Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
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
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
As a planner, I spend a fair amount of time looking at my diary and to-do list, working out where the different commitments and responsibilities fit. I look to the weeks ahead, pencilling in plans or locking them in. This passage reminds me that I don’t even know for sure if I’ll be here tomorrow!
What a call to live in the present and to trust God with the future. These verses challenge me to stop rushing, slow down, be in the moment and ask God to show me how to live right now. What does it look like right now to love God and love people?
The writer describes us as a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. I find it strangely freeing, in the grand scheme of things I’m a wisp…. and the universe is not up to me!
God, please help me to live this out today. Amen.
Written by Bethany Waugh
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Following on from verses 1-10, we are called to submit ourselves to God in another area of our lives together, that is, in judging others. God who gave us the law of love (Leviticus 19v18) is the only rightful judge (v12).
So when I feel wronged or disappointed, let down by a brother or sister, I have no right to “bad mouth” them as The Message version puts it (v11). In my situation of hurt, I want to blame, to point the finger at someone who I believe is the cause. How could they treat me this way?
But blame, judging, is the enemy of relationship. I am so sure in my bad opinion of my brother or sister in Christ, I cut off any chance to build them up. When I am so busy judging, holding grudges, the law of love is not ruling my life (v11). The ripples go out wider though, impacting the church, and its purpose to spread the message of the Gospel, because instead of being God’s instrument of change in this world, the church is fractured by broken relationships. This is what James warns against.
Jesus knew how hard we would find it, being his church on earth, and he emphasised we must love our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). Of course the neighbour also includes our enemy.
I guess when you think about it, blaming and bad mouthing are so much easier than forgiving and blessing. Forgiving and blessing are not prized by society today, which is all competition and getting it over someone else. Through the transforming power of Jesus the church is called to be different. When we follow the law of love, the Gospel of love shines through to bless and restore.
Dear Lord God, you gave us the law to guide us and keep our hearts safe. You are the only rightful judge. Use me to lift up and bless those you have placed me with to serve and show your love. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
I was having a conversation the other day about the power of prayer and they mentioned that world record triple jumper Jonathan Edwards would pray for God to help him to succeed up until the point where he broke the world record. After this point, he apparently struggled with the advantage that God had given him and found himself struggling with prayer and asking God for what he wanted.
While the scripture in James 4:2-3 is framed negatively, it gives me great confidence that when I pray and ask God for something, if my relationship with God is strong and my motive is pure, I can ask with confidence and know that God is pleased with my asking. Whether I am asking for peace, success, blessing or talent, it is God’s desire for me to be able to express my desires to him without fearing whether I really deserve the answers to my prayers.
Lord, I lay my desires before you and pray that you would bless the readers of this blog!
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
When my kids were young, there were lots of things that they said and did that I did not approve of and wanted to put a stop to. But when my goal was simply to make the annoying behaviour stop, my very wise husband would often remind me that our real end goal was to train our children’s hearts, not simply to control their behaviour.
These Bible verses in the book of James speak to this concept – that simply trying to control our own tongues is not the real end goal, and essentially not even possible unless we allow our hearts to be trained by God.
Matthew 12:34 tells us that “… the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” So if we find that unhelpful, self-centred, unloving words are coming out of our mouths, we’d best examine our hearts to uncover our deeper motivations rather than merely try to control our tongues.
Asking the Holy Spirit to reveal your deepest, darkest motivations of the heart is a scary and brave process for most of us, but also a very rewarding one.
I am learning to allow God the to opportunity to show me His love and acceptance in the middle of my faults and failings is powerful and liberating.
I am more deeply selfish and sinful than I ever dared imagine and more deeply loved by God than I ever dared hope for. Thank you, Jesus!
Written by Shelley Witt
3 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
This passage in James 3 is about the tongue and the power of it.
Years ago opinions and movements were “advertised” by word of mouth or printed (newspaper). Today everyone has a blog or a website and with this comes many opinions. It can at times be confusing and swaying as to what is right and what is truth.
My encouragement to us all in this media world is to uphold truth not opinions.
James encourages us to be measured in what we say…for me this is also in what I post.
I have created a filter that says “what would Jesus say? What would Jesus do?”
I ask myself – does my “voice” bring life or death? Does it help the Cause of Christ or hinder it?
Father I pray for wisdom in all we say, write, post and proclaim. May you be Lord and May your Spirit guide us in all we ‘say’.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
So if my actions, what I do, is evidence of my Faith, then what will those around me understand about what I believe based on how I behaved yesterday??? Was I an accurate poster child for Jesus? Would an independent analysis show I am the sold out Bible believing faith filled person, I hope I am? What would the video playback look like? Am I trusting God with my problems and needs? Am I patient in situations that frustrate me? Are my actions generous? Am I kind, even if no one else is watching? When I make a mistake do I own it? It’s a tough question, but bottom line – God was there with me all day yesterday and saw everything I did and knows every thought I have. So what can I do today to make sure that my actions reflect and embody my faith?
Heavenly Father I thank you that each day you are with me guiding me. Lord show me those things in my heart that need to be corrected. Help me to be more like Jesus. Father I pray that all that I say and do today will bring glory to your name. In the name of Jesus. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Jeremiah 17:5-8 has a great picture of the person who puts their trust in God: a tree with deep roots. Because the roots are deep it produces green leaves and fruit in season. He contrasts it to those who put their trust in themselves: a stunted desert shrub. Desert shrubs have shallow roots.
James has lots of warnings about shallowness and self-tests to work out if that is me. Do I talk about faith that I’ve been redeemed by Jesus, but act like I’m still a slave to sin? Do I say I love my brother or sister and wish them good things when they’re in difficulty, but do nothing to help them? Sounds like words only – stunted leaves with shallow roots.
It may not have been the particular problem at the church James was writing to, but he could equally have warned me about shallow actions: going through the motions of good deeds in the arrogant belief I can buy what Jesus gives me.
Shallowness is so common now. We even have specialised professions dedicated to manipulating image of everything from political spin through fashions that somehow never make me look like the Photoshopped model, to the photographic tricks to make me think the next hamburger I buy really will be succulent and fresh like the photo.
But it seems nothing is new. God warned Samuel “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
How should I respond?
Have deep roots. If my life doesn’t yet produce the right fruit (Galatians 5:16-23), keep growing my roots deeper into God.
The best way to seem like a man of God is to be one. Not easy, but Jesus did the hard work: he set me free from sin and makes me a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:16-8), different from the old broken one. And I have complete faith that is what he has done.
Then I can talk with confidence about the faith I have in Jesus.
Written by David Cornell
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Mercy triumphs over judgment says James. This is a powerful statement that we do well to dwell on. All too often we are quick to judgement, we make up our minds, form and express our opinions all too quickly and readily. So often we have not investigated well, we have heard one side of the story which is about a third of the truth! So Mercy triumphs over judgement – it allows for the space to be better informed, to wait a little longer for the Spirit to work in bringing a person to repentance or to show their folly in such a manner that it is clearly evident. Mercy reminds us that we are in the same boat – forgiven! This is not to say that judgements are not needed at times – but may our lives be filled with mercy so that our judgements require deep tears from tender hearts!
When next we are tempted to make a criticism, a judgement call may we hold fire until we are better informed.
Father may mercy so consume my heart that I hear your voice consistently!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
2 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
This passage is about showing inappropriate favouritism in church. I love this passage because it has a direct application for us all every Sunday.
On initial reflection this challenge seems simple enough, don’t show favouritism to a wealthy person over a poor person but on further reflection there are more things to consider.
First, it should be said that favouring a person is not necessarily wrong, what this passage is saying is favouring a wealthy person over a poor person for personal gain is wrong.
Next, unless we take the time to think about this it is very easy to show favouritism without realising it. Take some time and challenge yourself as to how impartial you are, I know I will.
Finally, and probably the most important thing to think about is, the spirit of this challenge of impartiality applies to many things other than wealth. We favour people who are rich in beauty, athleticism, youth, intelligence, social status, and achievement. Wow, put that way I know I have a lot to think about.
So here is the challenge, think about how you might be living out this passage of scripture in your life. As far as Sunday services go the best advice is that of our senior pastor, take the time to speak to somebody you have never met before.
Lord, open my eyes regarding how I am showing inappropriate favouritism and give me a heart to bless those not as well off as I am. Amen!
Written by David Newton
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
In the paragraph above, James has been talking about someone (a believer) who hears the word but doesn’t act on it and so in these 2 verses he’s paralleling someone who talks the talk of a believer but doesn’t act out his beliefs. James gives us examples of 2 groups of people who were the most vulnerable of their time, or today we could read those who are powerless, defenseless, poor, weak, wounded, those on the edges, at the bottom, on the outside …
How do I today, not just talk ‘hot air’, but put into practice my Christian beliefs?
Lord Jesus your word is so convicting, your heart for humanity so overwhelming. Holy Spirit keep my heart soft, my ears open and my tongue humbled that in my serving you I will not neglect to serve those who are most on your heart. Amen
Written by Suzie Hodgson
22 Don’t just listen to the word. You fool yourselves if you do that. You must do what it says. 23 Suppose someone listens to the word but doesn’t do what it says. Then they are like a person who looks at their face in a mirror. 24 After looking at themselves, they leave. And right away they forget what they look like. 25 But suppose someone takes a good look at the perfect law that gives freedom. And they keep looking at it. Suppose they don’t forget what they’ve heard, but they do what the law says. Then this person will be blessed in what they do.
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. NLT
Two interesting perspectives on God’s word from the NLT and NIRV.
Listening to the word is like looking in a mirror. It doesn’t just reveal who God is, it reveals who I am: Who I am now and who God made me to be.
Seeing who God made me to be (much more like Jesus) is incredibly cool. Only a complete fool wouldn’t want to be that.
But inevitably who I am now falls short of that person who’s like Jesus. But together, God and I are working on that. Jesus did his bit. The Holy Spirit is doing his bit. And I need to do my bit too.
When I stand in front of the mirror and see that my hair isn’t combed, I almost always remember to do the next bit. And I’ve learnt to keep watching while I comb it or it might not end up looking the way it should. Who I am in Christ is so much more important than my hair.
The second is that obedience to the word isn’t hard work, its freedom – freedom to become that child of God he made me to be.
I imagine myself as a prisoner. I’ve been set free. The gaol door is open. I’d be a complete fool to stay in that prison rather than step into my freedom.
I’m so grateful that God is patient with me in my foolishness. But it’s time to leave that foolishness behind and step into the sonship he set me free for.
Written by David Cornell
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
James points out three things that get us into trouble. We don’t listen, we speak when we don’t have the right words to say and we get angry, and controlled by our emotions. How often has one of those been the cause of our trouble? Honestly, more than I want to admit.
And by our own efforts we can not master ourselves, we struggle to change, even temporarily.
But James tells us how to have victory over this. It is the Word of God, planted in our lives that will save us.
No matter how small the seed, it is the roots of a tree that breaks roads, footpaths and buildings. In the same way, though the Word may seem small to begin, when it is allowed to grow, encouraged to grow, that the pattern of sin is broken.
As the Word takes root in my life more and more, I listen more, speak the right words and the Holy Spirit is in control.
Father, thank you for sending your the Word. Let it take root in my heart as I yield to it more each day.
Written by Andrew Martin
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
God has birthed or brought us into relationship with Him, through His word. How important is His word of truth! It literally gives us Christian existence – gives us faith, gives us life, gives us strength and understanding to believe and behold who He is!
The greatest gift God has given is His word. His word, that speaks of His faithful, and unchanging nature. His constancy, through all sorts of different seasons of human history. I, for one, am thankful He is faithful, for how else would I grow to know and trust Him if He changed so often I could not trust His nature or character. This passage calls me to reverence for, love for, and investment in His word. Quite literally, through His word, I come alive, I build faith, I get more aware of Him and His magnificence.
Lord, show me more of Your magnificence through Your word, and help me to live in light of what you show me! Amen.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.
This passage of scripture is very instructive to me, it tells me three things.
First, temptation is not sin. I should not feel guilty about being tempted. However, temptation is not from God and this brings me to the second point.
Temptation is not a place I want to hang out. It is like being in a room full of toxic gas. It may not kill me immediately, but with every passing second, it gets harder to escape and I get closer death. It is the same when we are being assailed with temptation, this is the time to run, to call out to the Lord and even call out to a friend – I need to do whatever it takes to breathe the fresh air of God’s promises again.
Finally, temptation always leads to sin if we allow ourselves to continue being tempted. And sin always leads to death if we do not repent of it. Alternatively, God promises a ‘crown of life’ for trusting in Him and fleeing temptation.
Lord, on paper the decision is easy, I always want life over death. But in the heat of the moment, with temptation raging, I have given way to sin many times before. Thank you for wiping out my sinners debt and thank you that I don’t have to sin, thank you that I don’t need to breathe the toxic air of temptation. Thank you for setting me free! Help me make the choices of a man set free from temptation to enjoy the life you offer. Amen
Written by Andrew Mellor
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
This passage reminds me that material wealth is temporary. God is not particularly interested in how much money I have in my wallet or bank account. My eternal Father takes a much longer view of things, and Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13 that what endures is faith, hope and love.
Any wealth I acquire will not endure, but if I invest my time, energy and treasure in a life of faith, hope and love, I can be sure of a lasting impact.
God, please help me to be aware of what I am pursuing, and help me to choose your way.
Help me to walk by faith: to be sure of what I hope for and certain of what I cannot see, my faith in you and your promises.
Help me to live with hope: to desire your intervention and await it with expectancy.
Help me to choose a life of love: to desire the greatest good for you, others and myself. Amen
Written by Bethany Waugh
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. 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. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 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. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
We have a family tree on our study door at home. It traces our family back to a First Fleet sailor, showing the generations descending down to me.
There is another birth date it doesn’t show – my birth in Christ. In 1982 Jesus revealed himself to me, and at that moment I knew that God had chosen me (v18) How? Through the “word of truth”, the gospel of love.
This rebirth was like a realignment of my spirit. Now my spirit was alive to the Holy Spirit who is God. It was like the compass had been set to true North and the track ahead previously hidden was now clear. I was reborn into God’s family. It is such a privilege to be a child of God, to have a Father who loves me, who smiles to hear my praises, rejoices in my service, strengthens me when I am weak and teaches me when I try to do it on my own. Simply, he cares for me.
My spirit gets misdirected sometimes still, anxious, overwhelmed by messages and priorities of people not in this family. Paul anticipated this when he wrote that we should “be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” My loving Father who chose me to be reborn has given me his Holy Spirit to clothe me in my new self, inside and out.
Heavenly Father, I am so happy to be born your child. My heart is yours. You know me as a parent knows a child. I pray that your powerful word of truth will bring my friends into your family too. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
2 Peter 3:14-18
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
As Peter concludes his phenomenal letter, full of majesty and grace, full of pleading and exhortation, full of explanation and reasoning, it is intriguing how he decides to finish.
Here are a couple of things that stood out to me as I read this:
He starts his conclusion by emphasising how important it is to actually live out the Christian life.
He refers to the writings of Paul the apostle, firstly to note that Paul and Peter agree on things (even if Paul is hard to understand!) and secondly to acknowledge that Peter understood the writings of Paul to be “scripture” in line with the scripture of the Old Testament!
Finally he highlights the importance of determining the truth about Christ – that there are false teachings out there that can cause problems for our faith.
First living, then believing and then understanding and discerning.
Thank you Lord that your word is so beautiful and so helpful to be able to apply to my life. May I always strive to not only read it, but also do what it says in fullness.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
2 Peter 3:10-13
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
Here Peter uses the phrase ‘The day of the Lord’, which is a term used in multiple Old Testament prophesies referring to a day of God’s judgement.
We are told some things about this day:
1. It will come unexpectedly
2. It will involve the disintegration of the heavens and earth
3. All the works of the earth will be subject to the scrutiny of God’s judgement
In light of the coming disintegration of the material world and the judgement of our work, how should I be living?
If the material universe is to be destroyed, surely I would be foolish to place all my stock in material things. If we count our worth by material possessions, then when it is dissolved, we will have nothing.
Instead I should place my greatest efforts toward spiritual things – towards building God’s Kingdom which is eternal, not temporal. Jesus said, “When you pray, say, Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
I am challenged to consider where am I focusing too much on things that will pass away, rather on the eternal things that will not burn up in the fire?
Lord God, help me to daily keep my focus on praying and working towards Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on the earth.
Written by Shelley Witt
2 Peter 3:1-9
3 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. 3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
These verses speak of the certainty of the coming of Christ which can be argued from Scripture, from history, from eternity’s view, and fourthly, from the character of God. This is wonderful news – the day of the Lord will come!
Do you know why there’s the delay? It’s not because the Lord is slow about His promise. It’s not because He’s not keeping His promise. It’s not because He’s unfaithful to His Word. It’s not because He doesn’t tell the truth, it’s not because He’s impotent, it’s not because He’s indifferent, it’s not because He’s just busy doing something else.
Verse 9 tells us the reason He’s delaying, that is, His patience for people to repent. “The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
God is using His time to express His patience for His grace that people might be saved. When the last person is saved, He will return and gather His church. God is long suffering. God is merciful and doesn’t want anyone to perish.
Let us be thankful that God is patient but let us also be impatient for all to know God’s grace through Christ, because we can be certain of the coming of Christ.
Father, thank You for reminding us our hope – of the return of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We long for that day. We pray for those we know to turn to Christ so they may also be joined to Him in eternal fellowship. Amen
Written by Meredith O’Neill
2 Peter 2:10-22
10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. 12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish. 13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. 17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”
There is a lot to this passage and it certainly doesn’t have all the nice ‘loved up’ version of Christianity in it. It describes people that have gone and said one thing but their actions are another, that these are a people enslaved. I think it is easy to skim these kinds of verses. They sometimes don’t seem to hit the mark because the people mentioned are ‘real bad’ people or sometimes, it is a little convicting.
But after reading this over, I can’t stop thinking about the question – am I enslaved to sin? Am I consistently tripping up on something? We’re not all perfect, so it is inevitable to make mistakes and sin. But I’ve realised that if I am declaring I am saved then what should result is a life of obedience to God. I, of course, will have a life that involves sin, but I need to be careful not to make sin a lifestyle causing me to be enslaved.
Are you enslaved with something? Does there need to be a lifestyle change to ensure obedience to God?
Lord, you know my heart, soul and life. Make me new and show me what needs to be cleaned up. Amen.
Written by Sophie Botta
2 Peter 2:1:10a
2 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.
This passage contrasts God as both Judge and Saviour. His Judgement is sure whether for the entire world or for every individual. Yet in every example we see God is merciful and “knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.”
Like Lot who was “tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard” we sometimes grieve about what we see in our world and sometimes the church and we cry to God for justice. But as believers we no longer fear his judgement. Now we celebrate the mercy of God having passed from death to life. It’s still challenging though considering God’s nature includes both Judgement and Mercy, particularly considering those that don’t yet know Him.
But have we personalised that he knows how to rescue us? Sometime ago before minor surgery, I became certain that I was not going to come out of hospital. Laying on the theatre trolley I was challenged that if I was going to meet Jesus, did I really trust that He held my salvation surely in his hand. But laying there I had to trust him. I prayed and handed over everything to him no matter what the outcome. Obviously I did come out. It took me nearly 24hrs to recover from the aesthetic, I found out after the operation that there had been a record keeping error and I had been given too much anaesthetic. This was a potentially deadly mistake but “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials”.
I pray no matter what our circumstances we would grow in the revelation that Jesus knows how to rescue us and that nothing could every steal us from his hand.
Written by Shaun O’Neill
2 Peter 1:16-21
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
For something a little different, I decided to paraphrase these verses.
“Sorry all, I know I might sound like a broken record but I am going to tell you again, and this will not be the last time I tell you either… because this is a true story, I witnessed it myself, as did James and John. And it was mind blowing. It changed my whole perspective. In that moment when I saw Jesus in his radiant glory and I heard God honour him with words of such intimacy and honour “This is my Son who I love and with whom I am delighted” it was then and there, on the mountain, that I realised who He really was. Suddenly I understood the Promises of old. In Jesus, the Son of God, they were fulfilled. No longer were they fading hopes and long awaited for words. No, then at that moment I could see they were embodied in this glorious and radiant Jesus. And I knew that they were real and true, and He was real and true. Really and truely the Messiah, the promised one. I gained a new admiration for the scriptures, truely they are Holy Spirit inspired. Man is only the tool for the writing.”
Note: If you would like to see the original account of the event that Peter refers to in this passage it is recorded in Matt 17:5, Mark 9:7 & Luke 9:35 and is often referred to as the Transfiguration, as Jesus is shown/revealed in all his radiant glory.
Sometimes it’s easy to get familiar with the stories of Jesus the man and lose sight of the majesty of who he really is. My mind finds it hard to hold the picture of Jesus the one who is fully man and yet also fully God. But He is that, as this passage so powerfully reminds us.
Jesus please reveal yourself to me, as you did to Peter. May I see your radiant glory, and get lost in awe and wonder. May I truely honour you with all that I am. May I love your word with a new passion. Thank you that your word is the Holy Spirit inspired book that is accessible to me every day to reveal Jesus.
Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart
2 Peter 1:1-15
1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: 2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
I love how God, in all His amazing glory & power, chooses to partner with us to see His plans come to pass. Reading this passage, I’m reminded again that God desires to work in us and through us so that we get to be a part of all that He is doing. Verses 3 & 4 show that God provides us with His divine power & that His desire for partnership with us isn’t because of what we can do for Him, but because He wants to include us in His abundant goodness & grace. What an honour!
There is however, a call on our end to respond. We need to respond to the honour of God’s call by living as Peter writes in verses 5-7. This means never taking for granted that we have been cleansed from our sins not just for our own sake but so that we can walk alongside God to bring Him glory in the way we live.
God, you are so good to us! You don’t just save us & then leave us – you include us in your great plans & give us purpose! Help us to choose to walk alongside you and to live as you would desire us to so that we can honour the call & purpose you have for each of us and bring glory to you.
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko
1 Peter 5:8-15
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 12 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
The enemy’s actions are described earlier in the gospels, as like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hidden, deceitful, blending in, almost stealth like. In today’s passage, the enemy is described as a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. A roaring lion is hardly hidden, or stealthy prowling around, but is rather more obvious and easily seen, and heard.
But still the warning is to be self controlled, to be alert, to resist him, and to stand firm. For without these actions, the roaring lion might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing! We all therefore have a self responsibility to act on these virtues, which mainly come about by regular prayer and being fed by the Word.
It is important to note that in this passage, there are two points that show that we will surely face times of hardships. The phrase “resist him” indicates that we will face the enemy at times, and then “after you have suffered a little while” also demonstrates that the battle will occur and will not be easy.
But the wonderful exhortation is that the “God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, ….. will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. “ (NIV)
This is the promise we can take into any situation. And so friends, let us be, and encourage each other to be, self controlled, alert, to resist him, and to stand firm.
Father help us all, in Jesus’ Name. Amen
Written by Steve Fell
1 Peter 5:1-7
5 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
This passage is awesome; it allows us to understand what our responsibilities are as shepherds and as sheep, because we are called to be both.
It calls us to be people who lead from a place of watching. We aren’t called to lord over people, force our opinions on others or have them do what we want. Our job is to serve them with a willing heart, helping them succeed and reach their potential in Christ.
Not only does it provide insight into how to lead but also how to be led. Submission, it is probably one of those words that people of this generation struggle to understand, something that doesn’t come naturally but is something that opens the door for growth.
It takes a lot to be someone who can submit, remaining teachable, allowing others to impart, correct and shape them, but as this passage instructs us, when a leader knows how to lead it opens the door for great success. The way we lead and the way we are led go hand in hand and only work and reach their potential when they are both done in accordance with the will of God.
Finally I love how at the end Peter just tacks on “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. “ I love this! We can give him all our crap, all our struggles because the King of Kings and Lord of Lords cares for us, loves us deeply and sacrificially.
Lord, Thank you that you care for us so deeply that you are willing to take all our anxieties and burdens so that we can live in freedom. Help us today to lead with passion, follow with diligence and to live free, casting all our anxieties on your for you alone can save us. In Jesus Name, Amen!
Written by Annique Botta
1 Peter 4:12-19
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Suffering. It’s not the easiest thing to deal with but it could be because I have a different view to suffering compared to God’s view.
I’m grateful that I don’t have to suffer as Jesus did by dying on a cross. Nor have I suffered publicly like Peter when he denied Christ. Peter was so distraught by what he had done that he wrote himself off, believing that God had cast him aside because he failed. Sometimes I feel the same way.
But this is not God’s view. Our Father didn’t leave Peter in his misery but instead restored him back to life. And this is the viewpoint from which Peter writes. He writes from the other side of his suffering, from God’s viewpoint: don’t be surprised by suffering – it is a normal part of life. Where we might disqualify ourselves, God restores us. Through Peter, I am reminded not to write myself off but instead commit myself to my Father God and continue to do good.
Father, I thank you that You speak Your truth to me about life telling me that there will be hard times but I don’t have to give up or think I’ve disqualified myself but rather turn to You and commit myself to You again. Thank you for loving me graciously and kindly through every step of my life.
Written by Gab Martin
1 Peter 4:7-11
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
I work in the film & TV industry, and for every shoot we receive a ‘callsheet’ which contains all the details you’d ever need – arrival time, the location address, what the weather will be like, the day’s schedule…what time lunch is! But on top of this, the producer will often put the most essential info in big bold letters at the top of the email, such as: “IT WILL BE VERY HOT, SO WEAR SUNSCREEN AND A HAT” or “THE LOCATION IS A WORKING FACTORY, SO BE EXTRA CAREFUL WHEN MOVING THROUGH SET”. In other words, “if there’s one thing you need to know, it’s this.” Even if someone neglects to read the nitty-gritty details of the callsheet, at least they have the key thing in big bold letters in front of them.
Here I feel Peter gives us similar big bold letters. In my own words, “If there’s one thing you need to know, it’s to continue to show deep love for each other.” Not to dismiss his encouragement to be generous and to serve one another with our gifts, but if love is our goal then everything else gets taken care of.
Where in my life can I be showing deep love for those around me? Where has my love dried up or gone cold for my friends, my family, my church, or my neighbour?
Lord, help me to love every person I encounter with the same love You have shown me. Thank You that Your love is greater than any other force in my life, and that I am free to continue to show deep love for those around me.
Written by Matt Samperi
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
PO Box 2744,
Carlingford NSW 2118
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NSW, Australia 2118
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118