The Necessary Elements of Faith

This Friday I re-post an old post from November 2020, with some light editing.

Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know. For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain. But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?

1 Thessalonians 3 : 1-10 (NASB)

Here is a word that we all use, and in some cases abuse. I am talking of faith. How many of you remember writing letters and signing off at the end “Yours faithfully”? It was written as part of the structure of the letter without much thought. In everyday chatter we talk of having faith in this or that thing, or maybe in a friend. Yet as life often shows us things fail and friends can disappoint us, suggesting that our faith was really blind hope.

What is real faith? The book of Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The book of James 2:26 further tells us that the evidence of faith is found in our actions. Real faith is not a wishy washy blind hope, but the exercise of the soul trusting God and proving it in daily life. When I read 1 Thessalonians 3 I was struck by the detailed list of what I now call “The Elements of Faith.” Let’s not waste words as I share them with you now.

The Thessalonians’ faith is to be encouraged by Timothy (3:2), and It is also our duty as members of God’s family to encourage our brethren to greater faith. The enemy will afflict us tempting and trying our faith (3:4-5); our strength in faith hampers Satan’s plans against us, thus he endeavours to disable your faith by any and all means. Faith is a comforter (3:7) to the brethren in Christ who witness your faith in action, particularly those in need of encouragement amidst times of personal tribulation. The next element is closely linked to the last, faith brings joy (3:9)! In times of pain and sadness there is nothing better than a big slice of joy, it brings momentary relief from what ails us. The practice of faith witnessed is a joyful sight, to the witness and the one doing the faithful act. Faith must be prayed for (3:10) in the church family, in the name of Christ and, also often personally for ourselves, that we all may increase in acts of faith in our daily walk with God.

Dear reader, be encouraged today to not just pursue Godly faith but to also put it into action. In your practice of faith take note of faith’s partners in action; faith and love work hand in hand doing God’s work (3:6). Acts of faith are borne of love, for God and also for our brethren. Let us pray to our Father, seeking guidance and strength for our faith today.

Beachcombing The Word of God

Leven Beach, Fife, Scotland on a Summer’s day.
Photo by Alan Kearns.

The words of the Lord are pure words;
As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.

Psalm 12:6 (NASB)

I remember fondly many hours beachcombing as a boy, scouring the beaches of the Fife Coast searching for anything of interest. Even if nothing was found a good time was had in the salty North Sea breeze blowing in off the Firth of Forth. Occasionally a shell, pebble or smooth green glass would catch my attention. I would wipe the treasure clean and dip it in a rock pool to see it in all its glory. I have never found anything of significant value over the years, certainly no silver, but I find silver everyday in my Bible.

Searching God’s Word is certainly as time consuming and as pleasurable as any beach search, the major difference being that we will always find treasure in His Word. How much biblical treasure we find is completely dependent on how much we search and how often. An individual who excelled at searching God’s Word was the Dundee Evangelist Robert Annan, who dedicated whole nights to the Word and often more than one night.

Dear reader, how much time do you give to searching the Word of God? Not just reading it but praying over it and dissecting the phrases for deeper understanding, just like examining your beach finds and washing it in the rock pool water. Such attention to your Bible will deliver greatly, building you up in your walk with Father God.

New From Old

that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Ephesians 4:22-24 (NASB)

Yesterday I was reminded of a simpler time, when I was a boy in our village. The pride of every lad was his wheels, his bicycle whether it was new or old. We all knew and respected one elderly man known as “Spadgie,” a big strong ex-miner who walked with a stick. What endeared this man to the village lads was his expertise with bikes; he could fix any problem needing attention. But he particularly specialised in building bikes at a low cost from recycled parts. Spadgie worked out of his garden shed a few doors away from me, I remember visiting him in his wee workshop. His shed was an Aladdin’s Cave of old bike parts of every make, colour and shape, most of which he was given by villagers. Many times in my childhood wheels or brakes were renewed on my bike by Spadgie at little or no cost. Not long after reminiscing of this old gentleman I found myself reading todays verse, I saw a connection between my memory of Spadgie and the Scripture.

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour we are “born again” and renewed in God’s family. We give up our old life and sinful ways, putting on our new self as one puts on a new coat. Our old corrupt self is like an old rusty bike with dodgy brakes and bald tyres; through His Son God takes us into His Workshop to refurbish us. We come out afterwards fit for the road ahead of us. Our newly refurbished man/woman is superior to the old one in every way; we bear the hallmarks of our Maker in our new life of holiness and righteousness. As villagers in Dundonald recognised Spadgie’s bikes by his work, the world recognises those saved by faith in Jesus – they bear the unmistakable traits of a child of God.

Dear reader, have you swapped your old self for a renewed self through Jesus Christ? Is your life a constant witness to your Father God’s love for you; do you bear His hallmarks each day shining as a light in a dark world?

New Morning Blessings

Poppy field on a misty morning, Holy Island, Northumberland, England.
Photo by Alan Kearns.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NASB)

Yesterday I payed a visit to the local hardware store for a garden broom attachment, which connects the handle to the broom head. The green one is old and split. It reminded me of the famous sketch on “Only Fools and Horses” where Trigger receives an award for saving Peckham Council money, by having the same broom for twenty years. He proudly brags it has only had fourteen new handles and seventeen new heads, to his friends bemusement. This favourite sketch reminded me of todays chosen verses.

Old and New

As each day ends we thank our Father God for keeping us safe until bedtime, and the sun rises the next morning on a new day filled with His new blessings. The world may proclaim new this and new that, but the only thing that truly is new is God’s presence in our life. He sees, hears and feels all our aches and pains – covering them in His endless compassion. In His Fatherly care we see the perfect example of faithfulness in action, that we can follow in our faith walk.

Dear reader, in your walk with God focus on His many blessings – “They are new every morning.” Yesterday is past and it is a new day, you are still covered in His Compassion. Nothing is new in this world (Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NASB), but God’s blessings are new everyday.

Guddling in The Bible

Rock Pooling the Scottish coast.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105 (NASB)

Who remembers rock pooling as a kid during the summer holidays? I remember our family holidays to the caravan park on the hillside overlooking St. Andrews beach, it was a haven of delights. My nephews, neice and myself disappeared all day down to the beach like explorers in a foreign land. The Scots language for rock pooling is “guddling.” It’s the same term used to refer to fishing for trout with your hands from a river bank.

My heart gets excited as I read God’s Word. In my mind I think it is like guddling on the beach at lowtide, searching the shallows and the deeper pools, turning over rocks to see what lies beneath. Reading my Bible is a fishing adventure for my soul. I must confess I squeal with delight at my Bible discoveries like I did when guddling on St.Andrews beach all those years ago.

Dear reader, do you get excited reading and searching His Word? Get yourself a mug of coffee or tea and open your Bible today. Grab your highlighters and notebook and go guddling in His Word – the treasures you will find in its pages will enrich and excite you, and also it is fun!

Personal Famine

A Barley field in Angus, Scotland.

“Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt, and the famine will ravage the land. So the abundance will be unknown in the land because of that subsequent famine; for it will be very severe.”

Genesis 41:29-31 (NASB)

Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land.

Ruth 1:1 (NASB)

There are times in the Christian walk where the river runs low, right down to a trickle. Suddenly all is silent about you, concentration is hard and the Word of God doesn’t appear to say much. I have times like these, usually through fatique which is a regular effect of my health issues. Tiredness and pain can make big and small things difficult, including spiritual matters. Yet God can use these times to help us grow in Him. During such dry times in life our Father God provides abundantly, literally from nothing.

It was while searching for inspiration in what has been a hard day, I found myself looking at my Bible notes from Friday 26th June 2020 and I found the scriptures I present to you today. In my notes I wrote that day: “in Scripture when we find famine, God is at work in the midst of it with bountiful blessings.” Look at the story of Joseph, and how God through a famine blessed him, his family and, also his nation. Then we have Ruth, which is a truly beautiful Biblical story. To escape famine Naomi and her daughter in law Ruth return to Judah. Ruth meets Boaz in the harvest fields who becomes her husband, their son Obed is the great grandfather of David, and a forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. What a truly a great harvest in the midst of a famine!

Dear reader, in times of personal famine when life is difficult our Father God is still present, right beside us. No matter how low the water level in your reservoir, the Almighty can still work a miracle with it. He is the Master of taking the small and weak to fulfill His purpose. Let us never despair in our famine, He will feed us from His bountiful harvest!

Praying Through The Storms

Psalm 6:1-10

The Lord has heard my supplication,
The Lord receives my prayer.

Psalm 6:9 (NASB)

Some years ago I found myself in the midst of a spiritual storm, one of my own making. I had strayed from His Narrow Path. It was through intercession and direct intervention of good friends I found my way back onto the path with God. It was my own prayers of humble repentance that God wanted to hear, I had to admit my error and change direction. He heard my prayers and answered them, bringing me through the storm. On reflection I can see how God took my brokenness and used it to achieve His will in His perfect time. He saved me and made me fruitful for Him again.

Spiritual storms can come from many sources, such as health problems or economic distress. As I write this I am in the midst of a storm in my health which began building on Friday, deepening fatique is making everyday tasks difficult. Often life can be cruel and a real trial to bear. In these situations a steady anchor is required, one we can trust. As a child of God I cling to Him in prayer, knowing that He hears me. He hears my spoken and unspoken prayers. Our hearts are like a book to Him, our tears are the pages.

Dear reader are you in the midst of a spiritual storm right now? Like the psalmist keep praying to your Father God, be assured He hears you. Hold tight to Him until the storm passes by.

Devotion to His Word

The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.

Acts 17:10-12 (NASB)

This post was originally posted on the 4th May 2020. I have editted it and made some changes for todays version.

I read the above text recently and it struck a note in my heart, which had me asking myself “How do I measure up to the Bereans?” Do I study God’s Word effectively, or can I do better?

The example of Bible study the Bereans set for us is a good approach to personal Bible study. “These [Bereans] were more noble [fair-minded] than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with eagerness [all readiness], examining [searching] the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Bold text in brackets mine).


The first description of the Berean Christians suggests that they were yielded to God in their approach to the His Word. They “received the Word.” As we approach our Bible study, we also need to be willing to receive and apply any and all biblical principles found in its pages.

Second, the Bereans were intentional in their approach to Bible study. They came to the Scriptures “with all readiness” looking for truth. They had an eager mind, a hungry spirit for His Truth. It was not a matter of reading a chapter to fulfill their Christian duty based on a daily reading plan, but rather having a real personal desire to seek and understand the truth of God.

In the third place, the Bereans approached Bible study with a word by word study of the Scriptures. They “searched” the Scriptures in their pursuit of truth. Theirs was not a superficial fast reading, but reading questioning the meaning of individual words. The Biblical use of the word “searched” means “to sift” as a baker sifts flour separating every particle. When you
study the Bible “word for word,” you are “sifting” every word of Scripture to try to understand what God is saying in it.
As we invest time researching the meaning of words and expressions used in Scripture, we gain insights missed by those who skim over passages in their reading of the Scriptures.

The fourth characteristic of the Bereans was their routine of “daily” Bible study. Each day these Christians had a fresh personal encounter with God through their study of the Scriptures. On a daily basis they were reminded of God’s merciful compassion toward His people. Just as Jesus instructed His disciples to pray for daily bread (Matt. 6:11), so we need to go daily to the Scriptures which is the Bread of Life to every believer.

The fifth characteristic of the Bereans was that they searched with purpose in the Bible. When the Bereans wanted to know anything specific they turned to the Scriptures. They studied “to find out whether these things were so.” They were concerned with the content of Scripture and the accuracy of it. They sought assurances from their Bible study.

Dear reader, we should follow the Bereans’ example in our own Bible study, we need to check out all Biblical teaching we receive in church, on social media and YouTube for ourselves. Sadly too many folk accept what they hear without confirming the validity within the Scriptures.

Dear Father God, thank You for Your living Word, the Bible. Please fill me with a love for reading and studying Your Word, that I might draw closer to You and be a better servant. Amen.

Heavenly Protection

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
— Psalm 27:1

From my youth I have always found great comfort and reassurance in the book of Psalms, the above psalm is one of my favourites. Indeed it was a favourite of my grandmother who sowed the early seeds of faith by quoting scripture and singing gospel hymns, an example for us all to follow. It is no surprise then that psalm 27 became one of my favourites, but only after accepting Jesus as my Lord and Saviour did it have more meaning to me.

After my christian birth I became very aware of the salvation and protection I had in God’s family. The above psalm gave me courage to lean on God for my daily protection. I had been bullied much as a child, therefore I knew the value of protection in a very real way.

In 1984 I had joined the Salvation Army after accepting Jesus. My first Sunday service in my full uniform was an important day, but Satan intended to ruin it. On my way to the bus stop I was accosted by a well known village bully older and bigger than myself, I was in fear of what might happen. But somehow I stayed calm under the circumstances. Suddenly a tall stranger crossed the street and came to my rescue. He was a friend of my father who had respect for the Salvation Army. He restrained the bully and sent me on my way for my bus. I made it to the service on time, thanks I am sure to the intervention of God in my moment of need.

In such moments of fear we can be reassured by the psalmist; The Lord is the defense of my life…” Our Father God cares for us and provides our needs in every circumstance. We need to have faith that He will sustain us at all times.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Dear Father God, in times of strife and stress I find it hard not to worry. Help me to take a breath, and remember that you care and provide for me in all circumstances. Imprint your scripture in my memory to encourage me in difficult times. Thank you Father. Amen

Spiritual Assurance During Coronavirus

Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You. Psalm 16:1 (NASB)

Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. Psalm 16:1 (KJV)

These are uncertain days for all of us as the world is under siege from Coronavirus. Our communities have changed beyond recognition in a very short time, as we do our best to protect ourselves and families from the virus. And we cannot forget the importance of not just protecting ourselves but also our precious key workers in healthcare and the elderly.

As I and my family have been staying home I will admit to being quite anxious about the threat level. After all we have seen how indiscriminately the virus is claiming victims, regardless of status. As I turned to God and His holy Word I found myself praying Psalm 16:1 . It is very simple guidance, but very often the simplest advice is the best. When I read the verse I was reminded of the following:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

One of my favourite verses of scripture which always reassures me that God cares for us and will always provide for us – praise God! This makes following Psalm 16:1 easy, knowing that where I am seeking safety is with a God who cares for me.

Both quoted versions begin with “Preserve me, O God…” We turn to none other than God Almighty to guard us against harm and save us from danger, no one else can do it for us. The KJV encourages us to put our “trust” in God which literally translates to ” flee to, take refuge in” which is in the NASB. There is no other source of comfort and refuge for us other than God. We don’t just take refuge in our homes, but in God Almighty, who provides and cares for us.

After reading and praying over this verse I felt a calm assurance. I can turn to God and that He will preserve my family no matter what life throws at us. In these uncertain times I would encourage you to rely on the certainty of Gods’ provision.

Dear Father God, in these uncertain days I confess to being a bit afraid. I turn my fear over to you and trust you. I take refuge in you and in your holy Word. Amen