Thursday 31 May, 2018

Psalm 73

A psalm of Asaph. 1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?” 12 This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. 15 If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! 20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. 21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

I love this Psalm. How many times I have had bitterness of heart.

“It’s not fair!”

“What’s the point?”

“Does God really know what he is doing?”

“C’mon God, where is my reward?”

This bitterness of heart rises as I scan my circumstances and makes me analyse the world around me with Andrew Mellor in mind.

But the moment I step into the Holy of Holies, the presence of God, suddenly I see clearly and bitterness is swept away by worship and thankfulness.

Thank you God for opening the way into your presence with the body and blood of Jesus my Saviour! What a joy and delight it is to see things as they really are, to see your supreme governance and ultimate plan!

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Wednesday 30 May, 2018

Jude 17-25

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

In the last days……are we in the last days?

I wonder at times when I see the state of the world, the divisions, the battles…..HOWEVER Jesus encourages us to build up our own faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

We can only do what we can do…Jesus asks us often to just affect the individual person, not change the world.  By affecting one person at a time, eventually we will change the world.  If we look at the job and how large it is it becomes overwhelming but if we just look at the person near us, next to us, at work or our neighbour – we can do this.

Lord I ask that you would help us to come across those we can help, we can encourage, we can read with, we can strengthen.  Help us to have eyes to see the little things we can do that eventually make a huge impact.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Tuesday 29 May, 2018

Jude 12-16

12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. 14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

Jude continues his theme of defending the faith and warns us about godless people who have slipped in among believers who try to change the grace of God. Who are these people? V16 says they are grumblers, fault finders. They boast about themselves or build up others for their own advantage. Not only do they have nothing to give like a tree without fruit, they also look out for themselves, taking whatever they can for their own benefit.

Their behaviour is the complete opposite to the example that Jesus gave, who came not to be served, but humbled himself to serve us.

As I reflect on this, I am aware that my defenses should not be just to people like this, but also against these attitudes from creeping in to my spirit. If a person came to us who grumbled, they would be easily noticed, but an attitude is not so obvious. It can start small, seemingly harmless, but if unchecked it becomes a blemish.

Jude’s warning then becomes a reminder to check myself and my attitudes because of the harm it causes to me and those around me.

Father I thank you for your grace which is freely given to me. I pray that I don’t take it for granted so that I stay away from grumbling and find fault.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Monday 28 May, 2018

Jude 8-11

8 In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. 9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them. 11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

I was thinking, how do most people argue against God today? Mockery and ridicule would have to be it. No knowledge required … No rational thought needed … No authority beyond their own desire for the whole spiritual world to be belittled, to be less than nothing … So easy, but incredibly dangerous.

So how do we defend the faith that has been entrusted to us (v3) in the face of ridicule, especially when it comes from people within the church?

Jude points to 2 things here:

  • Recognise where it comes from: a lack of understanding, an absence of reason or authority. The lack of rational argument that makes it so hard to argue against is its declaration of intellectual surrender.
  • Recognise where it’s going: they are following in the footsteps of Satan and his angels (v6), Sodom and Gomorrah (v7), Cain, Balaam and Korah (v11) and are headed to the same disastrous consequences they suffered.

Rather than feeling threatened by ridicule (my first response) I should look on such mockers with pity and compassion; reaching out to rescue them from the sad place they are in (v22-3).

Oh Father. You fulfil all my desires but you’re not just a dream. You lift me up, not drag me down. You have all authority. You reveal yourself and your truth to us. You call me into holiness not self-indulgent destruction. You call me into eternal blessing. And you give me a part to play in your call of rescue to those who mock you. You are so good!

Written by David Cornell

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Sunday 27 May, 2018

Jude 1-7

1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. The Sin and Doom of Ungodly People 3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. 5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

V1 NLT I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ.

What a way to be greeted!

A reminder of who I am – “called by God the Father” and a reminder of how God treats me – “He loves me and keeps me safe in the care of Jesus.”

When I think about the writer of this letter – and the importance of this letter to the believers, I know these words are meant to remind the readers of their identity.

When I know who I belong to (I am called by God the Father) and how much He cares for me – I am empowered to live for Him – to rise in faith-filled obedience to serve His cause – and reach out to those around me so that they would also find that in following Jesus they discover who they are and what they are called to!

Lord help me to remember who I am, what You have done for me and what You have called me to.

Fill me to overflow Holy Spirit to reach a lost and hurting world with Your good news – Jesus!

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Saturday 26 May, 2018

James 5:19-20

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Talking to someone about their sin… Now there’s a politically incorrect thing to do!!

Not only is it considered wrong by our contemporary society to make comment about the way someone is living their life but didn’t Jesus teach me not to judge others?

The instruction here is not to be a sideline critic who throws insults or corrections from a distance. James is calling me to ‘walk’ with my brother or sister who is stuck in a sin, not walking on their path but showing them a better path to walk. It is a ministry of presence where I am called to be right there with them as they turn around, I am to be like a shepherd who brings back a lost sheep. I do this because others have saved me from my sinful wanderings.

Far from being a call to judge others, this is a call for me to love another so much that I would get close enough to guide and restore them to a path of life, no matter what sin needs to be confronted.

Lord, help me love like that!

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Friday 25 May, 2018

James 5:13-18

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

This passage reminds us of the power of prayer and the place it has in the life of a believer. Because of the right standing Jesus gives us before God our prayers are both powerful and effective. Elijah is a wonderful example to us in that he had a nature like us yet his prayers were answered and displayed God’s power.

This passage also speaks of the relationship we have with God in that no matter what we are facing in life He’s in on it. We are to respond to God. If we are suffering pray, if we are happy praise, if we are ill pray. Get the elders to pray, pray for one another etc. It’s clear that we are encouraged to pray on all fronts. Why? It has great power and produces wonderful results. Another version says, that prayer avails much. I love this! Prayer is not something we just do out of a sense of duty nor is it a waste of time – no it has power and brings results. Keep praying!

Dear God, thank you for the privilege of prayer. Help us to always come to you in prayer and that because of Jesus, our prayers avail much. Amen.

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Thursday 24 May, 2018

James 5:12

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

The Passion Translation gives this verse as …

“Above all we must be those who never need to verify our speech as truthful by swearing by the heavens or the earth or any other oath. But instead we must be so full of integrity that our “Yes” or “No” is convincing enough and we do not stumble into hypocrisy.”

This translation helps us to understand this instruction is about more than what I say. This verse is about living a life of integrity always – that our yes means yes and no means no in what we do as well as what we say. It’s easy to say “yes I will help with that” and then forget or get distracted. God wants us to think about what we say before we say it and then stick to what we say. When God’s truth is a priority for us we become more thoughtful people, someone who wants to be real and to treat others with love and respect.

Lord thank you that you have provided guidance for us about how you would like us to treat ourselves and those around us – to have integrity always. Help us to become more thoughtful throughout our days, to think more before we speak and to value your truth. Help us to treat those around us with love and respect each day through what we say and how we say it. Amen

Written by Therese Manning

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Wednesday 23 May, 2018

James 5:7-11

7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

As I read verse 7 of this passage, I am reminded of a lemon tree that I planted a few years ago, which has still not produced any fruit. I look in expectation every now and then, hoping to find some buds, but I am constantly needing to be patient and just wait. I somewhat relate to the farmer who patiently waits for the rain and eagerly looks for the valuable harvest to ripen (vs 7). We all face things in our lives that require patience.

Verse 8 clearly says, like a farmer, we are to “…be patient and take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near”. As I pursue the life God has called me to, and seek to bring Him glory in what I do, I need to trust in His timing. Sometimes I want to see the immediate results of my actions, but when it comes to God and the incredible eternity He has promised to His children, I need to wait with patience. God is working all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), and I am reminded to press on through trials and testing, and patiently wait in expectation for Him to fulfil His promise.

Lord, I thank You for Your promises. I thank You, that You’re timing is perfect and that I can trust in You in all things. Please help me to have patience where it’s needed, and continue to pursue a courageous life for Your glory. In Jesus’ name.

Written by Laura Samperi

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Tuesday 22 May, 2018

James 5:1-6

5 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

I once had a prophetic word givien to me. It came in two parts. First, “God wants me to a great leader. Great in heart not head. Nice – I liked that one.  Second, “you have issues with money.” Not so nice.

But he was right – I did and still do (hopefully to a lessor extent) have issues with money. I wonder if this is why Jesus gave such stern warnings about the lure of wealth. James echoes that here in this passage.

So let’s get real – will my finances stand up and condemn me one day? Will this savings plan or this superannuation scheme eat at my flesh like fire? Have I been COMPLETELY honest in ALL my financial dealings? If all my money is taken away will I still worship God and thank Him and praise Him? Is my hope in Him or in my money?

Because the truth is He provides it all. All the money I have – it’s all His. Not just the amount I tithe. If he wants it back it’s perfectly right that He takes it. The real question is, do I have faith that He will absolutely provide for me, even if I have nothing? Do I really believe that if I have nothing, but have Jesus, I have everything?

Dear Jesus, let the prayer of the writer of Proverbs 30:8 be mine as well – “please give me neither poverty nor riches”. Help me get to that place that even if I had nothing, because I have you I have everything. Jesus, be my everything!

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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