Living a Life of Others

James 4.11-12 talks about how we are (and are not) to interact with others. Where is the ultimate example of how to view, interact with, speak to others?

Paul writing to the Philippians says, 

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2.3-4

Sounds great, doesn’t it; don’t speak evil of one another, but think of others as being more important than yourself. Paul continues and gives us the ultimate example,

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2.5-8

Did you catch the ultimate example of being others-focused;

he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Robert Lightner wrote that Christ is the supreme example of humility and selfless concern for others, and that

there will never be a better example of [a] selfless attitude for believers to follow…than that of Christ.

Father, forgive them…

The first saying of Jesus on the cross is found in Luke 23.34 and we read,

…Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Even to the very end, Jesus was others-focused. This will come up again and again as we move through the last things He said in His earthly life. Others. Right up to the end, Jesus was others-focused. Right up to the end, Jesus sought forgiveness for those that did not deserve it. Is there a more poignant example of His grace in action than Jesus on the cross seeking forgiveness for those literally crucifying Him?

Don Stewart writes,

He came to earth for the purpose of forgiving sinners and He loved them and forgave them up until the end.

How about you?

Is there anybody you need to forgive? Is there anybody that you need to reconcile with? Is there anybody from whom you need to ask forgiveness? We are encouraged to seek forgiveness if we have wronged others (Matthew 5.23.24) and to forgive as we’ve been forgiven (Ephesians 4.32). Seek that today.

As we move through the words of Jesus on the cross and pause to reflect on this truly incomprehensible sacrifice, let us not overlook the practical applications in our lives. Here, as Jesus said “Father, forgive them…”, let us pursue forgiveness and reconciliation with those around us today.

Amos 4.1-3 – Do unto others

Today Amos opens with an address to the ladies…although it’s not an honouring, polite, respectful address, the type you would want your son giving, or your daughter receiving;

1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan,

who are on the mountain of Samaria,

who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,

who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’

2 The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness that,

behold, the days are coming upon you,

when they shall take you away with hooks,

even the last of you with fishhooks.

3 And you shall go out through the breaches,

each one straight ahead;

and you shall be cast out into Harmon,” declares the LORD.

Not a particularly polite way to address the ladies of Israel, is it, you cows of Bashan? Apparently, Bashan was known for its sleek, fat, plump livestock, so calling the ladies cows of Bashan is quite an insult, insinuating that they are, indeed, fat, plump, lazy, self-centred (who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’), and who with all this self-focus actually oppress others in order to perpetuate it (who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,).

After this damning opening, Amos turns up the prophetic heat, so to speak, and says that, basically, an enemy is coming who will lead you away by a hook through the broken down parts of the walls that they just smashed to get you…and we know for sure it will happen;

2 The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness that, (so we know for sure it will happen)

behold, the days are coming upon you,

when they shall take you away with hooks, (they = the coming Assyrian army – who did come and take Israel away)

even the last of you with fishhooks. (people were literally led away with fishhooks through their lower lips to signify they were conquered and now slaves)

3 And you shall go out through the breaches, (walked away through the remains of their city walls to show they had been defeated)

each one straight ahead;

and you shall be cast out into Harmon,” declares the LORD.

If only those sleek cows of Bashan had lived the life that their God had intended.

If only they had treated those around them with the compassion, understanding, grace, and mercy that our great God so freely gives.

The obvious question here is, are we like the cows of Bashan?

Are we prospering and pushing people down to ensure it?

Are we lazy, getting spiritually sleek and plump due to our inactivity?

Are we treating those around us as we wish to be treated (Luke 6.31)?

Amos develops a theme through chapter four that God’s people, despite multiple invitations and warning, did not return to Him. I have no doubt that if they, or we for that matter, return to Him and put away all elements of our lives that render us cows of Bashan, that He has a life prepared for us that exceeds our wildest dreams.

If we want it, we must begin by doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, treating people how we want to be treated, dealing with people how we want God to deal with us.

Finding God’s Will; 5. Others

In the last twelve to eighteen months, my family and I have been through some major changes. We had a second baby, added two four-legged friends into our lives, and we’ve moved house a couple of times. The biggest change for me was going from working part-time at the church alongside a full-time job in a local high school to working full-time at the church, taking over as the senior/solo/lead pastor (however you like to use those terms) in the summer of 2018.

Throughout the transition process, there were multiple people who would consistently and constantly tell me, “You’re going to do a great job as pastor, whether here or somewhere else.”, and “I am sure God’s plan for your life is to pastor a church.”. Hearing things like that at a time of huge change was reassuring, energising, edifying, but most importantly it was confirming. It was confirming of the consistent message I had been taking from God’s Word. It was consistent of what I had been hearing from the Lord in prayer. It was consistent with the circumstances and how God was moving in our midst.

Other believers within the church, and the church itself, can be vehicles through which God’s will for us is made known.

God’s global Church, capital C, the bride of Christ, the body of Christ, and all its local expressions, are God’s chosen vehicle to bless His people and to witness His Word, will, and ways to the nations in our time.

Considering this, it is only logical to think that God would speak through the church, through His church, to communicate His will.

When what God is saying to us through His Word, through prayer, through our circumstances, and through the Godly counsel of His church all line up, we can proceed with confidence that we are living within His will (Henry Blackaby).

Being members of a church family is so important, there is no independence when we consider our relation to other believers, only interdependence. All members of the body belong to each other, and all need each other.

Today, pray for your local church, the church family you are a part of. Pray for wise, Godly counsel to flow through it, pray the church is following God’s will, and pray for God to continue to speak through it.

When all four things we have talked about line up, it is hard to ignore the fact that God is speaking to you, He is revealing His will to you. When this happens, there is only one response…go for it! If you are not sure, reach out to someone who you trust for counsel. Counsel doesn’t have to be a scary word; lots and lots of great counsel is done coffee-cup counsel style, some is done face to face, some over the phone. But, if there is something you are not sure about, do reach out to someone to talk about it.

So, God reveals His will to us through;

His Word to us,


Circumstances, and,


Seek it, find it, and live in it!

Revelation 8.6-13 – Do we want others to experience this?

6 Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

7 The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

8 The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 9 A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.

12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.

13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead,

“Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

Now we move from seals being opened to trumpets being blown, the seals have opened the scroll and now the contents of the scroll are being played out, so to speak.

Often times nowadays we hear things like

‘Oh, it was just nature taking it’s course.’.

Of course, sometimes this is absolutely true; coastal erosion whereby cliffs are constantly battered with spray from the sea laced with salt, trees dropping their leaves each autumn…these things are nature taking it’s course. However, sometimes people throw ‘nature’ and ‘That’s just how the world works’ around as an explanation for things which have far Superior cause.

Here we see the first four trumpets being blown and God brings about judgement, through nature, but nature is not bringing these events about of it’s own accord.

Targeted here are vegatation (v.7), the sea (v.8), freshwater (v.10), and light (v.12).

Despite the judgment of a fallen race being played out here, crucially God spares more than He smites (great word that, isn’t it, smite). Only a third is destroyed and we have to believe that if people saw this and turned to God, He would welcome them with open arms. The progressive, loving discipline of a Father seen in Amos 4.6-13 does include punishment, but at all times aimed at turning hearts back to the Lord.

One third of all these things being destroyed is a stark reminder of who is really in charge, isn’t it. Nature is not so reliable and steadfast, but there is One who is. After the first six trumpets are blown there is an interlude, so to speak, in the judgement all the way until we pick it up again in chapter 11. Again, then, this is time for people to repent, stop, turn hearts and lives back to God through Jesus.

He is the One who is reliable, who is steadfast, and who literally gave His life to ensure that we don’t have to endure the things we are reading about here, that we won’t experience what we are reading about here, and that if anyone calls on His name, then they won’t experience what we are reading about here either.

With whom can you share this message of available Salvation today?

Scaring people into being a Christian is never the best path to take, but some people really do need to see how the end of the book reads to give them that last little encouraging push. At this point, God is saving more than He is smiting, but that will not always be the case. Encourage those in your lives who do not have a relationship with the risen Saviour to start one, and start it today.