Saturday 31 December, 2016

Psalm 11

1 In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. 2 For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. 3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. 5 The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. 6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. 7 For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.

In this Psalm David starts with a statement – “In the Lord I take refuge.”  And that’s it for David.  Regardless what anyone says to him or how much it seems the wicked are winning – that is Davids’ position.  He responds to those who tell him to run – that God is on the throne and He knows exactly what’s going on –  before Him the wicked are done.   David knows where he stands before God – David knows that he will “behold His face.”

How often do I forget all of these things!?

I love how black and white David is.  Solid, confident and uncomplicated …. “In the Lord I take refuge.”

Father, I ask that you would expand that statement in my heart, mind & life as I sit & meditate on those words … the calm & release that they bring.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

[comments closed]

Friday 30 December, 2016

Psalm 10

1 Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? 2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. 3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord. 4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 5 His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by[b] him; he sneers at all his enemies. 6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” 7 His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. 8 He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims; 9 like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. 10 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. 11 He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.” 12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. 13 Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? 14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked man; call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out. 16 The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. 17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, 18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.

Reading the Psalms is interesting – the poetry is something most of us are not very used too. But they were written by people struggling to understand this world and the way it works – just like us – they just express their feelings and thoughts differently – they could use more than 140 characters so poetry was their thing.

This Psalm expresses what a lot of people often feel – why do the bad guys get to win so much? The Psalmist reminds us that God is bigger than that. Even though we don’t understand why the world works as it does, God does and He is for each of us. He is trustworthy, He hears our cries, He doesn’t want us to be terrified. The Psalm reminds us that even though the world often looks like God is not in control, He most certainly is and we need to reach out to Him in our most down in the dumps moment.

Thank You Lord that we can trust You, that You are King forever and ever. Please help us to remember to look to You, to ask You to show us how You see the world and to live each day with You at the centre of our world.

 Written by Therese Manning

1 (reply)
  1. Rosie says:

    Thanks Therese, so good to start my day knowing I can trust my God – he’s for me and knows the battles that may be ahead in the day I’m facing. He promises he’ll be with me and won’t ignore my cries. The godless may have seeming success for a moment, but we have the companionship of our Heavenly Father and eternity with Him – such a comfort.

[comments closed]

Thursday 29 December, 2016

Psalm 9

1 I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. 3 My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you. 4 For you have upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as the righteous judge. 5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. 6 Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies, you have uprooted their cities; even the memory of them has perished. 7 The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. 8 He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. 9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. 11 Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done. 12 For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted. 13 Lord, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death, 14 that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation. 15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. 16 The Lord is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.[c] 17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God. 18 But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. 19 Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence. 20 Strike them with terror, Lord; let the nations know they are only mortal.

David gets straight to the point in this Psalm.  He makes plain  he will praise the Lord and has wonderful deeds to speak of about God.  He then tells his listeners about the Lord’s work among David’s enemies – that He has made a powerful impression on them, so much so that “even the memory of them has perished”!

We may not characterise people as enemies too often but we should all have “wonderful deeds” to tell of how God has been at work in our lives.  The truth is we all do if we are looking for what the Lord is doing.  For He is far more active than we give Him credit for.

So what will I do – I’m taking the time to call to mind and deliberately thank God for all His wonderful deeds in my life – and there are many.  Interestingly, I think I come to the end of them and then remember another and it is like the tide coming in with more and more of God’s great blessings in my life – why not do the same right now!

Father, help each of us call to mind the small, the large, the amazing and the mundane evidences of You at work in our lives!

Written by Richard Botta

 

[comments closed]

Wednesday 28 December, 2016

Psalm 8

1 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. 2 Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?[c] 5 You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e] and crowned them[f] with glory and honor. 6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their[g] feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, 8 the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

“Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth”

Psalm 8 is an example of the Psalms at its finest. This line, which sandwiches the chapter, is one we should all commit to memory. Poetic and profound, it’s a catch cry of God’s people throughout all of history up to today.

The entire chapter is an interesting mixture of praise, theology and imagery directed to worship of God. Prose that describes various intersections of spirituality, creation theology and deep questions of human existence.

I am encouraged to follow the thoughts of the Psalmist. To consider the majesty of the galaxies. To ponder the biosphere. To reflect on the uniqueness of humanity in creation. It is both exhilarating and peculiar feeling at one and the same time.
Lord, great God – I worship you today. You are amazing and your work is amazing. I stop in this moment to consider your greatness quietly, to breath and be still. Thank you for your overwhelming love. “Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth”

Written by Sam Stewart

[comments closed]

Tuesday 27 December, 2016

Psalm 7

1 Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, 2 or they will tear me apart like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me. 3 Lord my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands— 4 if I have repaid my ally with evil or without cause have robbed my foe— 5 then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust.[c] 6 Arise, Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice. 7 Let the assembled peoples gather around you, while you sit enthroned over them on high. 8 Let the Lord judge the peoples. Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High. 9 Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure— you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts. 10 My shield[d] is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. 11 God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day. 12 If he does not relent, he[e] will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. 13 He has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows. 14 Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment. 15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. 16 The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads. 17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.

Scripture: “…God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day…”

My initial reaction to this Psalm, and particularly the quoted verse, is that it’s very intense. God displays his wrath every day. Wow! Do I think of God in this manner? Do I know God to be like this? Do I want God to be like this?

The context of this Psalm teaches me. The Psalmist is under false accusation and attack and seems in danger for his life. I sit here, in my place of privilege and peace, and I have no apparent “need” of a wrathful God. But if God does not act with righteous judgement then what hope has the Psalmist got of justice against his falsely accusing adversary?

I “need” God to be God, because there are all sorts of seasons to life. I need a just and an actively wrathful God, not because I am vengeful or he is, but because there are so many injustices in the world, and I have neither the power nor the awareness to set them straight. But He has, and is, “everyday.”

God, let me not limit you to my needs. That is such a self-interested way to view you, and it also neglects the fact that there are so many people in this world who need your righteous judgement on their behalf, because they are suffering deep injustices. Lord, I thank you that you are passionately (I feel wrath is passionate) putting this world right through your righteous judgments!

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

[comments closed]

Monday 26 December, 2016

Psalm 6

1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. 3 My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? 4 Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. 5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave? 6 I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. 7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. 8 Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. 9 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. 10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

Where are you God? How long is this going to go on for? I’ve certainly cried those prayers. David is doing the same. Crying out to God in complete torment –  physically, emotionally he is done. Even though feeling near death he knows only God can come through & restore him. His enemies may be gloating now but David encourages himself that God is there & that He WILL turn things around.

There is such a strong sense by the end of this psalm that God is just about to burst through. Such faith! And yet David is still on his bed … He is still in the valley but he ends on the mountain top ..

This is what praise does, it re-focus’s us on God & not ourselves & our situation. I know I am prone to want to stay at ‘where are you God’ but actually that doesn’t help me. David shows me time & again that I need to move to  … God you are here, you heard my sobbing, you heard my cry & you accept my prayer. God you’re moving ‘suddenly’.

Father I am so slow to learn. You are always listening always moving on my behalf, you are always for me, you are always good. Help me to be quicker to re-focus onto you. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

[comments closed]

Sunday 25 December, 2016

Isiaha 9:6-7

6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor,[a] Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

The description of the Messiah is unambiguous – powerful and inspiring.

The names given suggest a number of things. Divine wisdom and power, ongoing and unceasing fatherly care, the bringing of peace with all of its blessings.

When I think of a Saviour these descriptions cover all my needs. I need a Saviour – one who doesn’t just deal with part of who I am but all that I am and hope to be.

Jesus – the child born is this Saviour.

But even more than this I take confidence from the fact that the kingdom God establishes through the Saviour, Jesus, is one of ever increasing peace and ever increasing dimension. Jesus rule and reign – His kingdom – is not geographical but in our hearts and God’s promise is that it will always increase.

That means His transforming work in me and through me is always at work by His Word and Spirit – wow what a life of joy, of peace, of fruitfulness!!

Father, this Christmas I come to you afresh, committing my life to your Lordship. May I follow you more dearly and nearly day-by-day!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Saturday 24 December, 2016

Luke 2:15-20

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Three interesting reactions.

Angels have just told some shepherds that the Messiah has been born in Bethlehem.

They were out in the fields to see them because it’s their job to never ever leave the sheep. But that’s exactly what they did. The angels didn’t tell them to go, but they are so excited at what God is doing they just have to. When God is doing things, “in the middle of it” is exactly the right place to be.

They don’t just go and find Jesus, they tell everyone and go away praising God.

I can see why the angels chose them.

The reaction of the people they tell is more curious. They are amazed, but that’s all. It seems they leave Jesus where he is in the stable. Perhaps that’s why the angels didn’t choose them.

Mary’s reaction is interesting too. She doesn’t yet understand the significance of what the shepherds have told her. But she treasures it in her heart and thinks on it often.

Father, please show me the things you are doing.

Give me the heart of these shepherds that delights in the things you are doing, longs to be part of them, and remembers to tell others and to praise you in response.

Give me Mary’s heart to never let go of anything you say, especially if it’s hard to understand. And open my mind to understand everything about you.

Written by David Cornell

[comments closed]

Friday 23 December, 2016

Luke 2:8-14

8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

This is the first account of the celebration of the birth of Christ. And I love how God orchestrates it by first having the angel appear to some shepherds. When the sun went down that day, and they started to settle in for the evening watching their masters sheep, they had no idea what was about to unfold, and how their lives would be changed forever.

It was dark, a clear sky, probably a little cool and the grass, damp from the dew. And then enters the glory of God. No wonder they were frightened at first. I would have been too. Such a magnificent and blazing spectacle of the praise of angels then graces the sky. This I would have loved to witness.

What do I take from this personally? God is teaching me humility in how He brings his Son into the earth. We see this by the fact the Jesus was born in a smelly stable and laid in a cow’s food trough, and from this passage, that the angel announced to shepherds, not dignitaries or officials, or church leaders, but lowly shepherds, who were on the night shift, a low graded profession.

I wonder if this were to happen today, who would God send his angels to proclaim this message to?

If this is God’s way, which it is because there are so many similar accounts in the Word, then my attitude needs to be the same.

Father, forgive me when for when I am proud. Change me, create in me a clean heart, and may my view of others be one of humility and mercy, for this is the attitude that you desire of me. Amen

Written by Stephen Fell 

[comments closed]

Thursday 22 December, 2016

Matthew 2:1-12

2 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men[a] from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose,[b] and we have come to worship him.” 3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: 6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities[c] of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’[d]” 7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” 9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

It is commonly believed that the Magi visited the baby Jesus at the same time as the shepherds. When we lived in France, steeped in catholic tradition, we learnt that the “kings” or Magi arrived 12 days after Jesus’ birth, celebrated as the Epiphany in the traditional church.

Who were the Magi? It is a word that designates wise men. They were not Jews, and came from the east looking for the “king of the Jews.” It is clear to me that God had spoken to them and they responded by looking for this new king. Their purpose – to worship him. And when they find him they are …overjoyed!

This part of the Christmas account reminds me that Jesus came to save all who believe in his name. And that at his name every knee will one day bow. Jesus’ death on the cross was for all who believe, the only way to be saved. My response is to believe and give Jesus the honour he deserves. My honour is not expressed in expensive treasures like the Magi, but in making Jesus king in my life – by trusting him, by setting my priorities to a kingdom focus, by sharing the generosity of God’s love with my unsaved friends.

Heavenly father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for all who believe in him, Jew or not. Help me to reflect your generosity this Christmas.

Amen.

Written by Claire Moore

[comments closed]