Monday 31 May, 2021

Ephesians 2:1-10

2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

This passage talks a lot about being saved.

When I need saving, my mind is pretty focussed on what I need saving from. But it would probably be wise to ask about the rest of it. Being saved from the frying pan by being put in the fire may not be such a good deal. So what am I saved for?

I’m saved from death for a new life. That’s brilliant. I’m saved from living with the ruler of evil in his world to being lifted up to the heavenly kingdom to be seated with Christ. That’s even more brilliant. I’m saved from selfish pointlessness to having a purpose for which God explicitly made me. That sends a tingle down my spine.

The verbs that go with these things are all in the past tense. Though I’m still waiting to see all these things revealed, they are already done. It doesn’t depend on me (as though I could make it happen). It depends entirely on what he’s already done.

I just need to have faith and receive the gift God already has for me. I just need to have faith and step into the place that he has already prepared. Let’s go!

So come on God, what are the things you’ve prepared for me to do? Jesus said he did what he saw his father doing (John 5:19-21). So if I follow Jesus’ pattern, I need to walk with God to be in the right place. I need to watch what he’s doing and listen to what he’s saying to know what he’s doing. And do what he’s doing with him. It’s so like God that it’s all about the relationship with him.

Lord, where are you taking me today? I can’t wait to see what we do together.

Written by David Cornell

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Sunday 30 May, 2021

Ephesians 1:15-23

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

What is my hope? What do I count as my inheritance? Where does my strength come from?

All these questions spring to mind from Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesus. His prayer focuses my attention on the fundamentals of faith – hope, our future with God, and the power of God for us.

“Hope” –  this word conveys so many things. Our hope of glory (Colossians 1 v 27, a living hope (1 Peter 1 v 3), a transforming hope (1 John 3 v 2-3). As Ps Phil Pringle has written “Hope is a person, Jesus Christ.” Through Jesus we can hope for a glorious life forever with God. We can have hope for our lives now, when things are tough or seem hopeless because Jesus is our hope, our assurance of God’s love and plan for each of us – that plan is to be transformed to be more like Christ.

Why does Paul pray for them to know the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people? I think he wants them to have a future or heavenly perspective of life. The Message version captures it well “I ask…that you …grasp the immensity of the glorious way of life he has for his followers.” “The glorious way of life” is living with the Lord, not as if he doesn’t exist. We grow in relationship with him as we trust him every day, and we also look forward to a glorious never ending life with God, which is our inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – 1 Peter 1 v 4.

As Paul prays this for the believers, I feel the challenge is for us to be praying this for each other. That we grow deeper into the living hope and that we live in the glorious way of life he has designed for us.

Dear Lord Jesus, open the eyes of my heart so my perspective remains with you in the centre of everything.  Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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Friday 28 May, 2021

Philemon 17-25

17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. 22 And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

In this passage, Paul is asking Philemon to be radically counter-cultural. How counter-cultural am I willing to be?

In Paul’s world slavery was a given. Today we see slavery as abhorrent – and so it is. But it was normal then. It was the way society got things done. It was also normal for society to be very stratified. Status was vital to them, and everyone was constantly striving to climb higher up the ranks.

So, it was really radical for Paul to ask Philemon, a wealthy, high-status slave owner, to accept back his runaway slave and to welcome him as though he were welcoming Paul himself! This letter would have been read aloud to the whole church so Philemon can’t wriggle out of Paul’s request. Philemon is really in pickle. Is he game to refuse a personal request from the apostle Paul? If he does what Paul wants, will the rest of his household and the church and society look down on him, diminishing his authority and status and honour in the world?

Paul’s point is clear. Christians should not have any ranking or preference in their midst. In Galatians 3:28 Paul says there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We are all brothers and sisters no matter who we are, where we live or what we have done in the past.

And so, I ask myself: am I willing to do something like Philemon was asked to do? Something so counter-cultural, so apparently disgraceful in others’ eyes? As a Christian, I am called to honour others above myself, to welcome everyone and to stand up for the poor and the oppressed.

 Lord Jesus, you sacrificed yourself for us. Help me to be brave enough to follow your lead.

Written by Megan Cornell

1 (reply)
  1. Claire Moore says:

    Great insights thank you. We are all equal because of Jesus’ death in our place. The way we live then should reflect that. A challenge!

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Thursday 27 May, 2021

Philemon 8-16

8 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,[a] who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favour you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

Paul is pulling out the big guns in this passage, calling in a favour from his friend Philemon. But the benefit is not entirely for Paul himself. It’s also for a character named Onesimus, for unity in the church, and ultimately to bring Glory to God. Onesimus, Philemon’s slave, ran away from his master. He then meets Paul and becomes a Christian and turns his life around. Here’s Paul’s request of Philemon…

Take Onesimus back, treat him as a fellow brother in Jesus, give him his freedom so he can come back and minister with Paul (implied). While we don’t know for sure how Philemon responded to Paul’s request, there is mention of an Onesimus 60 years later by Ignatius of Antioch, bishop of Ephesus. If it is the same man, it’s possible that Philemon did exactly what Paul asked and more and this former slave returned to Paul and served Jesus and the church for the rest of his life.

How amazing is the good news about Jesus! It is a message of love and forgiveness and grace that turns slaves into brothers, enemies into friends, and hopeless situations into the most beautiful triumphs. Only Jesus can do that!

Jesus, for this situation that I’m facing today, I know you are enough. I know you can turn anything around. So, I’m trusting you today.   Amen.

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Wednesday 26 May, 2021

Philemon 1-7

1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2 also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home: 3 Grace and peace to you[a] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

Paul is about to make a request of Philemon but first he takes the time to affirm him. Paul lets Philemon know how encouraged he is to hear about Philemon’s faith in Jesus and how he refreshes the hearts of other believers.

But ever the discipler, Paul takes the opportunity to encourage Philemon to go a little deeper in his faith. Paul directs Philemon to be active in sharing his faith and testimony with others, i.e. to those beyond the walls of the church that meets in his home. Paul’s pattern seems to be “go tell others” first and then you will gain a “full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (v6).

This pattern seems opposite to how I naturally want to approach evangelism and discipleship. I would rather find out everything I need to know, study it, practice it, and study some more. Then I will tell others about Jesus. But here Paul is clearly telling us to just get out there and do it. Get active. Just go. That as I share my experience of Jesus, I become more certain of who He is and what He has done for me. Simply, I grow as I do it.

Lord, help me to take the brave steps of faith in telling others about You, even before I have all the answers, and as I do, I will experience You deepening my knowledge and experience of You. 

Written by Gab Martin

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Tuesday 25 May, 2021

Colossians 4:10-18

10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. 17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” 18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

The Apostle Paul concludes his letter to the church with a series of personal greetings. Two names stand out to me – Mark and Barnabas.  Much earlier, in the book of Acts, we read of a falling out that Paul had with both Barnabas and Mark.

It’s encouraging to see that God’s grace had obviously worked on Paul to accept those who had previously offended him. Although reconciliation is not always possible in every situation, it is in the heart of God to restore broken relationships.

Today, I am encouraged to reflect on strained relationships. Every one of us is imperfect, and inevitably can cause pain to others by our actions. Is there someone that I have offended, who I could reach out to with humility? Is there someone who has offended me that I should be willing to extend forgiveness to?

Thank you God, for your great love and forgiveness for us even when we offend you. May we walk in this same spirit towards others.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Monday 24 May, 2021

Colossians 4:7-18

7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant[a] in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our[b] circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here. 10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews[c] among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. 17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” 18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

As the apostle Paul concludes his short and powerful letter to the church in Colossae, he turns his broad advice and guidance into a list of personal connections. 

What strikes me about this passage is the connections that Paul has. He literally lists a network of connections and understands the relationship people have with one another. 

In our current age of social media, our networked connections can seem to flow and develop naturally, but Paul has clearly invested time into building his connections and he uses his influence to encourage and build those in his network even further. He sends just the right people at just the right time with a personal message from him, even though he was in chains in Rome. This was cutting edge use of technology for his day! 

Lord may I use social networks, technologies and influence today to bring support and edification to those who I am connected with, however loosely! Help me to build my connections with a sense of intention and purpose. 

Written by Ps Justin Ware 

1 (reply)
  1. Florence says:

    Hallelujah, i hope all of us be like them, love other and encourage, in Jesus name, amen.
    God bless all of you, amen

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Sunday 23 May, 2021

Colossians 4:2-6

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Paul is beginning to wind up his letter with prayer requests of the Colossians. He began this letter letting them know that he prays for them & now is requesting the same from them. A full circle of relationship.

As amazing as Paul was in preaching & sharing the gospel he still needed and wanted prayer support from other believers. This is really where we come into community as followers of Jesus, praying for others, being involved in each other’s lives, both those we know and are close to and those we only hear of that need God’s power & intervention in their circumstances. We all need faithful people in our lives, as Paul did, in relationship with the Holy Spirit, to be praying for us.

Who can you/I be praying for today .. who is praying for you/me?

Lord, help us all to be more committee, faithful and supportive in prayer, being watchful and thankful for the community of believers you have placed us amongst.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Saturday 22 May, 2021

Colossians 3:12-4:1

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. 4 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Christ’s death and resurrection fundamentally change our relationship with the world and each other.

We “clothe” ourselves in that new life as a conscious decision. It starts with changing my heart towards others – putting on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. That leads to changing how I act towards people – bearing with them and forgiving – especially those who are hard to bear or need forgiveness for harming or offending me. Then I cover it all with love. This brings unity both between God’s people and between my heart and actions in a life of integrity. Because I can’t do this on my own, I need to let Christ work in my life – letting his peace rule my heart and his message dwell richly in me. Because I need lots of help, we need to encourage each other and sometimes teach and correct. This is fullness of life lived with Christ in expectation of good things worthy of thanks to God.

Paul shows how this plays out in the relationships that are closest at hand – the family. In the first century, the head of the family literally had absolute power of life and death over his slaves and children and effectively over his wife. Christ fundamentally changes those relationships. Reversing things, Paul honours the person in the weak position by addressing them first, asking them to willingly give what would usually be taken. The father is told to replace power with love, encouragement and care. This was radical in the first century. Thankfully fathers no longer have either that power or slaves. But there are still far too many relationships of all sorts dominated by manipulation or abuse of power.

Jesus, I want to step into new life in you. Transform my heart and mind to act out your love. I want to work with you to bring your grace and love to all relationships around me.

Written by David Cornell

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