Reflections

Come now, come often, come always to God.

A reflection on Philippians 4:4-7

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

If you are human, then you have felt anxious. There so is much to make us anxious. The world around us – with wars, starvation, abuses and neglect. In the lives of those around us – with relationship breakdowns, the people we love struggling, and diseases and death that don’t end. And there is much within ourselves – uncertainly, physical and mental pain or distress, or even the guilt or shame of past mistakes.

The word anxious is derived from the word having the idea ‘to strangle’. Recently I was at a wedding, and my suit was tighter than it is has been in the past 🙂 and I remember thinking that anxiousness feels like this, a squeezing, a choking, an uncomfortable feeling. What is the remedy to anxiousness? How do we escape it? How do we deal with it?

Paul tells us here, the remedy is the peace of God. As we come to God ‘in everything’ – every struggle and temptation, every anxious thought and worry. We come to God by prayer and we plead to Him. We come always with thanksgiving – we remember all His goodness – even when our struggles seem countless. We thank God for life, for friends (even if they be few), and for Christ Jesus – the gift of His Son to forgive all our sins and bring us to God.

We come to God with all our worries, all our fears, all that which is strangling us. We lay it before Him. It is God who gives us His peace – the peace of God – which surpasses all understanding, which guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

So come now, come often, come always to God – the God of peace – and in the midst of all of your anxiousness, find in Him, through Jesus, joy and peace immeasurable.

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Reflections

First Importance.

A reflection on 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

Sometimes it can be hard to rate things in their importance or priority. It might be whether to choose to do one thing with our time or something else. With two invitations to an event on the same weekend which one should take priority? I personally struggle with the very important decision in a food court or a buffet – given so much choice, so many delicious options, which one should I choose?

But there are some things that just take priority, that are so important you wouldn’t want to give it a miss for anything and wouldn’t want to get it wrong. Paul says this is what the gospel is. The message of good news is of first importance.

And then he tells us what this message is: ‘Christ died for our sins’… ‘he was buried’… ‘he was raised on the third day’ and that all of this is in agreement with what was written thousands of years earlier in God’s Word and in agreement with what hundreds of witnesses saw (who were still alive when Paul wrote this!), when they saw the risen Lord Jesus.

For Paul, a man who was radically changed by having an encounter with the risen Lord Jesus and for those hundreds of witnesses who also saw Jesus risen you can see why this message is of greatest importance. There is no comparing it with anything else. The very Son of God died on a cross to bring forgiveness of all our sins and offenses toward God! He died for us, was buried and rose – as God’s Word had said would happen. If that isn’t of first importance and of greatest value – than I don’t know what is!

Father, thank you that Your Son Jesus died for all our sin. Help us trust in Him alone, to treasure Him as of greatest importance and significance. Thank You for His death and resurrection so that we can enjoy relationship with You!

Reflections

Taste & See!

A reflection on Psalm 34:8

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

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 forgiving his sin, the God who had rescued him and helped him to trust in Him in the midst of his fear. Have you experienced the goodness, the 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 not even worth comparing with what is to come.

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

Reflections

The God of All Hope

A reflection on Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

The Apostle Paul speaks in Romans about a God that we can know personally. A God who has drawn near to us through His Son the Lord Jesus. I just love some of the ways that He describes God: “the God of endurance and encouragement”, “the God of peace”, and “the God of hope”.

Followers of Jesus are not those who have it all together. I know I’m not! Paul himself knew that apart from God he was a ‘wretched man’ (Romans 7:24), lost and in a dire situation. But I love this! God is the God of endurance, encouragement, hope and peace.

He is the God who is able to fill His people with all joy and peace as they trust in Him through Jesus – so that – by the power of God’s Spirit we can abound, be abundant in, we can overflow with… hope – the certain hope of God that rests on who He is.

A hope that is not snuffed out by circumstances, or distress, or abandonment, or even death itself.

I know for me… I would be lost without this God of endurance and encouragement, because I struggle to endure, and I need encouragement from Him to keep going. I know that I would be lost without this God of hope and peace because if this life is all there is what lasting hope can anyone have? What do I do when my love one dies and when my own body fails? I would be hopeless.

Without God’s peace I am lost. He has made peace with me through His Son, Jesus and His death on my behalf… and so this God fills me with ‘all joy and peace in believing’ so that through even His Spirit’s work within me an eternal and certain joy unspeakable and full of glory wells up in me, even when I least expect it!

Father, thank you for Who You are. In Jesus, I can call you my Father, You are so good! You deserve all my praise! Thank you for being my Endurance, my Encouragement, my Hope and my Peace.