Wednesday 31 May, 2017

Romans 2:1-11

2 If you judge someone else, you have no excuse for it. When you judge another person, you are judging yourself. You do the same things you blame others for doing. 2 We know that when God judges those who do evil things, he judges fairly. 3 Though you are only a human being, you judge others. But you yourself do the same things. So how do you think you will escape when God judges you? 4 Do you disrespect God’s great kindness and favor? Do you disrespect God when he is patient with you? Don’t you realize that God’s kindness is meant to turn you away from your sins? 5 But you are stubborn. In your heart you are not sorry for your sins. You are storing up anger against yourself. The day of God’s anger is coming. Then his way of judging fairly will be shown. 6 God “will pay back each person in keeping with what they have done.” (Psalm 62:12; Proverbs 24:12) 7 God will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good. They want glory, honor, and life that never ends. 8 But there are others who only look out for themselves. They don’t accept the truth. They go astray. God will pour out his great anger on them. 9 There will be trouble and suffering for everyone who does evil. That is meant first for the Jews. It is also meant for the Gentiles. 10 But there will be glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good. That is meant first for the Jews. It is also meant for the Gentiles. 11 God treats everyone the same.

This passage is straight to the point. It gives us a clear eternal perspective on salvation and the freedom and grace we have in Jesus. On the other hand, it is confronting and heart-breaking when we are reminded what will happen to those without faith in Him.

I am particularly drawn to vs 4 which says, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God is with you?” I am so thankful that God is kind, tolerant and patient towards a sinner like myself, and am reminded to be the same towards those around me. Particularly those away from Christ. I don’t want the people I love to experience God’s anger and wrath for refusing to obey Him (vs 7). So in reading these verses I ask myself, “What am I doing right now to bring others closer to Christ?” This is the eternal perspective that I want to hold onto every day. This is what matters most.

God, thank You for saving me. Thank You that because of Jesus, I can turn from my sin and experience Your kindness and patience. Please help me to have an eternal perspective towards those around me and give me courage to do what You call me to. In Jesus’ name.

Written by Laura Samperi

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Tuesday 30 May, 2017

Romans 1:16-32

16 I want to preach it because I’m not ashamed of the good news. It is God’s power to save everyone who believes. It is meant first for the Jews. It is meant also for the Gentiles. 17 The good news shows God’s power to make people right with himself. God’s power to be made right with him is given to the person who has faith. It happens by faith from beginning to end. It is written, “The one who is right with God will live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) 18 God shows his anger from heaven. It is against all the godless and evil things people do. They are so evil that they say no to the truth. 19 The truth about God is plain to them. God has made it plain. 20 Ever since the world was created it has been possible to see the qualities of God that are not seen. I’m talking about his eternal power and about the fact that he is God. Those things can be seen in what he has made. So people have no excuse for what they do. 21 They knew God. But they didn’t honor him as God. They didn’t thank him. Their thinking became worthless. Their foolish hearts became dark. 22 They claimed to be wise. But they made fools of themselves. 23 They would rather have statues of gods than the glorious God who lives forever. Their statues of gods are made to look like people, birds, animals and reptiles. 24 So God let them go. He allowed them to do what their sinful hearts wanted to. He let them commit sexual sins. They made one another’s bodies impure by what they did. 25 They chose a lie instead of the truth about God. They worshiped and served created things. They didn’t worship the Creator. But he is praised forever. Amen. 26 So God let them continue to have their shameful desires. Their women committed sexual acts that were not natural. 27 In the same way, the men turned away from their natural love for women. They burned with sexual desire for each other. Men did shameful things with other men. They suffered in their bodies for all the wrong things they did. 28 They didn’t think it was important to know God. So God let them continue to have evil thoughts. They did things they shouldn’t do. 29 They are full of every kind of sin, evil and ungodliness. They want more than they need. They commit murder. They want what belongs to other people. They fight and cheat. They hate others. They say mean things about other people. 30 They tell lies about them. They hate God. They are rude and proud. They brag. They think of new ways to do evil. They don’t obey their parents. 31 They do not understand. They can’t be trusted. They are not loving and kind. 32 They know that God’s commands are right. They know that those who do evil things should die. But they continue to do those very things. They also approve of others who do them.

The sentence which sticks out most to me from this passage is, “They traded the truth about God for a lie.”  This truth essentially was not to acknowledge God for who he is and includes not worshipping God or giving him thanks.  The consequences of this choice, made intentionally or unwittingly, are dire:

  1. Their minds became dark and confused; and
  2. God abandoned them

Neither of these options are attractive or helpful!  On the flipside, if we give God due respect, acknowledge him for who he is, worship him and give him thanks it stands to reason the opposite will occur.  We will have the mind of Christ; full of light, wisdom and peace.  God will also be near, close by and won’t leave us to our own wayward devices. This Scripture reminds of us of the importance of building worship, thanks and simply acknowledging God for who he is in our daily lives.  Making it a habit and a part of who we are no matter what we face or the season we find ourselves in.

Dear Lord, help us to never take lightly who you are.  Help us to be grateful for all you have done and may your praise always be on our lips.  Amen.

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Monday 29 May, 2017

Romans 1:8-15

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you. People all over the world are talking about your faith. 9 I serve God with my whole heart. I preach the good news about his Son. God knows that I always remember you 10 in my prayers. I pray that now at last it may be God’s plan to open the way for me to visit you. 11 I long to see you. I want to make you strong by giving you a gift from the Holy Spirit. 12 I want us to encourage one another in the faith we share. 13 Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that I planned many times to visit you. But until now I have been kept from coming. My work has produced results among the other Gentiles. In the same way, I want to see results among you. 14 I have a duty both to Greeks and to non-Greeks. I have a duty both to wise people and to foolish people. 15 So I really want to preach the good news also to you who live in Rome.

Interestingly, in vs9 Paul says he serves God ‘with his spirit’. It is one thing for me to serve God practically by ‘doing’ something physically… it is quite another to submit my spirit.

The spirit can refer to the breath, the vital or essential part of a man or the soul. In other words, Paul serves God with his whole self, with the very core of what makes Paul, Paul. Paul withholds no part of himself from God.

Am I serving God with my whole self or am I roping off parts of me and saying God can’t have this? Do I trust God with the parts of me that make me, me? Do I trust that He won’t exploit me or destroy me? Do I trust that the one who made me and calls me His daughter, knows how to partner with me?

God, help me to serve you with all that I am, holding nothing back. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Sunday 28 May, 2017

Romans 1:1-7

1 I, Paul, am writing this letter. I serve Christ Jesus. I have been appointed to be an apostle. God set me apart to tell others his good news. 2 He promised the good news long ago. He announced it through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. 3 The good news is about God’s Son. He was born into the family line of King David. 4 By the Holy Spirit, he was appointed to be the mighty Son of God. God did this by raising him from the dead. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 We received grace because of what Jesus did. He made us apostles to the Gentiles. We must invite all of them to obey God by trusting in Jesus. We do this to bring glory to him. 6 You also are among those Gentiles who are appointed to belong to Jesus Christ. 7 I am sending this letter to all of you in Rome. You are loved by God and appointed to be his holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Verses 2-7 in the Message version are great: “Through Him we received both the generous gift of His life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ!”

What a powerful introduction to Paul’s letter. It speaks to us today just as much as it spoke to the Romans. Through the love of God, we not only receive amazing new life but the “urgent task” of passing it on to others. This is where we find our true identity and purpose – “You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ!”

This passage says two things to me. One: I need to die to my old self and receive His new life, again and again. Two: I need to not just receive this new life, but share it with everyone around me! In doing so, I find my true identity and purpose in this life.

Heavenly Father, thank You that Your plan has always been the redemption and salvation of Your children. Thank You for constantly reaching out to us in love, and that you enable us to share that love with others. Help me this day to receive and share Your love, and in doing so, to be confident of who I am in You.

Written by Matt Samperi

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Saturday 27 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 13:5-13

5 Take a good look at yourselves to see if you are really believers. Test yourselves. Don’t you realize that Christ Jesus is in you? Unless, of course, you fail the test! 6 I hope you will discover that I haven’t failed the test. 7 I pray to God that you won’t do anything wrong. I don’t pray so that people will see that I have passed the test. Instead, I pray this so that you will do what is right, even if it seems I have failed. 8 I can’t do anything to stop the truth. I can only work for the truth. 9 I’m glad when I am weak but you are strong. I pray that there will be no more problems among you. 10 That’s why I write these things before I come to you. Then when I do come, I won’t have to be hard on you when I use my authority. The Lord gave me the authority to build you up. He didn’t give it to me to tear you down. 11 Finally, brothers and sisters, be joyful! Work to make things right with one another. Help one another and agree with one another. Live in peace. And the God who gives love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.

Nobody likes to be corrected and nobody likes having to correct other people but this is what Paul had to do with the Corinthian church.

This passage is the final words of several letters Paul wrote to the Corinthians regarding the unacceptable behaviour of some of its members. Paul loved the Corinthians and found it hard to bring harsh correction in person so he wrote to them beforehand hoping they would change their behaviour before seeing them.

In verse 5 Paul shares an important principle. ‘Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith’. Possibly a simpler way of putting this would be ‘Examine your own behaviour to see if it is in line with what we believe’. The problem is, unless you practice it regularly self‑examination is not easy and sometimes quite painful.

So why is this important?

Because honest self‑examination is the first step to self-correction (repentance), but here is the interesting part. The love of God treats us in the same way as Paul did with the Corinthians, wanting us to sort out our own wrong doings in private long before any form of public correction is needed.

Dear God, today in my own private prayer space I ask you to bring to my awareness one thing I need to change and by your grace give me the power to change it. Amen.

Written by David Newton

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Friday 26 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 13:1-4

13 This will be my third visit to you. Scripture says, “Every matter must be proved by the words of two or three witnesses.” (Deuteronomy 19:15) 2 I already warned you during my second visit. I now say it again while I’m away. When I return, I won’t spare those who sinned earlier. I won’t spare any of the others either. 3 You are asking me to prove that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you. He is powerful among you. 4 It is true that Christ was nailed to the cross because he was weak. But Christ lives by God’s power. In the same way, we share his weakness. But by God’s power we will live with Christ as we serve you.

The Apostle Paul is preparing to visit the Corinthian church for the 3rd time. On his first visit to Corinth, Paul founded the church and stayed for 18 months. His 2nd visit was short and involved problems within the Corinthian church. And now he is preparing to come for a 3rd time and he is not happy with the reports of what he has heard is going on there.

Paul’s opponents, the leaders among the Corinthian Christians seem to think that Paul is too weak and humble for their liking. They want to see more “power” from Paul. So Paul is warning them here that he is going to come back with the power of God to clean up the church, unless they clean it up before he comes.

Listening to reproofs and rebukes is not easy. Human nature and pride makes us want to do things our own way rather than listen to others. But it’s always better to stop and examine yourself and humble yourself to repentance rather than incur wrath and judgement.

Sometimes in our stubbornness and pride, we choose not to listen to the gentle rebuke and end up bringing a much tougher discipline upon ourselves.

I am reminded today to listen to the correction of those around me and not let it get to the stage where people have to get “tough” with me before I will listen.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Thursday 25 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 12:11-21

11 I have made a fool of myself. But you made me do it. You should have praised me. Even though I am nothing, I am in no way less important than the “super-apostles.” 12 While I was with you, I kept on showing you the actions of a true apostle. These actions include signs, wonders and miracles. 13 How were you less important than the other churches? The only difference was that I didn’t cause you any expense. Forgive me for that wrong! 14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time. I won’t cause you any expense. I don’t want what you have. What I really want is you. After all, children shouldn’t have to save up for their parents. Parents should save up for their children. 15 So I will be very happy to spend everything I have for you. I will even spend myself. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 In any case, I haven’t caused you any expense. But I’m so tricky! I have caught you by tricking you! Or so you think! 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I asked Titus to go to you. And I sent our brother with him. Titus didn’t take advantage of you, did he? Didn’t we walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit? 19 All this time, have you been thinking that I’ve been speaking up for myself? No, I’ve been speaking with God as my witness. I’ve been speaking like a believer in Christ. Dear friends, everything I do is to help you become stronger. 20 I’m afraid that when I come I won’t find you as I want you to be. I’m afraid that you won’t find me as you want me to be. I’m afraid there will be arguing, jealousy and fits of anger. I’m afraid each of you will focus only on getting ahead. Then you will tell lies about each other. You will talk about each other. I’m afraid you will be proud and cause trouble. 21 I’m afraid that when I come again my God will put me to shame in front of you. Then I will be sad about many who sinned earlier and have not turned away from it. They have not turned away from uncleanness, sexual sins and wild living. They have done all those things.

My bible heads the passage with “Paul’s concern for the Corinthians.”

It could be headed “A Father’s Heart”.

Paul is at pains to defend himself against accusations of having no authority and taking financial advantage of the Corinthian Christians. Itinerant teachers and philosophers at the time relied on their followers for financial support. Paul however did not want to put a price on the gospel, which is a free message of life!

I love the way this passage reveals Paul’s true heart, the heart of a spiritual father to these new Christians (v14). He wants his “children” to grow stronger in their faith (v19), and this is his motivation, rather than his reputation, status or how much money he can make!

The heart of Paul is also full of care for his “dear friends”. Not a soppy kind of warm caring but a deep concern for them. Under everything Paul’s heart is for relationship – he looks forward to seeing them but fears the state in which he will find their relationships. This passage demonstrates the kind of relationship Paul prays for these Christians to pursue. His relationship with them is characterised by honesty, accountability, and he was prepared for it to be costly (v15).

I reflect on the relationships I have with others in church. God has placed me in community to struggle, repent, grow, to encourage and build up, to be encouraged and built up, together. Commitment to these relationships could be costly, I will be accountable. My “private” life (v20-21) – thoughts, behaviours, priorities – is not just a matter for me, but affects these relationships, so I cant be one thing in private and another in church.

Heavenly Father, I repent of the way I take my church community for granted. Thank you for the church, where you planned me to be. Amen.

Written by Claire Moore

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Wednesday 24 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

12 We can’t gain anything by bragging. But I have to do it anyway. I am going to tell you what I’ve seen. I want to talk about what the Lord has shown me. 2 I know a believer in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven 14 years ago. I don’t know if his body was taken up or not. Only God knows. 3 I don’t know if that man was in his body or out of it. Only God knows. But I do know that 4 he was taken up to paradise. He heard things there that couldn’t be put into words. They were things that no one is allowed to talk about. 5 I will brag about a man like that. But I won’t brag about myself. I will brag only about how weak I am. 6 Suppose I decide to brag. That would not make me a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I don’t brag, so that no one will think more of me than they should. People should judge me by what I do and say. 7 God has shown me amazing and wonderful things. People should not think more of me because of it. So I wouldn’t become proud of myself, I was given a problem. This problem caused pain in my body. It is a messenger from Satan to make me suffer. 8 Three times I begged the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So I am very happy to brag about how weak I am. Then Christ’s power can rest on me. 10 Because of how I suffered for Christ, I’m glad that I am weak. I am glad in hard times. I am glad when people say mean things about me. I am glad when things are difficult. And I am glad when people make me suffer. When I am weak, I am strong.

Many times I have wondered about the thorn in the flesh that Paul writes about. Was it a sin or temptation? Was it a physical or mental ailment?

I was chatting with a friend today about the way we can interpret and apply scripture and through our discussion I realised that it can be helpful sometimes for me if I don’t know completely everything about the original meaning of the scripture, because it can allow me to apply the principles directly to me in my situation rather than thinking it was just for the people who were there when the passage was written.

Lord, thank you that your scripture is a living word, sharper than any two edged sword, able to be applied to my life to mould me and change me into Christ’s likeness.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

1 (reply)
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    I too have always wanted to know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, but thanks for your insight into not always needing to know but applying to my situation.

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Tuesday 23 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 11:16-33

16 I will say it again. Don’t let anyone think I’m a fool. But if you do, put up with me just as you would put up with a fool. Then I can do a little bragging. 17 When I brag about myself like this, I’m not talking the way the Lord would. I’m talking like a fool. 18 Many are bragging the way the people of the world do. So I will brag like that too. 19 You are so wise! You gladly put up with fools! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who makes you a slave or uses you. You put up with those who take advantage of you. You put up with those who claim to be better than you. You put up with those who slap you in the face. 21 I’m ashamed to have to say that I was too weak for that! Whatever anyone else dares to brag about, I also dare to brag about. I’m speaking like a fool! 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Do they belong to the people of Israel? So do I. Are they Abraham’s children? So am I. 23 Are they serving Christ? I am serving him even more. I’m out of my mind to talk like this! I have worked much harder. I have been in prison more often. I have suffered terrible beatings. Again and again I almost died. 24 Five times the Jews gave me 39 strokes with a whip. 25 Three times I was beaten with sticks. Once they tried to kill me by throwing stones at me. Three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 I have had to keep on the move. I have been in danger from rivers. I have been in danger from robbers. I have been in danger from my fellow Jews and in danger from Gentiles. I have been in danger in the city, in the country, and at sea. I have been in danger from people who pretended they were believers. 27 I have worked very hard. Often I have gone without sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty. Often I have gone without food. I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, every day I am concerned about all the churches. It is a very heavy load. 29 If anyone is weak, I feel weak. If anyone is led into sin, I burn on the inside. 30 If I have to brag, I will brag about the things that show how weak I am. 31 I am not lying. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus knows this. May God be praised forever. 32 In Damascus the governor who served under King Aretas had their city guarded. He wanted to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall. So I escaped from the governor.

What a list of sufferings! Paul was repeatedly treated as a vicious criminal: his crime, following and preaching Jesus Christ. How could he endure such suffering and the injustice of being persecuted for telling the truth?!

In vs 31 Paul indicates how he can persist amidst the hardships, ‘The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is praised forever, knows I am not lying.’ He knew the God whom he served was Lord and sovereign over all. He knew the Lord Jesus and His grace and mercy. Paul knew God is ‘forever’ and so he was living in light of eternity. He knew that God saw his life, knew the truth… and that was enough.

Is God’s sovereignty, grace, eternal nature, promise of eternal life, and clear view into my life enough for me to endure hardships? Do I have Paul’s perspective and acknowledge God is still in control, or am I focused on MY suffering?

God, please help me to rest in the knowledge that you know what I’m going through and you are still sovereign. Help me to be patient in the midst of discomfort. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Monday 22 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 11:7-15

7 I preached God’s good news to you free of charge. When I did that, I was putting myself down in order to lift you up. Was this a sin? 8 I received help from other churches so I could serve you. This was almost like robbing them. 9 When I was with you and needed something, I didn’t cause you any expense. The believers who came from Macedonia gave me what I needed. I haven’t caused you any expense at all. And I won’t ever do it. 10 I’m sure that the truth of Christ is in me. And I’m just as sure that nobody in Achaia will keep me from bragging. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? No! God knows I do! 12 And I will keep on doing what I’m doing. That will stop those who claim they have things to brag about. They think they have a chance to be considered equal with us. 13 People like that are false apostles. They are workers who tell lies. They only pretend to be apostles of Christ. 14 That comes as no surprise. Even Satan himself pretends to be an angel of light. 15 So it doesn’t surprise us that Satan’s servants also pretend to be serving God. They will finally get exactly what they deserve.

Paul continues to warn the Corinthian church of the false apostles and the impact they can have within the church or within the lives of undiscerning people.
When I think of my own life and our church, I am not currently exposed to people masquerading as workers for Christ, who have deceitful underlying purposes.  Sure I come across people who I do not share the same views, whose theories may not be the same as mine, but whose theology is.
Paul is warning the Corinthian church because there was an apparent issue. I believe the warning we can take from this passage is that we need to be vigilant and fervent in our study of the Word, and communion with Christ, so that if a false teacher does comes into our midst of life (and I don’t mean just at church) that we recognise this quickly. And this may not be for our own discernment and protection, but for the protection of people who are young in their faith around us and whom we have responsibly for.
Father, I pray for wisdom, awareness, discernment without judgement, as I travel life’s journey with You, and protection for the “younger ” Christians in our church community, that You will protect their faith from the deceit of the enemy.

Written by Steve Fell

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