Reflections

Do you long to be fearless and without worry?

Reflection on Jeremiah 17:5-10
This is what the LORD says: The man who trusts in mankind, who makes human flesh his strength and turns his heart from the LORD is cursed. He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives. The man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit…”

Do you long to be fearless and without worry?
Then trust in the LORD.

When we look to ourselves and others for our ultimate sense of strength, of value, of worth, of hope… we will always be ultimately disappointed.

People were not made to fill the place that only God can take. We were made to trust in Him. And so, when we look to other things to find what only God can truly provide for us we are left fruitless, hopeless, and anxious.

But there is another option, there is another choice for us to make. The one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed. That person will be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots and fearless of heat or drought, why? Because God is their supply. He is their source. He is the LORD. The Creator. The Sustainer. The Redeemer.

I am as tempted as the next person to look within, to look to others for my sense of strength and provision that only the LORD can truly provide…

So this call is for me, and for you, and for all people. To look to the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth, the One who in sending His Only Son to die for our sins and on the third day to rise again – I am called to look to, and to trust in Him.

He has provided for my ultimate needs, forgiveness and transformation through Jesus Christ. And He has promised that soon will come the day when my strength will never run out, when my hope will never fade away, when my faith will be sight in the presence of Him, my God, and my King.

Let’s look to Him, and so be truly blessed in Christ forever.

Reflections

“I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

Reflection on Psalm 25:5-9

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

David knew the sins of his youth were something that left to himself he could not cover up or deal with. The truth is that God sees all and knows all. This leaves us in a terrible predicament left to ourselves because we cannot do anything to erase our past, we cannot do anything to cover up those times we have hurt others and hurt God.

But David did not rely on what he could do to cover it up – in fact he did the very opposite, he confessed his sins (see also Psalm 51), he asked God to show him mercy, to pour out His steadfast love.

David turned the God who ‘instructs sinners in the way’, the God who ‘leads the humble’ and teaches ‘the humble his way’ – David turned to the God who does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.’… but instead …’as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.’ (Psalm 103:10-12).

Here’s the bottom line then. God is not looking for the pretender. He is not looking for the one who can put on the best show outwardly that they are good – but rather the one who admits they are not. And the one who in that turns to Him, to His mercy and His love – who turns to God alone to rescue them, to forgive them, to guide them, to save them.

John Newton the hymn writer who wrote the famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ put it beautifully when he said: “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

For the person who puts their trust in Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for their sin – their remains no more payment for sin, but total forgiveness and everlasting life with God as their Father – there is no other truth worth living for, and no other joy that arms us to face all our days. Oh, what a God! Oh, what a Saviour!

Reflections

Teach us to sit at our Lord’s feet, listening to His teaching.

A reflection on Luke 10:38-42

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Wouldn’t it be a shame if we were distracted by things that were lest than what life is all about? Wouldn’t it be a shame to gain the whole world, or even some of it and lose our eternal soul?

Jesus said: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3). True life, eternal life and joy comes through a relationship with the Eternal God through Jesus Christ. Don’t miss that in your life!

But here’s probably the heart of the passage from Luke and where it strikes me time and time again: Martha was ‘distracted’ with ‘much serving’. In fact, she was serving the Lord Jesus Christ. You can only imagine if Jesus was in your house and you were the host that you would want to put on a pretty good spread!

Here’s the thing: In all her serving Him, she was distracted from the most necessary thing, the most joyous thing, the most important daily need of the disciple: to sit at our Lord’s feet and listen to His teaching.

Here’s where I am challenged: Do I go into my day to get done all those things that are even good things and even help others and neglect the relationship that should drive all I do?

Do I miss out on sitting with my Lord daily in His word where my anxieties and troubles seem so small in the light of His glory and grace? Is sitting at His feet my priority, my joy, my delight – is it my daily need, the one thing necessary, that ‘good portion’?

Because I am reminded often that it is when I neglect this daily need – even by being very busy and distracted with much serving that in fact I find myself anxious and troubled by many things.

Oh Father, teach us to sit at our Lord’s feet, listening to His teaching. Thank you for your Word where our anxieties and troubles are lifted in the peace that only comes from You – from knowing You.

You are the God we were made for – to know You.

Help us not to miss that, but rather to sit in peace at Your feet.

Reflections

“Listen to Him!”

A reading and reflection on Matthew 16:28-17:8

28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” 17:1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no-one except Jesus.

Peter, James and John here are given an amazing experience, almost a peak into the great glory that Jesus will have after His death and resurrection as the King of God’s eternal Kingdom.

But what terrifies them in the experience is the voice that speaks from heaven saying: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

These are very similar words to when Jesus is baptized, it is God the Father stamping His approval on His Son. His ‘Beloved Son’, the well pleasing Son. Jesus is the Perfect Son. He (unlike all of us) never disobeyed His Father. He was perfectly obedient – even unto death to take the punishment that we (the sinful children deserve).

But these are the words that hit me this week as I read this passage: “Listen to Him!”. I wonder, how are you going with that? It is so easy not to listen to Him.

Let me ask you, are you taking time each day to listen to Jesus speak through the pages of His word? God gave us a book to hear Him speak. Why not join us in reading through Matthew’s gospel here: https://www.facebook.com/Growing-in-Passion-Together-Daily-Devotionals-316385785559843/

Are we stopping in our lives to listen to God’s Son: The True King? We are so very good at listening to every other voice, and especially our own inner voice.

Let us seek to obey God and so be rewarded as we stop and listen to and so seek to follow after the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Reflections

The Ruler shepherded by death.

A reading and reflection on Matthew 2:1-6; 16-18

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” …

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

The Ruler has come, the Shepherd of God’s people: Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the King!

Herod was set to kill him, to wipe out God’s chosen King. So too were Israel’s religious leaders who had Jesus killed.

But God allowed the anger and hatred, their murderous intent to succeed, to fulfil the purpose for which Jesus came: “to save His people from their sins”.

But only in His time. Children were murdered here while the baby Jesus was rescued, but soon He would be murdered so that all God’s children could be rescued. Jesus said: “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

The Ruler shepherded by sacrificing His life in order to save His sheep. The Ruler – King Jesus – I will worship all my days and forevermore!

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12).

Reflections

God is my portion, Christ is my life.

A reflection on Psalm 39:4-7

“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”

A thought has struck me recently… all those who have gone before us are dead.
Sorry to be so dim, but I think it is for good reason. For those who follow the Eternal God – who has ultimately revealed Himself in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ here is the heart of our faith, is it not?

God is my portion, Christ is my life.

God’s word sets forth this certain hope:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)

Wow! Is this your hope?
It goes well beyond this frail and short life. It is a hope in God that reaches into eternity itself… where God is… the Eternal One… time without end… who keeps His word.

For those who trust in Him, our certain hope is in Him, in Him our God, in Christ our King – who has made God known, who has shown us the Father. It is because of Him that we can face today and tomorrow not without sadness – that will come as you know.

But we can face today and tomorrow with every confidence in the midst of sadness’s and hardships knowing that if our “life is hidden with Christ in God” then “when Christ who is our life appears then we also will appear with Him in glory.”

 The Almighty God has proven His love for us in and through Jesus Christ, in His life and in His death and in His resurrection for us. We need not fear the present, nor the future – because He holds us in His hands, He is always good, and always true and always faithful.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

What a God!

Let us live in light of Him, placing our trust in Him alone.

Reflections

Lest we forget.

A reflection on remembrance in Deuteronomy 1-6

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (4:9)… “When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you–a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant–then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (6:10-12)

Israel were reminded over and over again not to forget, but to remember the acts of God in their past. How He had rescued them from harsh and oppressive slavery in Egypt, how he had defeated the nations they came up against them, nations that were much stronger than them, because it was God who had fought for them.

We too are tempted with the same forgetfulness. There is a reason that we have annual ceremonies for significant events, one reason is that we hold them as significant (or we once did), another is because we are prone to forgetfulness and neglect. There is a reason in Australia we say, ‘lest we forget’, because we know that we are well able to do so. (Interestingly this very term comes from a 1897 poem written by Rudyard Kipling referring to God and appears to refer to this very passage in Deuteronomy).

Israel – by and large – did neglect the truth of God’s past faithfulness and goodness to them, and so they forgot it. They appear to do very poorly in telling of it to the next generation as they were instructed to do, and they did not delight in and value God in their lives. In the end, they were led astray from Him and gave themselves to that which was set against Him.

Paul said to his good friend: “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.” (2 Timothy 2:8-9).

I know that my very own temptation is to forget what God has done for me. Far more than rescue from Egypt, He has rescued me from my slavery to sin, and death, and eternal separation from Him. God did this for me when He sent His Son Jesus to take my place for my wrongdoing. I am forgiven, even now, Jesus is my King and He is in control over all things, so I can trust Him always.

It is so easy for us not to remember. LEST WE FORGET.

Reflections

That God sees all, and knows all is utterly terrifying… unless…

A reflection on Proverbs 15:3; 11
“The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

“Death and Destruction lie open before the Lord—
how much more do human hearts!”

These verses reveal at least two things to me, that God is in everything place – that is – He sees everything and secondly that God knows everything – the heart of every person lies open before Him. I am not sure how that truth grips your heart…

We live in a very disconnected world from reality – God’s reality. The message of our world is that people are basically good and unless you do something really horrible you are basically a good person, at least better than most.

The problem with that is: God sees our hearts, He knows our thoughts, our motivations, when they are good and when they are evil. It does not matter what our world says is good in the end, but it is what God says is good that counts.

If in the court room I am able to show such charm and charisma that everyone believes my defense except the Judge (or the Jury) it doesn’t matter, in the end its down to those who decide fate.

God is not tricked, He sees all. And I think that would be the worse and most terrible news in the world if not for one thing. He sees all, He knows all, He sees me in those times when my motivation is harm and hurt and wrong and evil.

What’s the one thing then?

Jesus!!

In Jesus, the Offended Party, the Judge, the Victim, the Wronged One He comes to take the place of the criminal, of the rebel, of the sinner – just incredible!

While I was living against the Creator, living for myself, with a heart and mind on the gifts – not the giver… knowing this, He sent His Son to die for my crimes – this is the ‘GOOD’ of ‘Good Friday’. Jesus death in our place, for our wrongs, isn’t that just incredible!

My prayer for us this Good Friday and Easter Sunday, is that they would remind us in a new way that we were lost, and He found us, we were dead in sins and He made us alive in Christ.

If that is true in You, I pray that we will rejoice and thank and praise Him like never before! What a God who sees all and knows all and yet comes in mercy, love and grace to rescue us in Jesus!

Reflections

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.”

Reflections

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.