Tuesday 28 February, 2017

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

17 Brothers and sisters, we were separated from you for a short time. Apart from you, we were like children without parents. We were no longer with you in person. But we kept you in our thoughts. We really wanted to see you. So we tried very hard to do so. 18 We wanted to come to you. Again and again I, Paul, wanted to come. But Satan blocked our way. 19 What is our hope? What is our joy? When our Lord Jesus returns, what is the crown we will delight in? Isn’t it you? 20 Yes, you are our glory and our joy.

How do I recognise the hideous work of Satan in my circumstances? How do I discern spiritual attack over other negative influences like depression, fatigue, illness or the consequences of my own bad choices?

Maybe Paul gives us a clue in verse 19. The Church in Thessalonica was Paul’s joy and hope. But Paul was prevented from seeing the people that brought him joy and hope. His joy was “stolen” from him and he diagnosed the perpetrator as Satan himself – the one who steals and kills and destroys (John 10:10).

I need to be more aware of Satan’s schemes. When I feel my joy getting stolen from me, that’s when I must resist the Devil in the name of Jesus and watch him flee. (James 4:7)

Dear Jesus, help me remember that You are the ultimate source of hope and joy. My “strong tower” – I’ll run to You and be safe.

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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Monday 27 February, 2017

1 Thessalonians 2:13-16

13 We never stop thanking God for the way you received his word. You heard it from us. But you didn’t accept it as a human word. You accepted it for what it really is. It is God’s word. It is really at work in you who believe. 14 Brothers and sisters, you became like the members of God’s churches in Judea. They are believers in Christ Jesus, just as you are. Your own people made you suffer. You went through the same things the church members in Judea suffered from the Jews. 15 The Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets also forced us to leave. They do not please God. They are enemies of everyone. 16 They try to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles. These Jews don’t want the Gentiles to be saved. In this way, these Jews always increase their sins to the limit. God’s anger has come on them at last.

This passage reminds us of the suffering and persecution that the early believers had to face as followers of Christ. Like Paul, we too can thank God that these believers persevered and formed the church which we now benefit from. What a difference their lives made for the future of the world through the establishment of the church.

We may never know the difference that our lives will make to those who come after us. As we follow God’s word we are paving the way for future generations of believers!

It’s good to step back from day to day life and take a look at the big picture of God’s plan and how we all play a part of it. It helps us not to lose heart and give up. We are part of something great that God is doing through His church!

Thank you, God for the many believers who have gone before us – some paying the ultimate cost with their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Thanks that we have the privilege of partnering with You to bring Your word to the whole world.

Written by Shelley Witt

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  1. David Newton says:

    I have found this to be a timely word for me. I am so glad I read the Daily Digest today.

    Thanks Shelley!

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Sunday 26 February, 2017

1 Thessalonians 2:9-12

9 Brothers and sisters, I am sure you remember how hard we worked. We labored night and day while we preached to you God’s good news. We didn’t want to cause you any expense. 10 You are witnesses of how we lived among you believers. God is also a witness that we were holy and godly and without blame. 11 You know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. 12 We gave you hope and strength. We comforted you. We really wanted you to live in a way that is worthy of God. He chooses you to enter his glorious kingdom.

I can imagine Paul and his companions with the young Thessalonian church, teaching the new believers how to follow God, and passionately declaring how great and how good God is. What a beautiful picture Paul paints of him taking on the role of a father encouraging his children, to show how passionate he was about the people of Thessalonica living for God. I imagine a father teaching a young child how to ride a bike, urging the child to push the pedals, and encouraging them that they can do it. Paul is imitating God’s way.

God does not condemn me for failing to follow Him perfectly. God does not give up on me, even when I’m frustrated with myself. God is present: full of love, encouraging me, comforting me, and urging me to live a life worthy of His greatness. God has called me to partner in His greatness; to be a part of the amazing story He is telling; a story of sacrifice, hope, and redemption.

Lord, thank you for encouraging me, thank you for calling me to such a worthy aim, to live not for myself or my agenda, but to live for you, and partner with you to see the impossible come about. Amen.

Written by Beth Waugh

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Saturday 25 February, 2017

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

2 Brothers and sisters, you know that our visit to you produced results. 2 You know what happened earlier in the city of Philippi. We suffered, and people treated us very badly there. But God gave us the boldness to tell you his good news. We preached to you even when people strongly opposed us. 3 The appeal we make is based on truth. It comes from a pure heart. We are not trying to trick you. 4 In fact, it is just the opposite. God has approved us to preach. He has trusted us with the good news. We aren’t trying to please people. We want to please God. He tests our hearts. 5 As you know, we never praised you if we didn’t mean it. We didn’t put on a mask to cover up any sinful desire. God is our witness that this is true. 6 We were not expecting people to praise us. We were not looking for praise from you or anyone else. Yet as Christ’s apostles, we could have used our authority over you. 7 Instead, we were like young children when we were with you. As a mother feeds and cares for her little children, 8 we cared for you. We loved you so much. So we were happy to share with you God’s good news. We were also happy to share our lives with you.

Paul appeals to the Thessalonians making plain that the manner of his appeal and preaching is not manipulative nor from a motive other than true love for them and for God.

Sometimes we baulk, sometimes we duck, sometimes we weave yet we should without fear tell the Gospel and from a clear motive and pure heart!

Pleasing people is one of the biggest traps we can get ourselves into. Time and again I have fallen into this trap – its mouth is wide and it seems almost bottomless!!

Paul makes plain we need to avoid this trap of the enemy.

Are you falling into the trap of people pleasing? Or are you truly loving people? You’ll know by whether you are free to tell the truth to them or not.

Father help us to keep our motives pure!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Saturday 25 March, 2017

1 Corinthians 3:1-4

3 Brothers and sisters, I couldn’t speak to you as people who live by the Holy Spirit. I had to speak to you as people who were still following the ways of the world. You aren’t growing as Christ wants you to. You are still like babies. 2 The words I spoke to you were like milk, not like solid food. You weren’t ready for solid food yet. And you still aren’t ready for it. 3 You are still following the ways of the world. Some of you are jealous. Some of you argue. So aren’t you following the ways of the world? Aren’t you acting like ordinary human beings? 4 One of you says, “I follow Paul.” Another says, “I follow Apollos.” Aren’t you acting like ordinary human beings?
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Friday 24 February, 2017

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

1 I, Paul, am writing this letter. Silas and Timothy join me in writing. We are sending this letter to you, the members of the church in Thessalonica. You belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be given to you. 2 We always thank God for all of you. We keep on praying for you. 3 We remember you when we pray to our God and Father. Your work is produced by your faith. Your service is the result of your love. Your strength to continue comes from your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 Brothers and sisters, you are loved by God. We know that he has chosen you. 5 Our good news didn’t come to you only in words. It came with power. It came with the Holy Spirit’s help. He gave us complete faith in what we were preaching. You know how we lived among you for your good. 6 We and the Lord were your examples. You followed us. You welcomed our message even when you were suffering terribly. You welcomed it with the joy the Holy Spirit gives. 7 So you became a model to all the believers in the lands of Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you. That was true not only in Macedonia and Achaia. Your faith in God has also become known everywhere. So we don’t have to say anything about it. 9 The believers themselves report the kind of welcome you gave us. They tell about how you turned away from statues of gods. And you turned to serve the living and true God. 10 They tell about how you are waiting for his Son to come from heaven. God raised him from the dead. He is Jesus. He saves us from God’s anger, and his anger is sure to come.

Do you feel quite ordinary? Not gifted or knowledgeable and does anyone notice your faith? Why are the Thessalonians loved by God?

No-one becomes a chosen one of God against their will.  God chose them, and made the gospel come to them not just with words, but with power, the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. Their faith transformed lives, cultures and destinies.

What does it mean to be loved by God? The world’s perspective of being loved is to have a romantic relationship, being treated special, or having people adore you.  People strive to earn love by changing themselves.

However, I have been loved because the gospel came to me. I don’t have to earn love or be loveable.  God chose me even when I was a sinner.  God allowed the gospel to come to me even though I was not interested in Him.  No matter what the world says, I am loved by God.  I’ve experienced the power of God’s words speaking to me and convicting me of my sins.

I need to continue to battle my false views of what it means to be loved by affirming that God loves me, and that he did whatever it took to allow the gospel to come to me.

As a young girl I didn’t understand the passages I heard, they were just words. Every encounter I had was significant.

People planted, watered, weeded, and tended the seed(s) that led me to ‘receive the word’. As an adult, the gospel message came alive as I heard it preached, and I knew I must get right with God.

Lord, thank you for the power of Your Holy Spirit, that when I encounter obstacles and doubts, I receive Your word with conviction. Thank You for Your understanding and the transforming power of the gospel. Amen.

Written by Cath Croft

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Thursday 23 February, 2017

Galatians 6:11-18

11 Look at the big letters I’m using as I write to you with my own hand! 12 Some people are worried about how things look on the outside. They are trying to force you to be circumcised. They do it for only one reason. They don’t want to suffer by being connected with the cross of Christ. 13 Even those who are circumcised don’t obey the law. But they want you to be circumcised. Then they can brag about what has been done to your body. 14 I never want to brag about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through that cross the ways of the world have been crucified as far as I am concerned. And I have been crucified as far as the ways of the world are concerned. 15 Circumcision and uncircumcision don’t mean anything. What really counts is that the new creation has come. 16 May peace and mercy be given to all who follow this rule. May peace and mercy be given to the Israel that belongs to God. 17 From now on, let no one cause trouble for me. My body has marks that show I belong to Jesus. 18 Brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

It seems that one reason the Judaisers were compelling the Galatians to be circumcised was to impress others, so that they (the Judaisers) wouldn’t be persecuted. In Australia today we rarely suffer physical persecution. Yet we are persecuted emotionally by being laughed at or criticised for similar petty reasons.

Just as the Galatians were admonished by Paul to not give in to circumcision, we should not give in to following the world just to avoid persecution. For example, giving into peer pressure and allowing our kids to watch the MA rated movie when they’re only 12, or downloading a movie, speeding or avoiding tax to stop others ridiculing us. This is avoiding standing up for what we believe in order to avoid persecution.

The other reason the Galatians were being compelled was so that the Judaisers could boast that they had made these men comply with the law. Paul points out that we should only boast in Christ – in what he has done, not what we have done.

What counts is not what others think of us. What counts is that we are a new creation. Let us stand tall in this fact and be righteous and honour God and be prepared to suffer if that is the result.

Written by Megan Cornell

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Wednesday 22 February, 2017

Galatians 6:6-10

6 But those who are taught the word should share all good things with their teacher. 7 Don’t be fooled. You can’t outsmart God. A man gathers a crop from what he plants. 8 Some people plant to please their desires controlled by sin. From these desires they will harvest death. Others plant to please the Holy Spirit. From the Spirit they will harvest eternal life. 9 Let us not become tired of doing good. At the right time we will gather a crop if we don’t give up. 10 So when we can do good to everyone, let us do it. Let’s try even harder to do good to the family of believers.

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)

Jesus told a story about a farmer whose enemies sowed tares amongst his wheat (Matt 13:24-43). The seeds look the same. At the right time, the seeds germinate and grow. Then you can easily tell the difference. One will be a fruitful harvest to be gathered and the other will be burned.

In the same way, “good deeds” done to please our sinful nature, such as generosity in the hope of a reward (greed) or kindness in the hope of a good reputation (pride), superficially look like a life motivated by love for God and a desire to please Him. But God wants our hearts.

It can be easy to fall into the wrong motives. I need to actively focus my heart on Him every day.

When a farmer sows seed it looks like he has thrown his valuable seed away, until the right season comes and the seeds grow. It can be very discouraging when the things we have sown into the lives of others don’t seem to bless as we had hoped.

Paul encourages me to sow first to please the Spirit and to be patient as he brings good things from it at the right time. And he encourages me to bless those who bless me (such as teachers) with every good thing: perhaps with material things, but certainly with encouragement and with whatever spiritual gifts God gives me.

Father, how I love you and I long to please you. Please take my attempts at blessings for others and bring them to fruit. And please keep me from slipping into doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

Written by David Cornell

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Tuesday 21 February, 2017

Galatians 6:1-5

6 Brothers and sisters, what if someone is caught in a sin? Then you who live by the Spirit should correct that person. Do it in a gentle way. But be careful. You could be tempted too. 2 Carry one another’s heavy loads. If you do, you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are somebody when they are nobody, they are fooling themselves. 4 Each person should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves. They won’t be comparing themselves to someone else. 5 Each person should carry their own load.

At the end of chapter 5 Paul has just described in detail the fruit of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life. At the beginning of chapter 6 Paul reminds me that I am to look at myself to see if that fruit indeed exists in my own life. Like a chemist, I am to study the material carefully to assess its composition. Although it is easier for me to compare myself to others I must look for the fruit described in chapter 5 – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Seeing these fruit in my life allows my heart to be confident that I indeed belong to Jesus.

My God, if I see fruit missing and sin in their place, restore me gently. May my family in Christ direct me again in the way of truth and show me your boundless grace. Your grace is the Rock on which I find refuge from the raging waters of sin. Your Grace is the platform from which I am restored. God allow me to restore others with that same grace and love. Amen

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Monday 20 February, 2017

Galatians 5:22-26

22 But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy and peace. It is being patient, kind and good. It is being faithful 23 and gentle and having control of oneself. There is no law against things of that kind. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed their sinful desires to his cross. They don’t want these things anymore. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become proud. Let us not make each other angry. Let us not want what belongs to others.

I have the image of myself as a fruit tree, and these variously named fruits as ripe and ready to be plucked from me. I am encouraged to have such a relationship with God, that I know the Spirit of God in me has a ready supply of all these fruits for everyday and every encounter with those around me.

I imagine every exchange today as a fruit exchange. I walk into the situation, ready with the fruits for any occasion. For God’s Spirit makes me ready. And then I follow His leading, discerning the situation and supplying the right fruit accordingly. I have a student who is very discouraged – I bring the fruits of love, faith, and kindness to him and his situation. I have a teacher who is a bit rough around the edges – I bring the fruits of gentleness, patience, and love to her situation.

This passage helps me see that the Spirit of God in me gives me fruit that readies me for every situation I face in the day. And I love that this fruit is the kind against which there is no law. There are no laws of man or God that legislate against bringing and good measure of love, faith, and kindness to a person or situation. There are no restrictions in my workplace that can stop the fruit of gentleness, patience and love being imparted into a life or situation.

God, I am very encouraged that your Gospel is not bound, precisely because the fruit of your Spirit is what this world needs and would not in its right mind ever legislate against. And I am also encouraged to see myself as “armed and dangerous” – multiple fruits at the ready for any given situation this day.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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