Saturday 30 September, 2017

Titus 1:10-16

10 Many people refuse to obey God. All they do is talk about things that mean nothing. They try to fool others. No one does these things more than the circumcision group. 11 They must be stopped. They are making trouble for entire families. They do this by teaching things they shouldn’t. They do these things to cheat people. 12 One of Crete’s own prophets has a saying. He says, “People from Crete are always liars. They are evil beasts. They don’t want to work. They live only to eat.” 13 This saying is true. So give a strong warning to people who refuse to obey God. Then they will understand the faith correctly. 14 Then they will pay no attention to Jewish stories that aren’t true. They won’t listen to the mere human commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To people who are pure, all things are pure. But to those who have twisted minds and don’t believe, nothing is pure. In fact, their minds and their sense of what is right and wrong are twisted. 16 They claim to know God. But their actions show they don’t know him. They are hated by God. They refuse to obey him. They aren’t fit to do anything good.

Verse 16 is a hard-hitting verse, “They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works.” It is easy to talk about God and even to talk like someone who follows God… but it is our actions that truly reveal where our loyalty lies.

Am I denying God through my works? Am I saying one thing, and doing another? Do I sing of God’s power and might, and then try to do everything in my own strength? Do I talk of God’s grace and mercy, and then exhaust myself trying to be perfect so as to please God? Where are my actions displaying my disbelief?

God, please help me to see where there is a gap between my words and my actions. Help me to identify where I am denying you by my works, and help me to imagine what it could look like to truly know you. Show me how to step into that imagined possibility, such that it becomes my reality. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Friday 29 September, 2017

Titus 1:5-9

5 I left you on the island of Crete. I did this because there were some things that hadn’t been finished. I wanted you to put them in order. I also wanted you to appoint elders in every town. I told you how to do it. 6 An elder must be without blame. He must be faithful to his wife. His children must be believers. They must not give anyone a reason to say that they are wild and don’t obey. 7 A church leader takes care of God’s family. That’s why he must be without blame. He must not look after only his own interests. He must not get angry easily. He must not get drunk. He must not push people around. He must not try to get money by cheating people. 8 Instead, a church leader must welcome people into his home. He must love what is good. He must control his mind and feelings. He must do what is right. He must be holy. He must control the desires of his body. 9 The message as it has been taught can be trusted. He must hold firmly to it. Then he will be able to use true teaching to comfort others and build them up. He will be able to prove that people who oppose it are wrong.

Titus was left to continue the work Paul began in Crete.  Paul encourages Titus to appoint leaders to assist him in ministry and also provides a list of qualities to look for when choosing leaders. It’s important to note that not everyone is fit to lead.

What a comprehensive list of leadership qualities Paul provides Titus! It serves as a good reminder to leaders and also informs others of what is required by those who aspire to lead.  Church leaders are role models who show other believers how to live the Christian life. Like it or not leaders are looked up to!   Leaders set the example for others to follow so that example, as Paul puts it, needs to be blameless or beyond reproach.  A leader also needs to have a thorough understanding of God’s word so they can encourage and correct fellow believers where necessary.   It’s a high calling to lead God’s people and in reading this passage I am reminded, prodded even to pray for those who lead and those who are placed in positions of authority in God’s house.  You can also see why not everyone is suited to leadership, it’s not for everyone and that’s OK.

Dear Lord, thank you for those you have called to be leaders in your house.  Help them lead your people well and bless them.  Amen.

Written by Ainslie Woods

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Thursday 28 September, 2017

Titus 1:1-4

1 I, Paul, am writing this letter. I serve God, and I am an apostle of Jesus Christ. God sent me to help his chosen people believe in Christ more and more. God sent me to help them understand even more the truth that leads to godly living. 2 That belief and understanding lead to the hope of eternal life. Before time began, God promised to give that life. And he does not lie. 3 Now, at just the right time, he has made his promise clear. He did this through the preaching that he trusted me with. God our Savior has commanded all these things. 4 Titus, I am sending you this letter. You are my true son in the faith we share. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace.

Core to Paul’s sense of purpose and mission from God are two key statements here: firstly, “to further the faith” of God’s people, and secondly, to “further their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” As God’s servant, this was Paul’s purpose, this was Paul’s mission in life.

Some of this is probably unique to being an Apostle to the church at large. But really, we’re all called to disciple someone, or more than one. So it applies to me and all of God’s people just as easily.

For me, the charge is to work to further the faith of others and help make the truth of God’s word clear and meaningful to others such that they understand it and live it.

Do I live to further the faith of others, or am I somewhat selfishly or simply out of desperation just furthering my own faith? Do I love to unpack God’s truth in a way that makes it understandable, applicable, and empowering to others?

In the end, Paul lived his life as a model disciple maker. I would do well to heed purpose statements like these in Titus and make them my own for sake of Jesus!

Help me do so, from this day forward Lord, amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Wednesday 27 September, 2017

Ephesians 6:18-24

18 At all times, pray by the power of the Spirit. Pray all kinds of prayers. Be watchful, so that you can pray. Always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me. Pray that whenever I speak, the right words will be given to me. Then I can be bold as I tell the mystery of the good news. 20 Because of the good news, I am being held by chains as the Lord’s messenger. So pray that I will be bold as I preach the good news. That’s what I should do. 21 Tychicus is a dear brother. He is faithful in serving the Lord. He will tell you everything about me. Then you will know how I am and what I am doing. 22 That’s why I am sending him to you. I want you to know how we are. And I want him to encourage you. 23 May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give peace to the brothers and sisters. May they also give the believers love and faith. 24 May grace be given to everyone who loves our Lord Jesus Christ with a love that will never die.

In Verse 18, Paul encourages his readers to always be praying persistently, “at all times and on every occasion…for all believers everywhere”. This comes straight after the well-known passage about putting on the armour of God so that we may stand firm against the strategies of the devil, as “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

God’s Word calls us not just to an agreement in our minds, but an agreement with our lives. When Paul says that we’re fighting a battle we cannot see and that prayer is one of the key weapons, we can’t simply agree with it – we must actually engage in prayer! This is what encourages me afresh today – a reminder to pray for fellow believers and that such prayers make a difference in the battle against the enemy. We know we have victory in Jesus, but part of experiencing that victory as a reality is persistently praying in every circumstance.

Lord, right now we pray that You would strengthen and encourage all believers across the world. We pray for Your grace, wisdom and power to be upon each one of us. We pray against the schemes of the devil and ask that Your mighty hand would be at work to achieve victory with us and for us. We ask that You would freshly call each of us to a renewed passion for prayer at all times and on every occasion. Amen.

Written by Matt Samperi

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Tuesday 26 September, 2017

Ephesians 6:10-17

10 Finally, let the Lord make you strong. Depend on his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor. Then you can remain strong against the devil’s evil plans. 12 Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world. 13 So put on all of God’s armor. Evil days will come. But you will be able to stand up to anything. And after you have done everything you can, you will still be standing. 14 So remain strong in the faith. Put the belt of truth around your waist. Put the armor of godliness on your chest. 15 Wear on your feet what will prepare you to tell the good news of peace. 16 Also, pick up the shield of faith. With it you can put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Put on the helmet of salvation. And take the sword of the Holy Spirit. The sword is God’s word.

A familiar passage to many people. Putting on the armour of God. I love some of the phrases from “The Message” version of this passage including:

“God is strong and wants you strong”

“……well-made weapons of the best materials”

“You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own.”

“Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued…..”

These thoughts are strong reminders that God has provided what we need to be strong and live life well. The armour of God is based on Him giving us truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation. But it’s easy to miss the richness of what God means by those words. As a result, we can miss the power of those weapons. His truth is not just His scripture but what He says about each of us and us believing what He says about us. Do we act as if we are fearfully and wonderfully made each day? Do we believe and act like we believe that we are God’s masterpiece? And do we know those same thoughts are true of the people we run into each day? Do we spend time in prayer bringing our anxious thoughts to God so that His peace can be present in our hearts and minds each day?

Lord, help us to get a better understanding of what You mean when You spoke about the weapons and tools You have provided for us. Help us to get hold of the truths that we have missed – the detailed things that are specific to helping us deal with the things that have happened to us – not just Your big picture of the world. Help us to remember every moment how to engage with You and receive Your peace especially when our stress is maxing out. Lord show us more about putting on Your armour today – something new we haven’t realised before and help us practice it today. Thank You.

Written by Therese Manning

1 (reply)
  1. Justin Ware says:

    Thanks so much Therese for sharing these beautiful and helpful insights! I love the way that Paul uses the analogy of putting on armour to show us thresh God has given us these amazing gifts and tools, but we need to actually put them on for them to be useful

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Monday 25 September, 2017

Ephesians 6:1-9

6 Children, obey your parents as believers in the Lord. Obey them because it’s the right thing to do. 2 Scripture says, “Honor your father and mother.” That is the first commandment that has a promise. 3 “Then things will go well with you. You will live a long time on the earth.” (Deuteronomy 5:16) 4 Fathers, don’t make your children angry. Instead, instruct them and teach them the ways of the Lord as you raise them. 5 Slaves, obey your masters here on earth. Respect them and honor them with a heart that is true. Obey them just as you would obey Christ. 6 Don’t obey them only to please them when they are watching. Do it because you are slaves of Christ. Be sure your heart does what God wants. 7 Serve your masters with all your heart. Work as serving the Lord and not as serving people. 8 You know that the Lord will give each person a reward. He will give to them in keeping with the good they do. It doesn’t matter whether they are a slave or not. 9 Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. When you warn them, don’t be too hard on them. You know that the God who is their Master and yours is in heaven. And he treats everyone the same.

To me these verses speak of integrity & value. Like many people, I have had jobs, relationships & experiences where I have felt undervalued or like no matter how hard I tried, my efforts were just not good enough. I think we have all had feelings like this at some time or another.

What speaks to me most from this passage is that God always sees us. He values our hearts and our actions when we live as He wants us to, as mentioned in verse 6. This is an encouragement but also serves as an instruction. God sees everything, and wants us to live as if we are serving Him in every situation. When our workplace is less than positive, or we can get away with taking the easy road, God sees us. When we have the option to put ourselves before others in our relationships, God sees us. I am grateful that God sees me, that I am of value to Him, regardless of what others think or how well I can perform. However I want to be the sort of person who has the same character & makes the God-honouring choice even if others don’t see or know the difference.

Thank you God that you see us and know us, and that we are inherently valuable to you. Help us God to see every situation as an opportunity to serve you and to put you first, that we would be people not only of value but also of integrity. Amen.

Written by Madelaine Tarasenko

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Sunday 24 September, 2017

Ephesians 5:21-33

21 Follow the lead of one another because of your respect for Christ. 22 Wives, follow the lead of your own husbands as you follow the Lord. 23 The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church. The church is Christ’s body. He is its Savior. 24 The church follows the lead of Christ. In the same way, wives should follow the lead of their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives. Love them just as Christ loved the church. He gave himself up for her. 26 He did it to make her holy. He made her clean by washing her with water and the word. 27 He did it to bring her to himself as a brightly shining church. He wants a church that has no stain or wrinkle or any other flaw. He wants a church that is holy and without blame. 28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives. They should love them as they love their own bodies. Any man who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body. Instead, they feed and care for their body. And this is what Christ does for the church. 30 We are parts of his body. 31 Scripture says, “That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. The two will become one.” (Genesis 2:24) 32 That is a deep mystery. But I’m talking about Christ and the church. 33 A husband also must love his wife. He must love her just as he loves himself. And a wife must respect her husband.

When reading this passage of Scripture, I am captivated by the beauty of the relationship we have with Christ. Verse 21 says to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. That is, because of the awe, wonder, devotion and worship we have towards Him, we are to demonstrate submission before both Him and those around us.

These verses not only describe God’s intent for marital relationships, but also bring to light the nature of our relationship with Him. As the church, we are to submit before Christ in everything (vs 24). As loved ones by Christ, we are made holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s Word (vs 26). It is by His grace that humanity, in all its failures and brokenness, can be united with Christ as one.

God, I thank You that You desire relationship with me. I thank You that despite my weaknesses, You have made a way for me to be united with You, in holiness and purity. Please help me today, to submit before You and others. In Jesus’ name.

Written by Laura Samperi

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Saturday 23 September, 2017

Ephesians 5:15-20

15 So be very careful how you live. Do not live like people who aren’t wise. Live like people who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity. The days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish. Instead, understand what the Lord wants. 18 Don’t fill yourself up with wine. Getting drunk will lead to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. 20 Always give thanks to God the Father for everything. Give thanks to him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“So be very careful how you live. Do not live like people who aren’t wise. Live like people who are wise.”  This verse seems to be the booked end for everything from 4:1ff… where this whole section of how to live “a life worthy of calling to which you have been called”, starts. As such we are to live our lives as a reflection of Jesus – and our walk as his disciples is to become more and more Christ like. So Paul tells us to be careful and wise in how we live so that this reflection is not marred or distorted or that how we live our lives is not called in question in any way.

Paul has spent quite a bit of time describing the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ however I think if I can remember the phrase “be careful how I live” then in the heat of the moment or the day to day of life and my interactions, this will remind me, am I reflecting Jesus?

Lord Jesus I want to reflect you only through my life. Holy Spirit continue to shape me, prompt me to be wise in my actions, choices and lifestyle. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Friday 22 September, 2017

Ephesians 5:3-14

3 There should not be even a hint of sexual sin among you. Don’t do anything impure. And do not always want more and more. These are not the things God’s holy people should do. 4 There must not be any bad language or foolish talk or dirty jokes. They are out of place. Instead, you should give thanks. 5 Here is what you can be sure of. Those who give themselves over to sexual sins are lost. So are people whose lives are impure. The same is true of those who always want more and more. People who do these things might as well worship statues of gods. No one who does them will receive a share in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Don’t let anyone fool you with worthless words. People who say things like that aren’t obeying God. He is angry with them. 7 So don’t go along with people like that. 8 At one time you were in the dark. But now you are in the light because of what the Lord has done. Live like children of the light. 9 The light produces what is completely good, right and true. 10 Find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the acts of darkness. They don’t produce anything good. Show what they are really like. 12 It is shameful even to talk about what people who don’t obey do in secret. 13 But everything the light shines on can be seen. And everything that the light shines on becomes a light. 14 That is why it is said, “Wake up, sleeper. Rise from the dead. Then Christ will shine on you.”

Sex is just one of those things that our Human Nature struggles with. Just talking about it makes me uncomfortable to some degree in almost any setting!

But the bible doesn’t shy away from it. God designed sex and intended for it to be good, and bring about good within the boundaries of a marital relationship.

But God also knows that we are fallen people, living in a fallen world. Even though the words here in Ephesians were written nearly 2000 years ago, they couldn’t be more accurate in their assessment of what society struggles with! Interestingly, the assessment of the cause of the problem in people here is that they are idolaters – that the root cause isn’t their behaviour itself, but they are behaving inappropriately because they are worshipping the wrong thing, and this in turn is causing them to be drawn away from God and towards things that are destructive for them.

Lord, help me to turn to You at all times and in all things, may I worship only You and from my worship, may I be more inclined towards the ways of Christ.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

2 replies
  1. Andrew says:

    Justin
    Susinct and so true. Issues about sex, whether homosexuality, temptation for sex outside of marriage, and other examples are true to our human nature. They are not new, they are discussed here 2000 years ago. And again in the Old Testament 2000 years before that.
    Dear Lord, please help me to apply your old learning to today in a way that is culturally relevant and just as sharp as your word should be.

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Thursday 21 September, 2017

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

25 So each of you must get rid of your lying. Speak the truth to your neighbor. We are all parts of one body. 26 Scripture says, “When you are angry, do not sin.” (Psalm 4:4) Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. 27 Don’t give the devil a chance. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must never steal again. Instead, they must work. They must do something useful with their own hands. Then they will have something to give to people in need. 29 Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen. 30 Do not make God’s Holy Spirit mourn. The Holy Spirit is the proof that you belong to God. And the Spirit is the proof that God will set you completely free. 31 Get rid of all hard feelings, anger and rage. Stop all fighting and lying. Don’t have anything to do with any kind of hatred. 32 Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive one another, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done. 5 1 You are the children that God dearly loves. So follow his example. 2 Lead a life of love, just as Christ did. He loved us. He gave himself up for us. He was a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God.

Kindness is not often considered all that highly – it is often thought of as insipid, weak.  Yet it is central to what Christianity is about. The reason for this is clear at the end of this passage: kindness is one of the purest forms of the imitation of God. How would it be if God were the kind of god who was always gossiping about us, making snide or bitter remarks at us?  What would prayer be like if we thought God had been talking about us behind our backs, putting us down to others?  How would we feel if we thought we couldn’t trust God to tell us the truth, if he was always losing his temper with us?  How do people feel about us if that’s what we’re like?  Wouldn’t it be better in every way to be like God?

When we look at Jesus, we see God and what he’s like, then we see the standard at which we are to aim.  Sometimes Christians, and sometimes whole churches, have allowed themselves to forget that kindness and mutual forgiveness are the very essence of Christian community.  We are called to unity and it is far easier to obey the call if we are working hard at ‘promoting kindness’.  So I find myself checking my motives and my mouth, that “no unwholesome talk come out of my mouth”, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Father help me to imitate you and truly be kind to others!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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