Friday 20 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

In this book of Thessalonians, Paul writes about his ministry/work of sharing the gospel of Jesus. But just because Paul was doing God’s work, doesn’t mean it was smooth sailing. He had opposition. He writes, “We wanted to come see you again… but Satan stopped us” (v18).

Paul knew that God had entrusted this work to him (2:4). He also knew that when things didn’t go according to plan, it was because he had an adversary, an enemy – Satan. Yet Paul kept going.

But how? What helped him? Verse 20 tells us: “You are our hope and joy!” Paul focused on those he had ministered to. He remembered how the Thessalonians had received the good news of Jesus and had turned from their idols (1:9). He remembered how their work was now also prompted by faith and love (1:3). Paul focused on how their lives were impacted by Jesus.  

So when you get discouraged and wonder what kind of impact your ministry is having on those around you or you sense that the enemy is interfering, be like Paul, and actively remember those whose lives are now a little bit warmer to Jesus because of your works produced by faith and prompted by love (1:3). Maybe it was a prayer you said for them, a conversation, your kind words, a smile or generosity, etc. Whatever it was, be encouraged knowing that God is still at work through you, even though you may have opposition!

Father God, just as someone told us about the good news of Jesus, help us to keep sharing the good news with others in spite of opposition. May we remember the impact that Your gospel has on the lives of people!  

Written by Gab Martin

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Thursday 19 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 2:13-16

13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.

Throughout his letter to the church at Thessalonica, the apostle Paul continually shows his concern for the well-being of the Christians there, repeatedly praying for them and encouraging them.  In this passage today, we read how thankful Paul is that the believers there have remained strong, even in the face of persecution.

This reminds me of the heart of Jesus towards every one of his children – his steadfast love, concern and intercession on our behalf.

Today I am reminded and encouraged to keep praying for and encouraging those that God has placed in my life. To be thankful for those who have remained strong in their faith, and to keep praying and remain hopeful for those who are not there yet.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Wednesday 18 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

2 You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

There’s two verses that touch my heart – one creates a pang of longing, the other a bright hope. 

V4…”but we (Paul, Silas and Timothy) have been approved by God to be those who preach the gospel”

I want that approval! How do I get that approval? Or is it only for the super-apostles? Is it only the Wigglesworths, the Finney’s or the Phil Pringles of this world?

There is hope…

V12…” urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

God has already called me! He’s called me and you to be effective in sharing this amazing message of God’s love and forgiveness through friendship with Jesus – the gospel. We’ve already got the approval- we just need to step into it.  It starts with how I live my life – the Godly choices I make and ends in His glory. 

Lord God, please help me live a life that’s worthy of you and Your wonderful Gospel and speak as one who is approved.   Amen. 

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Tuesday 17 November, 2020

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. 2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

What an opening and commendation Paul gives to the young Thessalonian believers in this letter. Their faith, love & enduring hope … read persecution for being a Christian … has become the very message of the gospel. Their lives have become the message of Jesus to those around them & the news has spread everywhere.

Paul only spent a short time with these believers before he was run out of town (see Acts 17), yet their belief in Jesus has stood firm accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit changing them.  

May we all live our lives in such a way that we would each get such praise, and not just from our church leaders, but from God Himself, as we live to imitate Jesus.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Monday 16 November, 2020

Psalm 41

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

Our Lord God longs for us to be whole again. Wholeness in body, spirit, mind. This psalm speaks to me of God’s unfailing desire, his yearning for me to be whole so I can stand in his presence, knowing I am loved. “You know me inside and out, you hold me together, you never fail to stand me tall in your presence, so I can look you in the eye.”(MSG v 12)

God is our great healer. Lots of other things are said to help us heal – time, refreshment, inner strength. He is above them all! He restores our bodies (v3), he restores us emotionally (v7, 9 and 10), and spiritually (v11-12). From a feeling of being alone and beaten, like everything is out of control and collapsing around me, as I’m sure the writer David felt during difficult periods in his life, I know he will hold me together (v12 MSG). It’s as if he lifts me up and hugs me close. All I can do is cling to him.

Ps 30 v 2-3 from The Message is such a powerful encouragement – “God my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out.”   Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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Sunday 15 November, 2020

Psalm 40

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

A few things strike me as important truths for me to digest out of this Psalm:

First, throughout the Psalm David (the writer of the Psalm) keeps looking back to God to help him. He persistently insists that God alone can save him, that it is only God who he needs. This reminds me of the attitude little children often have towards their parents – sometimes only mummy or daddy will do.

Second, David knows that God is not so interested in ceremony, ultimately God wants him to trust and obey him. David has this sense that God’s way is the best. Again, there is a childlike trust and realisation that life is simplified if I trust God like a child trusting their parent. Ultimately God wants me to express my love and trust of him as obedience to his will.

Lord, you truly are a perfect Father towards me. May I never forget that I do not ‘grow out’ of dependence on you, your wisdom will be forever worth obeying. Amen

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Saturday 14 November, 2020

Psalm 39

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

We have little control over when we die, and death may come long before we may think it should.  Having a younger brother die suddenly two years ago and my mother die earlier this year this Psalm rings a loud gong in my heart and mind!  The middle part of the psalm asks for our willingness to acknowledge our lack of control in life.  We must face up to our mortality, and it is important that this is not too late so that it surprise us.  God’s life is eternal; our life has a beginning and will have an end.  Compared with God, our life is like something just a few centimetres long compared with something that is kilometres long.  It’s like a breath.  People may look as if they are standing firm and could live forever but suddenly drop dead, like my brother – who was otherwise very healthy except for his heart.

So when was the last time you reviewed your life in the light of your mortality.  Are you fulfilling God’s call and purpose on your life?  Are you living for His glory, receiving His accolades or are you living for yourself.  I have found myself asking and re-asking these questions over this season of my life and they have caused adjustment, reflection, repentance and grace to flow to and through me.

Father – may You give us grace to face our mortality and weigh our lives in the light of Your call on our lives.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Friday 13 November, 2020

Psalm 38

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

It’s quite an impressive list of troubles. Rebuked by God, disciplined in his rage, crushed by his blows, his whole body is sick and his health is broken. Overwhelmed by guilt, and heavy burdens. Exhausted and completely crushed, his strength is failing and going blind. Friends and family keep their distance and his enemies lay traps for him.

Nothing in the first half of this Psalm is really encouraging, except that despite his troubles, he waits for God. Regardless of what is going on in his life, his hope is in God.

So, if I could summarise this Psalm of David, to something short, contempory and easy to remember, it would be this:

When life sucks, trust in God, He will save you.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Thursday 12 November, 2020

Psalm 37

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

Injustice is a real issue. This psalm tells us how to respond to it, and repeatedly tells us to see what God is doing and will do.

God is making the whole creation right again. He’s reconciling all things to himself in Christ, and he’ll bring it all to completion when Christ returns. He’s doing some things to bring justice to the world now, and he will complete it in the future.

A common reaction to injustice is either to worry or get angry. Both are natural but counterproductive reactions. “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.” (v8) Jesus didn’t overcome the darkness by being greater darkness; he overcame it by being the “light of the world” (John 1:4-5). Romans 12:9-21 spells it out: “cling to what is good. … Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

So, how is God turning injustice around? One way involves the “body of Christ” – us. The psalm repeatedly tells me to “trust in the Lord and do good” (v3). In contrast to the wicked who “borrow and do not repay”, “the righteous give generously” (v21). God asks me to not only actively bring justice to the world but to go beyond that in generosity that costs something. “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

But God will act to destroy the wicked. He tells us his preferred way and again it involves us: “All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also.” (2 Co 5:18, GNB).

Lord, thank you for acting decisively to bring justice and compassion to the world. I’m sorry for where I’ve neglected my part, and worse: where I’ve added to injustice. Thank you that you’ve turned me around from being your enemy to become your child and thank you for the part you give me in your continuing reconciliation of all things.

Written by David Cornell

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  1. Claire Moore says:

    I like this idea that God uses me to combat injustice. That’s something challenging to live up to. Thanks David

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Wednesday 11 November, 2020

Psalm 36

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

When I read the Psalms I am always drawn to underline the words that most resonate with me or where I am at this moment.

Verse 1 – tells us that when we are eager to sin the FEAR OF GOD is not before our eyes

Verse 7 – screams to me of His extravagant love for us and how everyone can find a hiding place in HIM.

Verse 9 – in the light of your holiness we receive the light of revelation

The Psalms continue to remind me to remain in HIM.

We cannot be strong enough to withstand the power and temptation of the world without God’s Holy Spirit residing in us.

We cannot continually “fight against” the temptation – both outwardly and subtly tempting us to follow what the world says without being daily in God’s word.

We cannot centre ourselves emotionally without the ability to pray and seek a higher power to bring peace to us.

What comes to mind is the song: Jesus is calling

He continues to wait for us…..to come..

Allow yourself to settle knowing that God Himself is in control of your future and waiting for you and me.

Lord thank you that you are freshly calling us today to come to you.

Help us to rest and find peace and protection in knowing that you are in control and our lives are in your loving hands.

Thank you for continuing to remind us of your great love for us.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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