the incredible generosity of the people of God. Time and again we have seen God’s extraordinary provision for the work of the church just when things have begun to look impossible. I don’t think I thank God enough for his wonderful generosity.

Verse of the Day

‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you’ (1 Chronicles 28:20).


Whilst Painting

in Provence is my Passion

I would rather you read these thoughts and promises

of God and apply them deeply into your heart, and to allow

Jesus to speak to you in a very real and powerful way.


In these very troublesome times we are ALL living in,

painting and paintings become very much secondary.

God does have a plan for us, but he does want

us to give our lives,thoughts, and ways to HIM....

he wants to guide us and BLESS US.

The Psalm below is a Promise but we must take it and

claim it as a gift.


Psalm 91 (The Passion Translation Bible )TPT


Safe  and Secure

91

1

When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai,

you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.

2

He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me,

the only God for me, and my great confidence.

3

He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy,

and he will protect you from false accusation

and any deadly curse.

4

His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you.

You can run under his covering of majesty and hide.

His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.

5

You will never worry about an attack of demonic forces at night

nor have to fear a spirit of darkness coming against you.

6

Don’t fear a thing !

Whether by night or by day, demonic danger will not trouble you

nor will the powers of evil launched against you.

7

Even in a time of disaster, with thousands and thousands being killed,

you will remain unscathed and unharmed.

8

you will be a spectator as the wicked perish in judgment,

for they will be paid back for what they have done !

9-10

When we live our lives  within the shadow of God Most High,

our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm.

How then could evil prevail against us or disease infect us?

11

God sends angels with special orders to protect you wherever

you go, defending you from all harm.

12

If you walk into a trap, they’ll be there for you

and keep you from stumbling.

13

You’ll even walk unharmed among the fiercest powers of

darkness, trampling every one of them beneath your feet !

14

For here is what the Lord has spoken to me:

“Because you have delighted in me as my great lover,

I will greatly protect you.

I will set you in a high place, safe and secure before my face.

15

I will answer your cry for help everytime you pray,

and you will find and feel my presence

even in your time of pressure and trouble.

I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast.

16

You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you.

For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation !”



Any questions contact me at

dbwelsh@aol.com