Saturday, December 31, 2016
Friday, December 30, 2016
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
“Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.””
Monday, December 26, 2016
Sunday, December 25, 2016
“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
Saturday, December 24, 2016
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.””
Friday, December 23, 2016
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.”
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven”
Monday, December 19, 2016
Sunday, December 18, 2016
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.””
Saturday, December 17, 2016
“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.””
Thursday, December 15, 2016
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.””
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
“When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’””
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Monday, December 12, 2016
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Friday, December 9, 2016
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
“Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Monday, December 5, 2016
Saturday, December 3, 2016
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”
Friday, December 2, 2016
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Thursday, December 1, 2016
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives”
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Monday, November 28, 2016
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Friday, November 25, 2016
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Monday, November 21, 2016
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Friday, November 18, 2016
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Monday, November 14, 2016
Sunday, November 13, 2016
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
Friday, November 11, 2016
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.””
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Monday, November 7, 2016
“he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Saturday, November 5, 2016
Friday, November 4, 2016
Thursday, November 3, 2016
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
Monday, October 31, 2016
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
There is a story told about Jesus interviewing people at the gate to Heaven. He comes across a man who might be Joseph, who is elderly, failing eyesight and hearing and understanding. Jesus asks him if there is anything Joseph left behind. Joseph replied there was a beautiful boy who had wisdom beyond his years, and yet was childlike. He had nails in his hands and feet. Jesus looked significantly at Joseph, and Joseph looked back, and then asked "Pinocchio?"
It is said that all writing is rewriting. And so the story of Pinocchio has tensions mirroring the Christ story. Pinocchio goes to hell, and is reborn as a good boy. Literary analysts connect this progression with Homer's Odyssey. Pinocchio wants to be a real boy. Christ was God made a real person. And so the joke laughingly suggests the true story of Christ is the fantasy of Pinocchio, but highlights the truth that all writing is rewriting.
There is no escaping God. God has forgiven all of us. Not that God approves of sin, but that God has made a way by which we can be with Him even though we are sinful. We are often, for a time, captured by our memory. We have made choices which don't include God. And every bad choice we make makes it harder to make a good one. The Devil points to our past and tells us that there is no way God can accept us. But we know the Devil's future. And we don't have to share it. Even though we have a past.
The point was driven home to me powerfully recently when I learned an elderly woman was suffering dementia. She has spent her whole adult life opposing God. Cursed as a child by betrayal from her father, two of her three sisters suicided. Her mother was strongly religious without having awareness of God as saviour. She had married a man who gave her children, but she rejected her husband when a child died and she never remarried. She raised her children to hate God, and told her dying child that there was no hope with God. And she would sleep with the ashes of her child. And she would drink and sweat alcohol. And no one who knew her casually knew to help. And so she has aged. And one day she will die. But what of her pain and her choices? Her dementia robs her of choice, as it will eventually rob her of life. And yet there is mercy too. And maybe, some nurse will show her love which she would never accept from others, kindness.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” - Romans 15:13
Paul was persecuted in Rome, and yet he found peace and joy. The peace and joy was not to be found from persecution, but through Paul’s faith in the Lord. The Lord provides. He provides more than mere sustenance. He provides comfort and love. You can have that comfort and love everywhere, even in times of persecution.
Paul is praying powerfully here. All that you need do to access the store of love is to turn to God. God sends the Holy Spirit. All that is needed has been done when Jesus rose from the dead, having died on the cross. You are not weak. You are not defeated. You have been oppressed. However, the Lord is with you, bringing gifts and love.
“A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” -Psalm 23:1-3
You are on a path, and there is no off switch to your life. You have freedom of choice, but don’t choose to impede your journey with hubris and ego. Let Him show you the path. You will be able to lie down in green pastures He will provide. He will guide you to still waters. Your soul is thirsty for companionship. He will satisfy that thirst. Sheep are not smart animals, they often do things that aren’t good for them. The shepherd guides them. And God is the shepherd.
We don’t know precisely when David wrote this Psalm. Maybe when his son Absalom had rebelled, and David got shelter in the neighbouring land of Gilead from a shepherd. It matters not why David sought shelter in his wanderings. It matters that the Lord provided them in his time of need. Just as He does for you in your time of need.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” - Colossians 3:12
God’s chosen people. You have chosen Him, and He has chosen you. Your hearts were hard, and He softened them. He is preparing you for your mission. It may be that you stay home and be with family, or it may be that you journey. But to each of you, he is preparing you. You have a mission as His representative.
As His representative, be humble. Because you represent Him, you are not Him. Let Him who chose you and knows your heart work for you. Be compassionate. Be kind. Let others see Him in you. gentleness and patience will settle high spirits, and allow Him to be seen in your actions.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
“then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”” - Acts 4:10,12
God has authority. He can give, and He can take away. And He keeps his promises. Doctors can operate on people, but God heals them. Excavators can move large amounts of ground, but the Lord commands the rocks and the weather and they do His bidding. No one but God can give salvation, although many may offer it. The disciples did not heal people, but in the name of Jesus, people were healed. Jesus, the risen Lord. Jesus, who was crucified. Jesus who submitted himself to death, so that He could save all.
Jesus did not deserve to be crucified. He had not broken any law. It was unjust. Jesus bore the burden of sin on His shoulders. Not His own, but the sin of you and I. We deserve death for opposing God. But Jesus has saved us, and so we can serve God, and appear before God without the weight of sin. Jesus paid the price for us.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - 2 Peter 1:5-8
As a young Christian I was intimidated by my fear, and unproductive. I believed, but I was paralysed by fear of what I’d been like before I had believed. I worried about what others thought of me and felt incapable of presenting my thoughts to others without first understanding what others thought. But frequently they obfuscated and rarely showed they ever thought at all.
I needed to add goodness to my faith. I needed to show myself I was ready to share with others, my thoughts were legitimate. They might not be the thoughts others have, but they are worthy thoughts to share. I needed to acquire knowledge by reading the Word. I needed self control and all that Peter advises in his letter. One gets love by exercising it. One learns by walking with God. One is freed by accepting salvation.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
“The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” -Romans 13:9-10
There is sometimes a feeling that the hosts in the US can be a little overbearing. You make an excuse to not go out, saying you feel sick, and they offer their doctor to you. A good host is gracious and will accept a reason on face value. Because if they don’t, it means they are suspicious. Loving others as yourself does not mean being over solicitous. Because life is not a sprint, but a marathon, and sometimes all one needs to persevere is to rest a little.
If you love someone, you will not murder them. If you love someone, you will not commit adultery. If you love someone, you will not steal from them. You want domestic peace. You want friendship. You want to build your community. And remember, if you build God’s house, He will build yours.
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” - 1 John 4:11-12
If we focus on ourselves, and ignore others needs, we do wrong. It doesn’t heal us to ignore others. It harms us. The way to show love is to love. And to love, one becomes part of the community one lives in. You shouldn’t harm yourself through selfless heroics, but you should give. You don’t need to be rich to give. You can listen, you can soothe with kind words. Remember, God loves you.
God has given you a path you can follow. His gift to you also makes it easier on those you love. Because everyone is like you, and by you showing love for them, you show love for yourself as well as love for God. You don’t need an excuse to be kind. You need only be kind.
Monday, April 4, 2016
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28
We know that God works for the good of those who love him in all things, but we forget it too, when we let the world crowd Him away from our hearts. He has written the law on our hearts, and we are aware of right and wrong when we walk with Him, but we must do that regularly. Or we aren’t walking with Him.
Paul is writing from persecution which he faces. These words are a comfort for those persecuted. You overcome it and it is defeated. Or you succumb, and yet He holds you. You are mortal and will die. Yet He has given you eternal life in His kingdom. A day in His kingdom as servant is better than a thousand days in a corrupt court as a noble.
“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” - 2 Peter 1:4
You have not yet escaped corruption. You have been given a beautiful gift that will allow you to do so, but while you have life, you must choose life. The promises He makes are rocks on which you can stand. Persevere, for you cannot fail. Persevere, because He backs you. Persevere, because no matter how dire, He gives salvation and redemption.
You will make a mistake you wish you had not. Persevere. Because that mistake will not cost you salvation. You will achieve success in an endeavour, be joyful, and know you had been supported with His love. Even your mistakes may guide others to salvation. If you let Him into your life, all is good. And so, while you have not escaped corruption, still you can taste salvation.
Friday, March 11, 2016
“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” - Deuteronomy 7:9
We fall short of the commands God has given us. But in holding onto Him, he holds onto us. He is faithful. And able. He gives life and hope. He provides a way when none can be seen.
God has authority. The world may work as it will, but God can change it. You can pray to God and He will answer through the Holy Spirit. Some say He does not answer prayer, but that blind luck sometimes does. How faithful are those that worship luck? Yet I tell you that if you pray, God will answer your prayer. Try it and see. And note, talk to God in your prayers. He is the good father. Not to be trifled with with lustful thoughts of the heart. He does not give you what you want. He gives you what you need.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38-39
The persecution facing Christians in Rome at Paul’s time was strong. Much like that faced by Christians persecuted by Daesh death cult. It is said Nero used Christians as human torches to light his gardens. Paul faced that persecution, and died. But before he died, he provided this powerful testimony. There is no promise of lust or money, no threat of pain or destruction, no loss, which will prevent God from holding us as we call and serve Him.
On his Journey to Rome, Paul was stoned, probably to death. But Paul persevered.
We are challenged by Demons. But it is not our job to fight those demons. We should resist them. If we fight demons, we end up dancing to the tune they play. But God will fight them and win. It has been written in Revelations that He will throw them into a black pit. All you need do, is hold onto God.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” - Romans 8:35,37
In early Rome, attempts were made to stop Christian worship and restore traditional Roman pantheist worship. And in stoic Roman style, Christian worshippers showed their faith. Hundreds of years after Paul wrote this letter, a young Christian woman, a teenager, was sentenced to death for her faith. She faced a gladiator. Her father was in the stadium. The gladiator subdued her, but hesitated at the killing blow. She placed the sword tip at her throat and instructed the gladiator to thrust. She died Roman and Christian. Although we die, Christ holds us. Although we fail, Christ holds us. As we live, Christ holds us.
Many Christians are persecuted for their faith today. Many will go their whole lives and not face worse than a reversal of fortune at work. How one dies may make a statement. How one lives makes all the difference. Live as though Christ holds you. It is ok to be outspoken for Christ. It is ok to pray silently. It is ok to let others know you are Christian. It is ok to serve. It is ok to be humiliated for Christ. It is ok to be wrong, and admit it and repent. There is only one way to lose. Reject Christ, continually and finally.
“For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” - 1 John 3:11
The message of love was not readily conveyed by the commandments God had given. But as Jesus said, that was their intent. People have hard hearts. They tend to selfishness. Which is understandable, as life is sweet, and so one craves more. But 100 large milkshakes should not be consumed in an hour, but easily in a year, God shows how life can be sweeter.
Service to others is a godly heart. It is humbling, making it easier to continue. Service points the heart in the right direction to walk with God. Selfishness points away from the Lord. Even isolation, which is sometimes what we wish to commune with God, is a selfish retreat if there are others in need.
But the love is like that of family. And family sleep, rest, play and work. It isn’t selfish to tend to your own needs. But we live for family.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” - 1 Peter 3:15
Peter loved Jesus, but he denied him when he was asked about it on the morning of Jesus’ crucifixion. Three times. Peter revered Jesus, and Jesus loved Peter, but Peter did not have an answer. Maybe, had Peter answered, he would have been killed. But everyone will endure mortal death until God decides they won’t. Even John, who had felt for a time he would not.
The correct answer if you know the Lord and love Him is you know the Lord and love Him. And there may be dire consequences. But mostly, there won’t be. And if you speak simply and honestly, it impresses people. It suggests integrity and that is a desirable thing. Know your heart and speak your mind. And stand to be corrected when you are wrong. It is ok to disagree with others, too. But do it lovingly.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” - 1 John 4:10
God loves you. But God will not endure your rebellion to him. God has created a path so that He can love you and not see your rebellion. It is a remarkable thing, to be loved by God. To be loved by God is to have a home in paradise forever. And it is given freely to all, and those who accept the gift can have it.
Just like prayer is not answered if one does not pray, the gift of love must be reciprocated. If you are angry at God, and blame Him for your choices, then you aren’t listening to Him. Anger divides and hurts love, leading to a broken heart.
God made a path for you. You were lost to Him, but He found a way to retrieve you. It is your choice. But why choose to reject the gifts? Why break the heart of one who loves you?
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Everyone needs comfort. And God gives it freely. When the one we love rejects us, we need comfort. When our work is not good enough, we need comfort. When we lose our treasures, we need comfort. Everyone has times in their life when comfort is needed. And, maybe the need was a personal fault or failing. Comfort is needed.
And God gives comfort. He gives it to the homeless, to widows without family, to the poor and destitute. God also gives comfort to the rich and wealthy, should they choose to accept it.
Children know when they miss out on something they want. Their father gives as he should to let them grow. God is the perfect Father. God denies nothing that his children need. Sometimes a person dies young and tragically. Let Him comfort you.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”” - John 13:34-35
Is it such a difficult command?
It is a wonderful thing to be a disciple of God. Disciples are called by God whose spirit feeds them. They follow the doctrine He set out. They rest on His sacrifice. Anyone can be a disciple, they need only read his Word and want to follow Him.
It is a new command from God. The earlier commands were like it but it restates them in a way that had not been interpreted that way before. Jesus is exemplary of God’s love for all. God wants to be the loved one too. and by showing love, one shows love for God. The love one has for God is deserved by God. So too is the love you show anyone, because it goes to Him.
We are not lost in the wilderness when we have love. And by giving it, we make more.
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” - 2 Timothy 1:9
We did not ask for God to sacrifice Jesus. But he did. It is grace that He did. Everyone who was not at the top is now equal with those who are. God is part of our lives, when we let Him. He isn’t here to give you season baseball tickets or extra points in home games, He is here to give you eternal life and numerous blessings.
Turn aside from self serving behaviour. Serve God, and He will bless you. If you build God’s house, He will build yours. Don’t waste time trying to do everything yourself. There is no joy in doing things your way, so as to show you are better than those doing it their way. Such pettiness is hurtful. Do things because God wants you to. Show praise because God has blessed you. Love one another, because God loves you.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
Sunday, March 6, 2016
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” - Deuteronomy 6: 6-7
Children are you future and it is important to let them know what you feel is important. Don’t deprive them of your wisdom. You may want them to make their own decisions. Let those decisions be informed ones. Don’t worry about telling them something which you feel is prejudicial, let them know what you think. Otherwise, they will regret not knowing your mind, and they may resent you making choices for them.
There is nothing more important than walking with God. And it gives a child a tremendous advantage if they are raised with knowledge of God. It is ok to question God’s existence, but know that there are proofs of it too. It is ridiculous to think of sending a child to school and not let them know about standard measures. God provides the standard by which we can measure our achievements in life.
Saturday, March 5, 2016
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”” - Joshua 1:9
The words here to Joshua are to do with entering the promised land. It was not straightforward. There were powerful enemies in front as well as forty years behind. But the same is true for you too. You have baggage and you have impediments to progress.
The Devil laughs at you and humiliates you. Pointing to your past and saying you have no future. But it is the Devil that has no future and no power over you. Don’t watch the Devil, but watch the Lord and serve Him. The Lord knows your past and yet loves you.
Friday, March 4, 2016
““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8-9
God knows your future. And your past. You aren’t going to impress God by taking time to improve yourself before choosing to worship Him. Take the time to go to church and learn the ways of the Lord. You will find that God’s ambitions for you give you life with joy.
Your ways are not the same as His. But you can learn to walk with Him and talk with Him. Start now. Don’t delay engaging with him. Don’t try to engage with him on better, or equal terms. Let yourself be known to His people. Walk in His Kingdom. Learn the paths of the righteous.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.” - Job 23:10-11
Job is oppressed by sickness and disease and sorrow. But Job has confidence that the Lord has not forsaken him. It is one of the earliest books of the Bible, and Job was fabulously wealthy. Everything Job had was lost. But in holding fast to the Lord, even though Job was tested by those who would have had him turn away, Job is blessed with much again.
You have been given much too. And you can lose it all by following bad advice and being misled. Or just through ordinary tragedies. It is wisdom that allows you to navigate tragedy. Tragedy is terrible and personal. But no matter how terrible, hold to the Lord.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” - Psalm 73:25-26
If God is for you, none may stand against you. But so as to not cross God’s purposes, you must learn who God is, and his ways. In heaven, there is still teaching and learning. There are those who do not know God well. But the singing of praise teaches us who God is. Reading the Bible regularly allows you to walk with the Lord before you go to His kingdom.
There is nothing here which you would keep. The love you have is real, and is of the kingdom of God. And you keep that. But the possessions are not going with you in heaven or hell. You are mortal and your flesh will fail you. But God offers eternal life.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” - 2 Timothy 1:7
We have a spirit and it comes from God. From serving God, not ourselves. We walk with God and learn about Him by reading the Bible. He begins to talk to you with a distinctive voice. You can hear Him answer your questions. And yet you doubt too. How much is it His voice, and how much is it you wanting it to be His voice? Walk with God by reading the Bible. He will tell you.
You cannot fail. God loves you. Hold to His purpose, and He will reward you. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? What holds you back? He will open the doors if it is His will. But you must knock on the door, too. Let Him say yes. And accept it if He says no.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” - 1 John 3:18
Love is meaningless if the emotion does not engender action. A former Israeli PM was asked why Jews wanted Israel when they could settle in any third world nation of their choice? He answered “Why would you drive 20kms on the weekend to see your grandmother when there are plenty of elderly women on your street you can visit?”
Love is personal. It crosses generations
Sunday, February 21, 2016
“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” - Proverbs 17:9
If you have not given up on someone, you find a way to accommodate them. Maybe it means that you give up something you wanted that they took. But, maybe it is tough love too, and you have to give up what you hoped for from them, so they can grow. It is not compassionate to give in to an addict or a bully. People need pointers in life, and to know which way is up, which way is the path to the kingdom of God, is a greater gift than being liked.
But if you cling to your hope or your possessions, you deny an opportunity for the other person to grow. If you show yourself to be the appeaser to the bully, you may be the last person they sacrifice to their ego, but they will sacrifice you. It is wrong to drown people so that you can be called compassionate.
Friday, February 19, 2016
Prayer reminds us of who is in charge. You don’t take your requests to someone with less authority. You take them to someone who outranks you in the solutions department.
The same is true in prayer. You don’t pray just to let God know what’s going on. He’s way ahead of you on that one. You pray to transfer “my will be done” to “God’s will be done.” And, since he’s in charge, he knows the best solution. Prayer transfers the burden to God and He lightens your load. Prayer pushes us through life’s slumps, propels us over the humps, and pulls us out of the dumps. Prayer is the oomph we need to get the answers we seek. So, pray…today!
Thank you Max, and Maria Tan for sharing. I am afraid. I feel alone. And oppressed. But God has been kind to me, and has held me in good stead. I go to hope in Melbourne. I have friends here and there. I am let down by bureaucracy, but who wants to trust that? I exercise and I’m getting stronger. But as with fishes and loaves, I have a hundred dollars to last me three weeks. Or not. Father, it is you I trust.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
This is the opening verse to an often used marriage reading. It highlights the need for love, and it continues
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.“
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” - 2 Thessalonians 1:3
It is good for things to be successful. It suggests that God is at the centre of things, and not pride. The only things that last are of God. But there is no secret to achieving such good work. Work in faith. And success should not suggest that the time has come for Jesus’ return. Delight in the good things, but remember it is prideful to inflate their meaning.
Always thank God. Life and opportunity are entirely from Him. Hope is His promise. And even when you are challenged, He has tomorrow for you. And when you eventually fail, He will hold you. It is fascinating that by 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Paul is advising that those who don’t work should not be fed.
If you love you will work. You will work to keep things, and to improve things. You work because what you have is good and you want more. And when you work in faith, your faith grows. This is Paul’s second known greeting to Thessalonians. And it is a greeting to you, too.
Monday, February 8, 2016
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” - Matthew 5:43-45
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Life in concentration camps was very hard. The SS Guards had tortured, raped, starved and killed inmates, as well as working them to death. The inmates were mainly Jewish, but there were also gays, gypsies, communists and Christians. Notably, following liberation, groups of female survivors forgave their guards, praying they would come to know God and not face persecution by secular authorities. Prosecutors even worried that prosecution would be undermined by the act. The survivors said that they needed to forgive so as to move forward with their lives.
Jesus’ instruction is also wise. We need to forgive. We still retain a responsibility through secular authority to prevent abuses, but we need to forgive. And it is those who have wronged us who need to be forgiven. You don’t need to forgive those who love you. But you should love them.
Sunday, February 7, 2016
“Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” - Psalm 97:10
In David’s time, God’s focus was on nations and tribes. He still worked with individuals. So the national character was needed to love God as well as the individual.
As the Psalm opens,
“The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all peoples see his glory.”
But there is a warning
“All who worship images are put to shame,
those who boast in idols—
worship him, all you gods!”
And a promise.
“Zion hears and rejoices
and the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments, Lord.
For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
Let those who love the Lord hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light shines on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.”
Saturday, February 6, 2016
“Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” - Proverbs 21:21
Righteousness is a big word. Solomon puts it before love. Pursuing love on its own is not something that works out well for people. But pursuing righteousness and love is rewarding.
Recently, a shamed drunken footballer pretended to have sex with a dog when a woman turned him down. He had not pursued love righteously.
Righteous is a word remodelled by William Tyndale, a bible translator, for the word rightwis, which approximates a word appearing hundreds of times in the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament. It might loosely translate in a modern sense as Right ways or right wise. The idea of being right before God is baffling to some. Sometimes, the righteous may break the law, or be extreme. Sometimes Pastors are wrong in their interpretation of the bible, and yet people are saved as a result.
It is foolishness to pursue love. But to pursue righteousness and love echoes Jesus’ commandment at the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
The reward for pursuing love on its own is of itself unsatisfying. Self serving is never as rewarding as serving God.