If you yearn to live a life of meaning and purpose, joy and peace, then Christianityworks is for you: full of life-changing, practical Bible teaching to help you live out the victory that you already have, in Jesus Christ.

Berni - ceo, Christianityworks

Pride and Prejudice

We all have a sense of entitlement about certain things in our lives. I’m entitled to respect. I’m entitled to be treated fairly. I’m entitled … well, fair enough. But at some point, that sense of entitlement steps over the line.

We sometimes behave as though there’s a hierarchy of sins; as though some sins are worse than others, even though in God’s eyes there’s no such thing as a “small sin”. But there is one sin that’s bigger than almost any other, not because it’s any worse in God’s eyes, but because it spawns much of the evil in our lives. And that sin … is pride.

One of the symptoms of pride is the exhaustion that comes from carrying its burdens day after day. And you know that feeling when you’re carrying something heavy around; the longer you carry it, the heavier it gets, the more it hurts and the more the pain screams out at you STOP THIS!

And the answer, the only answer, is to lay down the load – to get rid of it. Be honest, is pride doing you in? Then give it to Jesus; give the burden to Him and discover the amazing peace and rest that humility brings.

Philippians 2:5-8 … think the way Christ Jesus thought. He was like God in every way, but he did not think that his being equal with God was something to use for his own benefit. Instead, he gave up everything, even his place with God. He accepted the role of a servant, appearing in human form. During his life as a man, he humbled himself by being fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death—death on a cross.

Humility means laying down the burden of pride. Sure it’ll hurt, but then … peace and rest.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

You Need More than Aspirin

Treating symptoms and treating diseases, well … that’s not always the same thing. It can be, but not always. And sadly, so many people opt for the quick and easy fix, only to discover that in the long run, it just doesn’t work.

When something’s hurting, what you desperately want to do is to get better and that means stopping the pain. And at that point, the risk is that you throw an aspirin or two at the symptom rather than dealing with the disease.

Sure, an aspirin will cure a headache today, maybe tomorrow and maybe even the next day. But ultimately, if the cause of constant and severe headaches is a brain tumour, then it doesn’t matter how many pills you pop, those pills aren’t going to do you any good.

What you really need is a physician who can treat the disease.

The same is true in life. We all soldier on, carrying symptoms of an underlying disease. That disease is called –  at least what God calls it – “sin”. We go looking for the solutions that this world has to offer, but somehow they don’t make a difference because they don’t have the power to make the difference, no matter how much they pretend that they do.

Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Change your hearts and lives and be baptised, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Then God will forgive your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

There’s the solution. Enter into what God has done for you;  be baptised – each one of you – in the name of Jesus Christ and then, when God forgives you your sins, He’ll pour out His power on you, the power of the Holy Spirit.

That, right there, is the one thing that’ll make a difference.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Setting Boundaries Around Your Love

Love is an easy word to say – it’s just one syllable after all – and it’s an idea that we think we all have our minds around, but when it comes to living out love, to loving other people – well, that can be quite another thing.

Love is, without doubt, the single most powerful force in the universe. And yet all too often, people seek to put boundaries around their love. So what boundaries, if any, should we set in our love for others?

Well, here’s the conclusion I’ve come to. The more you love someone, the fewer boundaries you set.

So when it comes to my wife, the one person whom I love most in this world, she’s allowed to make mistakes and get things wrong … and even if it hurts, she’s forgiven as quickly as I can possibly forgive her, and I get on with loving her.

Do I execute that perfectly every time? I wish … but that’s my heart. Now when you think about it, as much as I love my wife, that love pales into insignificance compared to Jesus’ love for us.  How do I know that?  Because He laid down His life for you and me.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (NKJV)

So the people in your life whom God calls you to love, be they your soulmate, your children, your wider family, your work colleagues, whoever it is, be they kind to you or horrible to you, be they pleasing to you or, quite frankly, abhorrent to you (we all have people like that in our lives) … when it comes to those people, what boundaries do you set with them?

Why do I ask? Well, because the more you love someone, the fewer boundaries you set.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

A Boundary to Generosity?

When it comes to your finances – a touchy subject I know, but hear me out – how much do you keep for yourself, and how much do you give away to help those in need? And as you look at the breakdown between those two, why is it like that?

We live in such a needy world – you and I – and yet, we can’t solve all the world’s problems. Even if we gave everything we have away, it wouldn’t even begin to make a dent on the need and suffering out there.

So in response to that, here’s what we tend to do. Having decided that we can’t make a difference, we give little or nothing away. We become stingy with our time, our energies, our goods and our money. In a wealthy country like my own, the average household spends significantly more on pet food each week than it does supporting the poor and needy.

Why do we do that? I guess it’s because we believe that this is a zero-sum game. The more I give away, the less I’ll have for myself. But that’s not how it works.

Proverbs 11:24-25 Some people give freely and gain more; others refuse to give and end up with less. Give freely, and you will profit. Help others, and you will gain more for yourself.

So, here it is. In God’s economy the more you give, the more you’ll have. Now that doesn’t mean that God will necessarily drop a BMW 7 Series in your driveway. No, He’s far more likely to find a way to make you rich that is so tailored, so custom-made for you, that it’ll blow you away.

So here’s the challenge: what are you holding back? How much more could you give away to bless others? Because remember – in God’s economy – the more you give, the richer you become.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Setting Boundaries with Your Children

The relationship between parents and their children across society seems to have changed quite a lot over the course of my lifetime. But not all change is good change … not at all!

Bringing up children in this day and age is a challenge isn’t it? With all their 24/7 connectivity to their friends through their technology, it seems that those friends are having more of an influence on children’s lives than their parents are, and that … right there … is pretty scary when you think about it.

In fact, many parents, guilty as they feel for the paucity of time that they actually spend with their children these days, are intent on compensating for that with “things” – with giving their children whatever they want – by treating the children as their friends rather than their children.

Let me let you in on a little secret. God never intended for you to be your child’s friend. He intended for you to be their father or their mother – not just when they’re young, but for the rest of your life.

Exodus 20:12 You must honour and respect your father and your mother. Do this so that you will have a full life in the land that the Lord your God gives you.

Our biggest job as parents is to teach our children to honour and respect their father and their mother. That means setting boundaries. It means disciplining them. That’s an awesome responsibility. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes persistence and it will cause you a great deal of frustration. But that’s the calling, because at the end of all that – according to this fifth of the ten commandments – lies a great blessing for your children from God.

The calling is to be a parent. “Friend” doesn’t even come close.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Boundaries in Your Marriage

Why is it that so many marriages these days seem to end in divorce, and that many of those that don’t, fall so far short of what they should or could be? Why is that?

The most important, the most sublime – and some days – the most challenging of all human relationships is marriage. We think of it as something of an institution, but the reality is that each husband and wife have to make it up as they go. And all too often that doesn’t turn out so well.

There’s no doubt that when two imperfect people love each other, there is going to be some pain along the way. And as the years slip by, the response to that pain is to build brick walls; boundaries that protect … and yet isolate. That’s why so many marriages are not all they could be.

It seems to me that God didn’t set any boundaries with you and me. I can’t imagine how much I’ve hurt Him over the years and yet, His response was to let Jesus suffer and die to knock down the walls built up by sin and rebellion, so that you and I could be close to Him. Maybe that’s not such a bad model for marriage. What do you think?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs done against it. Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth. Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. Love will never end.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Workaholic

We all know people with an unbalanced perspective on their working lives. We call them workaholics. Problem is, while we’re happy to use that label to describe others, we’re rarely prepared to apply it to ourselves.

Work is one of the most important things that we do in our lives. It brings dignity to who we are, it gives us the chance to use our God-given gifts and abilities, and of course, it puts food on the table. BUT … work, if we don’t set some boundaries around it, can end up robbing us of everything that we hold dear in life.

We live in a world these days of 24/7 connectivity. Have smartphone, will travel; and so through that wonderful marvel of modern technology, we’re effectively connected to everyone, everywhere, every day and every night.

Bosses these days are emailing their employees at 10:30 at night, on the weekends, and while they’re on holidays, expecting an immediate response.

Can I tell you, I receive enough email to keep me going eighteen hours a day, easy … no problems at all.

But at some point you have to draw the line. At some point you have to switch off work and onto people and family and relationships and rest. Besides, do you trust God to do the things that you can’t do, or not? Hmm?

Psalm 127:1,2 If it is not the Lord who builds a house, the builders are wasting their time. If it is not the Lord who watches over the city, the guards are wasting their time. It is a waste of time to get up early and stay up late, trying to make a living. The Lord provides for those he loves, even while they are sleeping.

Get a revelation: God is in control. Seriously.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Anything Goes

We all know that we make mistakes, that we do things that are wrong. But have you ever found yourself thinking, “Oh well, it’s only a small thing. Besides, God knows what I’m like. He won’t mind.”?

When we’re under pressure, one of the things that we love to do is to behave badly. In fact, sometimes even when we’re not under pressure we still want to behave badly. And we find it so easy, don’t we, to justify, to rationalise away our own bad behaviour? The problem is though, that behaving badly … well, it tends to end badly as well.

We’ve all had boundaries set for us around our behaviour. It began with our parents when we were children, it continues to this day with the rule of law and in fact, whatever social grouping we belong to, that belonging results in boundaries around our behaviour.

But what about when you’re under pressure? What about when you think that nobody else is looking? How do you behave then? Gossiping. Anger. Sexual immorality. Passive aggressive behaviour. Cheating. Lying.

It turns out that there’s rather a lot of wiggle room there. Well … that’s how it appears, but make no mistake – one day, all will be revealed, and every deed and misdeed will be judged.

Ecclesiastes 12:13,14 Now, what should we learn from everything that is written in this book? The most important thing a person can do is to respect God and obey his commands, because he knows about everything people do—even the secret things. He knows about all the good and all the bad, and he will judge people for everything they do.

So however much you may be tempted to rationalise away your bad behaviour, make no mistake. All will be revealed.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Is the Truth Up for Grabs?

So let me ask you – which parts of your Bible do you want to ignore? What are the things that God has to say in His Word, the Bible, that appear uncomfortable or perhaps irrelevant to your modern lifestyle, hmm?

Truth is a concept that seems to be very much up for grabs these days. I mean, you’d think that the truth is absolute, like in a court of law. You examine the evidence, and eventually if you dig deep enough you come to the truth. At least, that’s how it should work.

But these days we have a much more pliable relationship with the truth, because frankly, we’re much more interested in convenience than we are in the truth.

Have you noticed how much disagreement there is amongst God’s people today on contentious issues? Is it okay for people to live together before being married? Should same-sex marriage be endorsed by the church? There’s quite a list of so-called “contentious issues” that divide apparently God-fearing, Christ-loving Christians. Why is that?

Well, the answer’s simple really. It’s because many of these apparently God-fearing, Christ-loving Christians have either stopped reading their Bible or they’ve stopped believing what their Bible actually says. No wonder the truth appears to be up for grabs. But it’s not really. The truth will always remain the truth.

John 8:31,32 So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “If you continue to accept and obey my teaching, you are really my followers. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

The truth may not always be that convenient or comfortable. Often the truth is challenging and unsettling. But when God speaks, it’s the truth. And it’s His truth that sets us free from all the stuff messing up our lives.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

Are You Out of Your Mind?

It’s funny how things that are seemingly good for us can turn out to be incredibly bad for us. Whether it’s food, whether it’s entertainment – whatever it is that is promoted as being good – can actually have something deadly lurking within.

Your mind is an incredibly powerful thing. What we think often becomes reality. If we think good things, then we end up doing good things. If we think bad things, we end up doing bad things. That’s why it is so incredibly important to set boundaries around your mind.

Our minds are being bombarded with so many things; so many negative, unhelpful ways of thinking that if we’re not careful, we end up taking that negativity on board and making it part of how we think and how we live.

Take the sitcoms that play themselves out on television each night. On the surface, they’re funny – we laugh, we’re entertained. But more and more, those sitcoms are being used as platforms for delivering wrong thinking about promiscuity and perversions, much in the same way that cigarettes were designed all along to be a deadly delivery platform for the addictive substance, nicotine.

So let me ask you – honestly, is your mind on a junk food diet? Are you consuming stuff that you shouldn’t be and if so, are you out of your mind?!

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. (NRSV)

If what you’re after is a better life, a life that honours God, then it’s time to change your mind. And that transformation happens when we let God speak into our lives, so that we know what His good and perfect will for us actually is.

That’s God’s Word. Fresh … for you … today.

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