Friday 31 October, 2014

Psalm 75

1 God, we give thanks to you. We give thanks because your Name is near. People talk about the wonderful things you have done. 2 You say, “I choose the appointed time to judge people. And I judge them fairly. 3 When the earth and all of its people tremble, I keep everything from falling to pieces. Selah 4 To the proud I say, ‘Don’t brag anymore.’ To sinners I say, ‘Don’t show off your power. 5 Don’t show it off against me. Don’t speak with your noses in the air.’” 6 No one from east or west or north or south can act as judge. 7 God is the One who judges. He says to one person, “You are guilty.” To another he says, “You are not guilty.” 8 In the hand of the Lord is a cup. It is full of wine mixed with spices. It is the wine of his anger. He pours it out. All of the evil people on earth drink it down to the very last drop. 9 I will speak about this forever. I will sing praise to the God of Jacob. 10 God will destroy the power of all sinful people. But he will make godly people more powerful.

If there is one thing which stands out so brilliantly in the Psalms it is the praise which the psalmist gives to God. In this Psalm his motivation for praise is the fact that God is so near and is it is impossible to miss His wonderful deeds.

Not only does the writer praise God for His closeness but he acknowledges that God is Sovereign over all the earth, He is fully aware of what is going on. God Himself declares His intention to deal with the ungodly and to bless those who trust in Him.

He concludes his song by expressing the powerful effect of praise; it will break the power of wickedness, while the righteous will be lifted up and become powerful.

In a world which is full of turmoil and violence we are encouraged to continue in praise to God, believing that He is in control and in due time, according to His sovereign will, He will judge the affairs of the nations. In Psalm 92:7 the psalmist expresses his faith in God by reminding us, “It’s true the wicked flourish, but only for a moment”.

Lord we are in awe of Your sovereignty. We ask you Holy Spirit to open our spiritual eyes in order that we might see what God is doing in our troubled world.

Written by Keith Bennett

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Thursday 30 October, 2014

Psalm 74

1 God, why have you turned your back on us for so long? Why does your anger burn against us? We are your very own sheep. 2 Remember that you chose us to be your own people a long time ago. Remember that you set us free from slavery to be your very own tribe. Remember Mount Zion, where you lived. 3 Walk through this place that has been torn down beyond repair. See how completely your enemies have destroyed the temple! 4 In the place where you used to meet with us, your enemies have shouted, “We’ve won the battle!” They have set up their flags to show they have beaten us. 5 They acted like people cutting down a forest with axes. 6 They smashed all of the beautiful wooden walls with their axes and hatchets. 7 They burned your temple to the ground. They polluted the place where your Name is. 8 They had said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where you were worshiped in the land. 9 You don’t give us miraculous signs anymore. There aren’t any prophets left. None of us knows how long that will last. 10 God, how long will your enemies make fun of you? Will they attack you with their words forever? 11 Why don’t you help us? Why do you hold back your powerful right hand? Use your strong arms to destroy your enemies! 12 God, you have been my king for a long time. The whole earth has seen you save us over and over again. 13 You parted the Red Sea by your power. You broke the heads of that sea monster in Egypt. 14 You crushed the heads of the sea monster Leviathan. You fed it to the creatures of the desert. 15 You opened up streams and springs. You dried up rivers that flow all year long. 16 You rule over the day and the night. You created the sun and the moon. 17 You decided where the borders of the earth would be. You made both summer and winter. 18 Lord, remember how your enemies have made fun of you. Remember how foolish people have attacked you with their words. 19 Don’t hand Israel, your dove, over to those wild animals. Don’t forget your suffering people forever. 20 Honor the covenant you made with us. Horrible things are happening in every dark corner of the land. 21 Don’t let your suffering people be put to shame. May those who are poor and needy praise you. 22 God, rise up. Stand up for your cause. Remember how foolish people make fun of you all day long. 23 Pay close attention to the shouts of your enemies. The trouble they cause never stops.

Psalm 74 could be considered a bit of a downer. Often a psalm will start out with a lament, but end with a declaration of the faithfulness and goodness of God -this one just leaves us a with a lament!

Israel’s enemies have attacked them and destroyed the temple and God is implored to rise up and act.

Sometimes circumstances can just seem to go from bad to worse. And it’s easy to just focus on the hard stuff – to ‘lament’ and forget to focus on the faithfulness of God.

I’ve caught myself from time to time using the ‘lament’ as my default reply when people ask how I’m going. It’s so easy to give a list of all the things in life that are challenging rather than speaking words of faith. I’m working on changing that. It doesn’t mean that I can never talk about challenges, but I know that it’s better to speak about the faithfulness of God rather than focus on the difficulties of life.

So I’m challenging myself to watch out for the lament. Perhaps you’d like to join me in that- to speak words of faith about our God who is bigger than any circumstance we may face.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Wednesday 29 October, 2014

Psalm 73

1 God is truly good to Israel. He is good to those who have pure hearts. 2 But my feet had almost slipped. I had almost tripped and fallen. 3 I saw that proud and sinful people were doing well. And I began to long for what they had. 4 They don’t have any troubles. Their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They don’t have the problems others have. They don’t suffer as other people do. 6 Their pride is like a necklace. They put on meanness as if it were their clothes. 7 Many sins come out of their hard and stubborn hearts. There is no limit to their proud and evil thoughts. 8 They laugh at others and speak words of hatred. They are proud. They warn others about the harm they can do to them. 9 They brag as if they owned heaven itself. They talk as if they controlled the earth. 10 So people listen to them. They lap up their words like water. 11 They say, “How can God know what we’re doing? Does the Most High God really know that much?” 12 Here is what sinful people are like. They don’t have a care in the world. They keep getting richer and richer. 13 It seems as if I have kept my heart pure without any reason. It didn’t do me any good to wash my hands to show that I wasn’t guilty of doing anything wrong. 14 Day after day I’ve been in pain. God has punished me every morning. 15 What if I had said, “I will speak as evil people do”? Then I wouldn’t have been faithful to God’s children. 16 I tried to understand it all. But it was more than I could handle. 17 It troubled me until I entered God’s temple. Then I understood what will happen to bad people in the end. 18 God, I’m sure you will make them slip and fall. You will throw them down and destroy them. 19 It will happen very suddenly. A terrible death will take them away completely. 20 A dream goes away when a person wakes up. Lord, it will be like that when you rise up. It will be as if those people were only a dream. 21 At one time my heart was sad and my spirit was bitter. 22 I didn’t have any sense. I didn’t know anything. I acted like a wild animal toward you. 23 But I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand. 24 You give me wise advice to guide me. And when I die, you will take me away into the glory of heaven. 25 I don’t have anyone in heaven but you. I don’t want anything on earth besides you. 26 My body and my heart may grow weak. God, you give strength to my heart. You are everything I will ever need. 27 Those who don’t want anything to do with you will die. You destroy all those who aren’t faithful to you. 28 But I am close to you. And that’s good. Lord and King, I have made you my place of safety. I will talk about everything you have done.

I love this Psalm. How many times I have had bitterness of heart.

“It’s not fair!”

“What’s the point?”

“Does God really know what he is doing?”

“C’mon God, where is my reward?”

This bitterness of heart rises as I scan my circumstances and makes me analyse the world around me with Andrew Mellor in mind.

But the moment I step into the Holy of Holies, the presence of God, suddenly I see clearly and bitterness is swept away by worship and thankfulness.

“Thank you God for opening the way into your presence with the body and blood of Jesus my Saviour! What a joy and delight it is to see things as they really are, to see your supreme governance and ultimate plan!”

Written by Andrew Mellor

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  1. Richard Botta says:

    Psalm 73

    How true and real is this Psalm! So powerful!

    I love the depth and richness of its language, it’s realness and raw emotion. And who hasn’t thought about life this way? I sure have, the unfairness of life, the prospering of people who have no relationship to God, who lie, steal and cheat!

    It is so easy to get a perspective of woe, to see things with me at the centre. I love the antidote, come into God’s house, the church, encounter Christ, see things, again from His perspective, remember eternity is a long time, so the blessing of being with Him far outweighs the temporary temporal experiences of life.

    Life eternal with the Saviour, now that is a goal worth living for!

    Father help me to keep my perspective fixed on You and Your kingdom, even when I’m challenged by the people or circumstances that surround me.

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Tuesday 28 October, 2014

2 Peter 3:14-18

14 Dear friends, I know you are looking forward to that. So try your best to be found pure and without blame. Be at peace with God. 15 Remember that while our Lord is waiting patiently to return, people are being saved. Our dear brother Paul also wrote to you about that. God made him wise to write as he did. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters. He speaks about what I have just told you. His letters include some things that are hard to understand. People who don’t know better and aren’t firm in the faith twist what he says. They twist the other Scriptures too. So they will be destroyed. 17 Dear friends, you already know that. So be on your guard. Then you won’t be led down the wrong path by the mistakes of people who don’t obey the law. You won’t fall from your safe position. 18 Grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Get to know him better. Give him glory both now and forever. Amen.

I am reminded that the day will certainly arrive when the Lord will come again. Exactly when it will happen, no one knows except our Father in Heaven. But what is important is that when He comes, how would He find me? Am I living my life that is pleasing to Him?

The verse “Be holy, because I am holy” is the desire of God for His chosen people and I am one of them. I know I can never arrive at “spiritual perfection” by my own effort but I thank God that He has provided The Way. I am in a secure position because of what the Lord Jesus has done at the Cross. Nothing will change that!

Father, as your child I want to be more like you. Thank you Jesus, you have made it possible. Amen.

Written by Shin Wan Liu

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Monday 27 October, 2014

2 Peter 3:8-13

8 Dear friends, here is one thing you must not forget. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years. And a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow to keep his promise. He is not slow in the way some people understand it. He is patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be destroyed. Instead, he wants all people to turn away from their sins. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar. Fire will destroy everything in them. God will judge the earth and everything in it. 11 So everything will be destroyed. And what kind of people should you be? You should lead holy and godly lives. 12 Live like that as you look forward to the day of God. It will make the day come more quickly. On that day fire will destroy the heavens. Its heat will melt everything in them. 13 But we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. Godliness will make its home there. All of this is in keeping with God’s promise.

When Peter wrote this letter, about 30 years after Jesus died on the cross, false prophets & teachers had come among the believers and so, some believers had become confused & discouraged and had lost the hope of Jesus coming back.

The Apostle Peter, is trying to refresh, remind & warn the believers with a few “secrets”:

  1. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day.
  2. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise…, Instead he is patient with you, …, so that everyone may come to repentance.
  3. The day of the Lord will come like a thief.
  4. When the day comes, everything (heaven and earth) will be destroyed by fire.

Sounds like a terrible ending of the world. But Peter said, in keeping with HIS promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. What a great hope and promise we have in Jesus Christ.

The challenge of this passage to me is:

  1. Do I forget Jesus’ promises and loose patience easily?
  2. In this world, what kind of person should I be?
  3. If Jesus came back TONIGHT? Am I ready?

Dear Lord, thank you for your word which always reminds me that heaven and earth will come to an end and that you will come back like a thief. Your word is a lamp for my feet,a light for my path. Help me to remember that you are never slow in keeping your promise, instead you are patient with (waiting for) me. Amen.

Written by Allen Leu

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Sunday 26 October, 2014

2 Peter 3:1-7

3 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders. I want to stir you up to think in a way that is pure. 2 I want you to remember the words the holy prophets spoke in the past. Remember the command our Lord and Savior gave through your apostles. 3 First of all, here is what you must understand. In the last days people will make fun of the truth. They will laugh at it. They will follow their own evil longings. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘return’ he promised? Everything goes on in the same way it has since our people of long ago died. In fact, it has continued that way since God first created everything.” 5 Long ago, God’s word brought the heavens into being. His word separated the earth from the waters. And the waters surrounded it. But those people forget things like that on purpose. 6 The waters also flooded the world of that time. It was destroyed. 7 By God’s word the heavens and earth of today are being reserved for fire. They are being kept for the day when God will judge. Then ungodly people will be destroyed.

Before Jesus left this earth, He made this great promise; “I will come again.”

Scoffers love to make fun of God’s word. God’s promises are just fuel for another joke. They make light of God’s coming judgment, because to acknowledge the truth of it would mean that they would have to change their lifestyles.

Remember the people in Noah’s day, the people of Sodom, and the people in our day. Some love their sin too much to turn their lives over to Christ. Scoffers say they can look back over the few years of their memories and conclude that He hasn’t returned, therefore there is no reason to believe He will, but the Bible says something very different.

We must stand firm and believe that God is not slow to fulfil His promises and some count slowness.

God’s relation to time is very different from our own. For Him, a day is like a thousand years and vice versa. This can be hard to comprehend, but what seems a long time for us is not really long at all for God.

God does not lie, and we must not doubt His promises. From the perspective of God’s relation to time, the return of Jesus is always imminent, and it is His perspective we must take.

I do not know when Jesus will return, however, I am convinced that in the light of eternity, Jesus could return at any moment. Am I ready for when Jesus comes again? Knowing that God relates to time differently than I do helps me to remember that He always acts at the proper time.

Lord, help me not to grow impatient I am waiting for answer prayer. Help me not to get frustrated when I think You move too slowly. Amen

Written by Cathy Croft

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Saturday 25 October, 2014

2 Peter 2:11-22

Those false prophets are bold and proud. They aren’t afraid to speak evil things against heavenly beings. 11 Angels are stronger and more powerful than those people. But even angels don’t bring to the Lord evil charges against heavenly beings. 12 Those people speak evil about things they don’t understand. They are like wild animals. They do what comes naturally to them. They are born only to be caught and destroyed. Just like animals, they too will die. 13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to have wild parties in the middle of the day. They are like spots and stains. They enjoy their sinful pleasures while they eat with you. 14 They stare at women who are not their wives. They want to have sex with them. They never stop sinning. They trap those who are not firm in their faith. They have mastered the art of getting what they want. God has placed them under his curse. 15 They have left God’s way. They have wandered off. They follow the way of Balaam, son of Beor. He loved to get paid for doing his evil work. 16 But a donkey corrected him for the wrong he did. Animals don’t speak. But the donkey spoke with a human voice. It tried to stop the prophet from doing a very dumb thing. 17 Those false prophets are like springs without water. They are like mists driven by a storm. The blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 They speak empty, bragging words. They make their appeal to the earthly longings of people’s sinful nature. They tempt new believers who are just escaping from the company of sinful people. 19 They promise to give freedom to the new believers. But they themselves are slaves to sinful living. A person is a slave to anything that controls him. 20 They may have escaped the sin of the world. They may have come to know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But what if they are once again caught up in sin? And what if it has become their master? Then they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 What if they had not known the way of godliness? That would have been better than to have known it and then to have turned their backs on it. The way of godliness is the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 What the proverbs say about them is true. “A dog returns to where it has thrown up.” (Proverbs 26:11) And, “A pig that is washed goes back to rolling in the mud.”

There is God’s way, righteous, pure and full of God’s rewards for those who walk it. Then there is the way of the flesh, corrupt, seductive and full of God’s wrath for those who walk it.

Arrogance, particularly when it comes to spiritual matters seems to be a hallmark of walking in the way of the flesh. These are people that promise much, but deliver nothing, worse still, they seduce others to follow them.

These people will be found out and destroyed by God.

“Heavenly Father, I desire to be aligned to you and your ways, full of your grace and peace, not holding onto bitterness or deceit. Lord we are blessed by you, freed from the curse. Teach us to be cautious around fools, especially puffed up ‘spiritual fools’.”

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Friday 24 October, 2014

2 Peter 2:1-10A

2 But there were also false prophets among the people. In the same way there will be false teachers among you. In secret they will bring in teachings that will destroy you. They will even turn against the Lord and Master who died to save them. His death paid for their sins. They will quickly destroy themselves. 2 Many people will follow their shameful ways. They will give the way of truth a bad name. 3 Those teachers are never satisfied. They want to get something out of you. So they make up stories to take advantage of you. They have been under a sentence of death for a long time. The One who will destroy them has not been sleeping. 4 God did not spare angels when they sinned. Instead, he sent them to hell. He put them in dark prisons. He will keep them there until he judges them. 5 God did not spare the world’s ungodly people long ago. He brought the flood on them. But Noah preached about the right way to live. God kept him safe. He also saved seven others. 6 God judged the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. He burned them to ashes. He made them an example of what is going to happen to ungodly people. 7 God saved Lot. He was a man who did what was right. He was shocked by the dirty, sinful lives of people who didn’t obey God’s laws. 8 That good man lived among them day after day. He saw and heard the evil things they were doing. They were breaking God’s laws. And his godly spirit was deeply troubled. 9 So the Lord knows how to keep godly people safe in times of testing. He also knows how to keep ungodly people under guard until the day they will be judged. In the meantime, he continues to punish them. 10 Most of all, this is true of people who follow the evil longings of their sinful natures. They hate to be under authority.

Peter, most prophetically, tells his readers and prepares them that false teachers will come, he lets them know the teaching they will bring as ‘Christian’ sounding as it is be will not be Christian at all. He warns his readers – me included – from 3 Old Testament events – that there is no mercy or tolerance for false teaching to His church.

Peter’s audience then is no different to us now, how can I protect myself from the influence of and taking on board false teaching? Worse yet, how can I make sure I don’t become one?    By staying in God’s Word, knowing His character and by ‘growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ.’ (2Pet 3:18)

Thank you Lord that we have your Word, the filter that countless thousands have died to protect through the centuries, so that we can all use this treasure to know your character & the life that your Son has given us.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Thursday 23 October, 2014

2 Peter 1:16-21

16 We told you about the time our Lord Jesus Christ came with power. But we didn’t make up stories when we told you about it. With our own eyes we saw him in all his majesty. 17 God the Father gave him honor and glory. The voice of the Majestic Glory came to him. It said, “This is my Son, and I love him. I am very pleased with him.” (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35) 18 We ourselves heard the voice that came from heaven. We were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 The word of the prophets is made more certain. We have that word. You must pay attention to it. It is like a light shining in a dark place. It will shine until the day Jesus comes. Then the Morning Star will rise in your hearts. 20 Above all, here is what you must understand. No prophecy in Scripture ever came from a prophet’s own understanding. 21 It never came simply because a prophet wanted it to. Instead, the Holy Spirit guided the prophets as they spoke. So prophecy comes from God.

Peter and the other disciples got to experience being with Jesus first hand. They heard the audible voice of God acknowledge Jesus, his beloved son. I’m always a little jealous of this fact! It is interesting to note that Peter refers back to God’s word and in particular what the prophets had spoken. He then goes on to say that his experiences with Jesus and God the Father led him to have more confidence in the word. Peter emphasizes the importance of paying attention to God’s word and the fact that it’s not just the words of men but inspired by the Holy Spirit.

This passage got me thinking about my Christian walk and the various things I’ve experienced firsthand along the way. True I may not of literally been with Jesus like the early disciples but I have experienced God’s forgiveness, love, grace, provision, healing, guidance, peace etc. These things and many more are discussed in God’s word. No one can take these experiences away from me. They are my story ready for sharing. I can say God’s word is true because I have experienced it for myself and can give examples. Like Peter, for me, experiences have built greater confidence in God’s word. God’s word is central though it came first, not the experience. Peter really stressed this point. I am encouraged to share God’s word and how my experiences have tied in with it.

Thank you for your word Lord and allowing me to experience it’s truth in many areas of my life. Please help me to share your word and the experiences I’ve had with others. Amen

Written by Ainslie Woods

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Wednesday 22 October, 2014

2 Peter 1:1-15

1 I, Simon Peter, am writing this letter. I serve Jesus Christ. I am his apostle. I am sending this letter to you who have received a faith as valuable as ours. You received it because our God and Savior Jesus Christ does what is right and fair for everyone. 2 May more and more grace and peace be given to you. May they come to you as you learn more about God and about Jesus our Lord. 3 God’s power has given us everything we need to lead a godly life. All of that has come to us because we know the One who chose us. He chose us because of his own glory and goodness. 4 He has also given us his very great and valuable promises. He did it so you could share in his nature. He also did it so you could escape from the evil in the world. That evil is caused by sinful longings. 5 So you should try very hard to add goodness to your faith. To goodness, add knowledge. 6 To knowledge, add the ability to control yourselves. To the ability to control yourselves, add the strength to keep going. To the strength to keep going, add godliness. 7 To godliness, add kindness to believers. And to kindness to believers, add love. 8 You should possess more and more of those good points. They will make you useful and fruitful as you get to know our Lord Jesus Christ better. 9 But what if some of you do not have those good points? Then you can’t see very well. You are blind. You have forgotten that your past sins have been washed away. 10 My brothers and sisters, be very sure that God has appointed you to be saved. Be sure that he has chosen you. If you do everything I have just said, you will never trip and fall. 11 You will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom that lasts forever. It is the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 So I will always remind you of these things. I’ll do it even though you know them. I’ll do it even though you now have deep roots in the truth. 13 I think it is right for me to remind you. It is right as long as I live in this tent. I’m talking about my body. 14 I know my tent will soon be removed. Our Lord Jesus Christ has made that clear to me. 15 I hope that you will always be able to remember these things after I’m gone. I will try very hard to see that you do.

This passage includes an excellent description of the sort of characteristics we should each be working to develop in ourselves to grow in our maturity as Christians. As described in The Message version of this passage we need to develop good character, understanding of God’s word, alert discipline (i.e. self-control), passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness and generous love. A great list of things to work on. I know that I am better at some of these than others so I need to grow more in those weaker areas.

Being aware of these ideas and reviewing our behaviour in the light of them on a regular basis can help us identify what we are good at and what we need to work on and how we are going in our growth in a particular one of these characteristics if we set a plan to develop one further. There are those who journal at the end of each day about what happened during the day. I imagine they are better at self-reflection than the rest of us who do such reflection on a less regular basis (monthly, six monthly, yearly or some other frequency). Here is a reason to get better at self-reflection, to spend some time thinking about these characteristics and how you would like to rate for each one. Perhaps set aside some time to talk to God about this – we all need His help to grow in these matters.

Lord thank You that with Your help we can grow in each of these areas – that we can learn to be more friendly or to have greater understanding of Your word or to have more patience. These are things You want us to grow in and You will help us to do that. Help us to be aware of the areas we need to work on, help us to develop a plan to grow in that area (including communication with You) and help us to implement such plans. Please help us Lord to recognise when we do grow in these issues, to be aware of our maturing and to celebrate it.

Written by Therese Manning

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  1. Justin Ware says:

    Thanks Therese for your insights. My thoughts are similar and two things stand out to me in this passage.

    Firstly, in verse 9, Peter reveals the cause of us not being able to live a life that is good, righteous, Godly (etc), is associated with a spiritual blindness. Clearly Peter does not want believers to stay in this state of blindness, so he suggests that the cure is to remember that we are cleansed of sin. I love that this does not follow worldly logic but it is a truth that is communicated throughout the new testament letters and one that I have experienced myself- that as I understand my forgiveness and right relationship with God more and more, I find myself thankful to the point of desiring God more and more. I also position myself to be able to receive the Holy Spirit more regularly and in greater measure and this gives me the power and ability to live gradually more and more as I am called to.

    The second point is linked to the first. In verses 12 and 13, Peter makes it plain that he needs to remind me of the simple truth of what I already know in my head. This is because it is only by living out my knowledge of the gift that I have received that I will be able to have forward progress in my faith and life.

    Lord, let me stay rooted and reminded of your gift of love and complete forgiveness, not just in my head but in my heart

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