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

April 2 Day 92

It is All Yours

The Chelsea Flower Show may well be the most famous flower show in the world. It attracts visitors from all continents.

There are four grades of award presented, Gold, Silver-Gilt, Silver and Bronze. As well as awards for gardens and flowers, the Knightianaward is for exhibits of vegetables.

I once heard a man being interviewed about the fact that he was retiring after winning the gold medal for his vegetables for ten years in a row. Asked for the secret of his success, he said, ‘I aim for perfection. But I settle for excellence.’ 

‘Aim for perfection’ (2 Corinthians 13:11), writes the apostle Paul. This is very different from ‘perfectionism’. Perfectionism is a personality trait characterised by striving for flawlessness. It leads to setting excessively high performance standards. Perfectionists are overly critical of themselves and constantly concerned about what others think of them. It leads to a fear of failure and making mistakes. It can lead to depression, anxiety and missed opportunities. 

God’s people have always been called to aim high (while avoiding the dangers of perfectionism). God gave to his people in the Old Testament a wonderful vision of their potential inheritance. It is all yours in Christ Jesus. 

Aim to be full of joy

Proverbs 8:22-31

Jesus wants you to be full of joy. He wants you to experience complete joy. He said, ‘I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete’ (John 15:11).

The description of personified Wisdom in today’s passage is echoed in the way the New Testament talks about Jesus. Jesus ‘was with God in the beginning’ (John 1:2) (compare Proverbs 8:23,30).

Wisdom is seen to be full of joy: ‘Day after day I was there, with my joyfulapplause, always enjoying his company, delighted with the world of things and creatures, happily celebrating the human family’ (Proverbs 8:30b–31, MSG).

This joy is overflowing – ‘filled with delight’ (v.30). It is constant – ‘day after day’ (v.30). Where does this joy come from?

First, it comes from God’s presence (‘in his presence’, v.30). Second, it comes from relationships with other people (‘the human family’, v.31, MSG). Third, it comes from God’s creation (‘world of things and creatures’, v.31, MSG). God has given us all good things richly to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). It is all yours in Christ Jesus. 

The joy that Jesus experienced in his relationship with God the Father strengthened him in his life on earth. Fix your ‘eyes on Jesus… who for the joy set before him endured the cross’ (Hebrews 12:2–3). Jesus teaches us to aim high with our own lives, never just ‘making do’ but enduring hardships and always seeking the joy of God’s presence. 

Lord, thank you that you want your joy to be in me and my joy to be complete. May I never settle for anything less.

Aim to be full of love

Luke 9:10-27

Jesus is the supreme example of love. Even the secular world often recognises this. TIME Magazine said this: ‘Jesus: the most persistent symbol of purity, selflessness and love in the history of western humanity.’

Jesus loves you. He cares about your physical needs. Rather than sending the crowd away hungry to find food for themselves, he gets his disciples to feed them – miraculously. 

We come back again to the feeding of the five thousand – the only miracle (apart from the resurrection) recorded in all four Gospels. We are reminded of how much Jesus can do with the very little that we offer him, and of the fact that Jesus involves us in his miracles. This is a huge privilege and it is all yours in and through Jesus.

The disciples begin to understand who Jesus really is when he asks: ‘“Who do you say I am?” and Peter answers, “The Christ of God.”’ (v.20). Jesus begins to explain to them about his death (the greatest act of love in history) and resurrection. He challenges his disciples to aim high. He calls you to aim at three things, which together comprise love for others and love for Jesus. 

No sin

Sin is the opposite of love. In the middle of the word SIN is the letter ‘I’. Jesus says, ‘Those who would come after me must deny themselves’ (v.23). God may ask you to make different sacrifices in your life, but the only thing we are all required to give up is sin.

Every day the challenge of love requires little acts of self-denial.

No self

Jesus says, ‘Those who would come after me must... take up their cross daily and follow me, for those who want to save their lives will lose them, but those who lose their lives for me will save them’ (vv.23–24).

Effectively, Jesus invites us to ‘come... and die’. The cross today is a symbol of hope. However, then it was a symbol of pain, shame, disgrace and ultimately death.

Jesus said that if you live a life of selfish ambition – even if you are the most successful person of all time and ‘gain the whole world’ (v.25) – it will do you no good at all. The way to find life in all its fullness is to abandon your life to the love of Jesus and of others. Take up your cross daily and follow him (v.23).

Being willing to give up your life is the ultimate act of love. This is the example that Jesus set first. He calls you and me to follow his example: ‘cleave steadfastly to me, conform wholly to my example in living and, if need be, in dying’ (v.23, AMP).

No secrecy

Jesus says, ‘All who are ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels’ (v.26). 

If you love Jesus don’t be ashamed of him. Sometimes even taking his name on our lips is a challenge. Don’t be ashamed of his teaching (his ‘words’). If you want Jesus to be proud of you, you must be proud of him. If you love people you will want everyone to know about Jesus.

Speaking for myself, I know how often I fall short in these areas. But the fact that our lives fall very far short of perfection should not stop us aiming high.

Lord, help me to aim high. Help me today to deny myself and take up my cross and follow you. May I never be ashamed of you or your words but rather boldly declare the good news of your death and resurrection for us.

Aim to be full of the Spirit 

Numbers 33:1-34:29

You have an amazing inheritance. It is all yours in Jesus. This passage describes the inheritance that God assigned to his people (34:29). Although they set out ‘boldly’ (33:3), they had wandered around in the desert for forty years (v.38). They never fully enjoyed their inheritance. 

Paul, preaching in the book of Acts, explains that God gave the land to his people as their inheritance (Acts 13:17–20). He goes on, ‘We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus’ (vv.32–33). This is now your inheritance. 

God’s promise to give his people the land of Canaan was always about more than simply good real estate. It was a promise of flourishing, as God’s people enjoyed relationship with God, under the security of God’s protection, in God’s promised place. This points forward to the New Testament concept of the ‘kingdom of God’, the sphere of God’s presence and rule. It is this that is fulfilled in Jesus, and it is yours now.

In Christ, your inheritance is ‘the promised eternal inheritance’ (Hebrews 9:15). It is ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4).

Not only do you have this inheritance to look forward to in the future but you can experience something of this inheritance right now: ‘Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance’ (Ephesians 1:13–14).  

The Greek word for deposit (arabone) is a word that means ‘down payment’. In other words, you experience here and now a foretaste of that inheritance through the Holy Spirit. As you live in the Spirit, your life will be changed to produce the fruit of ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (Galatians 5:22). Don’t settle for second best; aim to be full of the Holy Spirit. Receive your inheritance. 

Lord, help us in the Spirit to be ruthless with sin so that we do not allow anything to become ‘barbs in [our] eyes and thorns in [our] sides’ (Numbers 33:55). Help me to aim high, to receive my inheritance and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Pippa Adds

Numbers 33:6–48 

The Israelites were constantly on the move. I am taking this passage totally out of context but it makes me think of Focus, our yearly camping church holiday where we have over 7000 people coming together. The good thing is that once we arrive at Somerley Estate in July and have pitched our tents, we don’t have to move on immediately. ‘Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess’ (v.53) [or, in our case, only for 6 days]. ‘Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, to a smaller group a smaller one’ (v.54). We have many church plants coming; each will have its own area. If the people of God could live in tents for forty years, we should be able to manage a week. Come on! It is going to be AMAZING.

Verse of the Day

‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’ (Luke 9:23).

For the past 6 Daily Readings

Click the Titles Below

April 1 Day 91

Follow Jesus


Curious to know what all the fuss was about Pippa and I eventually entered the world of Twitter and now Instagram. It is a world where you ‘follow’ other people and are yourselves ‘followed’. 

Many celebrities have huge followings. People become avid spectators of their lives, relationships and lifestyle, diets and fashion choices. They want to know all about them, interact with them and be like them. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. It is natural to want to follow those we admire. Following celebrities on social media can be fun and even enlightening. 

However, following people on Instagram or Twitter is one thing; being a true follower of someone is quite another. It means fully devoting yourself to their cause, living by their example and even doing what they tell you to do. Choose the right people to follow. It really does matter whom you follow. Millions, for example, followed Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. Still today, millions follow evil dictators, terrorists and gang leaders.

Some people are sceptical about tradition and institutions and do not know whom to follow. The traditional models, which often came from or were championed by our families, institutions and political leaders, have, to some extent, broken down. This leaves many people unsure of whom to follow. 

Jesus said many times, ‘Follow me.’ Of all the people who have ever lived, Jesus has the largest number of followers. Over 2.4 billion people in the world today profess to follow Jesus. Jesus’ followers are called ‘disciples’. They want to be with him, to know him, to be like him and to do everything that Jesus asks them to do.

 

March 31 Day 90

How to Overcome Your Fears


Millennials (those born between 1981 and 2000) are sometimes known as ‘generation fear’. In one of her most popular songs, Lily Allen sings about ‘being taken over by the fear’.

‘Fear’ carries two meanings in the Bible – one healthy, one unhealthy. In the good sense of the word, it is usually used in the context of respect for God and sometimes of respect for people (especially those in authority). 

In the bad sense, it means to be frightened. We are supposed to fear God (in the good sense) and not be frightened of anyone or anything else. Many people today live with the opposite. They do not fear God but their lives are full of the wrong kinds of fear. 

How can you overcome your fears?


March 30 Day 89

A Hundredfold Return


He was brought up on one of the roughest estates in Manchester. His father was an alcoholic. He left school at fifteen. He ran away from home. He lived on the streets. He joined a gang. He got involved in crime and ended up in prison. When he came out, he joined the army. He went through two divorces. 

In 1994, he walked into our church and did Alpha. He encountered Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He started visiting prisoners. He joined the HTB staff team to head up the work in prisons. He started an organisation to care for ex-offenders. He set up a homeless project. He started a course to help those with addictions and courses to help those struggling with depression and debt.

Under his leadership, Alpha for Prisons has spread through the prisons in the UK and seventy-six countries around the world. Thousands have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Hundreds of men and women have been placed in churches through the ministry of Caring for Ex-Offenders.

Paul Cowley is an example of someone who was the good soil on which the seed fell. He has a noble and good heart. He heard the word, retained it and by persevering has produced a crop hundreds of times more than was sown (Luke 8:8,15). He encountered Jesus as his Saviour, Sower and Shepherd. 


March 29 Day 88

How to Become Wise


Oprah Winfrey says, ‘Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.’ In other words, wisdom comes from within and is a kind of intuition. Since you are created in the image of God, there is truth in this. However, as we see in today’s passages, true wisdom comes from God and it is supremely acquired through your relationship with him. As we have seen, knowledge is horizontal. But wisdom is vertical. It comes down from above. You will grow in wisdom as you learn, reflect and live in relationship with God.

We all desperately need wisdom. In the Old Testament there are several books of ‘Wisdom’: Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. In addition, sprinkled throughout the Bible are various writings which might loosely be described as ‘Wisdom Literature’, dealing with such diverse areas as the power of the tongue, the blessings of faithfulness, the dangers of adultery, the hazards of strong drink, the inequalities of life, the sufferings of the righteous, the skill of leadership and the art of parenting. 

This wisdom is a kind of sanctified common sense. It leads to greater self-understanding. It gives you the ability to cope in life and to steer through and master its challenges. It is the sort of legacy good parents want to hand on to their children. Ultimately, wisdom is found in Jesus Christ, who is the ‘wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:24). 


March 28 Day 87

In the Day of Trouble


Ajay Gohil was brought up as a Hindu and worked for the family business in a newsagent in North London. At the age of twenty-one he contracted erythrodermic psoriasis, a chronic skin disease. His weight dropped from 11.5 stone (73kg) to 7.5 stone (47.6kg). The disease was all over his body from head to toe. He lost all his friends. His wife and son left him. He wanted to die. 

As Ajay lay dying in hospital he cried out to God. He looked in his locker and found a Bible there. He opened it at Psalm 38 – the psalm for today. Each and every verse seemed relevant to him. He prayed for God to heal him. He fell into a deep sleep. By the next morning he was totally healed. His skin was new like a baby’s and his life was turned around. He was reunited with his son. I interviewed him in one of the services at HTB. He said, ‘Every day I live for Jesus.’

Life is not all plain sailing. We will all face troubles. Whatever you are facing today, God is able to rescue you. In the passages for today we see examples of troubles – traps, tests and temptations – and how to handle them.


March 27 Day 86

Ten Top Tips for God's Messengers


Billy Graham died on 21 February 2018 at the age of ninety-nine. As a messenger of God, he had planned his own funeral very carefully to be a call for people to put their faith in Jesus.

He had said beforehand, ‘Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.’ 

In 1934, at the age of sixteen, he’d heard God’s call and became a faithful messenger of the gospel. He spoke about Jesus to over 210 million people in person and to almost half the population of the world on TV or radio. He was determined to make the most of every opportunity, including his own funeral, to pass on God’s message to the world.

‘My messenger’ is the way John the Baptist is described by God (Luke 7:27). You too can be God’s messenger. Jesus speaks of ‘the message about the kingdom’ (Matthew 13:19). In the New Testament, ‘the message’ is a synonym for ‘the gospel’ (see Acts 2:41; 4:4; 10:44 and so on). Our task is both to hear this message and to declare it to others (1 John 1:5).