Tuesday 12 September, 2017

Ephesians 1:15-23

15 I have heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus. I have also heard about your love for all God’s people. That is why 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I always remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the glorious Father. I keep asking him to give you the wisdom and understanding that come from the Holy Spirit. I want you to know God better. 18 I pray that you may understand more clearly. Then you will know the hope God has chosen you to receive. You will know that what God will give his holy people is rich and glorious. 19 And you will know God’s great power. It can’t be compared with anything else. His power works for us who believe. It is the same mighty strength 20 God showed. He showed this when he raised Christ from the dead. God seated him at his right hand in his heavenly kingdom. 21 There Christ sits far above all who rule and have authority. He also sits far above all powers and kings. He is above every name that is appealed to in this world and in the world to come. 22 God placed all things under Christ’s rule. He appointed him to be ruler over everything for the church. 23 The church is Christ’s body and is filled by Christ. He fills everything in every way.

Paul’s commitment to pray persistently for the church at Ephesus is so impressive. You can see how purposeful his prayer is. Firstly, he prays that the Spirit will enable them to know Jesus Christ better. Secondly, Paul indicates what will flow on from knowing Jesus better i.e. the hope of an amazing inheritance in His kingdom, and the reality of the great power which resides within each one of his readers.

This power for which Paul prays is defined as exactly the same power [dunamis] which the Father used to raise Jesus from the dead and enthrone him at His side. What kind of power we might ask? Paul answers that for us by describing it as superior to any other kind of power throughout the earth and the universe.

The next thing his readers needed know is that Jesus Christ has been installed as the Head of the church with unsurpassed power and authority. As believers we are part of this as Christ’s body through which He fills everything.

What an incredible impact this prayer of Paul must have had on the Ephesian believers! For us the question is [a] do I recognise that this kind of power resides within me & my church through the presence of the Spirit of God? [b] If so, is there any limit to the impact my life should make in the world? It’s a challenge isn’t it? But, it is more than a reality for you and for me.

Paul speaks here to the corporate body of believers, so he is grateful for the impact this body is making and will continue to make on the whole community in Ephesus. The same applies to us as the body of Jesus Christ here in C3 Carlingford. The better we know Jesus Christ, the more effective our outreach into our community will be.

Written by Keith Bennett

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Monday 11 September, 2017

Ephesians 1:1-14

1 I, Paul, am writing this letter. I am an apostle of Christ Jesus just as God planned. I am sending this letter to you, God’s holy people in Ephesus. Because you belong to Christ Jesus, you are faithful. 2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 3 Give praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Those blessings come from the heavenly world. They belong to us because we belong to Christ. 4 God chose us to belong to Christ before the world was created. He chose us to be holy and without blame in his eyes. He loved us. 5 So he decided long ago to adopt us. He adopted us as his children with all the rights children have. He did it because of what Jesus Christ has done. It pleased God to do it. 6 All those things bring praise to his glorious grace. God freely gave us his grace because of the One he loves. 7 We have been set free because of what Christ has done. Because he bled and died our sins have been forgiven. We have been set free because God’s grace is so rich. 8 He poured his grace on us. By giving us great wisdom and understanding, 9 he showed us the mystery of his plan. It was in keeping with what he wanted to do. It was what he had planned through Christ. 10 It will all come about when history has been completed. God will then bring together all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 11 We were also chosen to belong to him. God decided to choose us long ago in keeping with his plan. He works out everything to fit his plan and purpose. 12 We were the first to put our hope in Christ. We were chosen to bring praise to his glory. 13 You also became believers in Christ. That happened when you heard the message of truth. It was the good news about how you could be saved. When you believed, he stamped you with an official mark. That official mark is the Holy Spirit that he promised. 14 The Spirit marks us as God’s own. We can now be sure that someday we will receive all that God has promised. That will happen after God sets all his people completely free. All these things will bring praise to his glory.

In reading this passage I didn’t event get past the first line before I was encouraged! Paul starts this letter off with such a declaration of identity, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” What authority there is when we stop and realize that when we live as God has called us to, in His ways, following His leading, then we are in the will of God and what God wills, His purposes, no one can stop. Amen to that!

Bethany, a witness of Christ Jesus by the will of God; Bethany, a teacher by the will of God; a wife by the will of God; a daughter by the will of God; a friend by the will of God…. It goes on and on.

Lord, thank you that you fill me with vision and purpose and thank you that you have given me a life worth living. Help me each day to walk in this reality: as I walk in your ways I am walking in your will and no one can stand in the way of your will. I’m so glad Lord to be a part of your plans, which are so much grander than I can imagine. Thank you that my life counts in the story you are writing. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Sunday 10 September, 2017

Philemon 17-25

17 Do you think of me as a believer who works together with you? Then welcome Onesimus as you would welcome me. 18 Has he done anything wrong to you? Does he owe you anything? Then charge it to me. 19 I’ll pay it back. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I won’t even mention that you owe me your life. 20 My brother, we both belong to the Lord. So I wish I could receive some benefit from you. Renew my heart. We know that Christ is the one who really renews it. 21 I’m sure you will obey. So I’m writing to you. I know you will do even more than I ask. 22 There is one more thing. Have a guest room ready for me. I hope I can return to all of you in answer to your prayers. 23 Epaphras sends you greetings. Together with me, he is a prisoner because of Christ Jesus. 24 Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke work together with me. They also send you greetings. 25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

It seems a strange and awkward statement from Paul; “I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord…” How many times do I say this in my friendships? Not often, if at all. “I want some benefit from you, X”

It is interesting to note the benefit Paul seeks is the benefit for someone else – Paul’s not looking for personal benefit, but for benefit and welcome for another.

It’s a juxtaposition – I want to benefit from you; my benefit would be another man’s benefiting from your kindness, and any costs this incurs for you, charge to my account.
Paul is being thoroughly selfless on behalf of someone else, and he’s putting at risk his relationship with Philemon (Philemon may choose to ignore or reject this costly request) and he’s incurring cost, in advance, to himself (I’ll pay his debts).

Do I love people like this? Do I risk and incur costs in my relationships like this? Do I work for the restoration of others who have made mistakes and poor judgements, like this?

This, to me, is Christ-like kindness in relationships. And I’ve got a ways to go.
Lord, help me be far slower to judge and discount, or grumble and complain, and instead consider what practical kindnesses and helps I can offer to those I have relationship with when restoration is needed by them such that they can be redeemed in community. Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Saturday 9 September, 2017

Philemon 8-16

8 Because of the authority Christ has given me, I could be bold. I could order you to do what you should do anyway. 9 But we love each other. And I would rather appeal to you on the basis of that love. I, Paul, am an old man. I am now also a prisoner because of Christ Jesus. 10 I am an old man, and I’m in prison. This is how I make my appeal to you for my son Onesimus. He became a son to me while I was being held in chains. 11 Before that, he was useless to you. But now he has become useful to you and to me. 12 I’m sending Onesimus back to you. All my love for him goes with him. 13 I’m being held in chains because of the good news. So I would have liked to keep Onesimus with me. And he could take your place in helping me. 14 But I didn’t want to do anything unless you agreed. Any favor you do must be done because you want to do it, not because you have to. 15 Onesimus was separated from you for a little while. Maybe that was so you could have him back forever. 16 You could have him back not as a slave. Instead, he would be better than a slave. He would be a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even more dear to you. He is dear to you not only as another human being. He is also dear to you as a brother in the Lord.
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Friday 8 September, 2017

Philemon 1-7

1 I, Paul, am writing this letter. I am a prisoner because of Christ Jesus. Our brother Timothy joins me in writing. Philemon, we are sending you this letter. You are our dear friend. You work together with us. 2 We are also sending it to our sister Apphia and to Archippus. He is a soldier of Christ together with us. And we are sending it to the church that meets in your home. 3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4 I always thank my God when I remember you in my prayers. 5 That’s because I hear about your love for all God’s people. I also hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that what we share by believing will help you understand even more. Then you will completely understand every good thing we share by believing in Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy. It has encouraged me. My brother, you have renewed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

The key sentence in this passage, in the middle of all the fine things Paul says about Philemon, is verse 6. This is what he’s praying for: he’s praying that the partnership which he and Philemon share in the gospel will be productive, will have the effect it’s meant to.

The word Paul uses for ‘partnership’ is often translated ‘fellowship’.  But Paul means more than warm Christian affection, he means something like a business partnership that links Paul, Philemon and others. They are in this together. They share a joint project, and if it’s to go forward they must be prepared to stand loyally side by side.   The partnership is the partnership Paul and Philemon have in the gospel.

As I read this passage I am drawn to the truth that to partner in the Gospel is not just to have a sense of affection for the saints who surround me, but that we are on mission together.  We have a job to do in reaching out to the lost, broken and lonely of our world, the up and out and the down and out, and that I must play my part.

Father help me to do your will, to play my part in the partnership in the Gospel you have given me to play, with grace and truth that comes from knowing Jesus my Lord.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Thursday 7 September, 2017

Colossians 4:7-18

7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother. He is a faithful worker. He serves the Lord together with us. 8 I am sending him to you for one reason. I want you to know what is happening here. I want him to encourage you and make your hearts strong. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother. He is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here. 10 Aristarchus is in prison with me. He sends you his greetings. So does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. You have been given directions about him. If he comes to you, welcome him. 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. They are the only Jews who have worked together with me for God’s kingdom. They have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras sends greetings. He is one of you. He serves Christ Jesus. He is always praying hard for you. He prays that you will hold on tightly to all that God has in mind for us. He prays that you will keep growing in your knowledge of what God wants. He also prays that you will be completely sure about it. 13 I am happy to tell you that he is working very hard for you. He is also working hard for everyone in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, sends greetings. So does Demas. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea. Also give my greetings to Nympha and the church that meets in her house. 16 After this letter has been read to you, send it on. Be sure that it is also read to the church in Laodicea. And be sure that you read the letter from Laodicea. 17 Tell Archippus, “Be sure that you complete the work the Lord gave you to do.” 18 I, Paul, am writing this greeting with my own hand. Remember that I am being held by chains. May grace be with you.

So there are 2 things that strike me in this passage. Firstly, in spite of his extreme circumstances Paul’s great concern was for was for his fellow believers, their encouragement, growth and welfare, not for his own safety and security. His ability to minister was not dependant on his circumstances being sweet.

Secondly, although Paul’s circumstances were desperate in prison, God had placed along side him people to support and encourage him. Paul’s situation gave others an opportunity to minister.

So here is the challenge: who is there in my world that needs my encouragement and support? Regardless of my circumstances or how I feel, I need to give out to others, with the growth of the Kingdom my first priority.

And here is the encouragement: regardless of what I face today (or tomorrow) God will not abandon me or you. It’s my experience, that just as God sent Paul’s friends to care for and support him, He will place someone in your world to encourage you too when you need it most.

Heavenly Father thank you that you never abandon me or leave me without hope. Help me Lord to look beyond my circumstances today to be a blessing to someone else. May my actions bring Glory to you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Wednesday 6 September, 2017

Colossians 4:2-6

2 Give a lot of time and effort to prayer. Always be watchful and thankful. 3 Pray for us too. Pray that God will give us an opportunity to preach our message. Then we can preach the mystery of Christ. Because I preached it, I am being held by chains. 4 Pray that I will preach it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders. Make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let the words you speak always be full of grace. Learn how to make your words what people want to hear. Then you will know how to answer everyone.

“Devote yourselves to Prayer…” Paul gives us a brief master class in prayer.

Paul’s recommendation on the attitude of prayer:

  • be attentive (his words: watchful)
  • be thankful

This may take some practice, but it is pretty straight forward.

Paul’s focal points for prayer:

  • more opportunity for sharing the good news of Jesus,
  • good clarity when sharing about Jesus

Are we ready to follow Paul’s pattern here? Be warned, God has a habit of answering our prayers!

On the back of this prayer-request or prayer lesson, verses 5 and 6 summarise Paul’s attitude to public life:

  • be conscious of appearances,
  • be on the look out for sharing opportunities,
  • be gracious and relevant (salty)

This call to be a winsome and open person is not just a shallow maxim. The ultimate foundation of this idea is Jesus, the reason for everything, why we do what we do.

Lord, give us the boldness to pray prayers like Paul. We also need your boldness to follow through when the answer comes. Thank you for the adventure that you unfold in our lives everyday.  Amen.

Written by Sam Stewart

1 (reply)
  1. Justin Ware says:

    God has been speaking to me over the past week about the importance and power of prayer.

    Lord, I am yours and you are my Father.

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Tuesday 5 September, 2017

Colossians 3:12-4:1

12 You are God’s chosen people. You are holy and dearly loved. So put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient. 13 Put up with one another. Forgive one another if you are holding something against someone. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these good things put on love. Love holds them all together perfectly as if they were one. 15 Let the peace that Christ gives rule in your hearts. As parts of one body, you were appointed to live in peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ live among you like a rich treasure. Teach and correct one another wisely. Teach one another by singing psalms and hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing to God with thanks in your hearts. 17 Do everything you say or do in the name of the Lord Jesus. Always give thanks to God the Father through Christ. 18 Wives, follow the lead of your husbands. That’s what the Lord wants you to do. 19 Husbands, love your wives. Don’t be mean to them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything. That pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, don’t make your children bitter. If you do, they will lose hope. 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything. Don’t do it just to please them when they are watching you. Obey them with an honest heart. Do it out of respect for the Lord. 23 Work at everything you do with all your heart. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for human masters. 24 Work because you know that you will finally receive as a reward what the Lord wants you to have. You are slaves of the Lord Christ. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be paid back for what they do. God treats everyone the same. 4 Masters, give your slaves what is right and fair. Do it because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Cause and effect. This passage has lots of causes and effects.

Truly understanding that we are God’s dearly loved, chosen and holy people causes me to put on mercy, kindness and above all love; and to express that by not being proud, and being gentle, patient, tolerant and forgiving.

Having Christ’s word truly live in me fills my mouth with wise teaching, encouraging songs, and thankfulness.

This isn’t something shallow. I put these things on like clothes. Not a handkerchief to pull out if I need it; put on. Not things to put on selectively (“Will I wear pants today?”); but all of it. Not Christ’s word on a bit of paper, but dwelling in me richly.

The instructions that follow are an expression of the new nature that God gives me. My actions become an expression of a heart and mind that has been redeemed, set free and remade.

Recently the ABC (repeatedly) published a story about a man who had used verse 18 in isolation to manipulate his Christian wife into submitting to years of dreadful abuse. Ironically the journalist took this man’s abuse of both the Bible and his wife in isolation to attack all Christians and ultimately God. Both made me angry.

These instructions tell me how my transformed life should be expressed. They are not a stick to beat someone else with.

These instructions are not a menu to pick and choose what I like. A heart that has been transformed needs to transform my actions in every part of my life.

It has to start with my transformed heart.

So I’ll put on love and compassion for this poor abused woman. I’ll put on forgiveness towards this man and the ABC journalist. I’ll put on love towards my wife. … And when I slip up, I’ll put on humility in repenting (including to God whose name I dishonour when I act out my old nature again).

Written by David Cornell

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Monday 4 September, 2017

Colossians 3:5-11

5 So put to death anything that comes from sinful desires. Get rid of sexual sins and impure acts. Don’t let your feelings get out of control. Remove from your life all evil desires. Stop always wanting more and more. You might as well be worshiping statues of gods. 6 God’s anger is going to come because of these things. 7 That’s the way you lived at one time in your life. 8 But now here are the kinds of things you must also get rid of. You must get rid of anger, rage, hate and lies. Let no dirty words come out of your mouths. 9 Don’t lie to one another. You have gotten rid of your old way of life and its habits. 10 You have started living a new life. Your knowledge of how that life should have the Creator’s likeness is being made new. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew. There is no difference between those who are circumcised and those who are not. There is no rude outsider, or even a Scythian. There is no slave or free person. But Christ is everything. And he is in everything.

My life is not found in the things of this world that pass away. My life is found in the eternal, in the one and only God. Everybody will see this and know this when Christ returns and I am raised back to life. Right now I know it, a new Spirit has come to live in me, God’s Spirit. He does not lie, he does not hate, he does not abuse or lust. He is eternal and good.

So let the old way die, the anger and lust, the insecurity and jealousy. A better Spirit has made his home in me. Let the old die, let it be disarmed by grace and love that pursued me and died in my place. Jesus died, and so did the power of sin. Jesus rose, and so did his Spirit within me.

Lord, sometimes I see evil at work in me. But I can come into your glorious light and know that it is conquered, vanquished, defeated. I leave evil defeated by the roadside and walk on with my Saviour and Lord.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Sunday 3 September, 2017

Colossians 3:1-4

3 You have been raised up with Christ. So think about things that are in heaven. That is where Christ is. He is sitting at God’s right hand. 2 Think about things that are in heaven. Don’t think about things that are only on earth. 3 You died. Now your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Christ is your life. When he appears again, you also will appear with him in heaven’s glory.

I like to call this passage of the Bible “The Matrix passage” because it lines up so beautifully with the plot of the movie “The Matrix” starring Keanu Reeves.

In the movie, we are told by the writers that many people live in a dream, and only by waking up to the reality of how life really is, are we able to truly live.

I really like the way that the movie shows that truly living doesn’t mean things instantly get easy, but it means that life’s true purpose is revealed and the truth about good and evil becomes clearer.

Lord, help us to keen our hearts attuned to your truth and help us to look for opportunities to wake our friends and family up from living in the false-reality that the world offers.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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