Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
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
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.
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Written by Ps. Andrea Molteno
Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
What wonderful freedom this verse contains! When we become Christians by deciding to give our lives to Jesus, he begins a good work in us, transforming us gradually to become more like him. This verse reminds us that Jesus will continue to transform us throughout our lives, until we are completely transformed when he returns. He is the one who began transforming me, and the one who will continue to transform me.
So, what is my role? It is to remain connected to him – to continually submit my life to Jesus, humbly asking him to fill me with the Holy Spirit and do his work in me. The fuller I am of the Spirit, the more I will be changed to be like him. The Bible also tells us that our speech (and actions) flow from what is in our hearts (Luke 6:45). As the Holy Spirit transforms my heart, my whole behaviour will improve.
Lord, thank you so much that you are the one transforming me, and that your action in me means I will become more like you. I ask you today to keep working in me, changing me, and helping me grow. Amen
Written by Megan Cornell
Proverbs 3:7-8 (NIV)
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
Here is a directive from King Solomon, the author of Proverbs chapter 3 to not rate your own wisdom gathered over the years but rather fear the Lord and turn away from evil. If you do this, then God’s word promises that it will bring health to your body and strength to your bones. Clearly there is a link between revering God, seeking his wisdom, turning away from what is wrong and our physical health.
The Message version of verse 7 reads, “Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!” I do like this! It makes things very apparent particularly in light of the “Transformed” series we are doing church wide. I do want to be transformed. I am personally challenged to take stock of existing thought patterns and the way I do life day to day. Often, I am on auto pilot and I feel a fresh need to seek God’s wisdom in all I do even if I think it has been working for me! I also feel the need for God to bring to light that which is wrong. I do so want to be the beneficiary of healing to my body and strength for my bones! God has promised as much but it’s up to us to take hold of it. Now is a great time to seek God’s wisdom in all areas of our lives and see positive changes to our health.
Dear Lord, thank you for the promises in your word that bless our bodies. Help us to make changes that will enable us to honour, revere and trust you in all we do. Please also help us to turn from evil. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Thinking about our physical wellbeing involves the things we do when our physical health is not going well but it also involves the things we do to make sure our physical wellbeing goes as well as possible. This verse tells us about what we can ask God for in relation to our physical wellbeing (and other life aspects). I must admit I have thought about this verse previously as a statement – something that is just true, however, thinking about this verse today reminds me that it is also an invitation from God to ask for help. The verse says He gives us power, love and self-discipline and that He doesn’t give us fear and timidity. One translation says he wants us to be bold, loving and sensible and not to be shy with His gifts.
When we think about our physical wellbeing, it is easy to be fearful when we get a diagnosis from the doctor and it’s easy to be fearful and timid when it comes to making changes in our lifestyle to help our wellbeing – like committing to do exercise or eating in a more healthy way. Here God tells us that living in fear is not His plan for us. He wants us to feel like we can change, like we can do hard things. We can ask for His help knowing that this is something He WANTS to help us with – there is no doubt about that – He states clearly here that this is what He wants for us. That word self-discipline still makes it sound like I have to do it on my own. I think God wants us to invite Him into the situation so we can form a team to get it done.
Lord, thank you that you walk beside us, that you want to give us power, love and self-discipline, that with you anything is possible. Help us to remember to ask you to be involved. Thank you for self-discipline but help us to remember that it is really about connecting with you to make better choices each day. Also help us to remember that self-discipline comes teamed up with power and love – its not just us struggling through. Lord I invite you to walk with me to help me make good choices in regard to my physical wellbeing. Amen
Written by Therese Manning
Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
I ran a race over the weekend that I had not properly trained for, and man am I feeling it now! Every muscle hurts! But this got me thinking about the ways that God strengthens.
Sometimes God gives supernatural one-off strength. For example, the return of Samson’s physical strength right before he died (Judges 16), or the disciples sudden and temporary ability to speak languages they’d never learnt (Acts 2).
But more often He builds strength in us through day-by-day relationship. Brick by brick. Just like good physical training requires repetitive exercise and slow muscle build-up. I think of Peter, who followed Jesus and went from impulsive immaturity to the rock on which the church was built. He was able to do all things through God who strengthened him, but it took time – daily small decisions, daily exercising of his faith, growing from his mistakes, walking with God. Brick by brick.
Lord, please help me be patient! To trust that as I’m walking with you each day, I am growing to be more like you. When the end comes may I finish strong in You, not exhausted by a race I wasn’t prepared for. Amen
Written by Rhiannon Mellor
Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV)
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Weariness, tiredness, sleepiness. I feel all of these at least once per day. If I am lucky, not before 9pm.
To get tired is to be human. We are told on multiple occasions in the gospels that Jesus grew tired and weary. We also see him full of zeal and life as he lives out His Father’s mission for him on the earth. Jesus knew well the truth of Isaiah 40:29-31.
Renewal of my entire being is mine as I hope in the Lord. I fix my hope in the Lord as I take time to pray and sit in silence in the presence of his Holy Spirit. I fix my hope in the Lord as I play some music of worship and join in the praise. I fix my hope in the Lord as I let his words written in scripture soak into every corner of my soul. I fix my hope in the Lord when I gather with the church and seek him on the earth.
“Lord, you are life and strength! I fix my hope in you today. Renew my weary body. Amen!”
Written by Andrew Mellor
2 Corinthians 12:9a (NIV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Someone I know climbed Mount Everest a few years ago. The preparation, research and training were years in the making. The ascent was going well but on the night before the last day to the summit he developed gastroenteritis. Such a weakness would surely prevent his finishing the climb and getting back down safely. However, as he shared later to many people, God’s strength brought him through to make it to the top and down again. God’s power was accomplished in his weakness.
He shared that he was forced to trust God as his body and physical health were on the edge. He told the story not leaving out that this physical problem made the situation even more challenging.
Paul says in verse 9 that he rejoiced even more gladly in his weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on him. Who rejoices in weakness? I haven’t rejoiced lately in the increasing limitations of getting older or of catching Covid.
Some people can overcome physical limitations or disabilities and achieve great things. They inspire us.
But rejoicing or boasting in weakness?
Society tells me that is unattractive.
Here is where following God takes me on a divergent path to society. When I recognise my weaknesses, my inabilities, and trust in God to bless me and others through me, his power accomplishes so much. This is the meaning of Jesus words “my power is made perfect in weakness.” I am strong when I expect to be weak, I know his power is with me in situations which wear me down. As I face my physical limitations (inabilities, sickness) his mighty power is demonstrated despite them. It is demonstrated as I trust he is in control, as I seek his plan for my life, which is for the best he has for me. His grace is sufficient for me.
Let’s not be fooled – following Christ does not guarantee a life of ease or free from health challenges. No matter how much I have trained or stayed healthy, things go wrong. John 16:33 reminds us of this reality. How will I respond? To get angry at God for not “fixing” me, to feel cheated? Or will I boast of the weaknesses I have so people can see the glory of God in my life?
Dear Jesus. Your grace, your loving, never giving up love I don’t deserve, sustains me when my body and mind fail. Somehow your power works through me by faith. Thank you so much for your overwhelming grace and for reminding me that you are in control. All I have to do is to trust you.
Written by Claire Moore
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Before becoming a Christian my idea of God was this nebulous being out there, somewhere, in the universe, not that particularly reachable or interested in me. But in this whole chapter Paul gets very personal and brings God from being out there somewhere to right inside our very bodies as he takes the Corinthians to task over various issues happening within the church.
God is not out there as a nebulous being, as I once thought, but now that I have made Him the Lord of my life, He has come and lives within me, I am His temple now, He is personal. If we stop and think about that for just a moment, how should that transform our lives? Yes, the Holy Spirit transforms us but we make choices too. What is it that we should be more aware of choosing – doing, saying, seeing, hearing, eating, spending, as we walk through life in partnership with the Holy Spirit and being Gods’ very temple, where He lives?
Lord, I know I forget this fact too often, that I am your temple, that I am one with you. Forgive me. The world would have me think that my body and all that I do is all about me. But it’s not, my life and body is all about you. Continue to transform me Holy Spirit to be fully one with you and a temple for your glory.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
Psalm 78:1-8 (NIV)
1 My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— 3 things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. 5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, 6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. 7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. 8 They would not be like their ancestors— a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
Today, my Windows login has a wonderful picture of the remnant of the G29 supernova. One of the great things about astronomy is that it gives a whole new understanding of myself in my truly enormous world.
And here I am sitting in the twenty-first century, hearing God’s praiseworthy deeds and commands that have been passed down to me over thousands of years. Hundreds of generations of God’s faithful people have taught them, written them down, protected them, passed them on, translated them, and spoken them out – from one generation to the next – all the way down to me. Sometimes it’s good to be humbled by how small my part of what God is doing is. But as small as my part is, God does give me a part passing it on to the next generation and on to generations that have not yet been born. And that small part is important.
Verse 7 says that the key to not forgetting and to obeying, is to put my trust in God. Romans 12:1-2 tells me that the key to understanding is embracing God’s renewal of my mind. And his Spirit in my life is the key to being a faithful witness (Acts 1:8). The relationship between God and his people is so important to him that he works in partnership with us to pass his story on.
Lord, thank you for all those faithful people working in partnership with you who passed your story down to me. I’m amazed and a little scared that you’ve given me a part to play in passing it on. I want to speak your power and wonder and faithfulness and grace out today. Please take the lead in my life today, so that my mouth will be filled with your truth and your grace, especially to my children. And please transform their minds and hearts and lives to receive it as you intend.
Written by David Cornell
(You can read the rest of this Psalm at Bible Gateway.)
Psalm 77 (NIV)
(For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.) 1 I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. 2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. 3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. 4 You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. 5 I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; 6 I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: 7 “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? 8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” 10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. 11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” 13 Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? 14 You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. 15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. 16 The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. 17 The clouds poured down water, the heavens resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. 18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. 19 Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. 20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
It would seem the feeling of being all alone in the midst of our worst and most challenging moments is being echoed by the psalmist’s own despair and feelings of isolation in these opening verses. Yet as the psalmist chooses to include God in his journey, his perspective (if not the actual circumstances) begins to change. Facing a crisis is not unique, but how we choose to journey that will set us apart as believers in the most High God. The psalmist’s relationship with God in better times stands him in hope during the challenging times. This is a good reminder that no matter what our feelings, God is faithful and constant in all times. What he has done before tells us what he can do now. Our challenges are not abandonment of God rather a chance to see the greatness of God at work in our lives. I have known this in my life, and I know no matter what season or challenge you are facing God is there with you too.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your great love and faithfulness to me. I pray for those who are struggling that they will know your peace. Help me to see you at work in my past as well as my present. I invite you to walk with me today. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Written by Christine Knight
Psalm 76 (NIV)
(For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.) 1 God is renowned in Judah; in Israel his name is great. 2 His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion. 3 There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war. 4 You are radiant with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. 5 The valiant lie plundered, they sleep their last sleep; not one of the warriors can lift his hands. 6 At your rebuke, God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still. 7 It is you alone who are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry? 8 From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet— 9 when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land. 10 Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained. 11 Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared. 12 He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth.
In the busyness of life, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of family life and work.
And while I know that God is alongside me, sometimes it’s like I put him on par with me, as though he were another person in my life who can help me get things done.
But reading this psalm reminds me of God’s sovereignty and pre-eminence. Who else is well known amongst the nations and makes the city his home? Who else speaks and armies lie still or people grow quiet? No one can lift a hand against you. You have no equal. You are the God of the universe, the creator of heaven and earth. Because of your greatness Lord God you command praise – yet you don’t demand it from me.
When you speak Lord, things happen. And when I offer you praise there is a shift in my perspective. Praise reminds me of your greatness and worthiness, and it creates a doorway that lets you into my life – close and personal, yet above it all.
Father God, I thank you that you are a good God and that you are for me. You are worthy of all praise.
Written by Gab Martin
Psalm 75 (NIV)
For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song. 1 We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds. 2 You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity. 3 When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. 4 To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns. 5 Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak so defiantly.’ ” 6 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. 7 It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. 8 In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs. 9 As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob, 10 who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.”
I love how this Psalm testifies to God’s activity in His people’s lives and His protection of them in the past. God intervenes in our lives, at crucial moments, directly and through people and events. The psalm reminds us that He intervenes on behalf of the upright. Then the psalm gives some frightening detail on what things look like when God acts against those who are boastful. In life we come across people who are overconfident and faithless who threaten God’s people. God makes it plain He will deliver his people.
We do well to remember that while God is love, He is also the Judge. We dare not act boastfully, as if we are the masters of our own destiny – we are called as sons and daughters, and servants of the King of kings. May we remain upright in living to bring glory and honour to God.
Father – help me to being praise to You for all You do and have done. May I also not be boastful that I would truly rely on You.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
Psalm 74 (NIV)
A maskil of Asaph. 1 O God, why have you rejected us forever? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture? 2 Remember the nation you purchased long ago, the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed— Mount Zion, where you dwelt. 3 Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary. 4 Your foes roared in the place where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs. 5 They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. 6 They smashed all the carved paneling with their axes and hatchets. 7 They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name. 8 They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land. 9 We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be. 10 How long will the enemy mock you, God? Will the foe revile your name forever? 11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them! 12 But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth. 13 It was you who split open the sea by your power; you broke the heads of the monster in the waters. 14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert. 15 It was you who opened up springs and streams; you dried up the ever-flowing rivers. 16 The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon. 17 It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter. 18 Remember how the enemy has mocked you, LORD, how foolish people have reviled your name. 19 Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts; do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever. 20 Have regard for your covenant, because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land. 21 Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name. 22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long. 23 Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries, the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.
This psalm reminds me to continue turning to God regardless of my circumstances. It starts as one of those ‘rainy day’ moods that turns into an uplifting praise of God! Even when our situation seems dire and hopeless, we can call on the Lord to sustain and strengthen us. It reminds us to turn to him and remember the love and good that God shows his children.
The situation the psalmists find themselves in is far worse than anything I have experienced. Yet they cry out to God and acknowledge his power, wisdom and love. I do well to follow their example.
Lord, you are the king and saviour of all. Help remind us to look to you when things seem bleak, may we hold on to you when our faith dips, and remember your everlasting love.
Written by Sven Bessesen
Psalm 73 (NIV)
A psalm of Asaph. 1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?” 12 This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. 15 If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! 20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. 21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
Living for God isn’t easy. First you have to get everything right all the time. Then you have to figure out how to love your neighbour. Then love your enemies (even the ones who don’t live next door).
Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal. Then make sure you don’t get caught being envious of the people who are doing well in life in spite of their cheating and lying and stealing and everything else they seem to enjoy (and get away with).
Today’s passage is brutally honest in its presentation of the challenges of living a Godly life, but the beauty of the passage is in its contrast:
When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. (v16-17)
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. (v23-25)
For the psalmist, the eternal perspective, and the presence of God are the joys that balance out the apparent injustice of life.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
The psalmist has discovered that a good, full life is not about morality and earthly pleasure, but about what God gives and what he has done!
Lord, may I always desire your presence and may I always experience your love, mercy and forgiveness.
Written by Ps Justin Ware
Psalm 34 (NIV)
Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left. 1 I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. 2 I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 3 Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. 6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. 8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 9 Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. 10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, 13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. 14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; 16 but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. 17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; 20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. 21 Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. 22 The LORD will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
Verse 8 says
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
We’ve all heard the expression, “try before you buy.” Sometimes it could be a good thing – like buying car. Sometimes it can be a very damaging thing. I’ve heard this expression used to justify the sin of sex before and outside the covenant of marriage – like the oneness and unity and sacredness of sex that only works to the highest potential in the safety of the ‘for life’ commitment of marriage, could be treated like buying a TV; where precious people treated like expendable commodities.
Yet God issues an invitation here that seems too good to be true. Come, taste and see! Come and experience His goodness. Jesus echoes this generous call when He said, “come to me all you who are weary – I’ll give you rest” (see Matthew 11:28).
How do we taste and see? First, start with repentance- which means turning your life toward God. Change your “no” to God into a “yes.” Next, just talk to Him. He is listening (see verse 4). Lastly, open your eyes to His goodness. He will come through for you. He will hear you and answer – again and again and again – as often as you come. Taste and see – He is so good!
God, I’m changing my No into a Yes today. Thanks for the invitation to taste and see – I accept.
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
Romans 8:35, 37-39 (NIV)
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What stood out to me in this scripture was: the word: WHO, the statement: WE are more than conquerors, and my position: for I AM convinced.
My question – WHO? – Yet the scripture goes onto to ask about situations that we may find ourselves in, not a person.
My Answer = No one – Nothing can separate you or I from the love of Jesus Christ.
The statement – “We are more than conquerors” – reveals my position because of Jesus Christ, His death and His resurrection.
The Holy Spirit that lives in Him now LIVES IN ME. That amazes me. I am a conqueror. I can conquer all situations here on earth and I have already conquered death – nothing is impossible – I have nothing to fear.
My position – “For I am convinced” – I am convinced in My heart and My mind. When we truly know we are forgiven and when we are filled with the Holy Spirit – we KNOW and are FULLY CONVINCED that God will never let go of You or me.
My position in my heart, my mind, and my actions must be that I continue to devote myself to Him, His word, His people (The Church). I know that I could let go of Him, but He will never let go of me.
Lord Jesus, may we become even more convinced of your love, grace, mercy and power for each of us. Fill us afresh with your Holy Spirit and do a work on us we pray. Lord, open our eyes so we can see clearer all you have for us and all we have to do for your Kingdom. We thank you that you promise to never leave us or forsake us. Thank you, Jesus. In Your Name we pray. Amen
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
1 John 1:9 (NIV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Confession time: In the past, I’ve struggled with confession.
I was that type of kid who hated getting in trouble at school or at home, so I tried very hard to be a ‘good girl’ and never do the wrong thing. Therefore, admitting that I have messed up has never been easy for me. In addition, I grew up in a Pentecostal church where confession was not really a focus of the teaching, unlike in some other Christian traditional churches where there is a strong emphasis on confession of sin.
As I’ve grown older, I am learning to embrace the power of confession. It’s not always easy to do, but I have seen that it’s a more wholehearted, truthful way to live, and I am reaping its benefits.
The previous verse to the one we are looking at today says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Yes, I have experienced this to be the case, both in my own life and in my observation of others. Covering up sin brings deception in a multitude of ways.
But how freeing is our verse today: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
God doesn’t want our pretence of perfection. There is no need (or benefit) to try and hide my flaws and failures from our loving Father God. Confession brings His forgiveness and purification – how simple and wonderful (though at times, still not easy to do)!
Shame wants to keep us hiding, but truth and confession brings freedom.
Lord, help me to choose the path of confession!
Written by Shelley Witt
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
Our salvation does not bring us immunity in this world. We do not suddenly become impervious to disease, harm, or painful situations. All these things still happen to believers, and temptations are no different. Some even believe that spiritual temptations are more heightened and frequent against believers.
Knowing this, we can take comfort that our Heavenly Father, in His infinite wisdom, provides a way out so that we can continue to run the good race. No matter how powerful or influential temptations can be, we can escape them. Whether talking to a friend to keep us accountable, reading scripture, or simply running from a tempting situation, God always provides an escape route. Our God provides!
Lord, we thank you for the plans you have over us. Thank you for giving us hope and a future. Thank you for your wisdom that helps us overcome the temptations in our lives. May we rest in your peace, Lord, knowing your unfathomable love overflows for us. In your precious name, Jesus.
Written by Sven Bessesen
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
As I read this short passage, I am led to cast my memory back and thing about myself as a young teenager, before I committed my life to Christ.
How similar or different am I to that person that I once was?
I certainly still identify with that person. I have the same name, same biological family of origin, same memories. My body has changed a bit though the process of growth and ageing, but there is continuity there.
Some of my behavioural traits are similar too. I’ve improved in many areas, but there are probably a few areas where I could have made more change!
Perhaps I am being too hard on myself. But the point I’m trying to make is that I’m not completely changed as a person. What has changed completely though is my spiritual identity. I no longer identify with belonging to the spiritually dead things that this world offers, but my identity is with Christ and heaven.
Also, what has been made new is my spiritual record.
I once got pulled over for speeding. It was more than 4 years ago, so that mistake doesn’t impact my licence, or insurance or anything now, but the reality is, the instance of that speeding fine will always be there on my driving record. If I ever wanted a job that required a perfect driving record, I would be unable to apply. It’s like this with my spiritual record. Even if I were able to live my life from this point forward and never sin again, those sins from my past are still there. They can’t be fixed by my own effort. BUT because I belong to Christ, when the heavenly motor registry looks up my spiritual record, Jesus’s record shows up in place of mine!
Lord thank You that I am both made new and being made new. Please help me to grasp more fully the beauty of the transformation you have made in me, and also accelerate the process of making me into Christ’s image.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
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