Tuesday 31 May 2022 – Transformed week4

Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

When I hear the term “peacemaker” the first thing I think of are the UN Blue Helmets. I have a friend whose husband Ben served in the Australian Military and was seconded to the UN to serve in Sudan a few years ago. He shared a story with me about how they had to fly quickly via helicopter to a remote area where they had received reports of military conflict breaking out with a militia group causing problems for farmers.

When they arrived, they were shot at, but the militia group quickly retreated. Ben told me they found a boy who was 10 years old hiding in a farm shed with a massive rifle. He had travelled in with the militia and been left behind. Through a translator the boy told Ben how he had been captured by the militia and then promised all sorts of good things if he joined them and followed orders. The militia had fed him and trained him and made him feel part of their group and he thought he could trust them.

While I can’t imagine myself going into a military conflict zone wearing a blue helmet, chasing militia out of remote areas and rescuing child soldiers, Jesus still calls me to be a peacemaker. The reality is, that I was once like that child soldier. I had been captured by the enemy Satan and promised all sorts of good things if I followed his orders. Its not that I was trying to be evil, but the reality is, we can all get caught up in lies that make us live life in a destructive way. Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker, and God has put all things in his dominion, but when we join in the work of Christ as peacemakers, he makes us co-heirs with him! I believe that that is what this passage is saying.

Lord, thank You that you rescued me and made me an instrument of your peace.

Written by Ps Justin Ware

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew says:

    Justin
    What a great analogy of being drawn into the enemy team.
    The best part is that the child soldier was rescued and allowed a new life.
    Rgds Andrew

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Monday 30 May 2022 – Transformed week 4

Matthew 5:7 (NIV)

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

There is a double blessing for the merciful. The first is the freedom that comes from forgiving those who have hurt us (or have hurt those we love – often the more difficult to forgive). Joyce Meyers says “harbouring unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.” Showing mercy, however, begins a healing flow – the first recipients of which is ourselves. 

But there’s another benefit attached to mercy – that’s a special blessing from God. The Message translation of this verse says…

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”

God is merciful (see Exodus 33:19) and when we show mercy, like He has showed us, we become like Him. And, as if bursting with pride, provision and blessings will flow to us. 

Lord, please show me where I have not been merciful. Help me change that today. 

Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Sunday 29 May 2022 – Transformed week 4

John 15:5 (NIV)

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

“If” is the word that stands out to me.  If you remain in me….

If Jesus had said “as you remain in me” or “when you remain in me” – but He said IF.  We have a choice to remain in HIM or not.

What does remaining look like?  = My thought is FRUIT

What is God’s fruit in our lives look like? 

Galatians 5 v 22-23 lists the fruit of the Spirit (character): “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”

Do you have fruit in your life?   Do you have fruit in your actions, in your words?

If you read this today and realise that some of your personal character fruit has shrivelled:  PRAY.  Make 2022 a year of becoming fruitful in fruits of the Spirit. 

In this passage Jesus was speaking to His disciples – I also think of some other questions to ask ourselves:

IF we don’t get side tracked and invested too much into the things of this world?

IF we don’t get swept away by the accumulation of money and assets?

IF we don’t keep going … despite our troubles and position ourselves to overcome?

IF we don’t persevere…until death?

IF we don’t give up?

Ultimately, we are not to look like the world, we are to look like Christ.

Jesus, help me to look more like you.  Lord, help my impatience, help me to always look through the lens of love and kindness, help me to be faithful and generous.  Help me Lord to respond with gentleness and self-control.  Lord may I be filled with your joy and peace, so others can find YOU in me.  Lord, I want to live for You and Your Kingdom.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Saturday 28 May 2022 – Transformed week 3

Proverbs 19:8 (NCV)

Those who get wisdom do themselves a favor, and those who love learning will succeed.

The desire to get wisdom seems like it should come naturally to people – after all, who wouldn’t want to become wise and succeed in life, as promised here in this verse?

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it first sounds. The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” So where do we get this wisdom from? Our parents or teachers? Our culture or social media?

Proverbs 9:10 tells us, “The Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.” Looking to God and His Word for wisdom is the starting place.

There have been times in my life where I have been disappointed to find out that the fear of the Lord was just the beginning of wisdom. I wanted it to be the end as well! It was humbling to find out that I wasn’t as wise as what I thought I should be by that stage of my life. Facing my imperfections can be so annoying!

That’s where the love of learning comes in.  Gaining wisdom is a lifetime journey, not a destination. My view of wisdom has matured from thinking that I need to know all the answers. Acknowledging that I don’t have all the answers makes me wiser, not weaker. Humility and wisdom go hand in hand.

I now see wisdom like a balancing act between making life choices based on my understanding of what God wants, and then trusting Him to fill in the gaps where I fall short.  Sometimes I get it wrong, but hopefully learning from my mistakes. In other words, wisdom + faith + God’s grace is a winning combination.

Which brings me back to my original point: the gaining of wisdom does not come easy. There are a lot of bumps along the way, but hang in there – if you love learning, you will succeed.

Written by Shelley Witt

2 replies
  1. B says:

    Love the maths formula Shelley – really helps. And I love that all three components involve God. I can’t win in wisdom without Him. Thanks!

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Friday 27 May 2022 – Transformed week 3

James 1:5 (NIV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

I so often speak or act unwisely. I really need God to transform me – to make me wiser. The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10a); “Wisdom is better than gold or silver” (Proverbs 16:16); “wisdom is like honey.” (Proverbs 24:14a) and just “Get wisdom”! (Proverbs 4:5).

James goes on to tell us that “the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17) I can see that wisdom from God is good!

How do I get this amazing wisdom? Ask for it! This verse says that God will give me wisdom generously, without finding fault. So, if I ask him, I can expect to receive his gift of wisdom, in generous proportions, no matter how foolish I may have been in the past. But there’s a second step. And a third. I need to believe that God is going to give it to me, and I need to act on that wisdom. If I just ask for wisdom but then ignore what God gives me, I have gained nothing and I have given nothing.

Lord, I do ask that you will transform me and give me wisdom. Help me, Lord, to trust you and believe that you will make me wiser. Then help me to act – to not ignore what you have given and what you have told me to do.

Written by Megan Cornell

3 replies
  1. Justin Ware says:

    Thanks Megan for your thoughts, they are very helpful!

    I was reflecting this morning on how God gives wisdom. I’ve always thought of this verse as meaning “if I ask God to make me wiser, he will”.

    While I do believe that God grants us personal wisdom, my experience is that this is only part of the story. I have, on rare occasions, had a moment of wise insight that I put down to God giving me wisdom. But most times, wisdom doesn’t arrive as a download from heaven, but comes through
    – living through difficult times with an attitude of teachability and humility
    – reading scripture
    – choosing to spend time with wise people and gleaning from their wisdom
    – meditating and reflecting on God’s perspective in a situation
    – learning to think more slowly and deeply about a situation rather than rushing to action or decision

    So when I ask God to give wisdom, I also need to pay attention to how he will give it and be sure to take up the opportunity to gain the wisdom that God has for me.

    I find this very difficult!

  2. Howard Reed says:

    Excellent Megan. Simple, straightforward and to the point(s)! I agree that James is saying that God will give wisdom to each of us in particular situations (ie difficult situations or complex choices). But, as he also says, we then have to trust and apply that insight or word that he has given us. Otherwise, we are doubting and (James says) doubleminded! It is all about faith – faith to ask and then faith to apply!

  3. Sam S says:

    ‘ask for wisdom’. OK: ‘God give me wisdom…’ You make the insightful point of describing the deliberate nature of accessing wisdom – ‘ask, expect, act’ Also, step zero (0) – ‘recognise’ as in ‘recognise you need wisdom’ then ‘ask, expect, act’ – I feel sometimes I don’t even get past step zero …

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Thursday 26 May 2022 – Transformed week 3

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NIV)

14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

God is spirit.  Those that want to understand and relate to God also need to be spiritual.  No point trying to understand the things of God with the natural mind. It just won’t make sense.  As Christians our spirits come alive to God through Jesus Christ.  Our spirit is then able to communicate with God’s spirit. Jesus knows what God’s spirit is doing and we have Christ’s spirit within us.  The spiritual realm has been opened to us through Jesus – we can get insight into what is going on!

Often I find myself getting frustrated and disappointed that those around me just don’t see the God I know and love. A God who longs to reach out love, heal and forgive. This passage of Scripture reminds me why they just don’t get it!  It clearly says they will see the ways of God as foolish.  It encourages me to pray for revelation and not to carry the criticisms of those that are yet to understand God at a spiritual level.

Dear God, thank you that we have the mind of Christ.  What a privilege it is to know what you are thinking and doing!  We pray that by your grace others will have this same connection through your son, Jesus.  Amen.

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

3 replies
  1. Sam S says:

    I know this frustration! The mind of Christ is not always an easy path to follow, so unsurprising if it doesn’t immediately appeal to friends and family… Happy to be a ‘fool’ though. I’ve found it easier to not be disappointed as I’ve got older – God’s not upset, so I needn’t be either…

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Wednesday 25 May 2022 – Transformed week 3

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

What are the patterns of the world? What sort of thoughts should we stop conforming to? Sometimes in order to change to something, we need to realise what we need to change from

Off the top of my head, some of the patterns and ways of our world include putting yourself first, making sure your opinion is known, accruing wealth, having power & influence, only showing the best parts of your life, seeking pleasure, accomplishing more, being self-made, being busy, displaying success, getting ahead…. I don’t know about you, but just reading this makes me feel exhausted! No wonder so many of us feel anxious, behind and insufficient, no matter how hard we keep striving to jump through these never-ending hoops. 

One thing God has been speaking to me about is pursuing more of His grace instead of pursuing more of anything else. If I truly believe that God’s grace is enough, if He is sufficient, then I should be able to let go of all of the other “I shoulds” constantly running around my head. To be honest, it’s something I need to be reminded of regularly. It is only by God’s grace that we can let go of the continual striving and rest in His peace. 

What are the thoughts that make you feel like you need to conform to what the world is telling you, instead of what God is telling you? This is a question I continue to ponder as I ask God to reveal his ways to me!

God, there are so many ways that the patterns of this world can seep into our everyday lives, changing how we think, speak and act. Thank you that you have provided your grace for us, so that we can surrender all the ‘shoulds’ as we listen to you and follow your leading. Help us to seek you above all else. Amen. 

Written by Madelaine Tarasenko

4 replies
  1. Richard says:

    Love your thoughts Madelaine

    I think many of us strive to know and to do God’s will. After all, as Christian people, the following of God is of great importance as is the sense of pleasing Him. This passage of Scripture reminds me that part of the foundation of knowing God’s will is in conforming to Christ, not to the patterns of this world. In fact I read this verse to mean that if we are primarily conformed to the patterns of this world then it is difficult, nigh on impossible, to understand let along implement God’s will in our lives. “Then” is so important in this verse.

    Transformation is not optional in the Christian life. We are not moralisers, we are followers of Jesus so we need to pay attention to being conformed to Christ that we are truly renewed in our minds from the patterns of the world.

    Father, help me to be renewed in my mind!

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Tuesday 24 May 2022 – Transformed week 3

Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

When Paul wrote these verses to the Philippians he was in jail, and they were finding life difficult as a consequence of their faith. In their world, following Jesus and being friends with Paul made relationships, social status and business much harder – not to mention more blatant forms of persecution. So, Paul’s encouragement to focus on thinking about positive things was not just a light-hearted statement of “Smile! Be happy!”. Rather, it was a formula for transforming their thinking and their outlook from their difficult circumstances to more positive pursuits.

I note the flow of Paul’s thoughts here. A few verses earlier he says “Don’t be anxious – instead present your requests to God” – THEN he says change your thinking to whatever is true, noble, right etc. He is instructing them to stop dwelling on the problem. Give the problem to God then make sure you think about good, positive things.

So how does this apply to me? In so many ways! Sometimes I worry about things. Canon J. John calls that worshipping the problem. Sometimes I grumble to myself. Often, I look down on myself. It’s not easy, but I need to learn to recognise when my thinking has gone astray, submit my thoughts to God then choose to focus on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. It is amazing how effective that is when I allow God to transform me.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the wise, practical instruction in the Bible. Thank you for transforming me as I submit my thinking to you. Please help me to recognise unhelpful thinking and change it to thinking about the positive. Amen

Written by Megan Cornell

5 replies
  1. Sam S says:

    “…when my thinking has gone astray…” – the straying mind! I know what this is like too.

  2. Sue Botta says:

    So good Megan – beautiful.
    Yes I continue to Put on that helmet of salvation.
    I remind myself I have been saved from this world and it’s troubles!! This is not the end!

  3. Andrew says:

    Megan
    Your summary so true. I need to decide to focus on these things. My choice in accordance with God’s will.
    As opposed to what comes naturally to me to look at the negative.
    A battle.
    Andrew

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Monday 23 May 2022 – Transformed week 3

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I recently read what I thought was some good advice about anxiety from Dr. Caroline Leaf. She says “Stop trying to run away from anxiety because it’s futile. Rather, spend that energy learning to listen to what that anxiety is trying to alert you to and deal with that issue so you can find freedom and not make your mind a prison”

The verses that we are focusing on today instruct us not be anxious. There is a difference between having anxious thoughts and being anxious. As indicated in the above quote from Dr. Leaf, it’s impossible to stop anxious thoughts from coming into our heads. But “being” anxious, or living in a state of anxiety, is something that we are warned against in these verses and is also widely agreed upon as an unhealthy way to live.

So how do you listen to anxious thoughts and “deal with the issue and find freedom”, as Dr. Leaf suggests? The answer is found here in these bible verses, but of course, it’s sometimes easier said than done. There are certainly times when I’ve found myself rehashing my anxious thoughts under the guise of prayer. 

But I’ve also found that when I truly bring my burdened heart to God in prayer and then remind myself of His uncanny ability to work things out time and time again, there is that peace that descends to guard my troubled heart. 

How grateful I am to know that there is someone, our Father God, who is so big and so powerful looking after everything on our behalf, both great and small.   “Be still and know that He is God” 

He is God and I am not, so today, once again I leave my burdens in His supremely capable hands. 

Written by Shelley Witt

2 replies
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Sunday 22 May 2022 – Transformed week 3

Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

This is a beautiful reassurance of God’s love, knowing that we can have peace through all of life’s circumstances. For this to happen we need to allow God to transform us from the inside out, by spending time with God and giving him our fears and worries.

Some questions come to mind when I think about applying this. Perhaps they are helpful for you to reflect on too. Do I give daily time to God to transform me and develop peace within me? Do I choose to bring my worries to God, or do I let them grow in my head? 

Lord, thank you that you care about my life and the things I am concerned about. Thank you that you provide peace within me when I stay my mind on you. Please help me to trust you, to bring to you my stressed and worried thoughts. Please transform me into your likeness and develop peace within me.

Amen.

Written by Ps. Andrea Molteno

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