Monday 4 July 2022

Psalm 81

1 Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! 2 Begin the music, strike the timbrel, play the melodious harp and lyre. 3 Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival; 4 this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob. 5 When God went out against Egypt, he established it as a statute for Joseph. I heard an unknown voice say: 6 “I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. 7 In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. 8 Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel! 9 You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. 10 I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. 11 “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. 13 “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, 14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! 15 Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. 16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

What a Psalm. A real and honest call to worship the Lord with song and in festival. A song that celebrates the liberating work of the Lord on behalf of His people. And yet acknowledges the wilful ignoring of the Lord in spite of such deliverance. Verse 13-14 strikes me as the heart of the Psalm, indeed the heart of God – if only we would listen and follow. Then we would be fed on the finest of wheat, satisfied with honey from the rock.

Oh, how simple, and yet so hard to practice at times. When all that is within me wants to escape. Or work it out myself. Or turn first to human sources of support and help. But who can promise me what the Lord does – quick deliverance; the shaming of adversarial forces; and deeply satisfying feeding.

Though it will take all of me to practice this, I will give myself wholeheartedly to this simple call – to listen for, and follow, my Lord.

Jesus, I listen for your voice. Jesus, I will follow in your ways, and by your counsel. Amen!

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh


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Sunday 3 July 2022

Psalm 80

1 Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth 2 before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken your might; come and save us. 3 Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. 4 How long, LORD God Almighty, will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people? 5 You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have made them drink tears by the bowlful. 6 You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us. 7 Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. 8 You transplanted a vine from Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. 9 You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. 10 The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. 11 Its branches reached as far as the Sea, its shoots as far as the River. 12 Why have you broken down its walls so that all who pass by pick its grapes? 13 Boars from the forest ravage it, and insects from the fields feed on it. 14 Return to us, God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, 15 the root your right hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself. 16 Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at your rebuke your people perish. 17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. 18 Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. 19 Restore us, LORD God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

God’s people turn away from Him. God turns away from them… or so it seems at the time.

The Psalmist laments the sorry situation both he and Israel find themselves in. The text of this Psalm doesn’t give direct answers to its pleading and questions. Some suggestions, but no immediate replies. The reader has to know the bigger picture (eg. God is faithful) to hear the answers.

Note then, the ‘full answer’ to this type of Old Testament lament wasn’t to come until the New Testament with Saviour Jesus. Across the grand scale of time and history God has never turned his back on his beloved people or creation. It may not feel like it, but every hurting question, pleading cry and unfulfilled promise of justice has its answer, its ‘Yes’ and its Amen in Jesus (eg. 2 Cor 1:20).

Reading this Psalm, I am reminded to pray this Psalm. Don’t hold back. If I feel abandoned, rejected, crushed or squashed down I can (and should) cry out honestly to God: ‘Come to rescue me!’ If my family and I are awash, I will say aloud to God in prayer: ‘Come back, we beg you!’ And then, being honest I will also listen to the voice of the Spirit which answers with the complete answer in Jesus: Never abandoned! Never destroyed! Never rejected! Never dead! Never alone!

Thank you, Jesus, that you lead us to cry out with the Psalmists: ‘Revive us!’ May I know deep in my heart that You are truly listening. Spirit of God, help me to me honest towards you in prayer and worship. Strengthen my inner person so I can endure in the dark times. You will shine on us; you will save us. Amen.

Written by Sam Stewart

1 (reply)
  1. Justin Ware says:

    It’s a helpful reflection that God’s own people felt rejected and abandoned by him, but that He remained faithful over time.

    Reply

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Saturday 2 July 2022 – Transformed week 7

Colossians 3:23-24

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.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart” (3:23) is such good advice for a fruitful and enriching life.

But step back a bit and, surprisingly, these are instructions for slaves. This is about working to enrich other people’s lives with all your heart. It’s what a life full of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) looks like. It’s what freedom in Christ looks like as we “serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13). That’s so counter-cultural.

And I should work with all my heart at serving and enriching other people’s lives as though I’m “working for the Lord” (3:23). This is the Jesus who put all his power, and glory and riches as God to one side and became a servant (literally a slave), dying a slave’s death on a cross for me (Philippians 2:5-8). My most fruitful, enriching life is when I’m imitating Jesus, thinking like him, and working with all my heart at what he’s doing in the world.

Jesus, how are you enriching people around me today? Can I be part of what you’re doing? Holy Spirit, I’m going to need lots of help to enrich the lives of people around me with all my heart (there is still so much of my old selfishness in me). Work with me so that together we can be fruitful.

Written by David Cornell

2 replies
  1. Elisabeth James says:

    Thanks so much for your devotional today, David. Very insightful. Thank you to you and your team of contributors to Daily Digest. You are definitely enriching those around you.❤️

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Friday 1 July 2022 – Transformed week 7

James 1:2-3

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

I feel like it’s not an overreach to say that very few of us get excited by trials. Yet this passage tells us that we should consider the difficult things that come our way as pure joy. I may not have always felt happy in the hard seasons of my life, but upon reflection I can see that God has used them to develop and refine my character. 

Specifically, I know that the trials of my life have produced:

– Humility: none of us escape life without experiencing hardship; in many ways trials can reduce our pride as we realise that regardless of who we are or what choices we have made, we are unable to save ourselves, in this life or for eternity. 

– Fellowship: having community, family and friends to hold you up when you are in pain is pivotal. Many of my relationships have been deepened by the gracious support I have received from kind & loving people who were willing to sit in the mess with me.

– Reliance on God: how closely I have learnt to cling to God in times of trouble – there is nowhere else to go that can bring such peace & comfort. 

God, I admit that I do not look or long for hardship and trials. But I thank you that you do not allow these difficult seasons to be wasted, that you use them to refine our character if we let them. Give us soft and faithful hearts, that we may run to you in times of trouble. Amen. 

Written by Madelaine Tarasenko

3 replies
  1. Sam S says:

    “…consider the difficult things that come our way as pure joy…” this is a strong word for today. Well done Mads!

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Thursday 30 June 2022 – Transformed week 7

Proverbs 15:22

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

Along the journey from becoming a child to an adult I would guess that I needed to make plans and decisions in their life about thousands of things; how to get around, how to obtain and keep a job, how to pay rent, what to eat, what car to buy, the list goes on. 

In the 90’s when I became an adult, I couldn’t ask Google, so I relied on asking my friends, parents, teachers, the newspapers and even the yellow pages for information and advice on how to live life, all without the internet – Hard to imagine! Today, I feel that the internet has become a strong contender for our preference for advice and information. With the click of a button, I can learn how to do pretty much anything from fixing a washing machine to how to understand the human brain, even if it’s just theory and not always in practice.

I know I feel better equipped when I have the right advice and information from a variety of sources, including the somewhat archaic tradition of asking people (face-to-face) about their opinions and experience in person! Real people who want you to succeed, and who support you in your endeavours make a difference in every aspect of life, especially making good choices.

Dear God, thank you that in life you placed us where you want us to be and that we are surrounded by people and technology that are designed to help us manage our lives. Thank you that you do not leave us alone and that you bring people to us to guide and help us. Thank you for the gift of community and the ability to share.

Amen

Written by Susannah Ware

3 replies
  1. Sam S says:

    “With the click of a button, I can learn how to do pretty much anything from fixing a washing machine to how to understand the human brain, even…” …made up nonsense that has no basis or means of verification!
    You write really well Susannah. Great observation that the great leap forward with internet culture has broadened society’s access to information but ironically narrowed it’s capacity for wisdom. ‘Seek good counsel’ – great devotion SW!

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  2. Sue Botta says:

    Proverbs 11 v 14. Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counsel lord there is victory.
    Yes wise counsel of those who are wise and walk with us is gold.

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Wednesday 29 June 2022 – Transformed week 7

Proverbs 2:6-7 (NLT)

6 For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.

I am so grateful that as we seek God, God gives us understanding and knowledge. God shields us and brings us success. Why and how do we succeed? The next 2 verses, Proverbs 2: 8-9, enlighten us on this. 

“for he guards the course of the just

    and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.”

God helps us to find every good path and we succeed in living right, fair and just lives. Lives that look like Christs. Lives that we were created for. 

 As I meditate on this passage this morning, I am reminded that God has always spoken and continues to speak today. In the beginning God spoke and there was life (Genesis 1). God declared flourishing. Jesus spoke “it is finished” and our sin was dealt with as he died for us all on the cross (John 19:30). Christ cried freedom. Acts 2 the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in many tongues and proclaimed to those from many nations around them, that God was present with them. Spirit warmly welcomed. The word of God guided God’s people (Duet 4:6, Psalm 1, 2 Tim 3:16) and continues to do so today. Truth is proclaimed. God desires us to succeed in life together. The world is full opinions and noisy with arguments, but God can and does still speak to us, as he always has. God speaks and gives us wisdom today through the Word, the Spirit and one another. So that we will succeed in understanding what is right, just and fair – every good path. 

Thankyou God for being good and just. Thank you that when we seek you, you give us wisdom and understanding. Thank you for transforming us more and more into your likeness.

Amen

Written By Ps. Zoe Stewart

3 replies
  1. Justin Ware says:

    I love the reflections you have shared Zoe, particularly your comment that the world is full of opinions and noisy with arguments, but God speaks and gives wisdom.

    Lord, may I spend more time listening to your voice, receiving your wisdom, and less time in the chatter and argument zone that the world runs on.

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Tuesday 28 June 2022 – Transformed week 7

Proverbs 3:5-6

(5) Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (6) in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

We all have times in life when we ask, ‘am I making the right choices in life?’, or ‘am I doing what God wants me to?’. It is easy to be overwhelmed with choices, distracted by disruptions, and feel unsure of what is ahead. This passage is a reminder that when we walk with God, He will guide us so that we have firm footing and will not stumble off the path God has set before us. 

This passage notes three things to do as we walk with God. Firstly, we should trust God. We should trust with our whole heart that He is who He says He is, and that the promises in His word are true. Secondly, we should recognise that we do not have all the wisdom or resources to get through life ourselves, but instead need to learn how to rely on God. Finally, we should submit ourselves to Christ, asking for His help and wisdom in all situations and making a choice to put his word into action every day.

Lord, thank you that you have good plans for me and that you make my paths straight. Help me to not rely on myself, but to trust you with all I am, to rely on you, and to submit to you every day. Amen.

Written by Ps. Andrea Molteno

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Monday 27 June 2022 – Transformed week 7

Deuteronomy 8:18a

But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth

Ultimately it is God who gives us the ability to make money.  It is not the work of our own mind or hands but God’s provision.  We need to be mindful of this as believers.

The key word here is “remember” It is easy to get swept up in the busyness of day to day work and forget to acknowledge God’s provision.  It can seem like it’s all up to us and we do indeed play a part.  However, regardless of what we do for a living or how hard we work at it, the Lord is the source of our ability to produce wealth.  It all comes from him! For this reason we need to give due honour and respect to the Lord.  We also need to maintain an attitude of gratefulness and thanks for the finances that come into our lives.   It is good to know that the Lord is the original source of wealth.  We can rely on his word.

Dear God, thank you for giving your people the ability to produce wealth.  Help me to remember this and acknowledge your provision. Amen

Written by Ps Ainslie Woods

3 replies
  1. Justin Ware says:

    As we get closer to finishing this transformed series, I’m so thankful that we are all on mission together, discipling one another and being His disciples!

  2. Sam S says:

    ‘Remembering’ – this seems to be a universal problem for all humanity, believers and all alike.

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Sunday 26 June 2022 – Transformed week 7

Proverbs 16:3 (NLT)

Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.

This is an interesting verse for me. The idea that your plans WILL definitely succeed if you commit them to the Lord is one I struggle with. So many people have things happen in their lives which send their plans off in completely unexpected directions. Sometimes that unexpected direction is good, sometimes it is devastating. I think the important things here are your definitions for success and for commit.

If you assume God means success in terms of the world’s definition (i.e. money, power, renown), then you may be disappointed. If you assume God means success on His terms, then, whatever work you do, you will have the opportunity every day to be a blessing to your employer, your customers or clients or patients, your work colleagues and everyone you may encounter.

The concept of committing your actions to the Lord means doing your work in collaboration with the Lord, inviting Him into your day, asking Him to help you design your day and to complete the tasks in the plan with love and grace. If that is how you approach each day, then the goals and plans you have will be those that bring wonder or comfort or blessing or success to those you encounter. Helping other people (and yourself) see God’s love and the wonder of the world He has created through the work you do is definitely a beautiful way to see success.

Lord thank you that you want to collaborate with us each and every day. That you are interested in all aspects of our lives and that you wish us to grow to see the world as you do. Help us to understand what you see as success. Help us to bring each and every day to you so that together we can do amazing things. Thank you that we can be a blessing to every person we encounter if we just let you help us. Amen.

Written by Therese Manning

2 replies
  1. Howard Reed says:

    “The concept of committing your actions to the Lord means doing your work in collaboration with the Lord, inviting Him into your day, asking Him to help you design your day and to complete the tasks in the plan with love and grace.” I couldn’t agree more Therese! I can testify that this is how I sought to do my work in the public service for nearly 30 years. God walked with me and I achieved SO much more than I ever would have on my own!!

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Saturday 25 June 2022 – Transformed week 6

Luke 6:38

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Read in context, this passage is about judgement. Careful what measuring stick you choose to measure others against, for the same will be used for you (a scary prospect!).

But it also applies to giving. Give with open hands and a generous measuring cup, for God gives abundantly to you. This does not mean we give to receive. It just means we can give without fear for our own needs. I cannot think of a time that I have regretted giving. But I vividly remember and regret some moments that I chose not to give. And the root of my decision in those moments was fear. Fear that I wouldn’t have enough money or time to do the things I’d been planning to do. Fear of how my act of generosity might be received. The promise in this passage removes fear. God is pleased with a generous spirit. We are to give from what He has given us. He will take care of the rest.

Lord, please give me a generous spirit. Please give me a spirit that says yes to opportunities to give with joy, thankfulness and faith. Help me give out of the knowledge that you have already given me everything.

Written by Rhiannon Mellor

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