Jesus our Ransom.

A reflection on Psalm 49

“Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.” Psalm 49:7-9

The truth here is that no human being (no matter who they are!) can make the payment to God for their life. We cannot barter with God for our lives. We cannot do anything or give him anything that will gain us more days of life – it is outside of our control.

Especially as we look at the Bible as a whole we see that our problem of sin, the debt we owe God is unpayable by us – none of us can pay it. We owe God what we cannot afford.

But I love what the Psalmist goes on to say in verse 15:

“But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.”

In fact, God has done this… He sent His Son Jesus Christ to be our ransom. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mathew 20:28), “Christ Jesus… gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Do you realise you cannot add an hour to your life by trying to be a better person, or to do good… In fact both you and I have an unpayable debt that we can never work off… but Jesus paid our debt. Jesus is our ransom. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Oh, to know and enjoy this truth! To be set free by it and live in response to it… to live in the joy of the eternal life God has given us in His Son… lets enjoy Jesus – our Ransom.



Call out to the God who will never fail you.

A reflection on Psalm 25:16-18
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.”

Sometimes people have the picture of followers of Jesus as those who have it all together, or at least who pretend too. But here in the Psalm we see the picture of someone who is calling out for God’s help, someone who feels ‘lonely and afflicted’, do you ever feel that way?

To be human is to struggle. It is to have ‘troubles of heart’. For the follower of Jesus, there is Someone to turn to in this. Someone without limitation and weakness. In this same Psalm, the psalmist has called God ‘my God, in you I trust’.

It is this trust in God, that is based upon who He is and what He has done. And Jesus has perfectly revealed this God to us. He has revealed God’s heart of love, care and compassion for helpless sheep and those in need and distress.

There is a call here in this Psalm, a calling out to God: ‘Turn to me’, ‘bring me out of my distresses’, ‘consider my affliction and my trouble’. The Psalmist is convinced that God is there, that He cares, and that He acts for the good of His people. He brings them relief and peace in distress. He brings salvation and rescue, and complete forgiveness for ‘all my sins’.

Are you lonely? Are you afflicted? Do you have troubles in your heart? Are there things for which you want to be forgiven? Call out to God for help and hope. He will grant you relief, He will grant you rescue, He will grant you forgiveness.

It may not come in the way you thought, it may not come when and in what you wished. But He – the gracious One, the Almighty King will give you all you need to have peace, and joy in the midst of pain, and trouble and struggle.

Call out to the God who will never fail you.
He is always good and faithful and true.


…saturated in God and His goodness.

a reflection on Acts 27:
“…Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. (Act 27:22-25)

I was struck yesterday reading through Acts 27 with Paul’s identification of himself. Paul refers to God as the God to whom he belongs, and whom he worships, in whom he has faith (puts his trust in).

He will go on later in this story to lead the 272 people on board to eat some food after 2 weeks of abstaining because of the peril their ship had been in, being sure of God’s word to Him of rescue and safety, giving thanks to God in front of them all and encouraged them all.

And this escape from death and following rescue is exactly what happens.

Looking at this passage, Paul was a man saturated in God and His goodness. He belonged to God, he worshipped God. He had faith in his God and gave Him thanks – publicly.

I want to be a person saturated with God more and more. I belong to Him. I want to be defined more and more as a follower of Him, trusting in His word, and full of thanksgiving to Him. Join me in making this your prayer to God:

Father, I belong to you. I am a worshipper of you, a follower of Jesus your Son. Saturate me in you. Help me to trust you and fill me with thankfulness to You, that I might overflow it to all I meet. Thank you for your goodness to me, in Jesus Name. Amen.


Forgetfulness. Of the worst sort.

A reflection on Psalm 103:1-5
“Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits– who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Do we not have reasons to praise God? To bless Him forever?

He forgives all our sins… heals all our diseases (at least in the ultimate picture He does)… He redeems our lives from the pit… He crowns us with love and compassion… He satisfies our desires with good things… renewing our youth…

I don’t know about you but I’m much better at focusing on what is wrong, what I fail at, what I don’t have, what I perceive I need… I am much better at that, then at praising the Lord with all my soul, remembering His incredible goodness, mercy, and kindness to me.

But I suspect the Psalmist also struggled with this…

He says… “Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”

Why does he say this?

Because his danger was that he would easily forget (as I do) all God’s benefits – all God’s kind deeds towards us.

It really is amazing how forgetful we can be. Yesterday I was enthralled and captivated by God’s amazing and incredible love for me and yet today I can wake unaware of it and yet so aware of every other thing I am facing or struggling with.

This is why the Psalmist calls on his very own soul – ‘all my inmost being’ he says, Praise His Holy Name!’ Don’t forget His blessings, His mercy, His goodness, His love…

Oh, and we have seen (by faith) more than the Psalmist ever saw! We have seen God’s love and compassion displayed in the most incredible, unrivalled, and unbelievable way: God ‘loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ (1 John 4:10),

Amazing? Yes! Praiseworthy? What could be more! Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits!’


Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Reflection on Psalm 86:11-13
“Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.”

I was reflecting on this Psalm this week and praying it to God for myself and for others.

Teach me your way, O Lord, not my way. Teach me how you want me to live. Because it’s so easy to look to everything other than God for how we should live.

To others around us, to our parents, to the television. Truth be told there may be some good examples – there are – but no example will be perfect and many will be unhelpful.

We need the Lord to teach us how we are to live. We have no better teacher. One who is perfect and One who has given us His word so that we might know how it is that we are to live. Living lives that reflect His Son the Lord Jesus.

‘Unite my heart to fear your name’. To fear God is to take in the truth about God and respond in that light. To understand that God is holy and righteous and perfectly good and that we are not.

That He is mighty and that we deserve because of our sin to be cut off from Him forever – but that in His great and amazing love He sent His Son to save us from our sins and bring us back into relationship with Him.

So, this prayer is a prayer for a right response to Who God is and what He has done. It’s a response of awe, of wonder, of reverence.

Because when we understand how great His steadfast love is for us, undeserving as we are – that He has delivered our souls from death we can’t hold back from singing with the Psalmist: “O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”


Words of encouragement and rebuke.

Reflection on Philippians 2:1-3
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

For me, these words are full of encouragement and rebuke.

Rebuke, because this idea of doing nothing from selfish ambition or conceit – nothing from the place of pride, self-interest and to promote myself – wow… this is full of rebuke for me.

I think also as human beings, we are all guilty of self-interest again and again. For those among us who follow Jesus, sadly this is something from our old nature that does not yet disappear. We still choose self-interest and self-promotion.

But here our model is Jesus. Paul goes on after these words to talk about the humility of Jesus who laid down His rights as the Eternal God and He humbled himself, and became a man.

Even more than that Jesus came and died as a man the death of a criminal the shame of the cross… but why?

Because it was the purpose of His Father to rescue sinners… It was the purpose of the Son to obey His father. He came and died for sinners… for me… and for you…

What humility… It is humility beyond belief. Would the monarch die for the slave? Or more accurately… would the monarch die for the prisoner – guilty of high treason?

And so, He did. The Monarch, King Jesus, died for the traitors.

The picture for the follower of Jesus here, is to think and so live this same way. In the interest of others. Putting others first. Laying our lives down to serve one another as Jesus did. Being united and filled with love for one another. Self-giving.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16).


Taste and See His Goodness!

Reflection on Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

I love the psalms. They are so raw and real. They bring out both the highest expressions of thanksgiving and praise and the lowest valleys of distress and despair. David who seems to have penned a lot of these psalms was a human being like us. He had struggles like us, temptations like us, and he failed like us.

In fact, he committed murder and adultery. He was a man who knew both the depths of his own failings but also the riches of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

He had tasted and he seen that God is good. He says earlier: “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” And later he says: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

If you are anything like me, and like David, then you are someone who has struggles, whether emotionally or physically or mentally. There are struggles. And more than that we are people who have failed to live lives that give God thanks and praise – in fact, left to ourselves we are much better at giving anything and everything else thanks and praise then to God.

But David had experienced God’s goodness. The God who had forgiven his sin, the God who had rescued him and helped him to trust in Him in the midst of his fears. Have you experienced the goodness and love of God?

God sent Jesus out of love. He died in love for you – to rescue you, to rescue me, from all our sin. How true are the words of David’s call, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

Those who choose to trust in Jesus for forgiveness and follow after Him as King – it is not that we won’t struggle (on the contrary!), but there will be such joy and praise that wells up in us and that is yet to come that will make anything experienced now somehow not even worth comparing with what is to come… (Romans 8:18).

Father in heaven, thank you, thank you, thank you for Jesus, help me to taste and see Your eternal goodness!


In Christ the sinner is forgiven, freed and found righteous in Him.

A reflection on Romans 7:21-25
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

I love this statement, question and answer by Paul. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Paul knew something about himself that is true about all of us. As religious as his life had been, seeking to do the right and avoid the wrong – he knew that his own heart was full of wrong in the eyes of God, who knows all.

His wrong motivations and self-seeking heart were never far away. In fact he says elsewhere, ‘by works of the of law no one will be justified’. No person on earth will stand before God and be righteous – or right in God’s eyes – by their own performance. Not you, not me, not Paul, not the Pope. Our deeds are like a polluted garment in God’s eyes.

The problem for us is that God sees our heart and he knows all the actions, words and thoughts that we would not want repeated to our best friend. He knows everything about us. And so who will deliver us from this body of death? What hope is there for me if there is no hope for the most religious to be made right with God by all their ‘good’ works?

Paul answers his own question with the most beautiful words… “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”…. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”The only hope that we have for full forgiveness and peace with God, for relationship and eternal joy in God. Our only hope is Jesus Christ.

Jesus died for our wrongdoing, our ‘polluted garments’. All of it… everything… He died so that by faith in Him we are given His own perfect righteousness as our garment to put on. In Christ the sinner is forgiven, freed and found righteous in Him.

All of God’s unmerited gift. All of grace.

If that truth does not lead us to worship and fruitful living… nothing can…


Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

A reflection on Psalm 124

1 If the LORD had not been on our side– let Israel say– 2 if the LORD had not been on our side when men attacked us, 3 when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive; 4 the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, 5 the raging waters would have swept us away. 6 Praise be to the LORD, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. 7 We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. 8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Israel had much adversity and trouble. Mostly because of choosing roads to take that were damaging. Roads away from the good path that God had told them to walk down. We are not told here though what exactly is going on.

However, we are shown how the LORD God was on His people’s side, how He kept them from being ‘swallowed alive’ and how He stopped them being drowned by the ‘flood’ of those who were set against them. ‘Praise be to the LORD’ he says.

Here the psalmist talks about God’s rescue – that ‘our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth’. It is God who is the helper of His people.

Sometimes we might think of God as distant and uninvolved. How can He allow such things to go on in this world, in our lives? – we may think or ask. The truth is that God has done something about our greatest enemies – sin, death, and Satan. The fowler’s snare (so to speak) of sin, and death and Satan have been broken, and there is escape…

God is not distant, unmoved and uninvolved… on the contrary He is our great Help. He sent Jesus to bring the help that we could never provide for ourselves. He made a way for our forgiveness, a way for eternal life in His presence and the defeat of the great enemy of our souls.

God has done all this in Jesus. In His death in our place. In His resurrection from the dead. In His Spirit that comes to dwell within in us, Who is the promise of our eternal life to come.

We can forget that God has rescued His people from the greatest traps, we must remember this, and that in all things:

Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.


Two great truths that are often distorted in our world.

A reflection on Acts 17:24-31

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 `For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, `We are his offspring.’ 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone– an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

There are two great truths that are often distorted in our world.

Firstly, that we are like God. We are his offspring. He has made us in His image, in His likeness, His word tells us. We are relational creatures, emotional, spiritual, eternal. God has made us like him.

We can get this wrong by thinking we have no value, that we are just the same as animals when in fact we are the high point of God’s creation, made to rule over it. Given authority to care for it. We are made to reflect something of the God of all glory, made to reflect His splendour and beauty. Yet we are marred and do not do this well – so often.

Secondly, we are not God. We are not the creator. We are the creation. If we put all that is created to one side and all that is not created on the other side – it is God alone on the one and us, together with all other things created on the other.

So, it makes sense that God does not need us – we add nothing to Him by worshipping Him and we take nothing away by refusing to worship Him.

So too, it makes sense that God – the Creator – the Almighty One who created us and sustains us can and does call us to repent. To change the way we have been thinking.

Giving our delight and joys to other things in a way that reveals they are our gods – this is wrong. Giving our worship and praise to created things or even the attitude of living life to try to give things to God to gain from Him – we must see the sin of this and turn from it.

So, let’s turn away from all that, and turn towards this God. Turn towards His completely free gift of forgiveness to us in Jesus.

Turn towards the love of the Creator in His Son, in His invitation in Jesus to come back into relationship with the One you were made for – where true life is found.