Tuesday 31 January, 2017

Galatians 1:1-5

1 I, Paul, am writing this letter. I am an apostle. People have not sent me. No human authority has sent me. I have been sent by Jesus Christ and by God the Father. God raised Jesus from the dead. 2 All the brothers and sisters who are with me join me in writing. We are sending this letter to you, the members of the churches in Galatia. 3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4 Jesus gave his life for our sins. He set us free from this evil world. That was what our God and Father wanted. 5 Give glory to God for ever and ever. Amen.

I read this short introduction to this letter and am struck by Paul’s certainty. He writes with such clarity and confidence. God has set him on a path, given him a message. God himself has sent him, and because he knows this, he speaks boldly and with passion. Paul speaks as one who has fully grasped God’s love for his people and his desire to see them living in the truth.

May I be like Paul – certain of who sends me, sure of who I am called to reach and confident in the God I serve and His victory over sin. ‘To God be the glory for ever and ever’. Like Paul, may my life declare the glory of God and His salvation; may I be a carrier of His grace and peace wherever I go and with whoever God places in my world. Amen

Written by Rosie Walker

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Monday 30 January, 2017

Psalm 41

1 Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. 2 The Lord protects and preserves them— they are counted among the blessed in the land— he does not give them over to the desire of their foes. 3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness. 4 I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord; heal me, for I have sinned against you.” 5 My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?” 6 When one of them comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it around. 7 All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, 8 “A vile disease has afflicted him; he will never get up from the place where he lies.” 9 Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned[b] against me. 10 But may you have mercy on me, Lord; raise me up, that I may repay them. 11 I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me. 12 Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever. 13 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.

In this Psalm David is struggling with ill health.  He also has people against him, you can feel that sense as he writes – all he has and can see is God in his world.

V 11-12 “Meanwhile I’m sure you’re on my side – no victory shouts yet from the enemy camp!  You know me inside and out, you hold me together, you never fail to stand me tall in your presence so I can look you in the eye.”

How beautiful is our God who brings each of us dignity.  Verse 1: begins with ‘dignify those who are down on their luck’

Only Jesus can bring us dignity, he is so incredible that in the midst of our circumstances He can stand us tall so we can look Him in the eye.

When we allow  Him to stand us tall we can find a different perspective to see things and when we look through His eyes we see things differently.

What a beautiful reminder – when we feel alone, of no value, overlooked, isolated….He can make us stand tall.

He sees us……we just have to see Him afresh today.

Lord, help us today to see you afresh. Despite my circumstances help me to stand tall and look you in the eye. You love me and are for me.  I am so grateful for all you have given me. Change my vision that from your perspective I would see myself and my circumstances differently today.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Sunday 29 January, 2017

Psalm 40

1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. 4 Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.[b] 5 Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. 6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— but my ears you have opened[c]— burnt offerings and sin offerings[d] you did not require. 7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come— it is written about me in the scroll.[e] 8 I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.” 9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know. 10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly. 11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. 12 For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. 13 Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me. 14 May all who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. 15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” be appalled at their own shame. 16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!” 17 But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.

The older I get, the more I appreciate how real and raw the Bible is – full of the highs and lows of real human existence that everyone will experience if they have lived long enough.

Psalm 40, like so many other Psalms gives me the comfort that I can be honest with God about how I am feeling when things are tough. I don’t have to sugar coat things or pretend to be anything I am not – in fact honesty is something that He values highly. “I need your help, God!” is a prayer that He is pleased to hear and answer.

Today, I remember that I don’t have to face life in my own strength, and I am so grateful for my God hears my cries and helps me in my weakness.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Saturday 28 January, 2017

Psalm 39

1 I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.” 2 So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased; 3 my heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 4 “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.[b] 6 “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be. 7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. 8 Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools. 9 I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for you are the one who has done this. 10 Remove your scourge from me; I am overcome by the blow of your hand. 11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin, you consume their wealth like a moth— surely everyone is but a breath. 12 “Hear my prayer, Lord, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping. I dwell with you as a foreigner, a stranger, as all my ancestors were. 13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again before I depart and am no more.”

Not the most uplifting Psalm I have read. This is obviously a season of trouble and lowliness for David.  A depressed state of mind, and he is obviously at war with, and in his soul. The verses that capture me personally though, are vs4-7.

Here David is expressing a desire to understand and comprehend that his life is such a fleeting moment to that of the eternal, powerful existence of God. “Each man’s life is but a breath”. He goes “to and fro”,”bustles about but only in vain”. For me, vs7 is then the crescendo. . . .”my hope is in you”.

It is good for me to stop and ponder the greatness of God, and that in all I try to do and achieve, it is all in vain unless my hope is in God. I know that he commands and desires me to “Be still and know that I am God.” . This requires intention, this requires positioning, this requires stopping. This is the dining table that nourishes my faith and hope in Him.

Father, your greatness no one can truly fathom. My life is but a breath, but a breath that you granted, and may my hope always be planted in You, beyond anything else on this planet. All praise to You. Amen.

Written by Steve Fell

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Friday 27 January, 2017

Psalm 38

1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me. 3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin. 4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. 9 All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. 10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. 11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away. 12 Those who want to kill me set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they scheme and lie. 13 I am like the deaf, who cannot hear, like the mute, who cannot speak; 14 I have become like one who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. 15 Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. 16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.” 17 For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. 18 I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin. 19 Many have become my enemies without cause[b]; those who hate me without reason are numerous. 20 Those who repay my good with evil lodge accusations against me, though I seek only to do what is good. 21 Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. 22 Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.

In the midst of all his trouble and pain, David does a couple of things which are a good example of what to do when things are not going well.

Firstly he confesses his sin and repents.

Instead of turning away from God, he turns to God, he seeks to be near God, to be in his presence, and ask God for help, for God is his saviour.

David is called a man after God’s own heart, and his example is well worth following.

Instead of ignoring my sin or focusing on what other people are doing or saying, I need to examine myself, confess my sin, repent and stay close to God. It is God alone who can help, for he is my saviour.

Father, thank you that you are always near, able to help and willing to forgive. Thank you for your unfailing love to me.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Thursday 26 January, 2017

Psalm 37

1 Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; 2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 3 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. 7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. 8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. 9 For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. 10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. 11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. 12 The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; 13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. 14 The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. 15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken. 16 Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; 17 for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. 18 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever. 19 In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. 20 But the wicked will perish: Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke. 21 The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; 22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be destroyed. 23 The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. 25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. 26 They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.[b] 27 Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. 28 For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed[c]; the offspring of the wicked will perish. 29 The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever. 30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. 31 The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip. 32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, intent on putting them to death; 33 but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked or let them be condemned when brought to trial. 34 Hope in the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it. 35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a luxuriant native tree, 36 but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found. 37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.[d] 38 But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future[e] for the wicked. 39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. 40 The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

Such a beautiful Psalm. Full of encouragement & promise for those who love & trust in the Lord but for those who do not – who are called sinners & evil, there is only certain death – forever. Such a contrast for how to live life now & insight into eternity.

In the Passion translation verse 4 has captured me, “Make God the utmost delight & pleasure of your life, And He will provide for you what you desire the most.”   It’s made me think again about what it is that I desire most? Is it something that would be on God’s heart or is it my own selfish desires at work? This verse speaks to me that when I seek after God’s heart, leaning into the Holy Spirit, His ways become the desire of my heart & so it follows naturally that He will give what I desire most.

Lord, in this new year, re-calibrate my heart to yours – I want You to be the pleasure of my life and my selfish desires to be burnt away. I want the promises of this psalm for my life. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Wednesday 25 January, 2017

Psalm 36

1 I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:[b] There is no fear of God before their eyes. 2 In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. 3 The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good. 4 Even on their beds they plot evil; they commit themselves to a sinful course and do not reject what is wrong. 5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. 7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. 9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. 10 Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart. 11 May the foot of the proud not come against me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. 12 See how the evildoers lie fallen— thrown down, not able to rise!

What a tale of woe.  David defines those who have no faith in God so aptly, and while we may want to believe in the ‘goodness of mankind’ we do well to remember that at the heart of people without Christ there is both the fruit of good and evil.

Yet David doesn’t stay in the dark – he reflects on the light – on God Himself. David speaks of God in soaring terms – love reaching to the heavens; faithfulness to the skies; righteousness to the highest mountains, justice like the great deep.

We do well to always resolve a reflection on the depravity of humankind with a reflection on the magnificence of God and when we are caught with the injustice of people the very practical reflection on God is crucial so that we are not disheartened, destroyed and depressed!

Father, help me to focus on You and so see this world in Your light, not simply the light of the darkness of the world.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Tuesday 24 January, 2017

Psalm 35

1 Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. 2 Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid. 3 Brandish spear and javelin[a] against those who pursue me. Say to me, “I am your salvation.” 4 May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay. 5 May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away; 6 may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them. 7 Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me, 8 may ruin overtake them by surprise— may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin. 9 Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation. 10 My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.” 11 Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. 12 They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved. 13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, 14 I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. 15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge. They slandered me without ceasing. 16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked;[b] they gnashed their teeth at me. 17 How long, Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. 18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you. 19 Do not let those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; do not let those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye. 20 They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land. 21 They sneer at me and say, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we have seen it.” 22 Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord. 23 Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. 24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God; do not let them gloat over me. 25 Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!” or say, “We have swallowed him up.” 26 May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace. 27 May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” 28 My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long.

In this psalm David is distressed and crying out to God to rescue him, but even as he cries out he paints a picture of God’s strength and capacity to save. He calls out to God to contend for him, to fight for him, to put on armour and come to his aid, to brandish spear and javelin… He is most definitely calling out to a strong and mighty God, a God of power, who can easily defeat David’s enemies.

When things rise against me am I reacting in this way, am I crying out to God with faith and expectation? Do I ask, ‘dear Lord please save me I’m drowning,’ and focus on how terrible the situation is? Or do I cry out and ask God to contend for me, fight for me, put on armour and come to my aid? Do I cry out to God and ask him not just to use his power, but actually brandish his spear and javelin… Do I call on Him to wield His incredible power, His more than enough power, His over the top power, and win the victory for me?

That’s how I want to cry out to God. I want to be stirring faith and declaring truth even as I call out to God for help. Amen.

Written by Beth Waugh

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Monday 23 January, 2017

Psalm 34

1 I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. 2 I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 3 Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. 4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. 6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. 8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. 10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. 11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 12 Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, 13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. 14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; 16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. 17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; 20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. 21 Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. 22 The Lord will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.


…I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

The Psalmist here is making a bold claim. But it’s a claim based in his experience; “I had overwhelming fear. I sought the Lord, and…He delivered me from it ALL!”  This is a testimony, not simply a brick-in-space theoretical statement. This is a declaration of lived experience. All my times before in reading this passage, I’ve thought of it as theory to be applied, not testimony to be encouraged by.

Of course one’s face would be radiant if ALL ones fears were gone because of seeking God.

A radiant face, fear-delivered and shame-free, CAN be my experience in life. If the psalmist experienced this, and he refers to himself as one poor, humble man, then surely the inference is – so can anyone who seeks God first, and looks to Him above all others.

I set my face to seeking you first and foremost. Deliver me from all my fears as I set you first above all else in my daily life. Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Sunday 22 January, 2017

Psalm 33

1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. 2 Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. 3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. 4 For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. 5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. 6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars[a]; he puts the deep into storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. 10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. 13 From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; 14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth— 15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. 16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. 18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

I love that pattern in many of the psalms: praise God … for he is/does …

This is not empty flattery: praise just because he likes to hear it. Praise is the logical consequence of recognising who he is and what he does. It’s simply being honest about who he is, part of being in an honest relationship (and paired with being honest about who I am and what I do).

This psalm focuses on praising him because of two aspects of his sovereignty:

  • He only had to speak to create and the universe was formed and organised (even nothingness obeys him and becomes something – that’s astounding) (v6-9). Science sheds interesting light on many details of His creation, but I should never compromise on the truth that it is God who created all this; no accident or random chance.
  • He frustrates the plans of those who oppose him (v10-11) and rescues those who fear him (v18-19). Though we often act as though it were otherwise, we are subject to him. He is not subject to our desires.

Because he has absolute authority, I can absolutely trust what he says and does (v4-5), and that is worthy of my praise.

I love verse 15. He made my heart, so he understands me better than I understand myself. He speaks to my real, deep needs and desires, even those I don’t recognise. He sees through my pretence, so there is no point being anything but honest with him.

Father, I praise your absolute sovereignty that means I can trust everything you say and do. I praise your intimate knowledge (and love) of me that makes being under your sovereignty the most wonderful safe place to be.

Written by David Cornell

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