Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
This is an interesting passage of what it was like for the early church and its struggles to get started. I haven’t ever lived with the likelihood of losing my life for serving Jesus like Paul did. And it is pretty creative thinking to use a basket to escape with. But this was their reality, people were seriously out to kill them for their faith. But the last verse in this passage makes an interesting statement – the church grew stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord.
The church could have been consumed with the fear of man. They could have removed the threat of death by choosing to do what the Jews wanted them to do, but the result of that would have been a weak or non-existent church.
Instead, the church grew stronger as it lived in the fear of the Lord. There is a direct connection between the strength of the church and the church living in the fear of the Lord.
This is not about being afraid of the Lord, instead it is following God 100 percent. Trusting him fully, obeying him completely.
And the same is true in my life. I become stronger when I live in the fear of the Lord and not in fear of people. When I am more concerned about pleasing people or not offending people, then I am usually all over the place, unstable, and weary with worry. But when I settle the issue that Jesus is Lord of my life and I follow him wholeheartedly, then he makes me strong.
Father, forgive me for when I have thought more about what people want me to do, than what you want me to do. You are Lord of my life and today, I choose to serve you.
Written by Andrew Martin
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
As Ananias left the place he was in and walked towards Straight Street, he would no doubt have looked liked anybody else going about their business. But I’m sure that in spite of God’s encouragement, Ananias’ heart was beating fast, his mouth dry, and his palms sweaty as he arrived at Judas’ house and asked for a man from Tarsus named Saul. Quite probably every fibre of his being was telling him to run!
How amazing then that the first thing Ananias does is to place his hands on Saul, and the first two words he says to this man who has been murdering followers of Jesus are, ‘Brother Saul.’ Ananias calls Saul by name, and he calls him brother. Ananias chooses to draw near, in obedience to God, when every natural instinct would be to run away.
I love that in his obedience, Ananias represents God, reaching out and drawing near even as we are at our worst. God, help me to be courageously obedient, and I trust that as I do so you will be gloriously on display. Amen.
Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh
9 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
It’s funny how you can notice something new in a passage of scripture that you have read many times before.
After Saul’s famous dramatic encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was struck blind and instructed to go into the city where he would be told what to do next.
What I noticed was this: for 3 DAYS he was blind and did not eat or drink a thing.
Imagine what it would be like for Saul to sit there blind for 3 days and wonder when (if ever) he was going to find out what was going on, and wondering if he would ever see again.
Isn’t it interesting (and sometimes quite trying) that God makes us wait for His timing. In His instructions to Saul there was no mention of the three days of waiting, and yet God must have deemed it important to have this period of waiting.
This is a good reminder that God’s timing is generally not my timing. But God’s timing is much better than mine, so I need to embrace the wait.
So whether I’ve been waiting 3 days, 3 years or 30 years, I can trust God that He knows what He’s doing and I can rest in His plans.
Thank you Lord that you are much, much wiser than me and I can trust you as I wait for your timing.
Written by Shelley Witt
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”  38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea. Footnotes:
The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
For the people who were followers of Christ, they were living in unprecedented times. Acts chapter 8 starts with there being so much persecution against Christians that they had to scatter to preserve their lives.
With the world in the state that it’s in now, the church is again unable to gather together in the way we are used to, but we will be flexible and dynamic! More than ever, there is such a need for me to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit to know who I need to be “walking along beside” as Philip did in this passage.
The person I am to walk beside may be a person of great wealth who needs help interpreting what they see and read, like the Ethiopian in this story. Or they may be someone who just needs some practical help in life, or someone to pray with.
Lord, thank you that You have put some people on my heart this morning that I need to find new ways to walk beside in these unprecedented times.
Written by Ps Justin Ware
Proverbs 29:25 (GNT); 2) Galatians 1:10 (NLT)
1) It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord, you are safe. 2) Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
I am completely qualified to comment on this subject. If there is a Master’s Degree in people pleasing I would be the lecturer!
Living for other people’s approval of us is insidious, and cunning. It makes us lie to save face. It permeates our thoughts and affects our moods. It steals our happiness and stunts our potential. Lord, please help me – how do I stop?!
Deciding to stop being a people pleaser isn’t going to work. The writer of Proverbs had it right – “if you trust the Lord…”
And suddenly, I’m not concerned with the approval of others – I’m delighting in the approval God has already given me. And now, unexpectedly, I’m excited about the purpose he has planned for my life.
Lord, I’m standing on the precipice of a life unimaginable. I know what on earth I’m here for – I see it before me! I’m going to jump. And as I do I see you standing next to me, smiling. I know I’ll be ok because you’re jumping with me. I’m so thankful Jesus – you are all I want, you are all I need. Let’s go!
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
1) Proverbs 14:30 (NIV) 2) Ecclesiastes 4:4 (MSG)
1) A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. 2) Then I observed all the work and ambition motivated by envy. What a waste! Smoke. And spitting into the wind.
We have a lovely garden however it requires work, we prune, fertilise, remove weeds, etc. The Bible is all about “bearing fruit”. Godly men and women are growing a tree that bears life-giving fruit, and all who win souls are wise. Prov 11:30 (TLB)
God is not happy with fruitless trees or diseased trees. We need to examine the fruit of our lives: if we are critical, negative, complaining, envious, selfish, or bad tempered. This is not the fruit of the Spirit at work.
God’s fruit is divine love, overflowing joy, enduring peace, virtuous patience, kindness in action, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, strength of spirit and self-control.
Galatians 5 v 13 – “Freedom means that we become so completely free of self-indulgence that we become servants of one another, expressing love in all we do”.
For us to bear fruit we need more water (His Presence) and we need to change the fertiliser (God word)
I grew up always comparing myself to others. How did I change this?
· I asked God to change my heart – help me see people as Jesus sees them.
· Get an attitude of gratitude – so many things to be thankful for. I begin my day and prayer time thanking God.
· I got a new set of glasses – see people the way Jesus does. Asking God to bless others, even my “enemies”.
· I stopped comparing myself to others. I became happy with who I was.
Dear Lord, help me to bring your love and grace to others. Help my where I am bitter or envious to see people as you see them. I have not journeyed their road. Help me to become the person you want me to be, not comparing myself to others but running the race you have set before me
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
1) Proverbs 19:21 (NIV); 2) Acts 13:36a (NIV)
1) Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. 2) Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.
These two texts are used as the basis of the proposition that God has a purpose for each individual believer and living out that purpose creates a meaningful and fulfilled life.
When you think about it every generation has its own set of problems unique to that time, and God calls on each generation to meet His unfolding plan in new ways.
However, what really spoke to me was the first line of Proverbs 19:21
‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart’.
We live in a unique time, a time of freedom, of great abundance, and many options in life.
If I was to rewrite Proverbs 19:21 for myself, it would say –
‘So many are the things I can do and have, the Lord’s purpose is in danger of being forgotten’.
This idea fits well with C3 Carlingford’s 2020 Vision. – ‘Make Room’.
To ‘Make Room’ for something new, you must let go of something old. The idea of our life as a series of ‘furnished rooms’ is an elegant metaphor. Making room implies you need to take inventory and toss out unnecessary things from your rooms.
With reference to – Day 40— A ‘Life Purpose Statement’ can not only define your purpose but help you take inventory of your ‘crowded rooms’ and clarify what to throw out.
For me personally, I will be considering how I spend my time. Am I wasting my time on meaningless pursuits? I will be starting with this test. ‘If I don’t have time for regular devotional prayer and reading of the ‘Word’ then I will know I have rooms that need clearing out’.
Lord, enable us through grace and wisdom to make the changes required to ‘live with purpose’.
Written by David Newton
1) Ephesians 5:15 (Phillips); 2) 2 Peter 3:17 (CEV)
1) Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do.” 2) My dear friends, you have been warned ahead of time! So don’t let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance.
Each moment is a gift from God, and that makes every moment weighty, valuable beyond belief! Not only is it valuable, but I am accountable to God for how I live this gift. But Jesus calls me not to a life lived under a burden of this weight. Quite the opposite, Jesus says His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). I believe that I can live a life full of responsibility and meaning and live a life that is light and freeing. To live healthily in that tension I must have a sense of my smallness and God’s bigness. I must understand that ‘it is not all about me’. Yet I must understand that I am full of responsibility, because God has given me His Spirit in order that I might do good with everything that He has given me. The blessing is that I am not relying on my own ideas for what is good, but on God’s. I am not trying to leave a legacy with the life I live but rather pointing to the legacy Jesus has already left.
Dear Lord, thank you for the precious gift of life you have poured into me. Let each day be a decision to lay this gift before you, so that my life would count for what truly matters.
Written by Andrew Mellor
Mark 16:15 (NCV)
Jesus said to his followers, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone.
Rick Warren personalises the command that Jesus gave in stating that the Great Commission is MY commission, and as I reflect on the command that Jesus gave from the NCV version, is begins with the words: Jesus said to his followers.
So, what identifies me as a follower of Jesus? Simply that I receive this instruction as spoken to me. If I claim to be a follower of Jesus, but don’t do what he tells us to do, am I really followers of Jesus?
I like the use of this translation simply for rephrasing the command from “Go into all the world” to “Go everywhere in the world”. It’s sometimes easy to think that to go into all the world is to go somewhere else, somewhere overseas to tell people about Jesus, which I have had the opportunity to do in the past.
But what about the present? To “go everywhere” is such an inclusive word. It literally means wherever I am, tell people the good news of Jesus. That includes where I work, the street where I live, and yes, all places near and far.
So, where I am right now, how am I being a follower of Jesus? Who can I tell about the Good News?
Lord Jesus, thank you for saving me, thank you loving me so much that you died for me, thank you for setting me free. Help me to see the people around me as you do. Holy Spirit lead me in telling everyone this Good News.
Written by Andrew Martin
1) 1 John 5:10a (GWT); 2) 1 Thessalonians 1:8 (MSG)
1) Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them. 2) Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message!
The verses today are quite powerful to think on. We have the testimony of God in us. How often do I think of my story as not that impressive, or not enough, or not particularly exciting or inspiring. How much have I missed the truth of 1 John 5:10. I don’t just have any story to tell. I have the testimony of God Himself to tell the world around me. And I have that testimony at work in me.
This connects so strongly to 1 Thessalonians 1:8 in The Message. As I embrace the testimony of God in me, and at work in me, I surely become the message of God to my world. I carry the most impressive, the most full and complete, the most exciting and inspiring story that I could ever carry in me. The testimony of God Himself. The testimony of God, becoming in me, and being declared through me. In my heart, in my words, and in my deeds.
Oh God, may you cause your testimony to dwell even more richly, and deeply, in me. May the fruit of this rich dwelling in me be the transformation of my heart and mind, and the easy and free telling of the testimony of God to the hungry and needy world around me. In Jesus name, Amen.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
1) John 17:18 (MSG); 2) Acts 20:24 (NCV)
1) In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. 2) I don’t care about my own life. The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me—to tell people the Good News about God’s grace.
The Blues Brothers told everyone they were on a mission from God. They meant people to take their plan seriously.
Jesus has sent me to continue his mission on earth – now that’s powerful! God gave him a mission and in this verse he dedicates his followers to that mission. This verse reminds me that it is an outward focused commission. My faith is not self focused and a searching for enlightenment. Rather my mission is to introduce people to God.
My secret weapon is the gospel of good news of the life and death of Jesus Christ for you and for me. And the end of the story is life! But God has spoken to me afresh about the impact of this message of life because it is a message of light, love, hope and healing. Jesus’ ministry was characterised by these things. He brought light into the darkness – how do I do that? He brought God’s love to a desperate people – do I do that? He brought hope to the broken, and to those waiting for the Messiah. Jesus brought healing, of the physical, emotional, and spiritual – am I available to God to bring healing?
What a life changing message, from the heart of God. And I have to be listening and tuned into the heart of God to be an effective messenger, to discern what the message means for the person God brings into my life.
I believe I am sometimes held back by a fear of ridicule, as well as a fear of being challenged about what I believe. What if I can’t answer every question? What if I am rejected because of my views? When people believe something passionately they will be ready to defend it! I want people to take what I believe seriously. That demands I am ready to explain and defend it.
Dear Jesus. Help me to tune into the loving heart of the Father through the Holy Spirit. Help me to make those introductions to Jesus.
Written by Claire Moore
1) 2 Corinthians 13:4 (NCV) 2) 2 Corinthians 12:9a (TLB)
1) It is true that we are weak in Christ, but for you we will be alive in Christ by God’s power. 2) I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.”
It is counter-cultural to think that we are not meant to show ourselves in the very best light. People ‘tweak’ their CV’s to make things look possibly better than they are, we hide our weaknesses and showcase our strengths, we applaud confidence and good self image. Yet in Christ, in ministry we are called to service and obedience – not a life trying to impress the Boss. We have to separate ourselves from thinking like the world. If we are to live honestly in Christ, then the ministry we are called to may be only part of a plan – just as Paul planted the seed, Apollo watered but God grew it in the early church.
So many times I have felt called to do things in my faith, I felt I was not ‘strong’ enough to do (insert faith filled/bible verse savvy/prayer warrior etc.). The beauty is I don’t have to be any or all of these things. My weaknesses require me to be honest, open and willing before God. He will do the rest. And the strength of this will be the testimony of God at work because I know it isn’t me. We are all called to play our own unique part – a part that God has for us, not one we create for ourselves.
Heavenly Father thank you for the life you have chosen for me. Help me to be honest about my strengths and weaknesses. Use them all for your Glory. I give my self to you. Use me in the name of Jesus. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
1) Numbers 14:24a (NCV); 2) Philippians 2:5 (MSG)
1) But my servant Caleb thinks differently and follows me completely. 2) Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.
I enjoy period dramas and historical fiction, and in these types of novels and films, servants are quite common characters. The ideal servant is fiercely loyal to their master/mistress, dependable, trustworthy, full of integrity and highly skilled in their role. It is this combination of qualities that makes them hard to replace. These servants have learned the ways of their master/mistress and are able to predict what they will want or need. Oftentimes, these servants take a healthy pride in serving with excellence, and the satisfaction of their master/mistress is highly gratifying.
God wants me to know Him as Father, Friend, Saviour and the Good Shepherd… but He is at the same time Lord of the Universe and the One I was created to serve.
Am I seeking to serve God with the kind of loyalty, dependability, trustworthiness, integrity and skill that means God can rely on me? Am I growing in my understanding of God’s ways and am I better able to partner with Him in His work? Am I deriving joy from serving God with excellence?
Holy Spirit, where I get focused on task or caught in details, please help me to see the bigger picture and to remember who it is that I am serving. Help me to grow in my capacity to serve God with integrity and skill. Amen.
Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh
1) Mark 10:43 (MSG); 2) Matthew 7:16a (CEV)
1) Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. 2) You can tell what they are by what they do.
James and John have come to Jesus asking for positions of honour in the kingdom of God. The other disciples became angry when they hear about it. (Perhaps they wanted same thing.) So, Jesus corrects their thinking, turning their concept of greatness on its head. He shows the way: the one who truly is the greatest has come to serve and will go even further in giving up his life for us.
I’ve no such ambitions for greatness, but I still fall into wrong thinking.
I have two people in my family who need a lot of help coping with health problems and with issues of life in general. It’s taken lots of my time recently. I’ve found myself thinking that this time is being taken away from more significant things I should be doing for God – that the simple things like cleaning, searching for hearing aids or even just spending time are less significant than “more spiritual things”. God’s had to pull me up. For now, they are my gift. Serving them is not a distraction.
My other wrong thinking has been the flip side of James and John’s mistake. Far from thinking of greatness, I’m struggling with adequacy, with feeling responsible for them. God’s had to remind me that he doesn’t give me jobs to do on my own. He’s doing it with me, and he’s doing the hard bits. The creator or the universe, the saviour of humanity is working in their lives. Whatever he does is greatness. My small part is an honour even when it just feels like hard work.
Jesus doesn’t say to do the job of a servant but to “become a servant”. God’s not fooled if I just act as a servant. I need to pull my heart into line with him, not just my actions.
Written by David Cornell
Romans 12:5 (MSG)
So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be.
What a great work the Lord has done in our lives. We are fashioned by Him for His glory and some of that glory comes through our service. Each with a unique set of gifts, talents, temperament and personality so that we can bring Christ’s light to those in our communities. To be honest there are times I feel I need to have a few rough edges rubbed off, and He is at work. I find it a little hard to think of myself as “excellently formed and marvellously functioning” but then again that thinking relies more on my view of myself than God’s and His creation of me and His empowerment. For when I am reliant on Him, empowered by Him, then I am an able minister of His Spirit! And so I can walk in victory and “go ahead and be what I was made to be”. God is not holding me back, if I am held back it is myself doing that deed or the enemy of my soul the devil.
Do you use such superlatives and adjectives as you describe yourself as you find here in God’s Word describing you? In your attempt at humility have you only reduced yourself to less than God’s creation in you? May you meditate on this verse today to bring new light and love from God to you!
Father, work Your Word deeply into our lives that we would live, “Fashioned”; “Excellently Formed”; “Marvellously Functioning” and “be what we are made to be”.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
Psalm 139:13 (MSG)
You shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.
Nobody else can be me.The older I get, the more I think how significant this statement is. Over the years I have watched as God has guided my life and crafted a path that fits so well with how uniquely He has made me.
I think when I was younger I was looking for God to use me in some dramatic earth-shattering fashion. And yet as I look back I can see more and more how a simple word here, or a kind act there can make a difference over the long haul.
Perhaps no one thing I do or say will be the definitive moment of my life. But a daily series of kind actions and thoughtful, empathic words over the course of a lifetime will add up to a life of significance. I don’t have to do it all perfectly. I just have to keep trying and leave the rest up to God.
finish with a quote: “And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do
best and attempt what I do very clumsily–open myself to the frustrations and
failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than
succeeding in pride.”
― Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society
Written by Shelley Witt
1) Job 10:8 (TLB); 2) Isaiah 43:21 (GNT)
1) For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. 2) They are the people I made for myself, and they will sing my praises!”
When I became a Christian in August 1984, such a love and relief consumed me. I was then baptised in the Holy Spirit in May 1985 and my heart and passion changed. I didn’t care what anyone thought about me, I wanted to serve Jesus till the day I die. In 1986 I joined Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and spent the next 3 years (for me Bible College) – learning about God, learning how to hear from the Holy Spirit, and learning how to sacrifice my personal desire for “His Kingdom”.
I came to the following conclusions:
Begin – serve in something and God will reveal your gifts, purpose and passion along the way.
Everything is an opportunity. If you are asked – say yes. Along the way God reveals what you are good at and what you need to work on.
As we give (financially and in service) – God gives back to us. He reveals Himself to us. He reveals our Heart within us.
AS WE DO AND BECOME – GOD REVEALS.
It is a discovery of ourselves and a discovery of God Himself
God gave me a scripture in 1988 when I left YWAM Hong Kong. John 21 v 15-19 – “Susan feed my sheep, Susan feed my lambs, Susan take care of my sheep”.
In 2004 – I felt the Lord lead me back to this scripture and He said to me: “I called YOU to be a Pastor, not because you married Richard.”
16 YEARS!! A similar time to Joseph imprisonment.
I discovered WHAT I AM HERE FOR. I discovered that I AM Loved.
Lord for everyone who reads this may you give them a scripture – a life scripture. Help everyone to discover the meaning of their lives along their journey. Reveal it to them we pray.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
1) Ephesians 2:10 (TLB); 2) John 17:4 (MSG)
1) It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. 2) I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do.
We are the only creature that God made twice! Can you believe that? How valuable to God must we be? The first time I was made was described beautifully in Ps 139 – “you knit me together – I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” The second time I was made (rebuilt) it took the death of His son. How important must my mission be, that God has for me to complete, if it cost Him that much? I need to take a good hard look at the time and effort and cost God expended to build me and then RE-build me!
I am fully equipped, by God Himself. I am made on purpose – for a purpose.
I am fitted out for the adventure of a lifetime.
I just need to begin!
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
1) Ecclesiastes 3:1 (CEV); 2) Philippians 1:6 (TLB)
1) Everything on earth has its own time and its own season. 2) And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.
Christian discipleship and growth is an interesting thing. I actually have to remind myself that I am in God’s hands, which means I’m in His timing and following His lead. Often it’s seems that I like to disciple myself – that I think I know what I should focus on or fix or improve in my life. I want to concentrate on getting it right, the first time. But this is a hard pace to keep and wears me out.
Thankfully, this is not what God asks of me. Jesus invites us on the path of discipleship and growth with Him: “walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matt 11:29 Msg). This means I don’t have to race ahead (forcing growth) nor lag behind (resisting growth) – instead Jesus wants me to live and learn and grow and develop according to His timetable, at His unforced gracious pace.
Holy Spirit help me to walk in step with Jesus. Help me to remember the best pace and place is right by His side, following Him through the seasons of life.
Written by Gab Martin
1) 2 Timothy 2:22 (TLB); 2) 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
1) Run from anything that gives you the evil thoughts that young men often have, but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right. Have faith and love, and enjoy the companionship of those who love the Lord and have pure hearts. 2) 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.
Temptation is nice. That’s the trouble with it! It’s nicer, in the short term at least, than doing what is right. Even the apostle Paul writes: “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Rom 7:19 NLT) and in the NIV translation it translates “This I keep on doing” at the end!
As I reflect on temptation this morning, I realise that it is a big theological issue for me with very real implications on the way I think about God, sin and my salvation: If I am saved by God and given the power of the Holy Spirit, why do I still struggle with sin in my life? Surely I should be doing better by now!!
To deal with this tension, I realise my head goes in all sorts of different places:
1) Denial: “When I react that way it isn’t really sin…”
2) Downplay: “Its not that big a problem, its not hurting anyone”
3) Over spiritualise: “Its OK because Jesus covers it”
4) Over naturalise: “This is just who I am, its the way I am made up, I cant help it”
There are probably more, but essentially, I try to justify myself out of sin. The reality is, though, that every time I give into temptation and fall in sin, its a nail in the Cross. Even if the rest of the world was perfect, the only way I can ever be right with God, after the “littlest” sin, is for Jesus to die in my place.
I am thankful that God would send His Son to die for me, and the gravity of His death reminds me that I must constantly strive to live out my purpose; part of which is becoming a conqueror of temptation!
Lord, I praise you for the opportunity to think and reflect this morning on how I need to work on correcting my thinking in regards to temptation and for the fresh energy you have given me to lean into you, and to exercise my will to progressively defeat temptation in my life.
Written by Pastor Justin Ware
James 1:12 (TLB)
Happy is the man who doesn’t give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get as his reward the crown of life that God has promised those who love him.
Temptations and trials, they are part of our human existence. We all have them but rather them being situations that make life difficult for us or at best annoying, James 1:12 tells us that enduring them will ultimately give us life.
As a young Christian I knew exactly what my temptations were and I didn’t always succeed in resisting or overcoming them. Looking back now I can see that as I persisted in hanging onto Jesus, choosing to stay connected to Him, His word & His people, refining came, and through that process the temptations diminished and new life took over. In the process of persisting and enduring I know my thinking, speech and actions have all become more Christ centred, and continue to do so, as I grow in likeness to Him.
Temptations and trails grow us in one of two ways. They will either grow us in our dependence on Jesus with His grace to endure and the freedom that comes or they will grow us away from Jesus putting a wedge in our relationship with Him, they won’t lead to life but continued bondage & separation. I choose freedom.
Lord Jesus, today I pray for continued endurance, that I will never give up on the life that you have promised me and the freedom you bring. This is a scary prayer I know, but continue to refine me. Amen
Written by Suzie Hodgson
2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
My purpose in life is in part shaped by the
trials and challenges I face. And it’s not just
the “Holy” trials or “Big” tests that transform us. All troubles are achieving something for us through God’s intimate
attention and transforming power in our lives.
That ‘something’ is
eternal and glorious, something that makes troubles them seem insignificant in hindsight. From the discomfort of minor sickness, to the confrontation of persecution, to messy icky personal problems. It is important for mature Christians to reconcile this idea in their own
minds and hearts: all types of opposition to God’s purposes and goodness, all evil, all that is dark and destructive – God will triumphantly use to make good His purposes and to demonstrate his wonderful love for those that are his (see also Romans 8:28). Don’t be
confused, God is not the source of evil. God is not a jerk, creating problems on the one hand and then, ‘abra-ka-dabra’, making something good out of the mess like pulling a coin from behind our ear. Instead, God truly knows all our human struggles personally. Jesus knew (and knows trouble). He knew pain, discomfort, betrayal, boredom, tiredness, irritability, attacks, torture, death! Jesus can empathise with us properly, the big things and the small things. The troubles Jesus faced were momentary and evaporated in the glory of what it all came to be: triumph on the cross and over death – throwing open the salvation door
for the entire universe! And Jesus is God!
Are we comfortable with the knowledge that we will face troubles in our Christian lives? Are we ‘ok’ with the reality that having Jesus in our hearts is not a ticket to easy street? More importantly, are we excited by the prospect that, despite troubles and challenges, we are purposed to be involved in God’s great plans appearing and coming true on earth? This is a bitter-sweet thing. The ache from attacks, hurts, loss, problems and damage in our lives is all too real, and often very hard to ignore or get past. But they are temporary. God will use them, God will convert them into productive forces for shaping the good purpose of our
lives. This purpose is eternal, invaluable and something to be deeply happy about!
Written by Sam Stewart
1) Matthew 4:4 (NIV); 2) Acts 20:32 (MSG)
1) Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ 2) Now I’m turning you over to God, our marvelous God whose gracious Word can make you into what he wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need in this community of holy friends.
When I think of transformation in the Bible I think of stories like that of Zacchaeus (Luke 19), who after an encounter with Jesus went from greedy thief to insanely generous. I think of Paul (Acts 9) who after an encounter with Jesus went from murdering Christians to building the church. When I think of my own transformation though it can seem far less tangible. Some days I feel like I’m growing, others I feel like I’m stuck in a vortex of making the same mistakes again and again.
I believe that one of the best signs of being filled with the Holy Spirit is growth. Our God is alive and at work, so if He is in us He will be transforming us, and His transformation is to make us more and more like Jesus. Sometimes that transformation will be obvious to us and to others, like a newly planted herb. Other times though it might be less obvious, like a big tree that grows almost imperceptibly from year to year.
The only way to be sure that I’m more like Jesus in one year than I am today is to ‘abide in His word’ (John 8:31-32). Ensure that the loudest, most consistent voice in my life is the voice of God. This comes through spending time reading His word, talking with Him about it, listening to Him. It also comes by remaining in the ‘community of holy friends’, people who speak God’s truth and spur me on to become more like Jesus.
Dear God thank you that your Bible is truth I can trust. Help me to rely on it to sustain and grow me, just as I do food.
Written by Rhiannon Mellor
1) Ephesians 4:15 (MSG); 2) Ephesians 4:14 (Phillips)
1) God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. 2) We are not meant to remain as children at the mercy of every chance wind of teaching and the jockeying of men who are expert in the craft presentation of lies.
God wants us to grow in spiritual maturity. Yes to grow in our knowledge and understanding of Christ but also to actually become more Christlike…..to think like He did, to act like He did, to copy who He was. So how do we practically do that?
We start by making a commitment. By being intentional. We have to want to change and be prepared to keep working towards that, year in and year out. We can expect our growth to be somewhat seasonal with times of good steady progress (often during the challenges in our lives!) and times of slower change but if we remain committed, the trajectory is upwards!
The second step in spiritual growth is to start changing the way we think. As Rick Warren explains in What On Earth Am I Here For, “Change starts first in your mind. The way you think determines the way you feel and the way you feel influences the way you act.” We need to let God transform and renew our thinking (Rom 12:2) so that our attitudes and actions will follow. Our thinking needs to be like that of Christ….focused on others and not on ourselves. Thinking of others first is unnatural but we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us!
Lord, please stir in us the desire to grow in spiritual maturity. Show me an area where I need to stop thinking my way and start to see things your way. Help me to become more Christlike each day, in my thoughts, actions and attitudes. Amen
Written by Jocelyn Petschack
1) Romans 8:29 (MSG); 2) Colossians 1:15 (MSG)
1) God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. 2) We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created.
I love that God doesn’t make mistakes, he has, through Jesus chosen us to be in His family. There is no mistake. We see the original purpose of the human design in the way that Jesus had relationship with the Father and lived on earth. Jesus is who we look to in order to determine how we live our lives. We place our eyes on the eternal nature of who He is and allow Him to lead us. We, however, cannot do this without the Spirit.
We are created to be the hands and feet of Christ on this earth, to imitate him but we can only do this with a life surrendered and empowered by the Holy Spirit. A life surrendered is a daily choice we make to lay down those things and fix our gaze on Christ. What areas of your life do you need to ask the Holy Spirit’s power to help you be like Christ in today?
Heavenly Father, thank you that Jesus understands what it is to wrestle as we do. Thank you for the model of how we are called to live that we find in Jesus. Help us this week to continue to live a life surrendered and empowered by your Holy Spirit and that as we allow the Spirit of the Lord to work in us we become more and more like Christ. We love you Jesus and ask you would have your way in our hearts. Amen
Written by Ps. Annique Botta
1) Ephesians 4:3 (NCV); 2) Colossians 3:14 (TLB)
1) You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way. 2) Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.
God’s purpose for us (individually and corporately) is to belong and flourish in His family the church – forever. To be able to do this we need to protect one another, as we together make up the church. How do we do this? The scriptures today encourage us to make every effort to continue in peace and to let love guide our lives.
As I think about how I can practically bring peace and live a life guided by love I have found myself thinking about the many verses in the bible that teach us what to think on and what to say/not to say. I love these verses. To me they are verses of freedom not rules to abide by. When I follow them I feel settled, full of peace and love comes more easily. I believe these verses are there to help us lead a good life – together, taking care of one another.
This is one of the key “think” verses:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NIV)
I have memorised this one. I have needed to! I have a brain that loves to engage in critical thinking. And that is a good God given gift when guided but it can be destructive when left unchecked. My thinking affects my speaking and I want to speak about things that are worth talking about, to encourage and to praise. Such positive speaking unites us and protects us as a church.
The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament warns us of the effect of negative talk. It is full of advice on what not to say; do not gossip, stay away from slander, be careful with criticism, and do not cause division.
In the New testament we are told over and over again to speak to one another in love, encourage one another in unity, and help each other to praise.
In Luke 4:22 NIV it says of Jesus that “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.” We, the church, are God’s people on earth today. Let’s speak well of one another so that those around us may be amazed at what God has done for us and is doing in us even now.
Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart
2 Corinthians 5:18 (GWT)
God has done all this. He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships.
As seasons change, as life comes and goes, and as we ourselves grow and evolve as people, our relationships with others change. Sometimes this is a good thing, and other times it is hurtful. It can be hard sometimes to recognise why relationships with people change, or try to determine the ‘how did we get here?’ in our relationships. There might be some relationships we think are not worth restoring, or aren’t worth our time, energy and effort to restore.
However scripture tells us to make peace with everyone (Rom 12:18) as best we can. As I reflect on these passages today and this area of relationships, I am led to think ‘who do I need to restore relationships with?’ God restored His relationship with me through Jesus Christ, so who can I reach out to in my world? Who are those people who have hurt me, or I have hurt, and what can I do in my power to redeem that?
I pray that God would help you today to forgive broken relationships you may have, and I pray that you will find the strength, courage and willingness to bring restoration to those relationships if it’s possible to do so. You never know what might happen with God on your side.
Written by Rachel Tomc
1) James 3:18 (MSG); 2) Acts 2:42 (MSG)
1) You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour. 2) They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
The notions of community and connection are some of the biggest priorities we tend to have when it comes to church and the body of Christ. We obviously want to be a part of a church that glorifies and worships God, but we also want to feel like we belong, like we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. I find it interesting though that these verses point out the key to real community – hard work and commitment! Like all family units and friendship circles, being a part of a church community requires us to be planted, to stick it out, plug in and play the long game. It means showing up when it would be easier to stay in. It means extending relationship to people we don’t know when it would be easier to talk to people we are more familiar with. It means making sure the church is a space where every person is valid, seen and cared for, regardless of who they are. As Acts 2.42 tells us, this was the way the early church lived their whole lives. Not just on a Sunday, not just when it felt convenient for them. It was ingrained in the very culture of the church. Even as I write this, I am convicted and encouraged (as we all should be!) to make this a priority.
God help me to see the church as you see it – a beautiful mesh of broken people who you love as your children. Help us to be able to treat each other with love, dignity and honour, as you do us. God we ask that we would be known as a people who look after and love each other in a manner that is real, genuine and leads to eternal impact. Amen!
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
PO Box 2744,
Carlingford NSW 2118
PHYSICAL LOCATION SUSPENDED
Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118
PHYSICAL LOCATION SUSPENDED
Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118